Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Agency Is the Very Best

Just in case you were wondering, these are my favorite verses in all of scripture:
For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward. Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness; for the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their reward. (D&C 58:26–28)

Thing I'm thankful for: good books

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Food Rants

Dark chocolate
My good friend Pete is a chef, and more specifically, he's a chocolatier. I recently asked him whether he preferred dark chocolate or milk chocolate. He spoke as though he was telling me a secret. "I'm supposed to say 'dark chocolate,'" he said, "but I like milk chocolate." I love that he said that. Because who's kidding who, here? Dark chocolate is only great when it has at least 70% cocoa and a lot of fat. Milk chocolate, on the other hand, is pretty good whenever.

Cream cheese frosting
It's gross, y'all. Unless it tops a cake that has vegetables in it, such as carrot cake. I think people think they're supposed to love cream cheese frosting, but seriously? Frosting is supposed to be sweet! Just give me the good stuff: powdered sugar, butter, and milk!

Rich desserts
I probably roll my eyes when people say, "Oh, this dessert is too rich." I think people who say that just don't want people to think they're gluttonous or fat. JUST PUT IT IN YOUR MOUTH!

Thing I'm thankful for: freedom of speech. Ha!

The Great British Bake-Off

What can I say about reality TV? It's generally awful. "The Real World" was extremely entertaining in its heyday, and when those match-making shows, such as "Joe Millionaire" and "The Bachelor," made their way into homes across America, I was fascinated. But the fascination didn't last long. I think, for me, reality television has to have an educational component in order to keep my attention. So the first few seasons of "Project Runway"and "America's Next Top Model" were wonderful in that way, but as usual in reality TV, the producers of those shows started to focus on the drama between the contestants, rather than the topic of the show.

Not so with The Great British Bake-Off. Although only in its 6th season, I have high hopes that it won't come to such a pitiful end. Of course I would love it, since it's to do with baking, but I didn't love "America's Next Great Baker." Sure, I watched every episode of the first two seasons, but I won't ever watch it again. Why? Because not only does it focus almost exclusively on cake-decorating (which is only one very small aspect of baking), it again succumbs to the drama-for-easy-ratings problem.

"The Great British Bake-Off," on the other hand, is educational, competitive, and heartfelt. (I even teared up today while watching the fourth episode of Season 4. So sad to see you go, Ali!) It's my absolute favorite reality television of all-time.*

Here are some clips from Season 5, in case you want to get a taste of this wonderful, wonderful show:
What a lovely pear!
Mary's tiramisu

*Bonus: The show allows me to practice my British-isms! Here's an example: "I'm gutted. Just gutted." Translation: "I'm so sad."

Thing I'm thankful for: lazy Saturdays

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Big Sur!

I celebrated President's Day by sleeping in, making crepes for breakfast, working for a few hours, and driving south to Big Sur.

Big Sur isn't a city or a geographical landmark; it's just a general area south of Monterey, California. The Santa Lucia Mountains run right along the Pacific Coast Highway in Big Sur, and the juxtaposition of rock and water is mighty impressive. Just look at how beautiful it is!

(It kind of looks how I imagine Ireland looks. Look at that green, green grass!)

I wish I had taken a picnic with me. Or a book. Or anything to keep me lazily there, listening to those waves crash on the shore.

Do an image search on Big Sur, and you're likely to see at least a few of Bixby Bridge. What is it about bridges that captures our attentions so well?

At any rate, here you go. Bixby Bridge.

(I'm amazed that I get to see such places in real life. I'd only ever seen Big Sur in the movies before. I'd only ever seen most places in California in the movies before, and now I'm here. Here and posting pictures for you. It's still so strange to me.)

(Also, I'm pretty sure the last scene of Innerspace was shot on this stretch of the Pacific Coast Highway.)

A natural bridge!

(I went off the trail a bit for this picture, and that probably wasn't a good idea. I slipped and fell, and panicked a bit as I grabbed onto anything that would save me from falling to my death in a watery grave. Looking back, I was definitely not as close to the edge as I thought while I was falling, but it was still a little scary!)

It started to get foggy in the evening . . . You can barely tell where the sea ends and the sky begins!

So. If you visit me in California, I will take you for a drive along Highway 1, and we will see Big Sur. And I'll stop at every turnout so you can take as many pictures as you want.

Thing I'm thankful for: this beautiful, beautiful world

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Happy Valentime's Day

Thing I'm thankful for: Hershey's Kisses from momma

Wednesday, February 04, 2015


It seems to me that a good indicator of a healthy romantic relationship is that each person in the partnership notices and values the quality that the other person values most about him- or herself. Here's an example:

My sister Lexia is nice to everyone—the pretty, the ugly, the high achievers, the bums, the serious, the silly, the famous, the ordinary. It doesn't matter who it is, she treats them with respect and kindness. I think that's probably one of the things she likes best about herself. Her husband Adam once told her that that was one of the qualities that attracted him most to her.

This kind of attraction is important in two ways: 1) It indicates that each partner values the same qualities, and 2) It shows that a person's partner recognizes something that may not be obvious to everyone else. There is a specialness about that, I think—that someone notices the mostly unnoticeable. Or the mostly overlooked.

I suppose there are things that are valued and obvious, such as beauty and athleticism, but it seems like those typically aren't the things people like most about themselves. I think the "soft" qualities are the ones people value most in themselves, and if they find someone who values those soft qualities, too, then there's a good foundation for a lifelong romance.

Thing I'm thankful for: good lunch conversations