New Years Resolutions & Organized Religion

What, I have a blog? 

 

Well, the blog is meant to record the activities of one’s life, but the activities of this blogger’s life are pushing out time for blogging or even email these days.  Still, I will try to get back to my Sunday habit.  There’s my first New Year’s resolution. 

 

My other one is the same one I’ve had most of the past 20 years—this year I will become a happy, thin, rich, motherly spiritual giant. 

 

It seems so simple, ironic, mutually exclusive and so, so familiar every January, but in the spirit of simplicity, it’s nice to get it all boiled down in writing.  Some omens say that the odds of reaching this goal at least in part are a bit more in my favor this year than in past years, but let’s give this same tired goal another 365 days and see what happens.  I’ll keep you posted.

 

I found this article interesting, and relevant to this discussion.  It is annoying to have scientists study Believers and why religion “evolved,” but it is funny to see them scratch their heads over why religiosity helps people so much.

 

Findings: For Good Self-Control, Try Getting Religious About It

 

Happy New Year!  I predict that—at least for me—2009 will be an interesting one, that good will come of it, but that it may not be a very comfortable ride. 

Belated Christmas Card

It is rare that I have the luxury to have my own designer and someone else footing the bill to create my own Christmas card. But, I was the lucky writer and Kim, my pal, was the selected designer, and here’s what we came up with. Although none of our clients will likely appreciate it, we took great effort to have many layers of meaning, real melodies instead of decorative notes, etc. The managers and company employees totally loved it, and it was really fun to do.
Anyway, since I’m not like all you together people that sent me (lovely!) Christmas cards, I’ll just go ahead and share it with you in lieu of the normal way. Of course, the company logo has been conveniently removed, but it’s not for commercial purposes, so I’m fine with it.
I had a wonderful Christmas, I hope you all did, too!

Quick Note

I’m alive, I’ve just been sick with a cold, or dealing with sick kids, for a week or so.  Things are good overall. 

I’ve been meaning to tell you that Doris discovered, and I have since personally confirmed, that most Christmas lights, particularly new ones, have lead all over them, so go ahead and have young kids NOT handle them at all or wash thoroughly afterward.  Also, I read this article and wish I had the clout to get Obama to read and agree with it.  http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/11/opinion/11kristof.html?_r=1

Also, if you know a good web designer/programmer with solid ASP experience who is willing to freelance for cheap, let me know.  I need advice on a personal project.

Third, the stock guy I get emails from thinks that we are entering a “Grand Supercycle Degree wave depression {IV}, with cataclysmic, nation changing potential.”  You probably already figured that out, though. 

On a related or unrelated note—you decide—it’s time to start planning your garden—Jan/Feb is seed-buying time.

Lastly, I found this great recipe for fancy restaurant bread-basket-quality bread that is SO fast and easy—and pretty much no kneading!  It’s from Mother Earth News, just about the only other newsletter I still get and haven’t unsubscribed from (my email inbox is so empty now).  Give it a try!  (You don’t really need a pizza peel—or even cornmeal.  I used a ton of flour, and just shoved it off the pizza peel with a spatula, which you could do off any flat surface, like a cutting board.)

Artisan Bread in 5-minutes a day

3 cups lukewarm water

1 1⁄2 tbsp granulated yeast (1 1⁄2 packets)

1 1⁄2 tbsp coarse kosher or sea salt

6 1⁄2 cups unsifted, unbleached, all-purpose white flour

Cornmeal for pizza peel

1. Heat the water to just a little warmer than body temperature (about 100 degrees Fahrenheit).

2. Add yeast and salt to the water in a 5-quart bowl or, preferably, in a resealable, lidded container (not airtight — use container with gasket or lift a corner). Don’t worry about getting it all to dissolve.

3. Mix in the flour by gently scooping it up, then leveling the top of the measuring cup with a knife; don’t pat down. Mix with a wooden spoon, a high-capacity food processor with dough attachment, or a heavy-duty stand mixer with dough hook, until uniformly moist. If hand-mixing becomes too difficult, use very wet hands to press it together. Don’t knead! This step is done in a matter of minutes, and yields a wet dough loose enough to conform to the container.

4. Cover loosely. Do not use screw-topped jars, which could explode from trapped gases. Allow the mixture to rise at room temperature until it begins to collapse (or at least flatten on top), approximately two hours, depending on temperature. Longer rising times, up to about five hours, will not harm the result. You can use a portion of the dough any time after this period. Refrigerated wet dough is less sticky and easier to work with than room-temperature dough. We recommend refrigerating the dough at least three hours before shaping a loaf. And relax! You don’t need to monitor doubling or tripling of volume as in traditional recipes.

5. Prepare a pizza peel by sprinkling it liberally with cornmeal to prevent the loaf from sticking to it when you slide it into the oven.

Sprinkle the surface of the dough with flour, then cut off a 1-pound (grapefruit-sized) piece with a serrated knife. Hold the mass of dough in your hands and add a little more flour as needed so it won’t stick to your hands. Gently stretch the surface of the dough around to the bottom on four “sides,” rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go, until the bottom is a collection of four bunched ends. Most of the dusting flour will fall off; it doesn’t need to be incorporated. The bottom of the loaf will flatten out during resting and baking.

6. Place the ball on the pizza peel. Let it rest uncovered for about 40 minutes. Depending on the dough’s age, you may see little rise during this period; more rising will occur during baking.

7. Twenty minutes before baking, preheat oven to 450 degrees with a baking stone on the middle rack. Place an empty broiler tray for holding water on another shelf.

8. Dust the top of the loaf liberally with flour, which will allow the slashing, serrated knife to pass without sticking. Slash a 1⁄4-inch-deep cross, scallop or tick-tack-toe pattern into the top. (This helps the bread expand during baking.)

9. With a forward jerking motion of the wrist, slide the loaf off the pizza peel and onto the baking stone. Quickly but carefully pour about a cup of hot water into the broiler tray and close the oven door to trap the steam. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the crust is browned and firm to the touch. With wet dough, there’s little risk of drying out the interior, despite the dark crust. When you remove the loaf from the oven, it will audibly crackle, or “sing,” when initially exposed to room temperature air. Allow to cool completely, preferably on a wire rack, for best flavor, texture and slicing. The perfect crust may initially soften, but will firm up again when cooled.

10. Refrigerate the remaining dough in your lidded (not airtight) container and use it over the next two weeks: You’ll find that even one day’s storage improves the flavor and texture of your bread. This maturation continues over the two-week period. Cut off and shape loaves as you need them. The dough can also be frozen in 1-pound portions in an airtight container and defrosted overnight in the refrigerator prior to baking day.

 

 

 

Surgery

Apparently many of you are wondering why I’m having surgery. I had a lot of baby-factory problems, which is why it took me 7 years to get pregnant with Ben. When by some miracle I did finally get pregnant, they said “Stay pregnant, because when you’re done, this stuff (endometriosis) is so bad it will come back with a vengeance and you’ll have to have it all out.” So, I was pregnant or nursing for 9 years, but over the past two years that I wasn’t pregnant, I started having a lot of discomfort, like there’s a rock garden in there or something. I finally remembered this last ominous warning my OB had given me long ago and I went into my doctor here and he said, “Yep, it’s a mess in there, endometrial cysts, fibroids, who knows what else, you’ve got to have it all out.” This also means ovaries, which are a source and implant place for a lot of the problems, so that means pills for 15 years, and it also means that David likes to refer to my surgery as a “gender reassignment.”

I am uncomfortable enough now that I am sad about waiting another month, but it’s for the best.

There’s your TMI for the day. Hope you enjoyed it.

A Good Day

Today I found out that my work is changing insurance providers in January to Aetna, which will have better coverage, so I am switching my surgery date to be in January to save myself some money.

My boss told me I could start my new schedule on Monday (8-12:30 everyday except Tuesday 8-6).

I was also really wanting something I thought was important but I couldn’t figure out how to pay for it, but then a way to pay for it magically fell out of the sky, so I decided God wanted me to have it.

Also the Christmas cards came in at work, which I and a designer I work with were assigned to this year (one writer and one designer is assigned each Christmas). Anyway, we got lots of kudos from the company because it is unique and fun. I’ll try to put it on the blog here if I can.

I was really productive today at work and then finally, just before I left, I found out that a guy I work with has been asked to contribute to a monthly industry publication because the publication likes how “his” blog “reads” and they love “his” style. As the real writer of his blog, this technically means I just got a gig writing in a monthly publication. No extra money, no extra credit (except from my boss, who always leaps up and has me wiggle fingers with him anytime I score like this), but still it was cool.

David’s gone, but I’ve been given the ok to come and go as needed this week at work and just make up my time at home. So, we should be good.

David had an appearance in court this morning before he left, and even though the judge was set on giving his client the max, the judge did concede a point that David made (although he went ahead and ignored it for sentencing) and this made David feel like at least he accomplished something. He also wrote a brief for another attorney that was well received, so he’s feeling good, although you can’t tell because of the ever-present, thick layer of grumpiness my husband wears. I grounded him from the house for a few days for excessive grumpiness, but I fear it didn’t have a deterrent effect since he was already traveling… either way, the net result is that I can love my husband from afar with less grumpiness in the house for the next few days.

So, a good day.

Grateful Thoughts

Lucy’s labs came back normal, which is great.  The next steps will be allergies, intolerances and other digestion issues.

My boss approved my alternate schedule, which will start not this week but next (unless my surgery remains on the 9th, in which case it will start when I get back).  My surgery date is up in the air again until I my next doctor’s appointment on Thursday AM. 

Thanksgiving was nice, it has been a good weekend.  I’ve been sluggish, but got a lot of kid time and housecleaning in.  Poor Noah got a really bad stomach flu the last 2 days, with fever and absolutely nothing staying down.  Last night was a rough one.

Aside from that, I’m feeling very grateful for a lot of things—it is clear the Lord has really taken care of us this year—always has, really, but all those years I felt a little out blown in the wind I can now better see what He was teaching us and that he was arranging things for our better good through all that.  It’s good to feel God’s love in that way. 

David will be out of town this coming week, it’s going to be a hard one, but I have a lot of family and friend support.  We went out this past weekend and I decided that even though I see him less often than ever, I really like him still, and I’m really proud of the work he is doing at the Federal Defender, and particularly proud of why he does it. 

We went to see a much-awaited vampire movie Friday that was very sweet and intense.  And I although I’m sure it goes without saying which one it was, I will clarify that it was the new Swedish indie film “Let the Right One In.”   I broke my rated R movie rules to spend time with David, who was already going with other friends.  Then I got a talking to today from a youth speaker who explained that it is not just about the rating, but about any content which makes it so you can’t feel the Spirit.  And since this particular much-awaited vampire movie was about a real vampire who—although only 12 and lonely and sad—actually has to reluctantly but desperately feed off random people to survive, and who takes bloody (and I must say gratifying) vengeance  to defend her only friend in the end—it was still a real vampire movie.  Anyway, the youth speaker’s point is taken. 

Tomorrow for FHE we start advent.  David picked up the required advent calendars from Trader Joes on his last visit.  I’m going to try to sing Christmas songs each night as a family this month and for our lesson tomorrow ask my family to participate in giving the gift of more regular and fervent prayers through the advent season to see if we can have the spirit of the Savior more strongly felt in our home.

Well, that’s my update.  Hope you all had a nice Thanksgiving.