Month: January 2014

Best and Worst

best and worst

So I can’t sleep and lately blogging has helped me feel tired so I figured why not?

As I have mentioned in previous posts I’ve been thinking a lot lately about entertainment, movies and art.  What makes something memorable, beautiful, enriching and of course what inspires the opposite emotions.  I realize these feelings are inherently subjective, but my thoughts have not been on what moves society as a whole, but what inspires ME.

So tonight I am going to write up a best and worst on different categories.  It’s actually really hard thing to do.  It’s hard enough to come up with a top 10 list but to narrow it down to one worst and best is tough.  Try it along with me!

Best Book- I could pick Book Thief but North and South I could read multiple times a year.  I’ve talked about it a lot on this blog so I won’t repeat everything. I’ll just say it has my 2 favorite characters in literature.  I love their journey.  I love seeing them grow and change.  It’s so deep and takes time to develop side characters that are pivotal and fascinating.  I love it.  I think it is perfect.

Worst Book- Catch 22.  I hated all the characters.  I mean truly hated. I thought everyone was disgraceful, immoral, and unlikable.  The women in the story are either nurses or prostitutes and everything that is supposed to be ‘funny’ felt distasteful and kind of sick. I hated this book so much that it is the reason why I have a ‘someone must have read the book rule’ in my book club. Never again.

Best Movie- This is really hard but I have to go with Up.  I could watch it 4 times in a day and still love it.  I cry every time I watch the opening montage. It’s beautiful, sweet, funny and surprising.  I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve seen it and I love it more every time.  I love the music.  The voice casting is perfect.  The artwork is stunning. The message of finding adventure in life is wonderful.  I love it!

Worst Movie- Drop Dead Gorgeous.  There are only 2 movies I have walked out of in the theater, Drop Dead Gorgeous and Superstar.  Both are atrocious but this movie is so cold and hateful towards its characters and it is supposed to be funny that it actually made me cry.  I left the theater and my friends and sat in the lobby in tears until they had finished the ending.  I couldn’t take it any more.

It’s a mockumentary about beauty pageants that has one girl after another blown up, shot, murdered, burned and attacked.  A character mimics the crucifixion, a girl becomes deaf for laughs, a near dead anorexic girl is wheeled out in a wheelchair with an IV, the mentally ill are mocked, all the girls get food poisoning with its accompanying effects.  It’s gross, dark, cold and hateful so much so that 15 years after I saw it I still remember it far too vividly.

Best Sports Moment- This one is really hard and I wouldn’t say I’m the hugest sports fan in the world but I love the Olympics and there are so many good one’s to pick from.  Michael Phelps 8 in Beijing, Jason Lesak final lap in 4 by 100 relay, Sarah Hughes figure skating win, Dan Jansen finally getting his gold medal after 3 falls.  All would be great picks but I have to pick a moment that I actually was a part of.  This was 2002 Salt Lake and I was outside the stadium watching on a big screen when Apollo Ohno got the gold.  Everyone was cheering it was so exciting!

Worst Sports Moment- I have to go with the Lance Armstrong doping admission.  It was so disappointing. I know many suspected him for years and there was a lot of evidence but to be lied to for over a decade and the way he treated people while lying is pretty despicable.

I actually think the lies are worse than the actual enhanced training.  It was an era where he could not win and not do that and certainly not 7 times.  Even his peers have admitted that.  It’s the smug denials and the cocky attitude for years that makes it reprehensible.  Plus, he masquerades as an goodwill advocate which makes the lies even worse.

Best Meal- It’s really hard but I think for sentimental reasons alone I have to go with spaghetti and meatballs because I’ve been to Italy, I love Italian food and I had a moment of truth over the meal years ago that changed my life.  It is the ultimate comfort food.  (Thanksgiving food would be really high too)

Worst Meal- I have to go with menudo.  Whoever thought eating tripe was a good idea must have been nuts.  It looks like bubble wrap.  The soup is greasy with chunks of stomach floating to the top.  It’s gross!

Best TV Show- I have to go with the Simpsons because it has been consistently funny and engaging almost my entire life. It debuted when I was 8 and it is still on and I still watch it every Sunday.  Recently they’ve been doing amazing things with the opening couch montage which is incredible when you think about it- after 25 years they are still coming up with new ways to present a sofa with 4 people.

Worst TV Show- There have been some really bad one’s but I have to go with Fear Factor because it is just so gross. It existed only to make people want to throw up. Also, I would say The Tudors because I got it on neftlix thinking it was a Masterpiece Classic type show and about 10 minutes in I realized it was basically midevil porn and turned it off.  For shame!

Best Reality Show- Got to go with Survivor, although I love The Amazing Race.  TAR involves more luck and less strategy.  Just people surviving on little each day in the jungle would be compelling but the fact that a person get’s voted off every day is very exciting and makes people behave in intriguing ways. I also loved Extreme Makeover Home Edition.  What can I say?  I’m a sucker for a needy family getting a house.

Worst Reality Show- Keeping up with the Kardashians.  Why is this still on?  What’s wrong with America?  I resent the Kardashians because I actively try to not know about their lives and yet I know so much.  It’s like a disease that spreads whether you like it or not.  Go away!  I’ve watched one episode and I thought ‘these people are terrible, shallow people’ and nothing over the next whatever years have convinced me otherwise.

Best Dessert- Lemon meringue pie but it has to be very strong lemon flavor.  I’ve had it every year on my birthday since I can remember.  I love it!

Worst Dessert- I mean there aren’t many bad desserts but got to go with rhubarb pie.  I know some people say it is very good but I have never had it made where I like it.

Best Band- This is really hard.  The Beatles are the obvious choice and I love them. However, when I am looking at what was influential on me and not society at large,  I have to with REM.  Automatic for the People was one of the first albums I bought and I’ve listened to hundreds of time with pleasure.

Worst Band- Kiss. I am sure they have some catchy tunes but I heard Gene Simmons on local radio here once and he was such a jerk it turned me off the whole band.  Plus, they look stupid.  Anyone who is trying that hard to get attention isn’t all that talented in the first place.

Best Singer- Got to go with Josh Groban.  I love his voice.  His concert in 2008 was one of the coolest experiences in my life.  (He looked me straight in the eyes and sang to me. No joke).  I love Michael Buble too and he’s great live but if I had to pick one person to sing to me I’d pick Josh.

Worst Singer- So many to chose from…I have to go with Shakira.  She seems like a really nice person but when she sings it sounds like a goat throwing up.  I don’t get it.

Best Song- Over the Rainbow.  I love The Wizard of Oz.  I love Judy Garland.  I love the message of the song. I think I have 13 versions of it.  I love it Hawaii style, Ingrid Michaelson cover, classic.  I love the haunting words (if happy little bluebirds fly beyond the rainbow why oh why can’t It).  Ugh.  So pretty.

Worst Song-  Lovely Ladies- Les Miserables.  I have to pick it because it sullies what is otherwise my favorite thing ever.  I love Les Mis and I love the story of Fantine but this song is so gross and it along with Master of the House are total earworm songs.  They will get stuck in your head forever and given some of the lyrics that is not a good thing.

Best Broadway Musical- Is there any doubt?  It has to be Les Miserables.  Despite 2 songs I dislike, 2 songs that are so corny, I love it.  I love the message, story, most of the songs and it was the first thing I remember really inspiring me as art and music.  It taught me what those mediums could do and how powerful they could be.  I’ve seen it live 4 times, twice in New York and I always have a purse full of tissues at the end.

Worst Broadway Musical- Book of Mormon musical.  Ok I haven’t seen it but I’ve listened to the score, watched scenes.  It is vulgar, distasteful and it paints my faith as naive, stupid and my leaders whom I love as zealous sexpots.  No thank you but seriously read the book…

Best Candy- Reese’s peanut butter cups.  I especially like the Easter eggs. I’m not sure why but they are even better than the cups.  The combination of chocolate and peanut butter is just delicious.

Worst Candy- Good and Plenty.  I think you are either born with the taste for black licorice or you aren’t.  I wasn’t.  Yuck!

So that’s a pretty good list.  What about you?  What’s your best and worst.  You should try it.  It’s harder than you might expect.


Romantic Comedy Cliches I’m Sick of…

I’ve been on a movie kick lately and this is one of my best.

Rachel's Musings

So today I had a great experience at a swim meet in Logan(something I will be posting about once I get all the photos from my friend). It was an intense meet with lots of college-level swimmers but I’m proud to say I came through with my best times so far! Like I said, more to come on that front….

For those that don’t know Logan is about 2 hours away from my apartment, so as you can imagine after such a long drive I came home exhausted.  My muscles ached all over and I had to fight falling asleep (I didn’t want to take a long nap because I knew it would be hard to sleep tonight).

Anyway, as I browsed the channels with my heat pad in toe I started and stopped watching several romantic comedies.  It got me thinking.  How is it that Hollywood can get…

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Any teen of the 90’s can sing this refrain:

With the lights out, it’s less dangerous
Here we are now, entertain us
I feel stupid and contagious
Here we are now, entertain us…

If you were living under a rock you might not know this is the chorus of Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana.  With the song Kurt Cobain welcomed in the age of grunge and commented on the general laziness of Generation X and the desire to be entertained instead of creating entertainment.

This is something I have thought about a lot in my life as I love to be entertained.  I can’t think of anything that excites me more than a great movie with spectacular visuals like Gravity or wonderful writing like Midnight in Paris.  I also have a fondness for television, music, books, theater, concerts, dance, games, and the list could go on.

In addition to merely experiencing the media I love commenting and discussing it.  I love the art of criticism and one thing that makes a movie like Inception special is the joy of talking about it with my friends.  I think that’s what I enjoy the most about book club is talking about characters, stories and ideas that are usually near and dear to my heart (as I have for the most part picked the book or suggested them).

Entertainment that handles the big questions or is boldly different such as Defending Your Life (film), The Book Thief (book) or Viva La Vida (music) is easy to talk about but so is less challenging work like While You Were Sleeping or Twilight (yes, I’ve had many a great discussion back and forth with girls on the merits or lack there of on twilight).

Even an experience that is a stinker can provide for great conversation.  Some of my favorite reviews to listen or read are the bad one’s.  In that sense the criticism and discussion becomes part of the entertainment value. Most of the time, thankfully, the only exposure I have to the bad product is the review and yet a good writer/pundit can be wildly entertaining with what he or she likes and dislikes.

I’ve also had the experience of being challenged by both general public opinion and critics.  For example, there may be a movie that everyone else seemingly loves that I didn’t care for (Dark Knight, Godfather, The Graduate) and on the other hand one’s that I like that most dislike (Drop Dead Diva, Hallmark movies, Miss Congeniality, The Blind Side).  Last year some of my favorite film critics hated Les Miserables and I examined my own thoughts on the film while listening to theirs and I still loved it. Not all parts but really liked it.   Critics panned the comedy Super Fun Night but I have really enjoyed it- very funny.

I also got very excited about a movie that others were favorable towards but not effusive about- Holes, Perks of Being a Wallflower, Source Code, all come to mind.

Anyway, there are two things that made me think about this topic.  The first was a twitter discussion today with friends about Gone with the Wind.  I had watched The American Masters piece on Margaret Mitchell and commented that the idealistic depictions of slave era south and the black characters in the film are hard for me to stomach.  Then followed a fun back and forth with friends on the merits of the movie (I like many things about the movie especially Clark Gable)

I guess I’ve kept thinking about the piece I saw last week about Catcher in the Rye author JD Salinger.  That book didn’t move me.  I didn’t enjoy it and it fascinates me that some love it so much they literally stalked Salinger’s home for days to get the recluse to impart some wisdom to them.  It’s fascinating to me that humans can experience things so differently?

This sort of brings me back to the Nirvana song.  Are we becoming less participatory in our entertainment choices?  Less open to debate and conversation?  Sometimes I feel a real resistance from peers when talking about such things beyond a base rudimentary level.

It’s interesting because I was raised to talk about things, to discuss my  opinions and not just absorb entertainment.  I don’t think my parents did this as a conscientious parenting choice but it is just part of their nature as question askers and ponderers.  It bothers me sometime that people can watch a movie like The Smurfs and not be annoyed at all of the Sony product placement or the lack of an original idea.  This is the kind of thing I was taught to notice and discuss from an early age.

When I was in college I remember going to see the movie Chocolat which is about a woman who makes tempting chocolates designed to arouse the simple townspeople away from their observance of the fasting period of lent.  To me, the Reverend of the town was portrayed as bumbling and the religious people as repressed.  This annoyed me.  I brought up my feelings to my friends and they were very annoyed with me and one said ‘why can’t you just enjoy the movie?’.  Well, to me the discussion is part of that enjoyment.

Growing up one of the few things my older brother and I had in common is we both loved The Simpsons.  I couldn’t even tell you how many cheerful conversations have started with ‘remember that episode’…I think I partly still watch it every Sunday because just the opening theme brings back great memories with my family. You’d be amazed how many political, religious and ethical discussions have begun with or included a reference to the Simpsons.  25 years of entertainment. 25 years!

On the other hand, my parents make very little time for entertainment in their lives.  Most people I know have some type of music, movie, tv show that they are passionate about.  My Mother is a great reader and plays the piano and my Dad enjoys theater, opera and symphony but I think those things are more of a tertiary pleasure and not something that takes a lot of their time, which admittedly they don’t have much of, especially my Dad.  I think they’d agree that participating in entertainment is not a priority for them and doesn’t excite them like it does for their kids.

It is certainly true that movies and television are not a source of entertainment for my parents.  Neither of them follow any TV shows regularly and go to a movie or two a year. I think this is partly due to the fact that entertainment is so much more available now than it was when my parents were young.  It wasn’t that long ago that you went to a movie once, maybe twice if it was re-released in the theater.  Movies could also be expensive- certainly more so than reading a book from the library or playing with friends.

Now we have so many ways to view entertainment it’s kind of nuts.  Just my house I have dvr, cable, movie theater, amazon prime, hulu, youtube, dvds, cds, mp3s, ebooks, regular books and the list goes on.  On the other hand, there are also so many ways to comment on entertainment , so in some ways the whole experience has become richer and more interesting.

It used to be that aside from personal conversations only newspaper columnists like Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert (who I love by the way) could share their feelings on movies, art, music etc.  Now anyone can make a youtube channel, write a blog, tweet, podcast for free or at very low costs, and believe me nothing gets people talking more than a blog on movies (nearly 100 comments on my overrated movie blog!).

Kids can also create their own entertainment so easily. Things like digital photography and video have made it possible for basically anyone to try their hand at photography and movie-making but on the flip side ebooks are rapidly making the once universally available book a technological status symbol.

Creative, independently minded content is easier to produce than ever before and yet we have seemingly endless sequels, prequels and remakes.  Sometimes I feel frustrated at the language and violence in modern entertainment and yet there is clearly an amazing amount that comes out I can and do see, listen to or read.  Plus there is an unending number of things to entertain us from the past. It seems every day I hear of a movie or tv show that I just have to check out, a classic that is new to me!

Clearly I go back and forth.  What do you think?  Was Kurt Cobain right?  Are we just standing back and seeking to be entertained or are we more active in analyzing, discussing entertainment than in the past?  Are we absorbers of entertainment or creators?  Do you enjoy reading, viewing criticism?  Are you nostalgic about entertainment and feel the best has already happened and we’ll never have another Mozart, Kathrine Hepburn or the Beatles? I am at times and then I am not.

I would love to hear what you think about my ramblings.  Have a great week everyone!

that's entertainment

Purple Hair

Shameless plug


Before starting this entry I want to put in a plug for my youtube channel.  I have just organized my videos by category- swim, faith, boxing, singing, health, food subscriptions, makeup subscriptions and lifestyle subscriptions.

Even if you don’t go on youtube much I would really appreciate it if you could subscribe to my channel, maybe like a few of my videos. I’d love to make the videos more professional, create an intro, maybe review some movies.  I have lots of ideas, so if you feel so inclined head over to


Ok.  So back to the real story.  Growing up my Mother made it very clear if either my sister and I got a tattoo or dyed our hair we would be in big trouble (more for the tattoo but still).   At least that was the impression I had.

I also thought my mother didn’t want me to wear make up which wasn’t true so who knows what her real stance was?  Anyway, she at the least discouraged it but I think part of that is she always loved my natural color of hair, as do I.

That said, I did always wonder what it would be like to have blonde hair or black, something different.  Now mind you I have had basically the same hair style since I was 15 years old (past shoulder, usually curly/wavy with long layers).  This is me at 17 and it’s pretty much never changed:

seniorI had one ill advised attempt at short hair in college which I thankfully do not have a photo of and I vowed to never go short again, especially really short.  My feeling is that once you have short pixie cut you can never go back because the growing out process is so awkward most give up.

A short bob that I had at one point made me look like a poodle because the curls were very pronounced at that length.   Anyway, I’ve always had the same hair and liked it.


On my mission I didn’t get my hair cut one time because I didn’t trust anyone and didn’t want to use precious break time to do it (I was always hoping for a comp who was a stylist but no luck) .  This is me in the last month of my mission.


You can see how long and scraggly it got but I still kind of like it.  My mission was like a pressure cooker of stress, emotion, panic and exaltation and I noticed the within the first 6 months I noticed a gray hair and then another and more.

By the time I went home I had a lot and it was honestly quite upsetting.  I had enough things going against me with my weight and general awkwardness, gray hairs seemed unfair!

I go in spurts where I like to color my own hair but I never cut it by myself
I go in spurts where I like to color my own hair but I never cut it by myself

So, it wasn’t soon after I got home that I started coloring my hair.  Not because I don’t like my color but because I didn’t want the increasingly prominent grays to show.  I have one spot on the left side of my head that is almost entirely gray roots if I did not color it and I’m just not ready for that.  As the divine Nora Ephron said:

“There’s a reason why forty, fifty, and sixty don’t look the way they used to, and it’s not because of feminism, or better living through exercise. It’s because of hair dye. In the 1950’s only 7 percent of American women dyed their hair; today there are parts of Manhattan and Los Angeles where there are no gray-haired women at all.”

Well said.  Once I had given into the idea of hair dye I wondered what sort of colors I should pick.  Most of the time I go with something fairly similar to my natural color because that’s what I like but occasionally I’ve added tints of red, black, and even auburn.  I tend to shy away from highlights because they are so hard and expensive to maintain (plus they don’t really help with the gray problem).

This is me after my last cut and color.  I have colored it once by myself since then.
This is me after my last cut and color. I have colored it once by myself since then.

Nevertheless, I still wanted to try something bolder but never had the guts.  Blonde, maybe a streak of pink, green or purple would be so much fun, but it’s such a big risk and it’s my hair, my beautiful hair.  😉  So I kept it the relatively the same.

Then the other day I was at Wallgreen’s and I always stop by the ‘as seen on tv’ section usually for a good laugh but I saw these:

hot huezHAIR CHALK!  I had never heard of such a thing!  The package is $15.95 for 4 colors (about 2 treatments per palate) and it washes away in one shampoo (more for blonde hair).  I brought it home and gave the purple a try and here’s what it looked like

purple hair 1
It looks like I have short hair in this picture but I don’t.

purple hair 2 I must say I was kind of stunned with how good it looked.  It made me feel happy to see my face in the mirror.  Something about the purple is energizing and alive.  Dont you agree?  Everyone I have talked to loves the purple hair.  I got tons of positive feedback today at church, and my social networking friends on instagram, facebook and twitter have been resoundingly positive.

I have to admit that it has made me wonder.  Should I go purple?  What do you guys think?  Is it too out there for everyday?

I mean I think I could give Katy Perry a run for her money…

katy-perry-premiere-3I would have to find someone to do it that I really trusted which has been tough lately.  I wouldn’t let just anyone dye my hair purple.  Thoughts?

Life Changing

Today I went to the gym for the first time in over a month.  Wahoo!  Still feel very congested but am trying my best to push myself without getting sicker.  We’ll see.  Trying to relax after the gym I watched the PBS airing of the recent documentary Salinger about reclusive writer JD Salinger.

Anyone who knows me knows I am not a huge Catcher in the Rye fan.  I read it in high school like everyone else and I found Holden to be whiny and annoying.  The style bothered me and the language was too adult for me at the time.  I really don’t get why so many relate to such an aggravating lead character?

Anyway, it was still interesting to learn more about such a famous author- a lot less than complimentary I might add.

But one of the annoying things in the  movie is it has all kinds of actors and pundits talking about what a life changing experience it was for them to read about young Holden’s quest to find himself and save the innocents from the phony and fake.

While the interviews were kind of useless it did make me wonder if there are any such works that I could talk so effusively about?   Did anything change my life in that way? Hmmm.


Start with Religion

Well, it might sound cheesy but the definite answer is The Book of Mormon.  The first time I read it I was 12 or 13.  My teacher had this book of quotes with funny drawings of animals that I liked and sensing my interest she told me she would buy me one if I read The Book of Mormon (smart teacher), so I read it.

At first I was impressed with the great storytelling and aside from the Isiah chapters which dragged (I was 12!) I was so excited to read these stories of faith, family and especially the coming of Christ.  The next time I read it it was more about the doctrine and how each time I read I wanted to be a better person.  I wanted to be more like Moroni, Nephi and Alma.

Now I’ve read it at least once a year every year since I was 12 and it still changes me.  I still find something new and inspiring most every time I read and I can’t deny how I feel when I read it’s pages.  It’s been a tremendous force for good in my life.


Les Miserables

So branching off from religion there isn’t a ton of other things that had a big impact on me as a youth but one that comes to mind is Les Miserables. The first time I was exposed to the musical was when I was 13 or 14 when PBS had a 10 year anniversary ‘dream cast’ concert.  I watched it over and over again and had the entire score memorized.  I was that annoying person who is muttering all the words under their breath.

Aside from the lovely ladies and the Thenardiers song (which I could still live without) I loved every song and it all just spoke to me like nothing else I’d ever heard. I then saw the musical on broadway in 1995 and it did not disappoint.  I remember leaving the theater with my choir group my eyes red with tears (still gets me when I see it today)

Reasons I love Les Mis-

idealistic rebellion of youth, redemption, justice, value of friendship, loyalty, honor, nobility in life and death and the realization there is never a lost cause.  I love On My Own, Bring Him Home and Empty Chairs at Empty Tables, Dreamed a Dream probably the most and I still get a chill up my spine when i hear it.


And an Experience

The only thing else that I can think of as being life changing was my entire college experience.  It’s honestly impossible for me to pick one moment in college that changed my life.  Something happened in my brain at that time period where things clicked that had never clicked before.

Taking philosophy classes, learning about other cultures, serving the lost boys, working as a teaching assistant, political economy of women, meeting friends, losing family, taking finals, deciding to go on a mission, all of those things and more.  It was the best time in my life.

I loved BYU.  I loved college.  I loved political theory.  I loved reading Kierkegaard, Plato, Aristotle and teaching other people about that.  I made my best friends at that time and I decided that I really believed in this thing called Mormonism and that nothing was going to ever change that.  I kind of wish I had dated more but I wouldn’t trade that time for anything.  The best.


Anyway those are the life changers that come to mind for me.  What about you?  What things really influenced you, made you into the person you are today?


Last week I made 2 recipes from a very special cookbook- ‘the best white bread’ and ‘italian chicken’.  Where did I get these recipes why from my very own cookbook. See below:

a nice big hole in the sleeve for the main dishes. Kind of appropriate.
Desserts my favorite section and not a bad drawing!
yummy salads

When I was 17 I was heading off to college I wanted to take my mother’s best recipes with me, so I gathered them together into a 3 ring binder on blue paper separated into categories like drinks, bread, salads, desserts.  The thing that I love is even though it was just for me I did my own drawings to accompany the recipes.   How many 17 year old’s who can’t really draw to save their life do that?

Isn’t it interesting because I could have just written the recipes down.  I’m not an artist so why did I feel inspired to add the drawings to my little cookbook?  Who knows exactly what inspired me but I would like to think it was because I knew that the recipes were special, that they deserved to be memorialized in some way and even if I was the only one who would see the drawings (which I pretty much am until this post) it was still worth it.

And you know what? It has been worth it.  I feel happy whenever I look in my cookbook and see the drawings.  It’s like 17 year old me waiving and saying hello to 33 year old me.  Over the years flour and guck has built up on the plastic covers of the pages and even had several that got briefly melted but I haven’t changed them to new covers.  I like seeing the years and remembering the time I made candy and it melted the on the fudge recipe or seeing the flour and remembering the pancakes that I’ve made over the years.

Other recipes remind me of the cooking contests we used to have (some are actually from the contest like the Green and White Lasagna one below).  That is one of the best times of my childhood cooking with my siblings.  Pancakes also remind me of my Dad and how he tried diligently for weeks to make the perfect pancake.  A recipe for spaghetti  makes me think of my Mom and how we ate pasta and sauce at least once a week growing up.  I also see the apple pie recipe and think of all the family gatherings where my Mother made the perfect pie and wistfully wonder if I will ever have such a culinary moment (her’s are seriously the best)

Italian Chicken is one of my favorites.
Even have the butter label stuck on the pancake page1

It’s an amazing thing because at the same time that my cookbook brings back all those memories it is creating new one’s that I will look back on 5 years and see the flour from when I first made bread in my new house or the raspberry pies I made and brought to my friends the Porters. I don’t if I can think of anything else that is both a time capsule of past and present more than this cookbook.

For some reason I had an idea when I was young that this would be important so I not only made such a book for myself but when my sister got engaged I made a similar (if a bit nicer!) cookbook for her.  You see, she and her husband and spent much of their courting time with me and I had done most of the cooking.  At the time I was working and it was fun for me to cook for hungry guests and hear about their plans and adventures.  So, when I made Megan a cookbook it was more based on the recipes that I had made for her and not as much about the recipes Mom had made.

Megan’s recipe was all based on things that were quick that I had made for them as they were courting and engaged.
You’ll notice I have hand drawn drawings on Megan’s too. It just makes it more special.
Chili was a favorite of mine in college. It was sort of dotored up canned goods but always tasty and cheap.
the cover. So fun.

You will see in hers there is also the hand drawn artwork which I still find amazing as I am not much of a drawer but there was something about making a cookbook that made me draw by hand.  It’s like passing on a bit of who you are with what you cook so nothing else would work but your own hand at drawing.  And maybe the memory of making the drawings becomes part of the time capsule for past and future memories.  I hope it has been that for my sister.  I know she uses it often.

As I was making bread I said to myself ‘I wonder if most people would just look online for such a recipe?’ I’m sure they do and I look online often for sure but I hope that with the advancement we haven’t lost the value of creating family cookbooks, with personal touches of story and art for your life, your family to share and add on to.  Such a legacy of flour and egg cannot be transferred to an email or a pinterist pin.

Food has such a link to our survival, to what makes us literally alive; therefore, the stories it can tell can be monumental or sublimely small.  Without the family, homemade cookbook we lose some of those stories and some of that life.

So make a goal of it this year to write down your family recipes, add some illustrations (you’ve seen mine, don’t have to be so great) and then give similar gifts to those you love for their memories and by transference now your memories.  It’s just a good thing to do!

Don’t get so lost in the world of blogging, even food blogging, that you forget to make things that make memories.  Writing is powerful but so is art and beauty and cooking, so make a cookbook as a gift to your life! You’ll love it!

Ps.  I know there are companies that can make it all professional but I would discourage from that.  Make it you and everytime you see your wobbly version of a salad or a turkey you will smile and say to yourself ‘thanks 17 me love ya’ and those are the sublime moments of life.

508 Swears- Hollywood Ratings are Ridiculous

rated r

Ok. Guys get ready for a little bit of a soapbox…

In the Mormon culture I grew up in it is commonly discouraged to see Rated R movies. I am not sure where that designation got started but it is a stupid way to evaluate content in a movie.  What!  You say! How can that be?

Here’s what’s going on…

If a movie has more that 3 f words it is immediately tagged with an R rating.  It does not matter scenario (war time, under attack, bullying, documentary, more than 3 you are out).

There is no limit that I can see on the number of swears that can be said to make something NC17.  As far as I can tell NC17 is used only for sexually explicit erotic movies like Showgirls.  We saw a great example this week of the lack of limits when Martin Scorsese’s movie Wolf of Wall Street had 508 f words.  A record! How exciting…

The most swears I have ever seen in a movie is 146 in Goodwill Hunting, which if you read this blog you know is a movie I hate and wouldn’t watch again without being bolted to the chair.

One I liked called Silver Linings Playbook had 76 but a lot of that was background and it did feel natural to the setting and place (see I’m not a total prude).

Last summer the movie Bully, a documentary about bullying and trying to STOP VIOLENCE was made R for 4 audible f words from the bullies beating up a kid on a buss.  This is a documentary! It’s not glorifying that behavior it’s trying to stop it.  Shouldn’t that count for something.

But no.  It’s an R.  So if someone has a rule about no R rated movies they miss out on one movie with 4 swears and are kept rightfully away from one with 508.  Should that really be the same rating?  It doesn’t make sense!

The next reason why the ratings system is stupid is how they judge violence.  If your scene has blood it is considered an R but if it is a bloodless death it can be PG13.  That’s how movies like the Hunger Games get away with murdering children for sport at a PG-13. I remind you Bully is an R that is trying to reduce child on child violence…ironic.

dark knightTake a look at this graphic it contains all the violent content of the Dark Knight, a PG-13 film.  This is so long that I had to make it super small font to fit on one page.  It includes shooting a cop, an explosion in a jail, a man’s face is burned off in chunks and a pencil is stuffed through another man’s head.  I mean what does a movie have to do to make R for violence?  Evidently be Saving Private Ryan and actually show a real invasion that actually happened with blood…but you can have pencils through heads no problem. Sigh…

Sensuality is another issue that the ratings are bonkers about.  You can only show certain things, make certain sounds or kisses to be PG-13.  It’s all ridiculous and kind of insulting.  We get what’s going on even if there’s a convenient white sheet in places.  Please!  Plus, sensuality depends so much on situation as far as offense.  Is it a real relationship? Are the characters married?  Is it a prostitute? The same scene could be wildly different in offensiveness depending on the story.  That’s why a flat rating for a list of objectionable scenes/words doesn’t make sense.

Here’s the thing I want to watch adult movies about adult topics.  I love children’s movies but I also like films about adult characters struggling with life and its challenges.  I am also willing to admit that some movies are not made for me and my moral and that’s ok.  I’m perfectly fine with that but we should at least be given a rating system that makes sense or have none at all like they do at Sundance.  This would force patrons to use a site like to find out the actual content of the movie and if it is something they feel comfortable seeing whether it is PG, PG-13, R or whatever.

The ratings are STUPID!!!  The only good they might be is to stop kids from seeing R’s in the theater..maybe. Although I snuck in once when I was in high school.  (secret…)

I think we should all look at criticism out there, read the screenit summary or detail and decide on our own terms if it is a movie we want to see.  That’s what I do with live theater.  No rating system required.

If a rating system couldn’t steer me away from seeing a pencil through a man’s face than it is of no use.  I’m on my own for determining movies to watch and I recommend the same to you.  Also share with your friends so they can use your experience to make their informed movie-going decisions.

I give the Rating system an F

rating system

Must See Movies of 80s, 90s, 00s and Now

With the start of the new year one of my favorite things to do is listen to film criticism best and worst of the year.  Since I don’t see most of the movies they are talking about I find it entertaining to see what the critics say- especially the ‘worst of’ list because a good critic can be hilarious when he or she is hating on a movie.  Plus, it let’s me know what movies to skip.  I figure if a movie makes it on a couple of the worst lists of critics I respect than I’ll pass.

Anyway as I was watching various youtube best and worst of lists one of them was talking about how his list is the movies that he wanted to see again, most. Not necessarily the most well made, well acted or whatever.  He seemed to ask the question- what movie wowed you and became a part of your life?

It made me think of movies I love to rewatch and  then my next question was out of different era’s what movie do I rewatch the most? What movies do I hate and wouldn’t see again unless strapped to a chair against my will? Anyway, this is what I came up with and remember these aren’t necessarily the best movies, just one’s that I like to watch again and again.


When Harry Met Sally

The Little Mermaid


Princess Bride

Better Off Dead

Back to the Future

Christmas Story

Raiders of the Lost Arc and Empire  Strikes Back (I actually don’t rewatch these often but I went through phases where I did and they are certainly must see’s for basically everyone)

Some Kind of Wonderful

American Tail


Princess Mononoke

Beauty and the Beast


Bugs Life

The Kid

Little Women

Sense and Sensibility and Emma and 1996 Pride and Prejudice

Lion King

Home Alone (I watch this most Christmas seasons but I put it on here because it’s the first movie I remember really laughing at)

Truman Show

Toy Story

Howard’s End

The Fugitive

Sleepless in Seattle

Much Ado About Nothing

You’ve Got Mail

Office Space

Before Sunrise

2000’s (I was gone on mission from 2003-2005 so movies from that era are basically gone)

Slumdog Millionaire


Bridget Jones Diary

Devil Wears Prada

Sweet Home Alabama

My Big Fat Greek Wedding

Best in Show

Before Sunset

Godsford Park

Stranger than Fiction

Legally Blonde

Napoleon Dynamite


Spirited Away

Return to Me

Lord of Rings (another one I don’t really rewatch but must see’s)

Harry Potter movies

Where the Wild Things Are

Blind Side


About a Boy

Pride and Prejudice



Silver Linings Playbook


Toy Story 2 and 3

Kings Speech

Midnight in Paris

The Help

Les Miserables

Perks of Being a Wallflower




Pitch Perfect


I’m sure there are one’s I am leaving out.  Which one’s are ‘must see’s’ for you?

Worst Movies- Armageddon, Contact, Film Socialisme, Superstar, Drop Dead Gorgeous, Goodwill Hunting, What Happens in Vegas, Failure to Launch, Rent, Pearl Harbor, All Dr. Seuss movies, Ace Ventura movies, Charlie’s Angels movies,  The Lake House, 27 Dresses, Bounce, Fool’s Gold, Jungle2Jungle, An Inconvenient Truth, Hunchback of Notre Dame,  Message in a Bottle, 2nd Pirates movie,  Beaches, Four Christmases, Ghost of Girlfriend’s Past, The Awful Truth, Tim Burton movies (I’m so over him).

Which movies were real stinkers for you?

Just thinking…

It’s late 2:20 to be more precise and I can’t sleep.  My medicine has basically stopped working so I have to stop taking it for a while until it starts working again.  I know it’s a cycle but I haven’t figured out any better way to at least enjoy some sleep.

Anyway, still got this darn virus.  Sore throat, congestion, everything but I am moving on with it.  Tomorrow I have voice lessons which should be interesting.  Maybe I will sing the belt songs better with a stuffed up nose!  It’s happened to me before.  I guess there is just a limit to how long you can keep you life on hold and ‘rest up’.

It is tax season so that is always a bit nuts.  I got my Dad’s taxes for his rental ready for the CPA today and spent about 12 hours going over books, and making 3 huge reservations/payments.  I made him some good money so no complaints from him about his oldest daughter! 🙂

My Dad had a neat thing happen today.  He had almost finished law school as a grad student but became disenchanted with it and distracted with other projects (mainly my sister, brother and I) as well as his own small business.  He knew he wasn’t going to be an attorney so he abandoned the attempt just a few papers before graduating.

Well, I believe my Dad was thinking of taking some business and german classes requested his transcript and turns out he actually did graduate but had never received his diploma.  It came in the mail today!  Pretty exciting right!  25 years in development! Congrats Dad!  A college diploma of any kind is a badge of honor that we fought the fight and achieved our goals, even if you don’t use them for your career.

I have to tell myself that because I don’t really use either of my degrees for my career.  Maybe a few things from my MBA but not really.  It does kind of boggle the mind that in nearly 20 years of education I never had one class on using excel, photoshop or word.  Add in quickbooks and the basic internet those programs take up 80% of my work life.

The truth is that almost everything I learned about my career was from a woman named Sandy who was my ‘office Mom’ for my first job.  She was the mother of the whole office and that’s not because she was old, she just has a nurturing personality that draws people to her.  It was a hard time in my life but she listened to every gripe and groan in the most understanding way.

She also patiently explained how to do different tasks, sometimes multiple times and helped me fix the mistakes, typos and incorrect 10k.  I am sure she would disagree but she is really responsible for most of my success if you can call it that in my work life.  I owe her a lot. Plus, she kept me from losing it so many times.

I’m really grateful my Dad and Sandy and so many others.

It’s easy to remember the impact of family but perhaps it is harder to recall the impact of more passing acquaintances like coworkers, wardmembers, neighbors but their effect can be eternal.  I believe that strongly.  Some of the strongest influences in my life are people I don’t see often like my mentor in college Dr. Holland or my young women’s leader Sister Potter.  They made an eternal difference.  Makes me wonder what kind of difference I am making?

It’s interesting because I was talking to my sister today about how grateful I am for swimming because it gives me a way to make new friends which is something I need in my life.  I have plenty of friends but yet I still need an avenue in my life to meet new people.  Some people don’t really need this newness like my sister Megan likes things to stay more stable and continuous.

Maybe part of the reason I need an outlet to new people is the desire to make a difference in as many people’s lives as I can and it is an urging I believe comes from God.  He needs me to keep channels open where he can use me to help all kinds of people, not just my closed circle of friends and family.  Not everyone is needed in that way but a comfort level among strangers has always been a gift of mine.

Yesterday I went to an open house for my old bishop of the YSA ward and I cried.  It is kind of the final string in my relationship to the old ward.  There are a few people but not many.  It makes me sad.  Plus, that bishop helped me through some of the hardest times of my life.  I will be forever grateful to him.  Makes me cry just thinking about it.

Anyway, this is more ramblings at 2 am.  In the end I just want to serve God even if it takes me 25 years to get the reward in the mail! (Go Dad!)

just thinking

North and South: My Favorite Book

north and south

I’ve written a number of posts about the English writer Elizabeth Gaskell but since we are doing her book North and South for book club I thought I would add one more.  Let me explain to all of you why it is my favorite book (with the Book Thief being a close second- I know quite the contrast!).

North and South tells the fictional story of Margaret Hale who in the mid-nineteenth century is forcibly moved from her beloved South of England to big industrialized north.  There she meets a hard working and seemingly aloof textile factory owner named John Thornton.  Having grown up with an aristocratic notion of a ‘gentleman’ Margaret is initially disgusted by the tradesman Thornton and see’s him as a brute.  This impression is added to when she meets the Higgins family who work at the factory and are in dire straights.

Higgins and Thornton
Higgins and Thornton

The men at the factory, led by Higgins, are debating about striking and initially Margaret is sympathetic to their cause but as it becomes more violent she becomes conflicted.  She also gets to know Thornton more and their vigorous debates on social issues spark contempt and attraction at the same time. Both are used to being doted on and praised and the challenge of an equally vibrant and thoughtful mind draws them together but the path to love isn’t easy or predictable…

So are you intrigued?  I am and I’ve read this book two or three times every year since I first read it in 2006.  I was assigned it at a book club and I was the only girl who finished it but I think despite its nearly 400 pages I read it in a couple of days.  I was lucky enough to be introduced to it knowing nothing about the story, writer, or having seen the wonderful if slightly different BBC miniseries.

North and South is often compared to Pride and Prejudice with some cause.  I am sure Gaskell was a fan of Austen as her works became very trendy in the 1850’s.  However, Gaskell is also a contemporary of Dickens (Dickens is supposedly the one who suggested the title North and South when it became serialized in his magazine).  The romance and the prejudice of title characters is similar to Pride and Prejudice but it adds the social commentary of a Dickens novel and does not have the comedic wit of an Austen book.

north and south 2
Margaret and Thornton

Thornton and Margaret are in my opinion the two most well developed characters in literature.  Where Darcy and Lizzie change pretty dramatically (Darcy falls in love with Lizzie in basically a weekend), the leads in North and South develop a love and understanding of each other slowly, bit-by-bit.  When I first read the book I didn’t really like either character but I saw them grow and change the way real people might change.  Even on a 10th or 11th read-through there are not 2 characters that I want to more desperately fall in love than Margaret and Thornton.

Gaskell also gives all of her heroines a remarkably modern viewpoint and voice.  Take away the Victorian language and these characters could be a Bridget Jones or in a Sophie Kinsella novel.  What takes Austen half a book and a proposal to vocalize, Gaskell’s heroine says in a first meeting.  In her initial discussion with Thornton Margaret passionately defends the rights of the workers and calls him a “master” with a “Darkshire Egos, dependents clinging to him on all sides” .  I would say pretty bold even for a modern girl!

But, adding more complexity to the character, soon after this discussion Margaret steps out to defend Thornton from union thuggary.  She seems to have innate idea of right and wrong and is confident enough to act upon it.  Both Thornton and Margaret are emotionally honest in this way.  Him with a bold proposal, her with a rescue.  Then the story continues to add layer after layer. (is that obscured enough for you? Tried to not be to spoiler)

I also like North and South because it is not centered around the characters marital hopes.  In fact, that is somewhat incidental to the plot.  Gaskell, like Dickens, hopes to champion political change but she also invites more of a discussion than he ever allows.  There are points in favor of both the “master and man” debates within her novels and one could make a compelling case for Gaskell advocating either side.  That is great writing in my book.

north and south vs pride and prejudice
North and South vs Pride and Prejudice

Another difference in North and South from Pride and Prejudice is Thorton is a fleshed out character that we see a full journey from.  We hear his grief and feel the pressure that weighs him down as owner of the mill and lovesick man.  In their first discussion Thornton tells Margaret:

“I value my own independence so highly that I can fancy no degradation greater than that of having another man perpetually directing and advising and lecturing me, or even planning too closely in any way about my actions”

What a man right?  He has felt the weight of his father’s indiscretions, mother’s dependence, sister’s carelessness and his communities reliance, and never been confronted by anything he could not master or adapt to until Margaret.  That is such an attractive idea for a woman.  To be the girl that causes such a man to change and learn!

But he is not alone in change.  Margaret changes too, maybe even more so.  She learns that there is more gray than her stilted Southern ways have taught her.  By being the target of a misunderstanding in the story she comes to realize that all is not always as it seems at first and that the most important part of Thornton’s character is his honest heart. In this sense their mutual understanding is very similar to Darcy and Lizzie.

In the final scene in the novel Margaret declares “I am not good enough” and Thornton says “don’t mock my own feeling of unworthiness”.  Is that not also a very modern sense of love?  That we should feel we have gotten the better half of the bargain?  And even though it is clear to any astute reader that this will be the ending of the story, the journey is so satisfying that I want to cheer every time.

north and south 3

I just love it.  Read it!! (and then watch the miniseries. Be smart like me and do it in the right order!)