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The Princess Bride

Cover of "The Princess Bride (20th Annive...

Cover via Amazon

Recently, a series of disasters led me to drive my loaner car to my sister’s house, to pick up a loaner computer (although, I suppose I’m very lucky to be a part of a family that has random cars and computers lying around. The good news is, at least one of the disasters has since been resolved) After spending the afternoon and night at Sis’s house, I asked her to come to my house to continue to hang out, and she agreed–even though it meant fighting a five year old and two year old all the way down.  She must like me or something.

We wanted to get a Redbox movie, but G was having none of it, and several tantrums later, we both gave up on trying to have fun out in the wilds of Utah County (whoo.) and ended up back at my house. A cooling off period, and some full bellies later, I was examining my (meager) DVD collection for a film that would both keep a five year old boy’s attention, and was fairly kid-friendly. What I came up with was “The Princess Bride”. G had never seen it before, and I have to say, it was really interesting to watch what was my favorite movie when I was his age through his eyes.

The first thing I noticed was how well the movie had held up–I mean, I know that I’ve loved it for the past 25 years and it’s considered a classic, but–how do I put this?

It’s like your old, favorite sweater. The color looks great on you, it fits well and it accentuates your bust.  Then one day, while wearing your favorite sweater, you happen to be watching an early season episode of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”, and slightly chuckling at the fashions of your high school years. Then, you glance down and realize the sweater you’re wearing would not look out of place at Sunnydale High.

What, I’m the only one that’s happened to?

Anyway the point is, “The Princess Bride” is near enough to my heart that I wasn’t sure I had been watching it objectively as a teen and adult.  But G loved it–I’ve never seen him that still when he wasn’t sleeping, sulking of seat belted down–even if he was up and down a bit. So, enough of my long, rambling, introduction: Here is  “The Princess Bride”, via a five year old’s first viewing.

It didn’t really hold G’s attention until Buttercup was kidnapped and jumped off the boat, which, okay, there’s not a lot of action up to that point. He definitely lost interest when Peter Falk and Fred Savage were on screen, though he did understand that the action was part of the story the Grandpa was reading, at least a bit into the movie he asked  “Is this still the story?”

My favorite part was when the Man in Black appeared for the first time. G declared definitively  “He’s a bad guy.” I don’t ever remember wondering if the Man in Black was good or bad–but then, I guess I don’t remember the first time I saw “The Princess Bride”. G loved the sword fight, and said he was rooting for Inigo (I think that Inigo was his favorite character, or maybe Inigo is just my favorite character.)

I don’t think he understood the exchange between The Man in Black and Fezzick (by the way, you can tell that Andre the Giant had a blast making the movie) and Vizzini, though he did laugh at Vizzini’s death scene–which I still maintain to be the greatest death scene ever put on film.  He was fascinated by the Fire Swamp, and wasn’t scared at all by the ROUSes–which scared the crap (not literally) out of me when I was a kid.  I’m not sure if that was simply because he’s a boy, and more action/protection oriented than I was, or if he could tell that they were actors in rat suits where you could practically see the zipper.  He was worried that Westley was all bloodied up after the battle with the ROUS, but didn’t die–“Why is his shoulder bloody? If he’s bleeding, why didn’t he die?”  Ah, kids.

I know that he didn’t understand why Sis and I were laughing during the Miracle Max and Impressive Clergyman scenes, but he loved the storming of the castle, and was once again rooting for Inigo during his duel with Count Rugen.

When the movie was over, I asked him what the best part was, and he said “The sword fights”. Sis then asked if that was a movie they should watch at their house, and he agreed that it was.

So, I think it’s safe to say that S. Morgenstern’s (and I guess this Reiner guy had something to do with it, too) masterpiece has a new fan. And the fact that “The Princess Bride” is continually gaining fans in the new generation makes me happy beyond belief.

Of course, not that any kid I see on a regular basis would have had any choice but to watch “The Princess Bride” on a regular basis. So it’s a good thing he liked it.

Temple Square

I’m in the midst of a two-week break between semesters.  Besides waiting less-than patiently for my summer semester grades to be posted (I’m really only worried about my Math class, I’m pretty sure that I didn’t get lower than a “B” in any of the other classes), I’ve been trying to find things to do to keep from being bored–how in the world did I manage two and a half months as a kid?

Anyway, given my sudden influx of all sorts of time, I’ve had a craving to get my watercolors out. The problem is, I’ve let my sketching taper off, and I didn’t have a clear inspiration for a painting.

To that end, I went to Temple Square in Salt Lake City yesterday. And, because I can’t visit Salt Lake without bugging Sis, I dragged her, G and E along with me.

It’s been a while since I’ve been to Temple Square–and I have to say, going on a Tuesday afternoon in the summer is a much more pleasant than going at Christmas Time. I’m a cold weather kind of gal, but I’ll take 90’s and no crowds to 20’s and loaded with tourists.

The original idea was to do some sketching there, but I threw my camera in my purse as an afterthought.  Which, had I been thinking, I would have just taken the camera–there was no way that I could have expected a 5-year-old and a 18 month old to wait patiently while I sketched. It was hard enough getting them to wait patiently while I took pictures.

I was more interested in the gardens than the architecture, but still:

It’s something of a requisite shot.

At the Conference Center. Not happy that his Mom and Aunt were telling him to stay out of the water.

In the lobby of the Joseph Smith Memorial Building. Originally known as Hotel Utah, it was built in 1911. Love the Art Nouveau styling.

Now, onto the gardens:

There were lots of gorgeous hostas, which, I think will work well for watercolor painting.

There were lots of gorgeous hostas, which, I think will work well for watercolor painting.

Hostas, or any plant with gorgeous greenery, really, make me think of an allegory once told me. I was taking a religion class, and my instructor was talking about having bought her first house, and putting in a garden. Her mother had suggested only plants that produced flowers or fruits, and getting rid of everything else. The point was we should fill our lives with productive things. In my literal-minded view of the world, I stopped listening to the lesson, and instead thought about all the beautiful, useful plants my instructor would miss out on if she took this advice. Like hostas. I came to the conclusion that it was a bad allegory.

And yes, hostas are technically a flowering plant, but you plant them for the beautiful leaves, not the rather lackluster flowers.

Black-eyed Susan. I’ve got this sketched and stretching, as soon as it’s dry, I’m going to try painting it.

I have no idea what this beauty is. The pink and purple flowers came from the same stalk as the orange and yellow flowers. The leaves look like mint, but it doesn't smell like mint.

Petunias are flowers that I've had to learn to like--but they are so cheerful, and they like the hot weather.

Just a couple of random lilies. I love how everywhere that could grow a flower is growing a flower. G didn't believe that there weren't any fish in the water in the background.

I wasn't the only person taking pictures of flowers--and if I had been thinking like a photographer and not a painter, I would have taken pictures of people taking pictures of flowers. I'm pretty sure I was the only person taking pictures of tree bark, though.

So, I’ve got plenty of inspiration, and for a handful of change for a parking meter, I had a fun outing with my sister and nephews. I think when you live close to monuments like Temple Square, it’s easy to take them for granted.

At least, I realized on the way home that I probably should have just gone to the public garden by my house for inspiration.

In other news, I’ve opened up an Etsy shop. You can find it here. Right now, I just have dog toys for sale, but hopefully, I’ll be able to expand into more artistic territories.  I’ve even already made a sale–a feat made less impressive considering the buyer is my cousin and one of my product testers. (Thanks, Sarah!) Anyway, check it out.

Happy Independence Day!

IMG_2340

Okay, I’m a little late, what with the spending the weekend at my parents house, with additional visitors, (I love you all, but still, ugh), trying to convince a little dog that the world isn’t going to end just because there’s thunder and/or fireworks (ugh. Also: July is a tough month for Lulu), trying to do five days worth of homework in a day and a half (see: spending the weekend with family and friends. Also, ugh) and my washing machine breaking. (expletives considerably stronger than ugh. At least things didn’t flood) So, I hope both of my American readers had a better holiday weekend than I did, and I hope that the one outside the US simply had a good weekend–you know, because it’s Wednesday now…

Also, this:

This is from an advertisement for a local grocery store. I’m choosing to believe that whoever put this ad together knew full well what random quotes do to a phrase, and truly meant those quotation marks around “safe” and “sane”.

After all, “safe” and “sane” fireworks are the best kind, right?

Please, tell me. I don’t remember–I’ve spent the last three Fourth of July’s trying with various degrees of success to peel a nervous little dog from off my face.

Childhood Danger

Bombala's (perpendicular) back-in parking style.

Image via Wikipedia: My parking lot kinda looks like this. Only, you know, less backwards.

I think I’ve gotten to the point where I can start writing again–while the post-a-day is too much, I’m going to aim for a post a week. Maybe, once I get back into the swing of things, I’ll start writing more.

Yesterday, during Max and Lulu’s afternoon walk, I observed one of my neighbors in some questionable activity. It’s not what you think. (Although, I HAVE seen what you’re thinking, on various other walks. I’m not looking for it, people just don’t close their blinds.)

This woman left her apartment with a car seat and her about four-year-old son.  She headed to her covered parking spot, while her son waited patiently in the row of cars closest to the building. Upon getting the car seat into the car, she sprinted the 30 feet or so separating  her from her son, and picked him up. The kid quite literally starts kicking and screaming at this point, and from the way she held him at arms length, this was a normal thing.

So, holding the kid at arms length, she once again runs the 30 feet back to her car, and a few minutes later, leaves.

Grand total of vehicles entering the parking lot during this event? 0.  And even if there were, she was parked after the storm drain/speed bump/giant pot hole (or possibly other storm drain; either way, it was filled with water, and I’m really careful when I drive over it) gauntlet that WILL damage any vehicle whose driver isn’t paying attention.

I watched this in a bit of disbelief. The way I see it, the mother’s method of getting a perfectly mobile child to her car put him in more danger than letting him walk himself the 30 feet to the car. The chances of her tripping seemed infinitely greater than him getting hit by a car. Heck, while I was watching this, Max and Lulu were running around off leash (which I know is a stupid thing to do, but they get more exercise that way) and the kid had a good 3 feet of height on them.

Yes, a kid is different from a dog, but her kid was well-trained enough to wait in the comparative safety of a row of cars for his mother to come and pick him up and risk his life. How much better off would he be if she taught him to look both ways, and carefully walk across while she’s putting the car seat in? Or, if that’s too “dangerous”, (hint: It’s not) than holding his hand and walking across the parking lot with him–you know, while teaching him to look both ways and proceed with caution.

While I was watching this, I was thinking about a post written over at Free Range Kids; click here for the actual post, and here will get you the video Lenore is talking about.

I’m not a parent. I don’t know what it’s like to worry about my child’s safety–but I firmly believe that “protecting” kids from every bump or bruise or overly hyped “Stranger-danger” is, in the long run, harmful to a kid that one day will be expected to grow into a fully functioning adult.

 

Car Troubles and Casseroles

So…I managed a couple of drama-free days, which, unfortunately,  seem to translate into blog-free days.  So, blog=drama, right?

Anyway, I spent a quiet morning at home, studying and composing a shopping list so I could, you know, actually eat tonight.  When the time came when I could take a break from the studying, I headed down to my car, turned the key…and nothin’.

My car has been temperamental all winter, so I didn’t think much of it, it’s been taking two or thee tries to get it started.

After ten, it TRIED to turn over, but it still didn’t start.  A few more tries, and a jump-start attempt later I did what any responsible grown woman would do.

I called my Daddy for help.

My wonderful father drove an hour and a half to look at my car.  After doing some mechanical magic, Dad declared my battery to be fine,  and my starter being what  has issues.  Which means, a trip to my home-town this weekend, providing I can get my car started, of course. Fortunately,  every where else I’ll need to go this week can be reached easily by bus.

Dad was kind enough to drive me to the grocery store and back so dinner, at least, is right on track.

I decided to make one of my favorite comfort foods.  We call it tortilla casserole.  I don’t know if my mom found this recipe somewhere, or if she made it up–I’ve never seen her use a written recipe to make it, and I was taught to make it without  a recipe as well.

Tortilla Casserole 

the ingredents

1 lb ground beef.  (I used ground turkey.  If you ask, it’s to save on fat and calories and in no way simply because ground turkey was 75¢ a pound cheaper than the ground beef)

1/2 of an onion, diced

1 can cream of mushroom (or chicken, or celery, or whatever you have on hand) soup

1 4oz can of chopped green chilies. (er, here’s the thing about the chilies.  I usually use Hatch brand green chilies, but the store didn’t have any.  They did have the  4 oz cans, but in a brand I wasn’t sure of.  Now, I’m not particularly picky when it comes to brand names, but I’ve had a few bad experiences with off-brand chilies.  So, with great hesitation, I got a 7 oz can of the Wal-Mart brand of chilies.  It worked fine, but I’d still prefer to have used the smaller can of the brand I’m familiar with.)

4-6 soft taco sized flour tortillas

that looks about right

Shredded cheese.  Growing up, we usually used mild cheddar, because that’s what we had in the fridge.  Here, I used colby jack.  How much? Yeah, no clue.  One of those things that, because I’ve never seen this recipe written down, I don’t know how much to tell you.  I will tell you this:  I love cheese.  My dad doesn’t, so I’ll use more cheese when I’m making this for myself than I would if I were making this for my family.

Okay, on to directions:

Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.

Heat a large skillet over high heat.  Add meat (if you are using ground turkey, or some other low-fat meat, you’ll want to add a bit of oil to the pan first), onion and green chilies.  Stir constantly, until meat is browned and onions are clear. Add the can of soup to the meat mixture and blend throughly. In a line the bottom of a 9×9 baking dis with a layer of tortillas.  Now, tortillas are round, and the baking dish is square, and this can cause some issues.

issues

 

I thought I got a picture of this next step, but apparently I didn’t.  Grrr.

Anyway, tortillas are easy to crease and tear, like paper.  So, take another tortilla, fold it into fourths, and tear it so that you’ve got nice little patches for the corner.  The bottom is the only layer that you need to worry about covering completely.

Spoon some of the meat mixture on top of the tortillas, spreading evenly.  You should use about a third of the mixture.

 

yum. And yeah, I have very little counter-space. The stove often pulls double-duty.

Next spread a generous amount of cheese over the meat mixture.  Or not, depending on who your making this for.

I had to restart my computer twice before I could upload this image. I hope it was worth it.

Next, tear a tortilla in half, and line up the torn edges with opposite sides of the pan.   If it’s not on the bottom, you don’t need to worry about covering the whole pan.

Continue layering the meat mixture, cheese and tortillas like a lasagna, until you’ve used up all of the meat.  I can usually get three layers.  You’ll want to alternate what side you put the straight edges of the tortillas on, to give your casserole added support.

I like to end with a layer of cheese on top of  the last tortillas.

 

Hmmm. Maybe I should have grated more cheese.

Put the casserole in your pre-heated oven for about 15 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and everything is heated through.  Above is what it looks like before going into the oven, and below is what it looks like coming out of the oven:

 

Dinners ready!

And this is what it looks like after two little dogs got fed up with my not dropping food and decided that they needed to go for a walk, and I could come back in and actually sit down to eat:

 

Okay, so I'm not a food photographer, and the light in my kitchen is less than great. Still...are you curious, yet?

This casserole will serve about six, depending upon what you’re using as side dishes.

Taste wise, the chilies give a nice little kick, but not too much of one.  I’ve had people who only eat the extra-mild salsa rave about this dish.

Anyway, go, cook, enjoy!  And be grateful when you put your key into the ignition of your car and it actually starts up.

A new start

Well, my first semester as a returning college student is officially over.  I got a better grade than I was expecting in English, a worse (but still passing) grade than I was expecting in Art History, and as expected, I’ll be taking math over again come summer semester.  I’m facing a bit of a hiccup with grades and financial aid, etc, that I need to get figured out sooner rather than later–which just might mean a trip to campus tomorrow.  Ugh.

The holidays were all well and proper, filled with guilt, disappointment (my spell check wants me to put “dismantlement” there, which would fit the spirit of the season quite well, but everyone I was involved with anyway, kept all of there limbs.  More or less),  headaches and frustrations.  Mom’s surgery went well, and she’s on track for round two in a few weeks.  (For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, let’s just say, she’s the “more or less”.)  The new year starts on Sunday, and the new semester starts on Wednesday.

I thought about waiting a few days before jumping back in to this blogging thing, but, why bother?  I’m not big on new-years resolutions, but I do want to write more-blogging and stories as well as school papers and such–and waiting to start such things just leads to more waiting, so here we go again.

EDIT: So, I just found out that WordPress is doing this Post a Day in 2011, and this is me officially announcing that I’m going to sign up to do it.  So…here goes nothing!

Life and more

Oakland California Temple Grounds

Image by B Evershed via Flickr

It’s currently 6:51 am.  My alarm clock is going to go off in ten minutes, but I woke up an hour ago, and was unable to get back to sleep.

I started my intermediate algebra class this week, and am feeling overwhelmed.  Math–well, I understand why people like math.  I’m not one of them.  I could be, but I tend to be careless with things like negative signs and distinguishing the difference between, say 34 and 43, then get frustrated when the problems I’m working on don’t turn out.

Because it’s a second block class, we have to move at double-time, which, at the moment is more than a little overwhelming.  I got back from class at about seven last night, walked the dogs, had some dinner, then worked on my math homework for three hours.  How did you spend your Friday evening?

I know that the feeling of drowning in a sea of integers is, like when I started school at the beginning of the semester, stemming from me being in a rut for so long, and not dealing with change well–as well as having to re-learn how to think in math again for the first time in more than ten years.  I think I’m getting the hang of things, though.

Maybe.  I’m behind on my homework, and it could be that when I get to the stuff that we talked about yesterday, I’ll be just as lost as I was on the first day.

It’s been a momentous week–one that feels like it’s lasted much longer than seven days, and I’m trying to think of the best way to segue without turning into a travel log (is such a thing possible if I only travel between my house and campus?)

Tuesday, upon checking the mail, I found a check from the federal reserve.   Upon opening it, I discovered it was for…wait for it… $37.

Yay?

Okay, so it was significantly less than what I was expecting, but obviously, I made a mistake on my taxes or else I would have gotten them back in May or June.  Which also explains why my grant got hung up on the “how much did you pay in taxes last year” question…

At any rate , while I was disappointed in the amount, thirty-seven dollars is thirty-seven dollars, and, upon combining that money with the money I’d been saving for weeks, if not months, gave me enough to buy a nook–which I absolutely love.  And I love that I only had to pull three dollars and change out of my bank account to purchase it.   The books to go on the nook on the other hand–

No, that’s not really fair.  While I have purchased books, most of the ones I’ve downloaded came either from the library or public domain, and thus were free.   I’m limiting the amount of money I can spend on books each month, and am going to have to force myself to stick to my very small limit–I could easily go way overboard when I can buy books from anywhere with just a few clicks.

On a more serious note…

Back in May, one of my uncles was in a serious car accident.  While undergoing surgery to repair the damage, it was discovered that he had terminal cancer.

He recovered from his injuries, and began treatment for the cancer.  For a while, he seemed to be doing quite well, but last week, he went downhill, and quickly.  Last Sunday, he enrolled in hospice care, and Thursday, he passed away.

How do I put this?  I’m sad to have lost George, but at the same time, I’m glad he’s not suffering anymore.  There’s a scripture in the Doctrine and Covenants: (Section 43: 45-48)

Thou shalt live together in love, insomuch that thou shalt weep for the loss of them that die, and more especially for those that have not hope of a glorious resurrection.

And it shall come to pass that those that die in me shall not taste of death, for it shall be sweet unto them; And they that die not in me, wo unto them, for their death is bitter.

And again, it shall come to pass that he that hath faith in me to be healed, and is not appointed unto death, shall be healed.
I hope to be able to go to the funeral, but I also need to be realistic about the struggles I’m having in school–I don’t think I can afford to miss a class.
Things seem to go in cycles–a couple of weeks ago, I had one of those weeks when everything went my way, this week, it seems that everything is going wrong.  I guess the best I can do is muddle through, and know it’ll get better, eventually.  Right?
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