30 October 2008

I Kan Knit!

After I learned to crochet I started learning to knit. On the top there is my practice knitting. As you can see I used a bright needle with really light yarn so that I could see what was going on. Then one day I found this lovely burnt orange yarn on sale for only $1 per roll- so I bought four. I'm making a scarf.

A scarf that started with 20 loops and now has 26. Not exactly sure how that happened. Anyway, it's either going to be super cool and funky or terribly frightening and hideous.


29 October 2008

I'm Beached As...

So, some Aussies made this cartoon making fun of how Kiwis talk, and it's pretty darn funny. Of course, it is a parody, so keep that in mind. In fact, think of it as if a Texan made a cartoon making fun of how Californians talk- it would be full of "Dude!" and "Righteous" and whatever other stereotypical things that Californians would say.

Anyway, here's the cartoon. Be forewarned- there is a bit of swearing.



Also, Kiwis often say things are "sweet as" meaning "sweet as honey" or "sweet as sugar." From that, it has turned into "hungry as," "tired as," "loud as," - you get the idea.

A Pot, A Pan

I know I haven't had much in the way of entertaining, cohesive posts lately. That's too bad.

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We've been watching a lot of movies lately. We saw Wall-E last week, and we both loved it, especially Eric. We went to our friends' house and watched Monsters Inc. on Monday. I had never seen it before, and I loved it. Last night for our Young Women's activity we saw Get Smart, and due to some various things Eric got to come too. I was not too excited to see it, but I was pleasantly surprised. Both of us really enjoyed it.

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I decided not to drive down to the movie theater yesterday, which is a mile away, but I left a little late. Consequently I had to run to get to the movie on time. I ran almost a whole mile downhill. Then Eric and I walked home. I'm ridiculously sore today.

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I got my New Zealand tax ID card today. My name was spelled wrong. Gah.

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We made French onion soup for dinner on Sunday, and it was really, really yummy. I have memories of having it occasionally as a youth, so I'm glad the idea popped into my head. I used this recipe, and it was great. It whipped together very quickly (like 20 minutes), and it's a very cheap meal. Although, we just used regular toasted bread, not French bread because it was Sunday, and we didn't have any French bread on hand.

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Only six days until the election is over! Wow, I am glad about that. I listen to NPR a lot during the day, and I'm just getting really bored with all the election talk. Really, really bored. I mean, don't get me wrong, I love politics. I read a lot about politics, and I talk a lot about politics. But, this is getting old, folks. It makes me wonder how people who aren't interested in politics are holding up. Are they?

~~~~~~~

Speaking of the election, Eric wants to host an election party with his classmates, because even though he is the only American in his group, they are all pretty interested in the American election. We need to find out what the coverage is going to be so we can figure out where to hold the party. I think I might make these cakes.

24 October 2008

IMiquette

I've been composing a post in my head for a while now about IMing. I spend the majority of my day at a computer. Being online a lot means that I do a lot of chatting online. I've started chatting online when I was about 14, and at that time, I was a firm believer in chatting the same way I would type an email- full sentences, appropriate capitalization, punctuation, etc. It didn't really bother me that the people I chatted with were not so fastidious about their grammar and punctuation, but I did take pride in my "proper" chatting.

Somewhere along the way that went by the wayside. Now my chats look like this:
4:58 PM me: okay, so what was the deal with the doc today?
5:00 PM Eric: i can go to the pharmacy tomorrow
me: why not today?
Eric: he wanted to wait
me: did he say there was anything the matter with you or just a cold?
5:01 PM Eric: maybe an infection
5:05 PM me: i see
5:08 PM time to come home now. 5 p.m.
Not a single capitalized word in the chat. If there are spelling errors (typos, not true spelling errors) I don't usually bother to correct them, as long as I know the other person understands what I am trying to say. I still use punctuation, though. Because very few things are more confusing than multiple sentences crammed together with no distinct punctuation.

However, I also chat with my sister-in-law, Brianne, quite a lot. And she chats the same way that I used to. Capitalization, good spelling, all that sort of thing. Consequently, I find myself matching the way that she chats:
10:27 AM Brianne: How's it going?
10:29 AM me: Sorry. Got disconnected.
10:31 AM Brianne: Hey, how are you?
10:33 AM me: Pretty good.
It's a nice Sunday morning. The weather is always best on Sunday.
Brianne: Is it warming up yet?
me: How about you? How are you feeling? And how's the calling/kids/life etc?
10:34 AM Oh yeah, it's quite a bit warmer now. We haven't turned our heater on in over a month.
10:35 AM Brianne: So the calling is fine. We have our primary program tomorrow, and I need to write a 2 minute introduction
me: I love Primary Programs!
Notice the capitalization? It's all Brianne's influence!

When it all boils down to it, I like my chats to be fast! Fast! I want answers and responses FAST! It's a "chat," and to me that is as close as a phone conversation or face-to-face conversation as we're going to get. As long as I can understand what you are trying to say, then I don't mind bad grammar and that sort of thing in a chat.

I read this article today about IM Etiquette, and I think I'm pretty good about following the rules. Except that I do chat Janssen when she says she's busy. But that is because I usually just have something really quick and funny or annoying to tell her. And she's my friend, which means that if I'm really bothering her, then she'll tell me. Besides, if you REALLY don't want to be bothered, then don't log in to chat at all. (Or show yourself as invisible).

How do you chat? Do you look down on those of us who don't capitalize or hardly punctuate? Do you think, "What is the world coming to?" when you see somebody chat "LOL! G2G! TTYL!"? (Note, I won't look down on you for using those, but I don't use them a whole lot.)

22 October 2008

Review: White Chocolate Fudge

A while back I helped out at our branch activity. To thank me, the person who headed the activity, Megan, gave me some fudge. When she gave it to me, she told me it was made by Kate, a former member of the branch who moved to Australia and is famous for being awesome in every possible way. At least, I've only ever heard good things about her, and that is why I think of her as "Famous Kate." Frankly as I looked at the fudge I wasn't that impressed. It didn't even look like fudge- as in, it was the color of caramel, not the color of fudge, but I thanked Megan and told her I was excited to see if the fudge was as yummy as she said it was.

It was. Eric thought so too and told me to get my hands on the recipe. So I sent an email to Megan, and she was ever so courteous to give me the recipe:

White Chocolate Fudge

Put in a large microwavable bowl:
-200 gms of butter (That's 7/8 cups of butter, or 7 oz., or 14 tbsp.)
-1 1/2 cans of sweetened condensed milk
-4 tbsp. golden syrup
- 1 1/2 cups brown sugar

Megan says that it works better to use the best quality of each item. I've used the cheap brand of condensed milk and brown sugar and been fine.

Mix the ingredients somewhat. You won't be able to mix it all the way because your butter is probably in a big hunk, but no matter. Put the mixture in the microwave and heat on medium-high for 15 minutes total in 2-4 minutes blasts. (Megan suggests 5 x 3 minutes blasts, and that has worked great for me). Beat with an electric mixture between each blast in the microwave. The mixture should begin to look dark and thick.

Then beat in 1 white chocolate bar (like, a candy bar that you would buy at the store, not baking chocolate). Break it into cubes for faster melting. Then pour into a lined tin and chill until set.

You can read hear about golden syrup. I really don't know what the best substitute will be in the States, so if anybody gives this a shot, definitely comment about what works and what doesn't.

The chocolate bar needs to be rather large- about the size of two Mr. Goodbars. In the states, I recommend a King-size Cadbury Dream bar.

We made this last night for our Young Women's activity, and it turned out great. Then I made it again today with Makereta. Another success.

20 October 2008

Recently Read and Watched

Eric and I watched Tea With Mussolini last night. I really liked it; he mostly liked it. He was disappointed that the tanks that rolled through Florence were actually American tanks (they were supposed to be German tanks, but Eric recognized that they were actually American tanks. Yes, my husband is a tank expert.)

The movie is about a bunch of old English ladies (and a couple of Americans) who live in Florence during the late thirties and early forties. Then the war starts, and they are stuck as prisoners in Italy and can't go back to England. It's based on a true story. Anyway, these women sort of raise a little boy, and the movie is about all of that. (Hello, was that the worst movie summary you've ever read? Yes? Too bad. Not fixing it.)

The point of this post is really- Doesn't that actress (Joan Plowright) look SO much like Grandma L.? As soon as she came on screen I said that to Eric, and he said, "I thought so too!" So you see, this lady would play Grandma L. if ever there were a movie in which Grandma L. was a character.

Eric thinks I shouldn't put up this picture of Grandma L., but this isn't his blog. So ha! I am putting it up because most of the people who read my blog (Oh, hello!) are not family members and do not know Grandma L. Anyway, don't you think they look alike?

Also, don't you think Grandma and Grandpa are so cute? They are. We want to be just like them when we are old. And we want our great grandkids to call us "Grandma and Grandpa Great." And I'll make cinnamon rolls and eclairs and other such yummy food. And Eric will sing songs and recite poems.

Also, we watched The Sting last week, and I loved it. Loved, loved, loved it. Liked it even better than Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

And this week we finished reading The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak. It was amazing. Go read Janssen's review, and then go read the book. It was an excellent read- great narrative, great characters, and so much more.

15 October 2008

This and That

I've listened to two of the presidential debates, and I'm sick of the word "fundamental" and any of it's derivatives.
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Six days left of early morning seminary. Then what will I do when the sun and birds wake me up at 6:20?
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I'm sort of working, but I'll only get paid if the sites I'm creating make money. For now, at least I'm doing something all day. I hope it works out, but if not, nothing lost but time.
~~~
I've been swimming a lot lately, and I love the website SwimPlan.com. Put in your info, and it will give you customized swimming workouts. Tell it if they are too easy or too hard, save your favorites, adjust your settings any time. Pretty awesome.
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General Conference was awesome. Favorite talks: Elder Anderson, President Uchtdorf, Elder Wirthlin, Elder Holland, and Elder Christofferson.
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Eric and I went eight whole days without eating meat. Today we are having green curry with ground beef, carrots, potatoes and onion in coconut milk. Meat. I've missed it, but I'm glad that I am learning how to make healthy meals out of whole grains that meet all of my protein requirements.

13 October 2008

Wheat Biscuits

When we go back to the States, I'm really going to miss wheat biscuits. The brand name is Wheat Bix, but we never buy those, so I feel the need to refer to the general name of wheat biscuits, even though we actually call them wheat bix when we talk about them.

Wheat biscuits are so delightful, but I refused to try them for about the first three months that we were here. They just didn't appeal to me at all. Eventually, I broke down and ate them. Then I became completely hooked.

They are really good for you- high in fiber and protein plus other good stuff that comes in wheat. Think of them as shredded wheat but better.

I prepare mine every morning in a very particular way.
  1. Turn on the computer.
  2. Got to kitchen and put four biscuits in a bowl.
  3. Top with sugar.
  4. Pour milk on top.
  5. Let the biscuits soak for a moment while you put the milk away and close the sugar.
  6. Eat wheat biscuits while checking email, reading blogs and checking Facebook.
When I told Makereta that I would miss wheat biscuits, she insisted that I wouldn't miss them once I had ready access to sugary cereals again. I don't think she's right, though. I really love wheat biscuits. Heaps.

10 October 2008

Grams? No. Cups? Yes.

Oops! In yesterday's post I copied the recipe from Allrecipes exactly as it was instead of switching it to the imperial measuring system. Actually, I think it's really annoying that the units of measurement are in metric jut because my IP address notifies them that I am in New Zealand. I find it especially annoying because I don't think most Kiwis cook things based on grams. I mean, who weighs the food they are about to cook? I can understand measuring the volume of liquids in litres, but that gram stuff is nonsense.

Anyway, here's the recipe in imperial measurements:

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 celery ribs, chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, finely chopped
  • 7 green onions, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon butter or stick margarine
  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked medium pearl barley
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 4 1/2 cups chicken broth, divided
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a large ovenproof skillet, saute the celery, carrots, onions and garlic in butter until tender. Stir in the barley, salt and pepper. Stir in 2-1/2 cups broth. Cover and bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes.
  2. Stir in parsley and remaining broth; sprinkle with almonds. Bake, uncovered, 30-40 minutes longer or until liquid is absorbed and barley is tender.

09 October 2008

Review: Barley Casserole

Since moving down here I've discovered the wonders of barley. It's not that New Zealand specialize in barley or anything, it's just that I bought a bag to try it out, and I'm really crazy about it. Eric hasn't been such a fan, but when I made this barley casserole last week, he completely changed his mind.

I like barley for a number of reasons. It has a nice flavor and reminds me a lot of brown rice (which I love and Eric tolerates). It is a whole grain, so it is quite cheap, quite filling, and quite healthy. The food pyramid says to "Make Half your Grains Whole" meaning you should aim for whole-grain foods for at least half of the grains you eat in any given day. I find this pretty easy since I don't really care for white bread.

The recipe was great. I made a couple of adjustments based on things I had on hand; I used broccoli instead of celery, and I topped the final dish with a bit of grated cheese. And of course, I used dried parsley instead of fresh because, please! Like I have fresh parsley lying around.

Recently my blog-friend (We're friends, right?) blogged a request for good food-storage recipes that require NO fresh ingredients. This one doesn't exactly fit the bill, but it can be easily adjusted. Instead of using fresh onions and garlic, used the dried seasonings. Instead of using fresh carrots and celery (or carrots and broccoli) used canned vegetables, like asparagus and green beans.

You can click on the link to get the recipe, but I've also copied it below for convenience sake. Does everyone wish I had been doing this all along? If so, I will keep it up.

Barley Casserole

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 celery ribs, chopped
  • 122 g carrots, finely chopped
  • 7 green onions, chopped
  • 12 g garlic cloves, minced
  • 15 g butter or stick margarine
  • 300 g uncooked medium pearl barley
  • 3 g salt
  • 0.3 g pepper
  • 1065 ml chicken broth, divided
  • 8 g minced fresh parsley
  • 70 g slivered almonds

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a large ovenproof skillet, saute the celery, carrots, onions and garlic in butter until tender. Stir in the barley, salt and pepper. Stir in 2-1/2 cups broth. Cover and bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes.
  2. Stir in parsley and remaining broth; sprinkle with almonds. Bake, uncovered, 30-40 minutes longer or until liquid is absorbed and barley is tender.

08 October 2008

Review: Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy

I referred to my trusty list of 900 books to find this gem. Many people wouldn't like this book, but I absolutely loved it. I had read two other books by Thomas Hardy before- Far from the Madding Crowd and Tess of d'Urbervilles. I read both as a senior in high school and loved the former but loathed the latter. I think if I read Tess again I would quite like it as my tastes in literature have changed substantially since I was in high school.

Jude the Obscure chronicles the life of Jude Fawley, a poor boy who aspires to become a scholar and eventually a clergyman. The book was the last that Hardy published, and apparently, was completely panned by critics. The story-line itself was rather morose as the characters were plagued by their own bad choices as well as unfortunate circumstances. But the story is really the subcontext for Hardy's themes against society and societal norms. While I didn't agree with Hardy's views (basically that marriage is only for some people and can destroy perfectly healthy relationships), I found his criticisms poignant and thought-provoking.

While I didn't really grow to love any of the characters, I did care about them, and I wanted things to end up well for them. The story was beautifully told, very well-written and intriguing. If you like Hardy, I'm sure you'll like Jude the Obscure.

07 October 2008

Conference Prep

I don't think I ever mentioned that the same day I got laid off, I also was asked to be an advisor to some of the young women in my branch (or congregation for any non-Mormons). It has been a delight to work with my three little twelve and thirteen-year-olds. They are really sweet girls.

I am in charge of Wednesday night activities for this month for all of the Young Women in the branch (about a dozen girls). Last week we had a really rousing game of Name that Tune (with the LDS hymnal). This week we are putting together activity packets for the children of both branches that meet in our buildings. The packets will be distributed before General Conference, which actually happened last week, but we are watching this week. (Otherwise we'd have to watch the Saturday sessions at 5 a.m. and 11 a.m. on Sunday, then the Sunday sessions at the same times, only on Monday.) If anyone has any other suggestions for what we ought to do for the next few weeks, feel free to share!

I'm really excited for General Conference. It only happens twice a year, and I always look forward to hearing from the living prophets. I'm also excited to keep my eyes peeled for Eric's mom, who is in the choir. (In fact, we even went to a couple of stores today to see if we could find a laser pointer to show our friends in the congregation which second soprano is Eric's mom, but we couldn't find one.)

02 October 2008

Unfortunate Names

I'm not sure how the conversation came up, (Yes, I am. But it's too long to bother writing about.) but last night we were discussing unfortunate names of people. Or maybe just old names that are most likely NOT going to be revived.

For instance, we are now seeing revivals of the names Emma, Abigail, Isabel(la), Hanna, and Olivia. But I'm pretty sure we're not going to see a revival of names like Maude, Hester, Ichabod or Ebeneezer.

It got me thinking about some of my ancestors' names that are, well, just a bit unfortunate. They are names that when I scroll through my list, I think, "Really? Why?" In the list I've compiled, there are no last names, just first and middle names, so keep that in mind.

And here we go:
  • Rocky Elmira, a female! A lady named Rocky! And to top it off, she gave a few sad names to her kids, like
  • Winnie Pouns,
  • Clyde (A GIRL!), and
  • Rocky Ann. (To be fair, these last three bullets were all my mom's great aunts, and I'm sure they were wonderful people. Wonderful women with very, very unfortunate names!)
  • Young Fair, my third-great grandpa,
  • Maude Viola,
  • Willie Heard, my great grandMA,
  • Phoneta, (No wonder she went by Nettie.)
  • Obedience, (Maybe the parents wished they had given this virtue name to their first few?)
  • Berryman, (a man)
  • Ada Bebdette, (focus on the middle name)
  • Theodocia,
  • Callistus, who named his son none other than,
  • Callistus S.,
  • James Ignatius, (focus on the middle name)
  • Lullus Joseph, whose sister (my great-great grandma) named her DAUGHTER
  • Lullus,
  • Juventius, and
  • Louis Napoleon (still haven't figured this one out, though I've definitely tried).
What wacky names have you got in your family tree?

As a bit of a side-note, I have been working with Eric to get him to be able to name all of his eight great-grandparents. He's slowly getting there. (And don't you find it interesting that I can name them, and he cannot?) Anyway, can you name your eight greats?