30 May 2011


I have relocated.  And I've started writing on my blog again.  You can find my blog and all of my future posts here:


24 November 2009


this year for the first time i'm entirely in charge of producing thanksgiving dinner.  i've been actively involved in making other thanksgiving dinners, but i've never planned and made the whole thing.  and it's kind of fun to sit down and plan a menu and figure out a schedule.  so here's what my thanksgiving will look like:

the menu:
  • roast turkey breast with lemon and thyme
  • mashed potatoes and gravy
  • oven-baked bread stuffing
  • sweet white corn
  • homemade (of course!) dinner rolls
  • pumpkin pie (need i really designate it as homemade? really?  anything but is simply inadequate)
the schedule:

  • buy challah, slice in half-inch slices and leave out over night to dry
  • make gravy.  since a turkey breast won't produce enough drippings to make gravy, i'm doing this step in advance using cooks illustrated's "all purpose gravy" recipe (which looks delicious)
  • make pie crust and filling and bake.  i may even dig out my mini fall leaf cookie cutters and decorate the pies
  • cut the dried slices of challah into half-inch cubes and leave out over night to dry out some more
  • brine the turkey (again using cooks illustrated's directions; i do love my cooks illustrated subscription)
  • mix up rolls and let dough double in size
  • peel potatoes and cover with water
  • punch down roll dough and put rolls on pan to rise again
  • prep turkey and get it into the oven
  • prep dressing and get it into the oven
  • boil and mash potatoes
  • re-heat gravy
  • bake rolls
  • boil corn
  • carve turkey
  • EAT!!!
can i just say that thanksgiving is one of the very best holidays?  yumminess! 

{p.s. let me know if you want any of the recipes i'm using.}


just a little light reading on questions of sex, gender, and culture:

  • on why "chick flicks" are not all that woman-friendly: "7 popular chick flicks that secretly hate women." (be forewarned of some profanity)
  • on the federal court challenge to prop. 8 and the broader related issues: "gay on trial." winning quote: "They [defenders of prop. 8 who oppose gay marriage] also argue that sexual orientation falls on a continuum and that sexuality is 'fluid,' a decidedly nontraditional view that has taken root in college queer-studies departments but not the sort of thing you'd ever hear from Focus on the Family's James Dobson."  i'd just love to see most conservatives who oppose gay marriage swallow that pill.
  • jessawhy's personal articles of faith, a beautiful piece: "my articles of faith."
  • on the romantic paternalism prevalent in the church and the desire to be taken seriously: "romantic paternalism."
  • on the dangers of the twilight saga (and a great example of why we should think just a little more carefully about the entertainment we consume): "ew moon: why twilight continues to hurt america."  winning quotes: "Young girls around the country are debating whether she should choose Edward or Jacob. Which abuse is better? He’s insanely jealous and stalks me or he can barely control his anger and may physically abuse me at any moment?" and " The messages behind Twilight? Be weak, let your man protect you. Be careful, don’t get him angry. If he hurts you, it’s your fault. Abuse is part of life. Accept it. If he really loves you, he’ll try not to hurt you but don’t be surprised if he does. You probably deserve it. You are nobody without your man, so don’t bother trying." is it any wonder that the author of the series is mormon?
  • and, to be balanced, an interesting feminist defense of the twilight saga, which asks some very important questions: "another feminist defense of 'twilight'."
  • and my hero for the week: the ten-year-old boy in arkansas refusing to stand and pledge allegiance because gay marriage is not legal, therefore the nation does not provide "liberty and justice for all." (no reading required, just a fast enough connection to stream video)
go forth, read, and comment.  i'd love to hear what you think.

22 November 2009


chocolate chaud.

3 cups whole milk
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup sugar
6 oz. dark chocolate (i use one that's 80% cocoa)

break chocolate into small pieces (i put mine in a baggie and beat it with my rolling pin--very therapeutic) bring milk, water, and sugar just to a boil and remove from heat.  whisk in chocolate until it is melted.  using an immersion blender, blend the chocolate for about a minute until it is frothy.  if you don't have an immersion blender, you can put the chocolate in a regular blender and blend it for a minute.  it's very yummy served with a toasted egg bread (challah or brioche, for example).  but it's best served as an accompaniment to decorating for christmas.  yummy!

21 November 2009


i may be just a little crazy.  why?  because i'm taking on projects when i should be doing nothing but reading.  but i stitch during church.  and i do need an occasional t.v. break.  so here are a few projects i'm planning on in the next month or two:

for my baby C:

head bands for my nieces:

for my sister J, in gold:

20 November 2009


i live in the wrong place.  you see, i love winter.  i love cozy sweaters and wearing socks.  i love long walks through falling snow.  i love waking up to a world freshly blanketed in snow--there's nothing like the silence of that moment.  i love hot drinks and crackling fires.  i love scarves and jackets and gloves.  there's really nothing about winter that i do not like.  yet i live in southern california.  and my sisters, who both hate the snow, live in utah and upstate new york.

this year i'll get my dose of winter when i travel east for christmas.  and i hope it comes with lots of snow, complete with a snowman and maybe even a snowball fight.  just four short weeks and i'll be there, in the land of winter.  yay!!

19 November 2009


today it's only wednesday.  and it's been a long, yucky wednesday.  so i'm going to go to bed and sleep.  but first i thought i'd show you what has me plugging along this week:

come sunday, i'll be hanging ornaments (including several disco balls) and stringing lights and playing the first christmas music of the season.  and that, my friends, makes it okay that i had a long, yucky wednesday.

18 November 2009


i've been sitting here thinking about what to write about.  but the problem is that i got irritated by a man who i *know* to be an ass (which means i really shouldn't let him irritate me), so instead of coming up with something to write about for today i've just been stewing.  

so i'm not writing tonight.  back to it tomorrow.

16 November 2009


in the last year, i've gained nearly thirty pounds.  i think that surprises people when i tell them.  because i'm tall and have a fairly well-proportioned figure, i carry the weight pretty well.  but it's still there.  and i can't wear most of my clothes.  i have exactly two pair of pants and three skirts that fit.  true, i can squeeze into a few other items, but not many.  and that is why i need to lose at least fifteen pounds (though i'd really like to lose all thirty).  because i simply cannot afford to buy a new wardrobe.

the only question is how.  i've never had to really think about losing weight before.  the only time i lost any significant amount, it just sort of happened when my lifestyle changed a bit.  this time, it's going to take some concerted effort.  so here's what i'm going to do:

  • slimfast for breakfast.  because a friend used it a few years ago and it worked for her.  so i'm willing to ignore the questionable taste and try it.
  • exercising at least three times a week.  i should really try to workout daily, but i know myself well enough to know that is highly unlikely.  i figure having a more realistic goal will not only make it more achievable, but also less likely to result in guilt, which usually triggers a defeatist attitude and the subsequent indulgence in sweets.  yeah.  i want to avoid that scenario.
  • in addition to working out, i'm going to try to walk more often.  i think the fact that i walked thirty minutes a day helped me lose the weight the last time.
  • cutting down on portion sizes.  i don't much buy into fad diets that stress cutting carbs or just sugar or purges or what have you.  but i do think that cutting portion sizes can go a long way.
  • cutting down on sugar intake.  i won't cut it altogether.  i like sweets.  and i'll occasionally eat them.  but no more snacking on candy bars from the college vending machine or making a side trip to get a cupcake.  
  • cutting down on fast food.  it's just too easy to run through a drive through to grab a quick bite to eat.  this will be easier since i'm relatively poor and fast food adds up quickly.  it's much cheaper to just buy the groceries and cook.  
so there you have it.  my plan.  hopefully it will produce results and i'll be able to wear my jeans again.  and all my cute skirts.  and hopefully the slimfast will become more palatable.  this morning i drank the "french vanilla" (in quotes because it tasted neither french nor vanilla) with a diet coke chaser.


in the introduction to the most recent edition of the feminine mystiquebetty friedan argues that women's progress will essentially halt until our society makes changes in men's gender roles.  i couldn't agree more.  but i'd like to focus my discussion of male gender roles on the possibility of women's happiness, just for a moment.

recently, mfranti over at feminist Mormon housewives called attention to a little article in the mormon times which begins by asserting that feminism tacitly implies "that in order for women to have worth they had to be just like men" and ends with the pithy statement that "it's interesting, important stuff, feminism, i'm just not sure why anybody ever believed it was the ticket to happiness."  let's start with these two lovely points and work from there.  first, i--a staunch (some would say flaming), long-time feminist--i have no desire to be "just like men."  i'm a woman, thank you very much.  and i'm perfectly happy being a woman, even if i engage in a little gender bending on occasion.  feminism has never claimed that women will only have worth if they're just like men, even if it has claimed for women the same rights men have.  perhaps this subtle distinction is lost on palmer.  and then there's the question of feminism and happiness.  i'm not sure anyone has ever claimed that feminism was a "ticket to happiness," either, though i'm sure most feminists would argue that feminism has very clearly allowed for more equal access to things that generate happiness.  but more on that in a moment.

aside from earning my scorn for its rather superficial and inaccurate treatment of feminism, palmer's article got me thinking about the question of having it all.  contemplating the question of why it is, after 40 years of feminism, women are reportedly unhappy, palmer proposes that said unhappiness "is a product of the crashing reality that, no matter what we may have heard, and despite all our options, we still can't have it all. No matter what we choose, it will inescapably come at the cost of something else."  now, i'm not going to argue with the fact that making choices involves cost.  if i choose to work full time, i clearly will not be with my (hypothetical) children full time and vice versa.  but i maintain that there is a way for women to have it all--including happiness.  and that's where men's gender roles come in.

i'll pause a moment for the head-scratching.


and to continue.  so what does women's happiness have to do with male gender roles?  everything.  in a recent article examining gender roles in the workplace in the american prospect, courtney martin argues that "we have to stop using 'work/life balance' as coded language for 'working-mom stress.' despite ample evidence that men are served by investing more time and energy outside the workplace and 'coming out' as fathers while in it, there are very few men who are taking on this issue in a substantive, political way."  according to martin (and i agree with her), questions of balancing the demands of work and the demands of life have too often been framed in terms of women's needs, which ignores that men, too, are human beings with lives outside of the workplace.  so long as we equate masculinity with earning capacity and the ability to provide (coughcough--i'm looking at you, mormons), we'll perpetuate a situation in which women (even working women) carry the burden of making the home function while men just fund it. (aside: i know this is changing because i've witnessed it; part of the change is simply generational; but part of the change also needs to be conscious and proactive on the part of both men and women.)

but this brings me to a point martin made in another recent piece in the american prospect: it's not enough for us to identify what men should not (and, if my experience is in any way indicative, do not) want to be.  we (and by "we" i mostly mean men) need to develop a positive image of what a progressive, enlightened, post-gender man is.  it's not enough to want to get rid of machismo and entitlement and patriarchy; we need to have some sense of what will take their place.

it's tempting to simply say that men should be free to be themselves.  but is that enough?  simple freedom?  is that what the feminist movement earned for women?  in some ways yes.  we're now free to educate ourselves and earn for ourselves and become what we want to be.  we're free to make the attempt at having it all, while accepting the costs that come with it.  perhaps the answer is that we need to open to men what has been traditionally available to women: nurturing, educating, caring for children; maintaining and designing and operating a peaceful, productive living environment; being the primary caregiver rather than the primary breadwinner.  these things need to be options for men--real options that don't come with social condemnation attached.

perhaps most importantly we need a society in which individuals make choices for themselves about what works best for themselves in their own individual circumstances.  if we can reach a place where both women AND men AS INDIVIDUALS are free of gender constraints, i have no doubt that we can have it all and happiness, too.  because, as martin points out, "neither heterosexuality nor fatherhood is a prerequisite for wanting a more flexible, healthy workplace. anyone who hopes to be a balanced person with relationships and passions outside of work has a stake"--specifically a stake in policy issues that allow for balancing all of the demands of life, not just those of work.

in my mind this will take two radical (radical, as in 'of roots' implying a return to roots) changes (especially radical for mormons): 1. the breakdown of traditional male gender roles; and 2. seeing people as individuals first rather than members of a couple.  perhaps i'll leave you there, with the intention of following up on number two another time.  thoughts?

14 November 2009


yesterday i buzzed my head again.  i was trying to wait until january so my sister could see my curls again when i go visit next month.  but i just couldn't handle the maintenance anymore.  and i didn't have the money for a real haircut.  so it was a set of clippers with a #2 comb, my friend C, her baby A on my lap, and her three-year-old E throwing a temper tantrum with periodic breaks for conversation.  she was a saint to take the time to do it for me.  and now i have my edgy, gender-bending cut back.  i wonder how long it will take for someone to call me sir...


let's talk weddings.  specifically let's talk wedding dresses.

i grew up fantasizing about wedding gowns.  my sister and i used to buy bridal magazines with some regularity.  we'd pour over them, dog-earing the dresses we liked, drooling over diamonds, dreaming of the day when we could deck ourselves out like the models in the magazines.  we weren't totally without a critical eye.  we frequently made fun of mermaid dresses and models who looked like they were sick to their stomachs.  but we generally bought into the bridal image: poufy, white, bead-bedecked froth accented with pearls and a diamond ring.

i went bridal gown shopping with my sister when she was engaged a little over ten years ago.  it was fun watching her try dresses on.  and i loved the dress she chose--simple a-line with a square neck and minimal pearl beading.  but even then i had started telling my mother that i didn't want a traditional wedding.  i had long since started making fun of the dresses i had fantasized about as a 13-year-old.  and when i saw first hand all of the planning that went into my sister's wedding--well, as much as i liked the finished product (and it was a lovely wedding), i started threatening to elope.

tonight as i was flipping channels, i ran across say yes to the dress on TLC.  and i got sucked in.  except what was once fantasy is now more like horror.  the fashionista in me still kind of enjoys seeing dresses.  i do watch the academy awards mostly for the pre-show red carpet, after all.  but so many wedding dresses are just style nightmares.  and the practical, feminist, non-traditionalist me with my taste for simplicity--well, i can't help but be horrified.  there's the prices--$5000 for a dress?  really?!  that's just nuts.  and that's the low end of the budget, if this particular show is to be believed.  and then there's the princess mentality.  heaven forbid the bride not have her perfect day.

i understand that weddings are a big deal in our culture.  i'm all for celebrating such an important occasion.  and i think people should celebrate in whatever way they feel is appropriate.  but i don't like traditional weddings.  i don't like the emphasis being on the party rather than on the commitment being made.  i don't like the tradition of the father giving the bride to her husband; it smacks of the past when women did not have a legal identity of their own.  i don't like the expense.  or the stress.  and i don't like tradition for the sake of tradition.

but you know what i like the least?  i really hate the way the fantasy dominated my youth.  to such an extent that the failure to accomplish the dream has created serious emotional and psychological blocks for me as an adult.  the assumption that i would grow up and marry was so deeply ingrained that i never doubted it as a child and young woman.  but i have not lived the fantasy.  and as it became more apparent that i would not have the fantasy, my self worth and confidence became proportionately less.  i hate that.  why should my sense of value be contingent on my being married?  to my having the fantasy? that's ridiculous.

so here's what i fantasize of now: i fantasize of a world in which everyone, female and male, is valued for her- and himself.  alone.  because they are unique and individual and have wonderful things to offer the world.  and if they are fortunate enough to find another individual whom they love, then we will celebrate that union.  because it is a beautiful thing for two people to love each other and commit for a lifetime.  but it is also a beautiful thing for one person to live a full, rewarding life.  and that should be celebrated, too.

12 November 2009


today i got down.  and that made it hard to work.  and i can't afford to have another day like that tomorrow.  so i'm going to make a list of good things and when i start to get down tomorrow, i'll come read it.  so in no particular order, here are a few things that make my life lovely:

  • little birds hopping happily in the bushes outside the window
  • good news about a friend's progress in a particularly tough class
  • talking to my sweet little niece  on the phone today
  • hearing another sweet little niece coo (this one's only 2 1/2 months old)
  • cool enough weather to justify wearing a cozy sweater when i went out tonight
  • my mama telling me she loves me
  • talking with the dean about the progress i'm making in my program
  • making plans for a visit to the beautiful huntington gardens 
  • dark, delicious sipping chocolate at my favorite cafe 
  • the smell of rain and fresh cut grass when i stepped out the door tonight
and these little things are enough to pick me up.  g'night.

11 November 2009


i've been thinking.  i need to find a better way to manage my bad habits.  because, you see, they tend to assert themselves in waves.  for instance, a while ago i committed to not drinking quite so much diet coke.  so i was good for a while.  then i had this party for which i, of course, bought diet coke, which left me with most of a flat of diet coke, which of course had to be consumed...you see where this is going?  and last week it culminated in consuming a 12-pack in just under 48 hours.  that's just a wee bit too much diet coke to be healthy.

i do the same thing with television.  i go days without watching, weeks with only an hour or two of viewtime, and then--BAM! it hits.  i spend hours in front of the television (which is how i've managed to watch most of season three and four of bones in the last week).

this is clearly not a good thing.  so i'm resolved: i will now indulge in my bad habits in small bits on a more regular basis.  because surely it's better to watch a little tv every few days than a lot of tv in just a few days or to drink a little diet coke in the space of a week or two than twelve cans in 48 hours.  this seems a positive resolution: just a bit of bad habit indulgence here and there.  you know--to save myself from myself.

some bad habits i'll occasionally indulge:

  • watching tv.  most likely bones.  or occasionally NCIS.  and, if i can keep myself awake long enough, the daily show and once in a while the colbert report.
  • drinking diet coke.  though this is one that my recent headaches have indicated i should try to weed out altogether.
  • eating chocolate.  clearly this is not going to stop altogether; that would just be dumb.  so i'll try to only eat really good chocolate.  and as i'm poor, this will likely only happen on the rare occasions i feel rich or someone else decides to give me really good chocolate.
  • laying in my bed awake for hours in the morning while doing nothing but listening to NPR.  i mean, NPR is certainly worth listening to, but surely it's better to do it while cleaning or cooking or getting ready for the day--something that's more productive than simply laying there.
i think that's a good list to get started on.  so here's to being bad more often in smaller doses.

{p.s. i know i missed yesterday for NaBloPoMo, but you'll have to forgive me as i actually did not have access to a computer; odd, i know, but true.  i think being disconnected on occasion is an acceptable reason not to post daily.}

09 November 2009


tonight i was very disturbed.  you see, i was innocently minding my own business, driving home from a doctor's appointment, when this story came on the radio.  all about a library that GOT RID OF ITS BOOKS.  excuse me!?  how can a library be a library without any books?  it makes no sense!

okay.  granted the library subscribed to a database with millions of digital books.  and it acquired some kindles students can check out.  but i'm very sorry to say digital books and digital book readers do not a library make.

now, don't get me wrong.  i recognize the value of digital resources.  i use them all the time in my own research.  i love searchable text databases.  i love having online access to full text articles.  but i also print up the articles or chapters that i find pertinent to my research.  why? because there's an enormous difference between reading material on a screen and reading it in print format.

it's true that most digital readers allow for annotation in some way or another, but from what i've heard it's cumbersome at best.  i've also been told that accessing footnotes on digital readers is difficult.  both of those tools--annotating a text and accessing that text's notes--are invaluable to academic reading and research.  and then there's the small detail of memory.  i frequently find things in a text because i remember that it was at the top of the left side of a page (or somesuch).  maybe i'm weird, but there's just something more memorable about  a physical text than a nondescript screen of text.

and all of that doesn't even touch the physical beauty of a book and of stacks of books.  there's something magical about a library that cannot be duplicated.  books have lives, beyond the life they contain in their text.  they represent the interests and tastes and loves of the people who owned them, the priorities and emphases of the institutions that acquired them.  when someone dies and leaves behind a library, some part of her continues to live.  when someone gives a book, he also give some little bit of himself.  how could we possibly imagine that a world without books, even one in which all of the same information was immediately searchable and accessible through digital means, would be a world in which we would want to live?

i love digital tools.  i use them all the time.  but i hope i never get to the point that i choose digital texts over my lovely, beautiful, wonderful books.