Thursday, November 28, 2013

Pumpkin Pie- From Scratch ( In Photos)

Get pumpkins. I like to have a pie pumpkin, and the smaller ones.

Cut them in half, and gut them. Then put them in the oven and bake them till they are soft. I think I usually do 350, for around 30-40 min

clean out the guts, wash the seeds off, and throw out the stem and stringy stuff

                                             Put seeds on a baking sheet and season them.
                                   pop them in the oven with the pumpkins until they are toasted.
when the pumpkins look like this, they are done. let them cool

scoop out the pumpkin flesh from the shell, and put it in a blender with some milk. 
puree until it is smooth

then strain it, to get all the stringy and lumps out.

smooth as budda.  put that in the fridge while you work on the pie shell

Keep the butter cold. 1 1/4 c flour, 1/4 t salt, and 1/2 cup butter- cold, chopped up and cut into the flour

add one table spoon of ice cold water at a time,  and mix the ingreedients together until they
start to ball up. form into a ball, put in fridge and let chill 4 hrs, or over night.

Lightly greese a surface, and roll that dough out!!  make it a little bigger than your pie tin

put it in the pie tin. poke it a bit so there are no air bubbles
Back to that pumpkin- mix in two eggs, a can of sweeten condensed milk, and 1.5t pumpkin spice,3/4 c brown sugar (packed down) and 1/2 t salt. mix then pour that batter into your pie shell. 

bake in the oven for 40 min, at 400f. put a pan under just in case there is spillage. 
take left over dough, and a cookie cutter shapped like  a leaf, and make leaf shapes.
then paint the leaf with red, yellow and orange food coloring. bake the leaf at 400f for10 min.
Stick the leaf on your cooled pie, and enjoy. 

Im Thankful For You, I Thought You Knew

A little over a week ago, I started an undertaking of immense proportions, on top of my already exhausting load.  I did this, because I thought I it would be a nice thing for both me and my friends. What I failed to realized,  was that it isn't just a nice thing, its a necessary and too much neglected thing.

 As the month of November comes to a close, So does the constant daily posts of what people are grateful for. A wonderful tradition, and an expression of gratitude. It was this very act that brought about my own idea of how I could show some thanks.

 It took me all of about five seconds thought to realize that if I were to joint the gratitude posting train it would quickly sound very repetitive and insincere, because there is one thing that means more to me in my life probably than anything else. One group of people who make everything in my life have meaning, worth living. They make heaven worth striving for, and I can tell you right now, if I thought for a second my eternities would not have them in it, I would give up every effort to get there, because any eternity without them would really just be Hell to me.

 I am of course referencing my most amazing friends. Now, before anyone thinks that discounts my family, I shall clarify. From the time I was very young, I came up with a saying:
 When your friends become family to you, and when your family become friends to you then you know you have reached a level where you truly love them.

I have so many of my friends that have become my family, and so many of my family have become my friends,  that  I feel grateful for them each and every day, more than anything else that I have. I would say my Savior Jesus Christ, and my Heavenly Father also top that list, and  I think that's grand, because that defiantly makes eternity with them worth fighting for.  but, I digress.

 What I decided to do instead of continuously telling everyone how grateful I am for them in one big post, which they would never feel all that much about, was, I decided it was time I start telling them individually truly what they mean to me, and why they mean it.  I've done this for one week. One person a day. I plan at least to continue until my birthday. I made a list, and I drew names out of a hat, because every name was so important to me I couldn't pick who would be first.

 After one week of doing this, I realized that I have done a terrible job in the past. I don't think any of my dearest friends from week one knew how much I loved them, how important they were to me, and why. That makes me sad, because I look back, and I can see why you wouldn't know that, but I hoped that I had done a better job of letting you know how important you are to me than I have done.

 This year, I think I have a deeper desire than ever before to be a better friend. To show you and tell you all how much you mean to me, but I can be really shy, even around my closest friends, and expressing my deep feelings of love and gratitude for you is kind of hard for me. So please do know this. I love you. I care. I'm so so very grateful you are in my life, and I'll try harder to make that clear from now on. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Special, Unique, Different and Why I Asked

This morning I woke up with a question that had to be answered.  What makes some people think negatively of the words special, unique, and different, and others think only happy thoughts about those words. So I asked. I asked co workers, I asked on Facebook.  I wanted to know if there were any patterns, if there was an age, or geographical, or religious reason.  I found none of those patterns to exist.

 I only got a response from about 50 people, all of who know me. So this was in no way scientific, and in no way a random sample. well, there were random elements to it.  The people that responded lived in the pacific north west, and the rocky mountains. They were between the ages of  25 and 65. They were almost equally male and female.  Some were from the same family, some were even twins.  Some were not related at all.  Some were gay, some were straight. Some were Mormon, lots were mormon. Some were Catholic, Lutheran, Athiest, some are leaning towards eastern religions but are undecided.  See, I had some variety in there.

 When I started asking this question, I thought I would get more negative responses out of people in Utah than on the West Coast. That was not the case.  Then I thought maybe there would be an age correlation, and maybe  it would be stronger towards people my parents age for the negative response. Also, not the case.

 But as I asked people, one thing was very very clear, with no context to judge from, most people had very very strong opinions and fit in one of three categories.

Negative, to the point of being almost impossible to see these words in a positive light without context.

Positive, to the point of it being absolutely impossible that someone would use then wonderful words in any negative way.

Positive, with an acknowledgement that other people may see and use the words negatively, but that they had chosen to see everything in a positive light, and possibly that they were unique and different and OK with that, and people that weren't could go jump in a lake.

 It was interesting to me, that most of the responses I got throughout the day in person, or else by personal one on one communication on instant messaging were neck and neck between the positives and the negatives. When I went to Facebook with the question, very few people expressed a negative view at all.

 The family I asked, my own, or more specifically my mom and her sisters and one of my cousins, were all divided. half were very positive, to the point of not understanding how anyone could be negative, and the other half were extremely negative.  in that family, twins. and the twins were polar opposites in their responses. That, I will say, absolutely blew my mind.

 As I got responses throughout the day, one of my favorites was a positive response that was also incredibly unique. Not a one line response, this person went through and explained the great thing about each of the words- different  is a learning experience,  normal is over rated,  and all the words together bring curiosity and interest.

It was interesting to see what happened when people broke the words apart, rather than taking them as a whole. some words were positive some negative, some neutral, all together the feeling for the words was different from individually.

One of my favorite conversations was with a person that went to school with me, but that was a year younger. We had a really good talk about how our schools could be very clicky, and how those words were often used very negatively in elementary school and Jr high school. She had a more negative view of those words.

 I really enjoyed that someone put content. that's happy and at peace to me, but not so overwhelmingly happy, just happy enough. That's how I interpreted that.  Sometimes it was hard to get a straight answer out of people. Some of them would answer in a statement that I am sure they thought was crystal clear, but part of the reason this question came up, is that some words mean different things to different people, and without a context to your statements, or some clarity, they can be easy to misinterpret.

Many people who were either positive acknowledging the negative, or just flat out negative sighted experiences with bullying, or references to Forest Gump, the "special" bus, any kind of special needs group,  or growing up being told to stay away from people that were in any way different from themselves. The most unique negative response (in a good way;) was that it was pretentious. That's interesting, someone looking down on you because they are special, rather than the rest of the negatives that felt special was looked down upon.

Many of the positive people quickly referenced people of their same religion, or even in one instance, being happy that they were not part of a states major religious majority and like "those people."  Many just used the word happy, and some talked about spiritual things and being special to God or his special people.

Your responses were intriguing to me. I hope someday to expand this with a larger and more random sample. But lets be honest, none of you are reading this to find out what each other said. You want to know why I asked this, and what my response is.

 I just finished watching the voice. There is great irony in the fact that I love the voice because I think of all the musical reality shows,  it is the best at embracing and celebrating uniqueness, and originality. It is the most positive and uplifting show. The singers on there that are my favorite are unique, special, and different, in a positive way. They bring a quality and a richness to their performances, and the ones that don't are forgettable, and I'm not sad when the forgettable are voted off.

 That said, with no context, and sometimes even in a very positive context, I go extremely negative in my reaction to these words. I hope someday, through great friends and programs like the voice to be better at celebrating different, special and unique.  I think I can do well at celebrating it in others, but applied to me personally I still have a hard time doing that.

 My personal quote of the year, the question I have felt God and many of my friends and loved ones have asked me in one way or another, and that I have even asked myself  is from the movie "What a Girl Wants".   It is simply this: "Why do you try so hard to fit in, when you were born to stand out?"

 I have no doubt in my mind that I was born to stand out. But from my travel patterns to everything else I do in life, I try my hardest to blend in. I'm not good at it, I don't think I'm meant to.  And the thing that triggered all of this, was when a friend gave me a compliment, using the words unique and special, and said it in such a way that there could be no doubt it was meant as a compliment, and to uplift. My gut reaction kicked in in that moment to a point that shocked the heck out of me.  I instantly got angry. If I could have punched someone, I probably would have if I could have. I reacted very quickly in my head, but silently in person with a "what exactly are you trying to say about me?"  Hearing those words made me feel  like I must be unacceptable, and sub standard, weird, and in capable of blending in with "normal people"  for all of thirty seconds, till logic took over, and then I interpreted it as she meant it, or at least I tried to.

 That wasn't anything my friend said, she said the opposite. She was saying that I am amazing and awesome and should embrace my awesomeness and shine for the world Based on  today's responses clearly feels positive about those words. And I knew that, pretty quickly after I felt those negative feelings, I knew that wasn't her intent. So it caught me really strongly that I would react that way. Then I remembered all the times this year I received blessings and was told "your heavenly father wants you to know  you are special, you are one of his special daughters."  or reading many times the words "special" or "unique" in my patriarchal blessing. And I got mad at God about those too.  I think one time I thought, "God Stop calling me special, I don't like that!" and then I realized, Gods meaning of special is always positive, and I am the one that needs to change, not him.

 So basically, that was it, that's where it came from. A little kick in the gut of self awareness, and just trying to figure out why I try so hard to fit in, when clearly I am more awesome when I knock that nonsense off, and just be me. In fact, I have tried to be someone else, I have tried to blend in. I can't do it, at the end of the day, I must be me, and I have accepted that, but apparently I still have some work to do.

 I think the most insightful conversations of the day were with my mom, and that friend from school. In Elementary school and Jr High, I watched countless friends be bullied for being different, unique, and special. Sometimes, I got a bit of that myself. Mostly I just learned, if you want to be safe, you have to be invisible, you have to blend in and you have to be a part of the crowd. Otherwise people will call you names, spit on you, throw stuff at you, slam you head into the wall, and all that crap.

 Well, I'm tired of being safe. I just want to be me.  And my real friends like me better that way. Please continue to tell me I am special, Unique and different. Go ahead and tell me that I'm weird and should stay that way, because that's how you love me any way. I promise, I will not punch you, and maybe together we can move me to that middle category- "I know people sometimes say negative things about those words, but I think they are positive"

 Maybe I should make a bumper sticker "keep Mandi weird"    I think I live in an area that does a good job celebrating uniqueness. I have good friends that keep showing me that there is no reason to be afraid of being yourself. I think that is great. I agree about that for other people. I will someday agree about it for me. For now,  I encourage further discussion on the matter, and  watching this video. Be brave my fellow negatives. BE BRAVE.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Awkward Mormon Moments

You know, there are things as Mormons that we experience that are super awkward, but that you just know only other Mormons are going to get why its so awkward.  These are just a few....

1.  When you forget to put on a bra because you have too many layers of clothing on top to notice its missing.

2. When you are uncomfortable at work all morning and go to the bathroom and realize you put your garments on inside out this morning and you are going to have to remove four or five layers of clothing to fix it or keep being uncomfortable.

3. When you go to a single adult dance and  find a new buddy that you swear you know from somewhere, and go home and realize its your friends mom- you know, one of the ones you were friends with before you got too old and got kicked out of the singles ward.

4. When someone of the opposite sex tries to hug you, and you do that awkward avoidance dance, because you're a missionary.


6. Insert pretty much any language mishap here.  such as blessing food to be poisonous instead of useful to your body,  telling someone it was nice to suck them instead of nice to meet them because you mixed up the conjugations.  calling yourself "Elder Outhouse".

7. loosing your companion, and having a panic attack about it in the middle of the grocery store.

8. having someone open their door and be in their underwear.

9. street contacting someone at a bus stop. having them hard core reject you, and then getting on the same bus and having to stand next to them for the next 20 stops.

Ward Choir:
10.  Not reading the little slip of paper the choir director slipped you on your way up to sing that said only the men would be singing the second verse now. And because you didn't read it, you sing your loudest and proudest Alto solo and join the men.

  if you have more, please share them in the comments. =)

Friday, November 15, 2013

Lets Get Dancey!!!

Ive spent the last two weeks in relative social isolation because i had a cold and i didnt feel weel, or have any energy.

I am an introvert. This means, i get energy being alone or in small groups.

The good news is there is a single adult dance tonight, and i have amassed so much energy i could burst. In fact, i havent been able to sleep the last three nights, and i havent been tires, at all.

So, im pretty sure tonight im gonna get crazy and dancey, and drain that excess energy off to the extroverts who like to take all our hard earned introvert energy, but this time, im considering it a symbotic relationship, because i want to be able to sleep tonight.

The only real danger here, is that in getting older, my feet have become wimpy. Im not sure they can withstand this level of awesome dancing without injury.

Its very likely i will not be able to walk tomorrow. I may need to use a cane.  ;-)

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Harder you try, The harder you fail. Or not...

  I think the worst day of the month is the day I pay all my bills. It has a way of discouraging me like almost nothing else. Why?  I dont know. I work my butt off. I try to manage my money responsibly, and actually, Im doing better than it seems at this second in my head. A lot better.  But something about watching hudreds of dollars suddenly empty out of your bank account the very day that it gets put there to begin with, is just very discouraging.

  At the moment, I am wondering why I am trying to do so stinking much. Why am I trying to go back to school, work my regular job,  and be co-coordinator for the CFC all at the same time, while trying to write a very emotional ten page essay for a project I will discuss at a later date- its super emotional.  Any way, WHY!!!!!! why  on earth am I trying to do so much at once, and add to it this and that, and then I come home, pay my bills and wonder why I am so freaking stressed out and want to cry?
Is there any particular reason I feel I must accomplish all of these things now, and that none of them can wait?  Well, mainly there is one. My name is Mandi, and its just what I do. After a week of being sick with a cold and out of commission, I have so much catching up to do on everything.  Maybe its time I take a little advice, and SLOW IT DOWN. Yes,  I think that is what I shall do.  Im going to go get some emotional support tonight at ARP, and I will not pay any more bills tonight, I can pay them tomorrow. I will not write any essays tonight, I couldn't if I wanted to. And Im not doing my Psychology homework tonight, because Im too stressed out,  and I wont get anything out of it any way.

 Tonight, I am going to succeed in feeling loved, supported, and calm.  I think I can handle that much. and that is all.       Sometimes, the harder you try  the harder you fail, just because you are trying to do too much and increasing the probability that you will fail at something. keep trying, but "see that ye do all things in wisdom, and in order." 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Procrastination Is Really Just Delaying Joy, To Wallow In Misery

  So. I like to start everything with so. Why? well, its a great way to delay saying what I actually want to say, especially at times when I am having a hard time saying it.

 I've faced and done a lot of hard things this year. Always facing and doing hard things is better than hiding and running away from them, I know that from experience. However, It doesn't make it any easier to do the hard things, or make me less procrastinatory (yup I just made up a word for funzies) in doing those hard things.

 I have found however, that when I do procrastinate doing hard things, it does not make me less miserable than actually doing them, it just drags the misery out longer. But, even as I write this post, I do so to procrastinate doing some hard, but important writing in other places. Why? I have nothing really to say right now in this blog, except how miserable delaying writing what must be written makes me, but alas, I am lacking courage to write what must be written, and I keep hoping that some how magically, in the writing of this blog, or the playing of candy crush on face book and other useless endeavors, I will some how suddenly gain all the courage needed.

 Let us learn. Courage doesn't come before it is needed. It doesn't come in waiting. Courage comes in running to the battle and facing down those demons that threaten to destroy all your peace and happiness. The longer you wait to face them, the more power they gain. The sooner you face and fight, the sooner that peace and courage can come to you.

 now, if you'll excuse me, I have found my courage. I shall go write.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

My TV List

So, I think you can probably tell a lot about a person by the shows they choose to watch, or choose not to watch. Now that we are into the new season of TV a bit, I thought I'd share my list of what I watch, in no particular order.

1. Project Runway.
2. Mater Chef
3.Hell's Kitchen (yeah I'm a fan of Ramsey.)
4. Kitchen Nightmares
5. Duck Dynasty
6. Hart of Dixie
7. Grimm
8. The Voice
9. The Big Bang Theory
10. Nashville
11. Doctor Who
12. Sherlock
13.Downton Abbey

That's my shows I wont miss.
Here is my list of show that I started watching,and then got bored with. So now I will only watch them if there is nothing better I want to do..

1. Sleepy Hallow- I had great hopes in this, It started well, and then it kind of just lost momentum
2. Shield. - I want to like this, but I just dont care
3. New Girl- If Zooey Deschanel sang more, I'd probably watch more. But im just not pulled into the story line as much since mid second season, they kind of lost me.

I dont spend all my time watching tv. I watch online while I do things like cook and clean. so yeah. I dont spend all day watching shows.