Month: August 2012

25 Books

I’ve mentioned my book club several times on this blog but today I have an exciting announcement.  Tomorrow marks our 25th book we have read together!  Now I have been the only one that has read all 25 books and the club members have changed sometimes monthly but somehow I have pushed through and we are currently going strong.  I am proud of our club and its success. 🙂

We even had one meeting where nobody came but I didn’t let it dissuade me because at least it kept me reading.  Ironically the month nobody came was a book I hated.  I’ve only disliked 2 out of the 25 books.  That said, most of the selections are one’s I’ve read and have a love affair with.  I admit my book club is a bit of a publicity stunt to push my favorite books and gab with my friends but as they are genuinely great reads nobody has minded much 🙂 (I always ask for other suggestions and we have done what others want such as Hunger Games or A Tree Grows in Brooklyn).

You will also notice very few fantasy/teen lit books because that isn’t my favorite genre.  Again, open to reading them but if it is left up to me I am less likely to chose those books.

Over the years I’ve noticed that it is best to pick books that are around 200 pages and aren’t super challenging.  It depends on the month and how busy everyone is.  We have ventured into a few classics and read Jane Eyre before the movie came out.  That was fun.

Certain books are better for inviting discussion but a good leader can pull questions and get the girls chatting about almost any book.  Some are just easier than others.  The Help is still one of the best discussions I think we have had and best turn outs.  Other popular choices were Scarlet Pimpernell, The Hiding Place, A Girl Named Zippy, Screwtape Letters, Prizewinner of Defiance Ohio, The Chosen etc.   We also had a great discussion with A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, which I hated and everyone else loved.  I think I stood my ground pretty well! 🙂

I also loved My Life in France not only because it is one of the most divine books ever written but because of the fun party I threw around the book.  To me, it was the most fun I’ve had at book club.

Another favorite of mine was the Book Thief even though nobody else in book club got through it that month. (I must admit I was so looking forward to talking about that book.  It’s so different and  unique.  Sigh…).  Will have to pick it again sometime.  Would love to read it again.

Obviously I love reading books over and over again (I’m that way with most anything in my life. Maybe that’s why I’m good at accounting.  Same thing over and over again).

I feel strongly that at least someone in book club must have read the book for it to be selected.  As the leader I am not going to give my friends a book to read without someone I trust endorsing it.  Unless it was written by the prophet- no way :).

Its interesting because sometimes I will read a book and not be that into it until book club.  Then after the discussion I am excited and interested in reading it again.  I saw this most clearly in Call of the Wild.  Not being a dog person, I just didn’t get it but once we discussed it I had a renewed respect for London’s writing.

In the end, I am really grateful for book club and the social and literary benefits it gives me each month.  I really look forward it and am thankful to every person who has attended a meeting or read a book.  If you haven’t come out but have thought about it, please do.  We try to pick fun, or at least inspirational books that will leave you uplifted and happy.  (I’ve been in some book clubs where all the books seemed to be such downers! Who has time for that?).  I already have about 6 books I’m dying for my friends to read and look forward to rereading myself.

I would love to someday convince a man to come to book club.  I’d love to get that perspective but I can see why they wouldn’t want to come.  Still, it would be really interesting.  Maybe I will just have to marry a reader. (which of course is my plan anyway!).

So, thanks for 25 great books.  Here they are:

Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns
The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Emmuska Orczy
My Life in France by Julia Child
The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom
The River Between Us by Richard Peck
Charms for the Easy Life by Kaye Gibbons
Marriage and the Choice Made in Eden by Beverely Campbell
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
Hunger Games vol. 1 by Suzanne Collins
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle  by Avi
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
A Girl Named Zippy by Haven Kimmel
Life as we knew it by Susan Beth Pfeffer
All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot
Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery
Book Theif by Markus Zusak
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Call of the Wild by Jack London
The Chosen by Chiam Potok
No 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith
Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis
Prizewinner of Defiance Ohio by Terry Ryan
Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson  

Mia Love

As all my facebook and twitter friends know, I have a new political crush- Mia Love, running for Congress out of Utah’s new 4th Congressional district (incidentally my district!).   She is running against two-time incumbent democrat Jim Matheson.  With all due respect to Mr. Matheson, I want Mia to win so badly.  I think she is a tremendous person and I admire her boldness and character.

She is currently mayor of Saratoga Springs (about 20 minutes from where I live in Draper) and since her election in 2010 she has cut councilors’ expenses, reduced the budget deficit from $3.5 million to $779,000 and for a city of its size; it has a bond rating of AA+.

“She is running on a platform of limited government, fiscal discipline and personal responsibility. When she tackles an issue, she often asks herself three quintessential questions: “Is it affordable? Is it sustainable? Is it my job?”

I wish all politicians were asking those 3 questions!  What  a blessing it would be to our country if all politicians stopped spending money we don’t have and got our affairs in order.   I love it!

Yesterday I went to a campaign event where Mia spoke, shook hands with us and we watched Mitt Romney’s acceptance speech (which was awesome!).  With all my interest in politics I have never been to a campaign event like this before . I think it is because I never felt a real tie to where I was living but now that I’m purchasing a townhouse I feel more invested in my community.  It wasn’t a conscious choice, just kind of naturally happened.

This is also the first time that someone exciting has been running from my district.  I LOVE Jason Chaffetz but he is the district over from me, so there was less I can do to help him.  Plus, he hardly needs it in that district.  Mia is in a tight race and I feel I can make a difference to her campaign.  Oftentimes in Utah there can be little motivation to help a practically guaranteed red state but in this race it is definitely not guaranteed.

The only other time I’ve gotten personally involved in politics was the tea party rallies (yes, I’m one of those right wing extremists.  Aren’t you terrified?).  I’m proud of my former and current involvement in the tea party movement.  Despite being vilified by the press I believe we did a lot of good.  We may not have won every race but we put some amazing people into power and got rid of some bland bureaucrats who were satisfied with the same old ideas.   We also helped change some of those ideas and refocused the Republican party on real fiscal conservatism. Got them to stop compromising and start leading.

Mia Love is the type of candidate that will be bold when elected.  I watched her yesterday answer question after question (there were some Matheson folks who came out to stir the pot) she was unflinchingly solid in her dedication to keeping government small and effective.  I was so impressed with every single one of her answers to complex questions.  She was awesome!

Mia Love answering questions

This isn’t a reason to vote for her, but I also love who Mia is.  What I mean by that is she breaks stereotypes all over the place.  People have a preconceived notion about what Utahans, Mormons, Republicans, and black women are like.  She fits none of those notions. Just as people were excited to see someone that looked different run for president in President Obama, I’m excited to see someone different running from my state and from my faith.  It tells people that not all Republicans, Mormons, Utahans and black women are the same.  We don’t all fit the mold.  Love that!

I’m volunteering for the Mia Love campaign and will be making phone calls and knocking on doors (brushing off those old missionary skills!).  I’ve also donated money to her for the first time in my life.  It should be really fun.

Last night listening to Mia and cheering her on I remembered my feelings after the tea party rally.  I wrote “I was proud to be there.  I was proud to be waving my sign, and I will never forget the moment of connection I felt with my country.  It was a great moment.”  It was a great moment of connection and I look forward to many more over the next 2 months.

I would challenge all of you to become active in the political process.  Whether you are Republican or Democratic we need to hear your voice.  It is important.  At the very least please vote.  I know it seems like you don’t make a difference but the sheer act of your voting encourages others and that is powerful!  Think of the hundreds of thousands of people who died to give you that right.

Please vote! Please become involved!

Here is a video of Mia at the Republican National Convention.  So moving!

Here are 2 of my posts on my experiences with the tea party movement.  I think the post on the protest is one of my best.  Enjoy!



Fruit Trays

So everyone knows I love entertaining and making food look beautiful.  The item I’ve probably had the most practice on over the years are fruit and vegetable trays.  I used to work for BYU catering where we made hundreds of fruit trays.  It was there I learned how to cut a pineapple and could get a pineapple cored and cut in about a minute.

Soon after college I got introduced to the Barefoot Contessa and her amazing fruit platters always filled me with glee.  They just looked so pretty :).  Granted she has food stylists and a bevy of helpers (not too mention quite the budget) but I think if you invited Ina Garten to a party she’d bring about as pretty a fruit tray as shown in the pictures.   Incidentally I wonder if Ina Garten’s friends are terrified to invite her over to eat.  How could you measure up?

Anyway, I started a diet on Monday and had to bring a treat to activity days for the young girls at church.  (Age 8-10).  I couldn’t think of anything that wouldn’t derail my diet and as I had been a slacker leader the last few months store bought seemed too lame.  So I decided to put together a fruit tray with my famous chocolate yogurt dip (so good!).

I must say I think it is my finest fruit tray creation yet:

Isn’t it pretty? White platters are easy to use for any occasion. The best entertaining tip my Mom gave me.

The fruit tray included strawberries, cherries, envy apples, banana and just for fun star fruit.  I had my chocolate dip (recipe below) and some store-bought caramel sauce (I’ve never quite mastered homemade caramel sauce).

I didn’t know if the girls would like the dark chocolate sauce but I think you can tell from this after shot that they liked it!

That’s what you call a plate licked clean!

Here are Ina Garten’s fruit tray tips:

“Once the base is set, you can add any kind of fruit that’s available.

I like to have one thing that is taller than the rest, such as a large bunch of grapes or a decoratively cut papaya, to give the platter height.

Then I add raspberries, strawberries, blueberries and fresh figs in casual but organized groups. The platter can look like a bowl of M&M’s if there are too many colors scattered with no order.

Visually, your eye needs to have a focal point and to be able to see each type of fruit.

After all the fruit is arranged, I add flat green leaves around the outside of the fruit, to set off the colors. Use lemon and galax leaves from your florist, or fig leaves and grape leaves  from your garden. Make sure they are pesticide-free and well washed.”

Some day I will be so on the ball I have lemon leaves on my trays but I’m proud of my attempt.  I think even kids respond better to something that is presented beautifully and it really doesn’t taken any more effort than throwing it on a plate.   Ok maybe a tiny bit more effort but hardly anything.

Here’s the recipe for the chocolate sauce.  Its super good.  This makes a lot of sauce.

Chocolate Yogurt Sauce

3 Lindt Dark Chocolate Bars- Lindt has tons of flavors including roasted almond, sea salt, chili, mint etc.  They are the best!

1/2 cup 2% greek yogurt

2-3 tbsp whole milk

heat chocolate over double boiler until melted.  Add milk, mix together over heat.   Will get a little thicker as it heats up.

Add yogurt once its cooled down.

Since I was making this for kids I added about a tsp of agave to make it a little sweeter.

You can add chopped nuts, toffee bits or whatever you like.  Can dip anything in it.  Shortbread is amazing!

ingredients for sauce

I made enough this time that I am setting little servings of it aside and freezing them for a quick treat.

single servings of sauce

As best as I can calculate on these servings have 120 calories, 18 carbs, 8 grams fat, 6 grams protein, 11 grams sugar.


I love sauces and dips. It makes me very happy

The Food Trifecta

So here’s the deal with food.  Over the years I’ve learned that all foods and recipes fall into three categories- it is either fast, cheap or healthy.  What I’ve found is you can usually get 2 out of 3 but the 3 out of 3 foods are very rare (egg dishes almost always fit all 3 but its still hard to find)

For instance, ramen noodles are fast and cheap but definitely not healthy.  A salad is usually fast (depending on chopping time) and healthy but isn’t cheap.  Homemade veggie burgers may be healthy and cheap but not fast.  Macaroni and cheese is fast and cheap but not healthy. Seafood like crab and mussels are healthy and fast but definitely not cheap. You get the idea.

In the end I think you have to pick which 2 areas you are going to focus on most.  If you have the budget than you can focus on fast and healthy.  If you don’t than focus on healthy and cheap.  If health isn’t as big a deal focus on fast and cheap.  Etc.

I just find this type of prioritizing to be helpful. You cannot focus on everything.  Perhaps with kids there is a fourth factor of ‘kid friendly’.  I’m not sure.

For me, I focus more on fast and healthy and less on cheap. Not that I’ll be buying caviar or lobster daily but its just where your focus is. To make things faster I may pay more to buy some salad bar items or prepared items from the deli.

I guess my trifecta doesn’t apply to deserts because let’s be honest 2 out of 3 would rarely apply.  I would just focus on taste for that category.

Taste is a given for anything I eat.  Above all it should be tasty! This is true except for protein drinks which I detest but drink anyway because they are good for me.  (And yes, I’ve tried ALL the brands…). Aside from protein drinks,  I prefer to not have an instant gag reflex when I swallow food. 🙂

What do you think of my trifecta?  Where do you fall on it?

Btw, I’m going on a diet tomorrow.  Not looking forward to it at all.  Please forgive me if I’m a bit grumpy.  Stupid diets…

Fiery Mood

Today I was all fired up for many reasons!  I used to get this way all the time- pretty much my entire feelings in high school.  However, on my mission I learned that I was too forceful with my opinion and that most of the time when I want to comment on something I should probably keep my mouth shut. I was just blissfully commenting on the world around me but it drove all of my companions crazy.  I may seem like an opinionated gal now but you have no idea how many times I want to say things but don’t. My tongue should be numb from being bitten so much.

My best friends are the one’s I can debate and discuss my opinions with and they don’t get all weird- a rare but priceless commodity (one that I have with my Mother and I LOVE that about her. My Dad is also a great conversationalist but often too busy to hash over politics or the news of the day).

Anyway, I actually kind of like it when the fiery side of me comes out.  It reminds me of my old poli sci days when I wanted to storm the senate and beat out any injustices in the world.  I feel like its a real side of my personality that I don’t show much any more.  I hope if I ever get married it is to someone who feels passionately about things and we can have engaging and exciting discussions.  That is kind of my dream actually. 🙂

What made me all passionate and excited today?

A combination of factors.

Four Weddings-

First, I made the mistake of watching TLC’s Four Weddings.  I was tired and nothing else was really on and I caved.  Now I know that anyone could look at my life and find waste.  I could be donating more to charity or helping the unfortunate more than I am. Everyone can.  That said, I can’t comprehend spending $50,000 or more on a wedding (some on Say Yes to the Dress spend half that just on their dress!).  When I think of the good that could be done by simply spending 1 or 2,000 less it makes me sick.  I guess it bothers me because it is so unnecessary.

I mean if people blow money on a fancy car at least they can drive it to where they need to go.  If they buy expensive clothes at least they can wear them repeatedly. As a 31 year old single girl you can bet I’ve been in and to my fair share of weddings and the experience of a marriage ceremony has almost nothing to do with the money spent.  My brother spent little with a mountain wedding in wildflowers with close family and friends, followed by a simple reception at our family home with a tent, cake and whatever.  What’s wrong with that?

Spending $50,000 or more for what is basically a big party just doesn’t make sense to me.  I don’t get it.

However, even if you accept that crazy notion, Four Weddings, makes it even worse by having the dueling brides nitpick every part of these extravagant weddings.   So now not only are things done to the 9’s but they aren’t enough, aren’t good enough.  It boggles my mind that a contestant yesterday who spent thousands was told ‘her wedding was a nightmare from start to finish’.   Really?  Give me a break.  They got married.  Isn’t that the important thing?

How about an episode of Four Weddings where the 4 brides have a budget of (I’ll be generous) 10k and have to make it work and they give the 40k to any worthy cause.  Now that would be a good show!

Lance Armstrong News-

Anyway, so that made me feel depressed.  Then I open my computer and I see Lance Armstrong has given up his fight over doping allegations. Then I see all kinds of twitter glorying in the downfall of the cycling King.  I think he probably did use performance enhancing drugs but there is something wrong about a system that can test 500 times and come out with false negatives.  How can we be sure about any of the athletes that inspire us if it can be wrong that many times?

To me it was just sad. I don’t feel joyful or vindicated at his demise.  As far as I see he can do a lot less good now and that’s a loss. Probably a justified loss but still a loss.  Sad…

NBC Mormon Piece

So Rock Center on NBC did a piece on my church last night.  I went into it with very low expectations as NBC is the most liberal news organization out there and has repeatedly allowed slander to come from its reporters about my church.  Recently a reporter Lawrence O’Donnell referred to us as an ‘invented religion’ and that Joseph Smith started the church as a cover for his affair with a maid.  This was not stated as a theory or opinion but as a undeniable fact.  He did later apologize after his comments received criticism from the likes of Bill O’Reilly and other national figures, but was never censored by NBC for his hateful remarks.

So going into it with low expectations I was still floored at the bias with which it was approached from.  Nearly half of the show was about ex-Mormon’s with a grudge including Abbey Huntsman and some guy from the Book of Mormon musical- who was given an entire section, more time than the welfare system or even Mitt Romney!

Everything was done with a stilt or agenda.  Even things that I would think everyone might admire were spoken of in a cynical and jaded way.  For instance, in describing genealogy the reporter said ‘Mormon’s are obsessed with genealogy’.  Or when business success was discussed it wasn’t a good thing, it was this group of greedy capitalist Mormon’s who only help out each other.  Same thing with the welfare system, undoubtedly the most complimentary part of the piece, was told in a style of ‘Mormon’s are good at helping their own’.  Never mind the millions of dollars of aid we give to areas of the world with little to no membership.

Look, you can disagree with my religion.  I get that but don’t pretend to do an objective piece and then be completely nonobjective.  You know what that is called?  Propaganda.  And don’t think it is lost on me that 4 days before the Republican Convention the most liberal news media does a smear fest on the Mormon church.  They are trying to reinforce that Mitt Romney must be a racist, chauvinist, homophobic, capitalist pig, because look where he comes from!

I  mean how can you have a story about a major religion and not have one leader from said religion? And we have 15 of them with hundreds of General Authorities, so its not like asking the Pope for a visit.  They didn’t even get a BYU Professor or the like to speak for the church.  There were a few brief comments from a Church Historian and that was all.  Does that seem fair to you?  How can something be fair if one side is not allowed to express their beliefs and thoughts?

They didn’t even interview any of the Mormon senators and congressman, which could have been fascinating with such divergent characters as Orrin Hatch (who has never refused an interview in his life) and Harry Reid.  No, instead you had Abbey Huntsman complaining that her bishop wasn’t nice.  Give me a break!

Now I’m not expecting a fluff piece.  I am open to unorthodox views on my religion.  I have no problem with Joanna Brooks or other people who are placing modern stances on my admittedly traditional beliefs.  I am open to thoughtful and respectful discussions but let’s start on an equal playing field. Let’s give everyone a fair shake, or at least close to it.

Anyway, I thought it was a smear fest.  It made me mad and I am not ‘over-sensitive’ or emotional.  I get very offended when people discount my thoughtful views as simply reactive emotions because of my beliefs.  No I actually thought about why it bothered me and you know what it still bothered me!  And it really made me think twice about these types of news pieces.  I prefer real live interviews to this type of scripted, edited work.  I promise, don’t believe everything as fact,or at least the whole story, when you watch shows like 20/20 or Dateline.

But I guess that’s what we get for having a Mormon running for President…Sigh. I partly want Romney to win just so he can prove all of these idiots wrong.  (Not to mention he’s a great leader, reformer, financial planner, and has a proven track record of working with both parties. No, the media wants you to think I only like him because I’m Mormon and the head office told me to…).  Like Kennedy with Catholicism I hope Romeny can show that he can lead without any direction from Salt Lake, and that all of us in this church are not the puppets we are sometimes made out to be.

On a related note, if you want to see a fair, interesting, interview of a Mormon watch John Stewart interview Joanna Brooks on the Daily Show.  A comedian gets more truths and asks better questions than seasoned reporters.—joanna-brooks-extended-interview-pt–1


I was also really fired up about my latest diet.  It’s been 4 years of this crap.  I’m soooooooo sick of it.  I’m almost ready to throw in the towel and just say ‘Look I can do what I want to do.  I’m happy.  My vitals are great.  I like the way I look.  To Heck with it!!!  I’m so tired of the scrutiny and always feeling like I am not good enough.  I just want to be on freaking maintenance already.  What would be so bad about a life where I weighed 250 lbs and kept up my swimming and my other activities?  I’ve tried everything and my body just doesn’t want to lose weight and I’m tired.  That’s it.  I’m tired.

Anyway, there you go.  The fired up Rachel!

Reading Dahl

I’ve had an interesting experience recently.  I went back and read a childhood favorite- the author Roald Dahl.  He is perhaps most well known for writing Charlie and the Chocolate factory but also James and the Giant Peach, Matilda, Witches and Fantastic Mr.  Fox (and many others).  He also has two memoirs entitled Boy and Going Solo.

I have nothing but pleasant memories of reading his books as a little girl.  In fact, they were one of the few fantasy-like books that I enjoyed, preferring usually to read books like Little Women or Little House on the Prairie about more normal girls.    I was definitely sensitive to dark or scary stories and didn’t enjoy being spooked.  I even thought the end of Sleeping Beauty or The Wizard of Oz were a little tense.

That’s why it’s interesting as an adult reading Roald Dahl I have had such a different experience.  I remember lightness, magic, humor and fun.  As an adult they come across as quite mean spirited and dark.  They do all have a happy ending but the joy is so brief it feels unsatisfying to me.

Recently I just finished Matilda and everyone is so hateful to this sweet little girl that she rebels and moves chalk and glasses with her brain.  The story in James and the Giant Peach is the same.  A boy is treated as a slave by his wicked Aunts and beaten to the point that a life with giant bugs is far preferable to life at home.  There are similar themes  in almost all of Dahl’s stories.

The other interesting thing is that all of this maltreatment is done at the hands of women.  The Aunts in James and the Giant Peach, Trunchbill in Matilda, the Witches in Witches, etc.  What strange and ghastly relationships must Dahl have had with the women in his life to create such horribly abusive women?  Come to think of it most of the villains in fairytales are women, either witches or evil queens.  Funny hah?

Perhaps I’m overthinking it but what does it tell our little girls when they are presented time and again with terrible, gristly, mean-spirited, abusive women?  And why are children clearly attracted to these stories?  I can’t be the only one who was blissfully unaware of these women as a child?

Its funny how you notice things completely differently at different ages.  They might as well be different books.  It makes recommending books to children a challenging thing.  Do I think back to the way I felt at 8 or 10? Do I try to read through the mind of a child?  Is that even possible? Maybe if you spend hours with children that age you might but a child gentile like me would only be guessing.

I had the same contrasting experience when I read Dahl’s memoirs.  What was hilarious to me as a child seemed dark and sad as an adult.  I was shocked at how many floggings there were.  It seemed like 80% of the book, with a few humorous incidents in to break up the mood. One of the most vicious canings was performed by a headmaster who later became the Archbishop of Canterbury, which no doubt explains Dahl’s skepticism of religion!

It is clear that Dahl raised himself a lot of the time, his father dying while he was a young boy and then being sent off to boarding school. You can certainly see this independent streak in many of his characters, especially Matilda (no doubt the main attraction for me in the stories as a child).  Characters that are too needy or pushy are given quite grisly rewards, as we see in all the other children at the chocolate factory. While the independent, forceful willed children are inevitably the heroes and save the day. I have no doubt this is part of his appeal, that pluck, determination and a good heart will always win out over selfishness, greed and bossy behavior.

From everything he writes his mother was a lovely woman and most of his incidents in school discipline were from men, so I’m not sure where the female anger came into place? Who knows?

Still, it still kind of puzzles me to have such a massively different reading experience.  It honestly wasn’t very pleasant reading his books as an adult.  My only pleasure came in remembering how much pleasure I received years ago.

Have you ever had this experience? What do you make of it? What do you think of my adult analysis of Dahl’s works and how do you recommend books for children as an adult? Its tough!

If I Were a Bell

Any reader of mine knows I take voice lessons.  I do it for my own enjoyment and creative enrichment.  I am not the greatest singer in the world but I get a lot from it and that’s all that matters to me.  To me it is the most satisfying thing to start a song and have it be pretty awful and after working on it for a few weeks it is listenable.

I’ve seen great improvement over the years and if you look at some of my past videos and compare it with today’s I think you can see that.

So today was the summer recital (we have 3 a year, spring, summer and Christmas) and I decided to sing If I Were a Bell from Guys and Dolls.  It is a relatively easy song but the lyrics are very similar from verse to verse and it kept tripping me up.   Thankfully with lots of practice I got through it at the recital without any lyrical problems.  Phew!

The video doesn’t do it quite justice but the crowd seemed to really enjoy it.  I hope you do too!  🙂

Annoyed Women

So today I was watching some TV after going to the gym and doing some errands.  I flipped from King of Queens to Everybody Loves Raymond to Home Improvement.  At the end of all this channel swapping I felt depressed, depressed for me and for all women.  The women presented in these and many other shows are constantly irritated by their lives, jobs and especially their husbands.   These women seem to have a continual roll in their eyes and a groan on their mouths.

Has anyone else noticed this?

Its interesting because if you think of the history of TV it used to be the other way around.  For instance, in I Love Lucy Ricky was the man with the constant eye roll.  When did things change?

The thing that gets me is why would anyone want to stay in a marriage or live a life they are perpetually annoyed with? I like my life and if something is annoying me it is usually my own pride that is to blame, more than anything else.  Of course, I live alone so maybe I don’t have as much potential to be annoyed as others….

What say you my married friends? Do you find yourself continually annoyed with those you live with? Do these images of nagging women make you more or less likely to imitate their behavior?

I guess part of it comes from the comic standby of needing a ‘straight character’. Not straight in the sense of sexuality but just in the sense of comic timing.  If everyone is crazy, off the wall, it isn’t funny but if one character is normal in contrast to the crazy it is more humorous.   This can be seen in all of the famous comic duos such as Abbot and Costello or Laurel and Hardy.  I guess you have to have one character to the be the idiot for most humor to work but why does it always have to be the man? Couldn’t it be a little bit of both?

A show like the Big Bang Theory allows all of its character to be smart, stupid, crazy, funny and ridiculous at moments.   The men and women are the butt of equal jokes.   One of my favorite shows, the Middle, does a pretty good job with an even keeled humor between the sexes and spares the constantly annoyed wife routine.  (Most of the real humor in that show involves the kids).

Arrested Development created great humor by having a straight man (Michael Bluth played by Jason Bateman) surrounded by both male and female idiots and wackos.  That approach works well too.

The funny thing is that I rarely notice this behavior with one viewing.  Its only when I have a day of leisure and watch a number of episodes in a row that it starts to bother me.  I wonder if as a society we cumulatively view episode after episode if the annoyed women  can be damaging.

Maybe I’m just reading too much into all this?  Some might say- “it’s just entertainment, no big deal?  It doesn’t impact my marriage/life?”.

That may be true but the subtle messaging the media gives us can be important.  It can cause women to expect men to behave like animals and then encourage men to then behave like animals.  Most of us after all are what others expect us to be.

I would think viewing such programs would make women more prone to fault finding and feel validated in their anger and irritations.   Things that should just be ignored are played out on TV to a comic benefit, creating a subtle approval of such behavior.

I live alone so I am free from annoying people most of the time (one of the great advantages of my lifestyle!).  Still, I hope when I get married I am not perpetually annoyed by those I live with.  What kind of life is that?  Why not find something you like  if you are so annoyed?

Reality TV isn’t much better.  In fact it is worse! Instead of fictionalized harping of wives towards their husbands we get ‘real life examples’ of a Jon and Kate Goslin or Bruce and Kris Jenner hating on each other.  (Not to mention the scores of ‘real housewives’ who mostly complain despite all their opulence).  I don’t really watch much reality tv but it can get depressing real quick!

Of course, you can always turn the TV off and pick up a book, which I did today. (Although the annoyed wife is certainly prevalent throughout modern literature as well!).

That’s my soapbox for the day! 🙂

What do you think about all the annoyed woman on TV? Do you think it has damaging effects for men, women and relationships? (or maybe you are all just annoyed with me 🙂  Sorry!)

Best Sick Day Movies

Throughout my life when I push myself I almost always get sick right after (doesn’t bode well if I ever have a honeymoon! 🙂 ).  Even when I was in high school after a swim meet or play I would get sick the next week.  These are not imagined illnesses but real legitimate sicknesses.  It is then no surprise after my 5k that yesterday I felt unwell all day.  I tried to fight it through lunch with an old friend but when I got home it was official.  I was sick.  I wish I could stop this from happening but it seems no matter how hard I try with the positive self-talk my body can only take so much and it becomes vulnerable.

Anyway, today I was sick and despite a few emails (it is impossible for me to not work a little in a day!) I had the whole day to hang around.  What do you do when you aren’t feeling well and need to get in some healing time? Watch some movies of course!

Everyone knows I have a large DVD collection and I have no problem watching a movie again and again.  There are movies I have that I could watch back to back repeatedly.  I have whole scenes memorized.

So what movies do I reach for when I’m sick?

1. Guys and Dolls- The song Adelaide’s Lament is probably the best song ever written about being sick.

2. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off- What we all wish we could do on our day off instead of being sick.

3.Disney Nostalgia movies like Parent Trap, Old Yeller, Mary Poppins, Pollyanna, Swiss Family Robinson.  Something about the nostalgic movies are comforting, like a hug from your mother.  I love these types of movies.  I wish that quality family films were more frequently made today.

4. BBC Miniseries- When you are sick you have lots of time in bed so what better than to watch a 7 hour movie from the BBC like good old Downton Abbey, North and South or Pride and Prejudice.  I can’t think of a much better way to spend a day even if you are sick!

5. TV on DVD.  I love to get out my series and watch a bunch of Simpsons, Cosby Show, Reba or The Golden Girls.  You can fall asleep for hours and just start a new episode.

6. Dorris Day romantic movies such as Pillow Talk or Calamity Jane.  Also Bringing Up Baby, His Girl Friday and Talk of the Town are favorite comedies that I could watch a million times.  Let’s be honest we are all a little depressed when we are sick and good laugh never hurt anyone.

What are some of your favorites?

Also- after a day of rest I’m thankfully feeling much better!

Deer Creek- First 5k Race

The big race has come and gone and I finished!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  It was such an awesome journey.  I still can’t believe that I actually did it.  It was so exhilarating.

At the 5k Turn Around

The day started early in the morning.  Having taken some serious sleeping meds I actually got a pretty good sleep. Then I ate my traditional pre-race breakfast bowl and headed to meet Michele.  Michele is my trainer and kindly agreed to kayak for me at the race.  For having only kayaked a couple of times she did great and was very encouraging.

Michele and I at the lake. I got a new swimsuit for the race, inspired by the amazing Olympians I’ve watched the last two weeks. Too bad my cap wasn’t red. That’d be perfect 🙂

We drove down to Deer Creek Reservoir and met up with my swim family.  Some of them couldn’t make the race because of other commitments and some were overseas helping Gordon Gridley swim the English Channel (great job Gordon!) .  But a lot of my friends were there and I really can’t say enough about the bond I feel with so many of the other swimmers. They are just the best, cheering me on, waving in the water, hugging me when I finish.  It is so wonderful to be a part of.

Charlie’s Angels eat your heart out! Sue, Etsuko and me medals in hand.
Kate and I
Etsuko and I

It took a while to get everything started but at about 8:40 we were in the water and on our way.  I did better keeping with the main group than I’ve ever done before (and I didn’t finish last! 🙂 ). The water was like glass, beautiful and it is a gorgeous lake. The only challenge was it was hard to find things to sight to because the buoys were small and not a lot of large trees or formations to look at.

Isn’t that beautiful. I honestly don’t understand how anyone couldn’t love open water! It’s so amazing to be swimming in such gorgeous settings. So much better than a pool!

I made it to the 1/2 mile length fast and was surprised at how I clipped along the first half.  I’m not sure what my time at a mile was but I’m sure its the best I’ve ever done. There was a bit of confusion for me at the 5k turn around but Michele touched me with the paddle and let me know I was going the wrong way!

At about that point I got cramps in both my legs.  My legs felt tight the whole morning and I was honestly waiting for the cramp to come.  I could feel it dying to come out.  I was scared when both legs started cramping but I was able to wiggle the cramps out and keep on going.  Honestly swimming was the best thing for the cramps.  It was only when I stopped that their mischief started.

I did 2 feedings during the 5k eating gel packs.  They are so gag inducing but do help with the cramps.  I also had a vitamin water this time and I love that!  It was sweet enough to give me energy without spiking my blood sugar more than it already was from so much exercise.  It also has electrolytes and other vitamins to help with the race.  It definitely helped me finish.

At about the 2:15 mark I made it back to the 1/2 mile buoy and as crazy as it sounds that last 1/2 mile was definitely the hardest. There started to be more boat traffic and the big lumbering waves boats make are tough (tough both for me and Michele!).  I felt like the finish line was never going to come.

Race finished!

Then I saw it and I pushed and pushed, practically sprinting the last 50 yards.  To finish you had to smack the finishing buoy which I did in enthusiastic fashion.  Done!  I had done it.  Me the overweight girl from Draper had just swam most of a lake.  5k! I still can’t believe it!

It honestly was one of the best days of my life.  Every swim I do is one of the best days of my life.  I’m so grateful to have such an awesome sport in my life and to be considered an athlete.  Who would have thought?

Thanks to everyone for your love and support. It may not be gold but I guarantee you no Olympian has worn a medal with more glee than I wore my finishing medal today.  Hurray!

Finished, done, another one in the history books! Hurray!

Now on to Slam the Dam!  Next goal 🙂

Sue, Etsuko and me. Charlie’s angel redo? 🙂
Done! Such a great moment