Tuesday, April 24, 2012

First Impressions

Oh how I love this movie. It's my go-to movie for when I'm recovering from surgery/illness, because it's just so peaceful and calming. And so full of Mr. Darcy. I used to praise it for being so true to the book, (It's so long that it must be!) until I realized the other day that while I have watched this version, the Kiera Knightley version, the Mormon version, the Bollywood version, and part of some weird British version, I have never actually read the book. *Shock*Gasp! How have I never read Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice?

In college I read Jane Austen for the first time during one of my Brit Lit courses. The teacher had us read Sense and Sensibility, which I thought rather slow and hard to get through. Maybe this was because I was also taking a Medieval Literature course at the time where we got to read vibrant, colorful stories full of death, glory, and people's arms getting ripped off. In any case, I decided Jane Austen wasn't for me and didn't think any more of it.

The other day though, Austin and I were re-watching the Kiera Knightley version of P&P, and I started wondering if some of the dialogue was in the book--it seemed very out of place for the time. "Don't judge me, Lizzie, don't you dare judge me" in particular seemed very 21st century, and Mr. Bingley telling Jane that he'd been "a complete and utter ass" was also totally out of keeping with the refined language I remembered from Sense and Sensibility. I promptly went to the library and checked out Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Northanger Abbey, and Lady Susan. So far I've finished all but Lady Susan, and though I wasn't wild about Northanger Abbey, I loved Pride and Prejudice. Reading it filled in all the gaps in the many movie versions I've watched, brought to my attention the keen and witty observations of Jane Austen, and even let me know what happens to the characters after they marry!

I'm not sure every book liked by the masses is worth reading--depends on why it is liked, I guess--but I feel bad for my prejudice against Jane Austen brought about by my college reading, and my pride for having disregarded it for so long against the praise of so many for her works. I would highly recommend you check out one of her books next time you visit the library! (Preferably Pride and Prejudice if you haven't read it yet.)

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Love Story vs. Cake Wreck

Question: on a scale of one to ten, what is more captivating--a love story, or a cake wreck?

Luckily I have tales of both. I'll start with the love story.

Last week we celebrated a joyous occasion--the marriage of Austin's little sister to her high school sweetheart. We were all excited for them to finally tie the knot, although now that they are married, we are sadly deprived of the drama that goes along with two people dating for 5 or 6 years. That whole story would take like 50 blog posts. Anyway, the bride and groom's final challenge was them both getting sick the week of the wedding: puking, fever, the works. Actually, pretty much everyone at my house except for me and Cici got sick. If you had walked in (which I would have strongly cautioned you against) you would have seen a bunch of slightly-drugged relatives laying about in the dark in various states of dishabille, with wet washcloths over their faces to complete the look. We were temporarily the House of Pestilence. Thankfully, amor vincit omnia, and everyone pulled it together in time for the wedding. The bride and groom looked great, it didn't rain for pictures, and the reception turned out to be a lot of fun.

Did I tell you I was in charge? I never realized how many loose ends are involved in a reception. However, I had my great party planner friend Bridget to lean on, (see her blog for a taste of the wedding!) and many relatives in town to make it work.

table, one of the few pics that turned out

The only downside to the evening was the Cake Wreck. Austin's sister wanted a fun, whimsical, topsy-turvy cake in their wedding colors. She found this picture as the inspiration for her cake:

After calling around, I recommended that they order their cake from Harmons, a fancy-schmancy grocery store close to us, full of local produce and handmade soaps and gourmet sausages. I went to their bakery with my father-in-law a month before the wedding and they assured me they could make this cake and that they had done topsy-turvy cakes before. We ended up going with just a two-layer cake for our small reception, so I figured it wouldn't be a problem for them...

Austin's mom and dad picked up the cake right before the reception, and sadly informed Austin and I that the colors, stripes, and polka dots were right on the cake, but instead of being topsy-turvy, it just looked like two lopsided cakes on top of each other. I was a little upset, especially since I had left the bakery ladies a 3 page color document specifying everything from the size of polka dots to the angle of the tilt, but I had one hour in which to set up and decorate for a wedding reception, so I put it out of my mind. They could live with a lopsy-lurvy rather than a topsy-turvy cake, right?

Austin, his younger brother, and I were rather curious about what his sister's non-traditional cake looked like though, so the three of us took a moment as we were setting up to gather around and open the cake box. I wish you could have seen our faces. It was like in Napolean Dynamite when the farmer shoots the cow. GAAAASP***

Bottom layer of cake

Top layer of cake

The top layer had slid off the bottom layer, leaving behind...an unfixable 150 dollar Cake Wreck. I know, because multiple people tried to patch it back together. It was horrible. I was running around, flinging orders left and right--Mix that lemonade! Set out the plates! Move that table a little to the right! --while trying to come up with a viable solution for the cake disaster. I ended up ditching my supervisor duties, jumping in the car, and speeding down the hill to Smith's, where I picked up a chocolate cake so the bride and groom could have something to cut into to. (Austin offered to go, but at that point I didn't trust anyone when it came to the cake.)

Since we were already doing a dessert bar for the reception, I don't think anyone noticed anything out of place with the cake,
Bad picture, but you can see chocolate cake in center

but I was so mad at Harmons and embarrassed because I had recommended them, and I felt quite a bit responsible for the whole fiasco.

The reception was Saturday night, so first thing Monday morning I marched into Harmons, found the store director, and sat him down so I could wave photos of the Cake Wreck around. The problem was the construction: the top layer was not attached to the bottom layer in any way. Since the bottom layer was slanted, the top layer was like a little sled perched on top of the bottom layer and predictably and promptly slid off. He was very nice about it, gave me back all my father-in-law's money, and kept apologizing profusely, which got to be a little awkward after a while. My father-in-law said to give the money to the newlyweds, and hopefully with their hands full of cash they found it in their hearts to forgive my part in the whole miserable affair.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Drop, Cover, Hold On!

I don't know why this picture strikes me as oh so hilarious...maybe because it looks like an Ikea ad, except the people that coordinate their clothes with their dishes are worshipping the furniture instead of eating off of it. In reality, it's a safety ad showing what you're supposed to do in case of an earthquake. I have a few things to post about this past week--a week full of sickness and wedding madness and cake wrecks--but yesterday we had a state-wide earthquake safety drill and I want to post about that while it's on my mind.

Ever since I (finally) completed our emergency 72-hour go bags, I've been pretty enthusiastic about earthquake safety. Austin has even gone so far as to accuse me of wanting an earthquake to happen, just because I'm prepared for it. Of course not true, (well maybe just a tiny bit true) but in any case, yesterday for the earthquake drill, all Utahns were supposed to pretend there was an earthquake at 10:15 a.m. and simulate their real-life response, so I got my chance to practice. Austin was home sick in bed, and I was in bed too recovering from Cici teething and up all night, so I shook Austin violently, yelled "Earthquake!" and stuck a pillow over my head. Austin was a good sport and stuck a pillow over his head too. (Although maybe that was to drown out my yelling.)

Did you know that people who get out of bed during an earthquake significantly increase their chances of dying? For more info about what to do in various earthquake situations, I would encourage anyone who lives in an earthquake zone or who visits people in earthquake zones to read this article:


It's very clear and comprehensive, and debunks several myths about earthquake procedure. (And you get to see the Ikea ad/earthquake picture again!)

Monday, April 2, 2012

A Better Way to Eat

Picnic pants! All the rage in Italy! But that's not actually what this post is about. What I really wanted to talk about was my search for better eating. I grew up on potatoes, lots of white sauces, lots of desserts, basically down-home cooking. Which is yummy, but not the healthiest. Slowly I've been getting to the point where I feel that what I'm making is healthy for the family. I just decided that I need to re-work our diet yet again, and I'm starting with breakfast. I love breakfast. It's cheap, quick, and healthy. There are some easy ways to get protein without eating meat. (Fage greek yogurt and eggs!) Not that my love affair with bacon is going to disappear, (despite its price) but I want to have it crumbled in eggs from now on, not just slabs eaten by itself. Once I have healthy breakfast eating down, I will move on to other meals.

Here is a list I made today of breakfast options I will actually make/have:

Oatmeal and raisins
Eggs (with optional cauliflower puree for scrambled eggs)
French Toast (with optional pureed banana mixed in batter)
Applesauce Muffins (with pureed carrot hidden in them)
Pancakes (with applesauce or sweet potato puree mixed in with Krusteaz)
Steel cut oats
Strawberry syrup (homemade for pancakes)
German pancakes
Granola (preferably homemade--way cheaper)
Breakfast potatos (ourbestbites)
Smoothie (Yoplait mix from Costco)
Orange julius
Orange juice
Banana bread

Anyone have an easy smoothie recipe involving mostly berries? Don't try to sell me on anything involving spinach.

I also made a menu for the whole month of April today. I think I'm going to save a lot of money by buying all my non-perishables in one trip, and just going back to get fruit, milk, etc., throughout the month. Plus, if I get most of my month's groceries in one go, I can easily see how much of my grocery budget I've spent for the month and know how much I have left for any extras I need throughout the rest of the month. Brilliant!