Family, Life, Pictures

Halloween 2015

On Halloween Eve, my friends and I threw an awesome murder mystery party using one of those old boxed sets they used to make called How to Host a Murder. They’re so much better than anything you can get online now and I wish they still made them! Plus you can never go wrong with a bunch of funny people with terrible British accents.

Here we are as Dame Allison Bigh, murder mystery writer, and Dr. Malcolm T. Praktiss, “Healer to the Rich.” I bought that dress at DI two or three years ago and I was so ecstatic to find out that it still fits!! More than six months pregnant, woohoo!

Murder Mystery

On Halloween itself, we went to a party hosted by our friends Jake and Anna, to whom we are forever grateful for giving us an excuse to wear our Snow White and Prince Charming ensembles. I don’t know anyone whiter than me or more princely than my husband, so I thought our costumes suited us perfectly :). And clearly I need a new pose!

Snow White

I am so looking forward to coercing my children into wearing family costumes in the years to come. Why yes, I already have next year’s planned!

We also participated in the glorious tradition of pumpkin carving. Nathanael and I like working on one pumpkin together, because we’re good at brainstorming ideas together, I’m good at drawing it on the pumpkin, and he’s good at the execution. Tada!

One Ring Pumpkin

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Gospel, Life

No Higher Tribute

About a week and a half ago, my Church held its global meeting called General Conference. But wait! Don’t go! Even if you’re not a member, these powerful messages can touch and heal you. Start with the first session (there are six) by clicking here.

But if there is one message that I would recommend to any person to watch, it would be that of Elder Jeffrey R. Holland. This guy is famous for his amazing talks, but this one truly is special, even for him. I’ve never heard anything more powerful about womanhood. Ever. Period.

If you’ve ever had doubts about the Church’s teachings about women, watch this. Don’t listen to the naysayers who whisper lies that the Church or God doesn’t value women as much as men just because the distribution of administrative roles or perceived power seems imbalanced to you. Listen to Jeffrey R. Holland preach the real feelings of the Apostles and Jesus Christ about how powerful a woman can be (and this can apply to any woman who mothers in any sense of the word, not just those who have born their own genetic children):

To all of our mothers everywhere, past, present, or future, I say, “Thank you. Thank you for giving birth, for shaping souls, for forming character, and for demonstrating the pure love of Christ.” To Mother Eve, to Sarah, Rebekah, and Rachel, to Mary of Nazareth, and to a Mother in Heaven, I say, “Thank you for your crucial role in fulfilling the purposes of eternity.” . . . In fact, you are saviors on Mount Zion, and like the Master you follow, your love ‘never faileth.’ ” I can pay no higher tribute to anyone.

Oh boy, that talk made me excited for motherhood! Not so much the shopping and decorating and parties (although I do realize people generally have a lot more fun with those things than I do, but that’s why my husband calls me the Grinch of babies).

If this subject matter doesn’t interest you, here are some other speeches that were stellar (click on the phrases below):

On being happy . . . 

On why the Church seems to be run by a lot of old guys . . .

On the reason we have commandments . . .

On being guided by the Holy Spirit . . .

On improving ourselves one thing at a time . . .

These talks were totally restorative to me. I am at peace again :).

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Life, Pictures, Traveling

A Summary of Weeks

Time here has been flying by through my two favorite months: September and October. Let me catch myself up a little bit.

At the end of July (back in NH), we finally flew kites. When I bought them, the cashier (imagine a mix between Urkel and Carlton) asked me, “These are for your son and daughter? Nephew and niece?” No, sir. Myself and my husband.

Flying Kites

In August, we stepped aboard the USS Constitution in Boston, which was a gorgeous ship. Unfortunately, the lower decks were closed so there wasn’t a whole lot to see. Fortunately, we were with Nathanael’s cousin Mariah, so it was fun anyway.

USS Constitution

And these two put on a puppet show for me in the USS Constitution museum.

3 Puppets

During Nathanael’s last week of his internship, Westinghouse took all the interns (and me!) on a Portsmouth Harbor cruise to Star Island. I realized that I really like being on boats, because it makes me feel like Edmond Dantes. Getting in the water, not as much.

Plus, I look like one of the three blind mice, which is reason enough to put this picture up.

4 Harbor Cruise

And for our last major event in New Hampshire, Nathanael had a softball game. I love having an athletic husband. His team might have won the league championship, but I can’t remember. But it was nicknamed the “beer league,” so you can imagine that winning wasn’t very hard to do.

5 Softball

Next, we started the long drive home! When we were passing through New York, we saw signs for Niagara Falls and decided on a whim to take a detour to visit the Falls (I’ve never been there). We were richly rewarded with this amazing view.

6 Niagara Falls

I felt really bad for the millions of tourists there who had clearly flown here from other countries to see the thing.

We passed through Omaha to once again impede on Megan and Greg’s kindness. While there, we went to the Omaha Zoo, which was the highlight of my summer. I love animals. That lemur in the second photo was RIGHT by us, but we were forbidden to touch it. I was sad.

7 Omaha Zoo

Omaha also has a big museum about its history, which, no offense, wasn’t all that interesting since we don’t live there. However, they had an exhibit about ancient Egypt, which is one of those things I am randomly interested in. The interactive stuff was the best.

8 Omaha Museum

At some point during the drive, we acquired some Taco Bell. Nathanael had been deprived of it for months, so I felt that a photo of his reunion with his fast food burrito was a must.

9 Taco Bell

Oh, no one cares but me? I don’t believe it.

And then, the climactic event of the summer: the creation of the Davis family. It was the perfect summer wedding! And who says you can’t hide it when you’re almost halfway through your pregnancy? (Oh yeah, I’m pregnant by the way.)

10 Bryn's Wedding

I also was privileged to see my favorite sight/hear my favorite sound:

11 Piano

Luckily, we made it back from New Hampshire in time for the Utah Valley Renaissance Faire! I’ve never been to one of these things before, and I’ve always wanted to go. I was not disappointed. How often do you get to see fake jousting and sit in thrones?

My only complaint is that a lot of people didn’t seem to know there’s a difference between the Medieval period and the Renaissance, and I wish the faire throwers would set up some guidelines regarding historical accuracy. Alas. Not that I was remotely historically accurate in acid wash jeans . . . Alas again.

12 Renaissance Faire

We also keep taking remarkably attractive pictures of ourselves.

13 Amazing

And we went to see Beauty and the Beast at the Tuacahn with Bryn and Chad! Going to plays is truly a joy for me, and it was even better watching my favorite play with my two loves (Bryn and Nathanael). I wish they could have had the Beast and Gaston from the movie, though.

That theater has such cool scenery. Go there.

14 Tuacahn

Nathanael also turned TWENTY-FIVE! So I baked (that’s the second time this month, very out of character for me), and his sister let us come over to make pizzas with siblings and cousins! Nathanael sure has a good family.

16 N Birthday

And finally, I started this:

17 LOTR

I’ve supposedly read it before, but it kind of went in one ear and out the other. I think I was about twelve and was reading it to impress someone? Maybe? Anyway, I decided it was high time I really read the thing. I love it. I think about it when I’m not with it. It’s getting pretty serious.

Oh yes, and please go watch General Conference if you haven’t. That deserves a post to itself, so I’ll just say it was amazing and insist that you watch it or re-watch it or re-re-watch it.

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Food

Whole Wheat Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Frosting (and drastically reduced amounts of sugar)

THIS IS REALLY GOOD.

Anyone who knows me knows I don’t really do sweets. Sweet is just not a taste that I generally like. But cinnamon on the other hand. I think cinnamon is the food of the gods. But for some reason, cinnamon is pretty much always paired up with a buttload of sugar and turned into sickly sweet treats. I’m of the opinion that most all of the time, you just need to let the cinnamon speak for itself.

One day, I decided to change that and make some not-very-sweet-at-all, whole wheat cinnamon rolls, but make them TASTY. And that’s what I did.

Now, I’m sure there are like a million recipes already out there for this exact same thing, but I did figure out this recipe all on my lonesome using a regular cinnamon roll recipe as a starter. There’s seriously nothing more gastronomically satisfying to me than having my way with a recipe (besides a hot-n-ready pizza from Little Caesars). I don’t even want to tell you the original amount of sugar that was supposed to be in the frosting. It will give you nightmares.

Cinnamon Rolls Ingredients

  • 2 c. milk, scalded
  • 2 pkg. yeast (granular) (I used compressed yeast, so I tried to use 75% of this amount, which turned out to be 3.5 tablespoons [3 tbps would be actually  75%])
  • 1 c. butter, plus about 3 tbsp
  • ⅓ c. honey
  • 2 t. salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 5 c. whole wheat flour
  • Cinnamon

Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients

  • 1/3 stick of butter
  • 1.5 sticks of cream cheese (12 oz.)
  • ¼ cup powdered sugar
  • ¾ cup honey
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 1 t. lemon juice

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Scald milk (bring nearly to a boil and then cool down)
  3. If using granular yeast packets, sprinkle yeast on top and let stand to soften. If using compressed yeast, you’ll add it in later.
  4. Cream 1 cup of the butter.
  5. Add honey and salt. Cream together until light and fluffy.
  6. Add eggs, milk, and yeast (this is where you’d add compressed yeast if it’s not already in the milk).
  7. Add flour one cup at a time until you’ve made a soft dough that’s not too sticky, but not dry either.
  8. Let sit, covered, in a warm place until the dough has doubled in volume (about 1.5 hours).
  9. Roll out dough until it’s about ¼ inch thick.
  10. Cut into the dough to make strips about 1.5–2 inches tall.
  11. Melt the other 3 tbsp of butter and spread over rolled out dough.
  12. Generously sprinkle with cinnamon (put way more than you think you should).
  13. Roll the strips up, one by one, but don’t use an entire strip for one cinnamon roll. You should be able to get 2–3 rolls out of one strip.
  14. Put onto a cookie sheet about .5–1 inch apart and bake for 15–20 minutes, or until it’s no longer very doughy in the center. The outside layer will become somewhat dry, but don’t fret! The frosting will change that, and so will microwaving the leftovers.
  15. Meanwhile, mix all the cream cheese ingredients together in a bowl using an electric hand mixer until smooth.
  16. Spread over warm cinnamon rolls and enjoy :).
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Life

Today’s the Day

We’re leaving New Hampshire. And I hope I don’t offend anyone here when I say, FINALLY!!

During the months leading up to this summer, I had been wanting to grow more as a person. I felt like I needed a trial, because I’ve deduced that that’s basically the only way to teach me anything important. I thought we’d have to move to Europe to accomplish that, but it turns out Heavenly Father had just the right thing waiting for me right here in the States. How convenient :).

At one particularly low point, Nathanael gave me a blessing (this is a special sort of prayer* for direction, comfort, or healing that can be given to anyone by worthy men who have been ordained to the priesthood). He told me that God knew who I was and where I was, and that He had sent angels to bear me up.

After that, I started looking for the influence of the angels around me, fancying myself to be surrounded with all sorts of important women who had passed on (pride issues), and probably some ancestors as well.

One day, I realized that some of these angels were actually just the regular, ordinary, mortal human beings around me! The first and foremost being Nathanael, because seriously . . . That guy. His patience and love for me are unreal. He’s my personal angel helping me through life.

But also the lady we live with here, Babs. She’s always gone out of her way to invite me to various activities and help me explore the area we live in. We’ve had some really great conversations, and she’s been so generous and kind to us! We’re so glad we didn’t end up in some random apartment complex without a fairy godmother watching over us :).

And also also, the people of the Portsmouth Ward. They take being welcoming to a whole new level that I heretofore had never experienced! They made sure I had rides to activities, they invited us over to dinner, they invited us to do things with them, and one woman in particular even let me tag along for a whole day of museum-going and learning about the Revolutionary War. At church, they were always ultra friendly and overflowing with compliments for us (a super cool quality of theirs that they don’t just use on new people). I’ve never honestly felt as integrated into a ward as I do here, and we were only here for three months! I’m telling you, the Portsmouth Ward has got it figured out.

Anyway, I’ve already gotten way more personal than I usually like to be, so I’ll summarize: I learned a lot this summer. I should probably try to be an angel to someone else, to stop analyzing people’s trials and deciding whether I think they’re being a baby or not before I try to help. This baby was sure glad people helped her.

Buuuuut I’m not going to pretend to be sad that I’m going home :).

*If you need a blessing and don’t know a priesthood holder personally, the missionaries can definitely help you out with that.

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Food

Confessions of an Adult Picky Eater

When I was growing up, the list of foods I liked was small. My parents even had to trick me into eating ice cream—they told me that rainbow sherbet was “Ariel’s ice cream,” and then I gobbled it right up. Too bad that trick didn’t work very well with anything else (“Ariel’s zucchini” or “Belle’s tomatoes” just don’t have the same ring to them).

I didn’t like practically anything. Some of the main foods I would eat were potatoes, pizza, pesto, spaghetti, bread, bananas, strawberries, juice, green beans (only canned ones), deli sandwiches, and the occasional carrot (only if it were uncooked). That pretty much covers it. How did my poor mom even keep me alive??

Tomatoes were especially offensive to me ever since I watched Honey I Shrunk the Kids, because there is a scene where the shrunken people end up walking underneath an armoire that has tons of dead cockroaches under it. The cockroach guts looked like tomato insides to me, and so it was over for me and tomatoes for years. Years. 

There was also the time I became deathly afraid of going to the bathroom after watching Indiana Jones,  but there’s not even really a logical explanation for that one. The moral of the story is: don’t let your emotional and/or dramatic children watch movies. Ever. The only good that will come of it is that you might be able to convince them to eat ice cream, and the benefits of that are negligible.

But around the time I started going to college, I realized that I needed to get over it. I began slowly trying things I didn’t like or had never tried before. That’s the catch with picky eaters: most of the stuff we don’t like, we haven’t tried. But no parent’s reasoning—”How do you know you don’t like it? You’ve never even tried it!”—can supersede the stubborn self-awareness of the picky eater, who is more than confident in his or her abilities to weed out things he or she probably won’t like than in his or her parents’ good will. Moms and dads, I’m sorry, but you’re really going to have to get more creative than “How do you know you don’t like it?” That tactic has been failing since at least 1991.

But in college, I got on the onion bandwagon . . . Then I tried pineapple and loved it . . . Then there was spinach (only raw though because seriously, cooked spinach is revolting) . . .  Next I conquered my aversion to scrambled eggs, followed by hard boiled eggs . . . And so on and so forth through many foods that are totally not offensive to my palate and are actually totally delicious.

I’m still working on it. Right now I’m trying to like bell peppers, mushrooms, and sweet potatoes. I’m definitely getting somewhere with them.

Foods I’ve totally given up on are the aforementioned cooked spinach and zucchini. Is there a food more disgusting than zucchini???? As a twenty-four-year-old woman giving it a go after about 16 years of abstinence, it still made me gag. There are some food relationships that just aren’t meant to be.

So what’s the point of all of this? There is no point, this is just a blog.

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