"In all of living have much fun and laughter. Life is to be enjoyed, not just endured!"
~ Gordon B. Hinckley

Monday, July 30, 2012

Happy Pioneer Day...Ducks

One of my very first posts on this blog was this one about how we celebrated Pioneer Day last year - our first year as a married couple. We got to spend time with Trevor's family and do what they were doing and it was great! This year we're out here in Ohio on our own with no ward Pioneer Day activity or family or Pioneer Day parades or anything, so we got to start deciding what our own traditions that we want to start with our current/future family will be.

After some discussion and searching Pinterest and Google for ideas, we concluded that Pioneer day traditions and plans will be way more fun once we have kids, but we still came up with some ideas to do this year, and build on in years to come. We decided to make corn bread and homemade butter, and while we shook up our butter and waited for the cornbread to bake, we'd both choose an aspect of pioneer life or something to research online for about 15 minutes (what they wore, how they preserved food, what they did on a typical day, how they did laundry, etc), and present our findings to each other while we ate our yummy pioneer snack and appreciated the convenience of modern living!

But this is me and my husband we're talking about. So of course our wonderful idea didn't turn out quite how we planned it. Story of my life.

Pioneer day fell on a Tuesday this year. I didn't end up getting home from work until about 7:30, and I was greeted by my wonderful husband putting together the final preparations for dinner! Hawaiian haystacks! Which has to do with Pioneer Day because...the pioneers probably thought about Hawaii every day of their journey across the plains and wished they were there instead. Ok, dinner actually wasn't part of our plan, but it still felt like a celebration :)

So, after our scrumptious feast, we made cornbread. I thought I had my mom's recipe that I love, but it turns out I don't, so we just used the Betty Crocker one. You can't go wrong with Betty Crocker, right?

Well, 2 ingredients away from finishing the batter I realized that we don't have baking powder like the recipe calls for, just baking soda. Blast. Trevor offered to run to the store and get some, but I was feeling lazy and didn't want to waste the gas for 1 thing, especially since we had already made an extra trip because we forgot to get cornmeal. So I just looked up a conversion online, and it said about 3 tsp of baking powder for each tsp baking soda. The recipe called for like 3 or 4 tsp of baking powder, so that's like 9-12 tsp baking soda. Problem solved! So I started dumping baking soda in, and realized several spoonfuls too late that I had the conversion backwards...

Yep, our cornbread was going to rise to the moon! (not one of my finer moments in math, I must say)

Please note the use of the past tense in "was". Our oven had a few things to say about that.

Our oven doesn't like me much. The first time I tried to bake cookies (oatmeal chocolate chip!! :), it wouldn't heat up enough and I had to turn it up to 500 degrees and leave the cookies in for a half hour to bake. It was dumb. So I said something to the maintenance man on my way to work one day. Apparently the oven didn't like that I called it dumb and broken, and decided to take revenge.

The cornbread was supposed to bake for 20-25 minutes. After 10 I could smell it so I checked it and it was burned. So I pulled it out and gently tapped the top to see if it was done and the whole thing fell like I punched bread dough or something. So I turned the oven down 150 degrees and put it in for a little longer to un-rawify the middle.

It ended up looking like this.

A bit too dark on the outside, but definitely not the ugliest cornbread ever, right? Just really dry and crumbly. So I dished myself up some and started eating. The first bite wasn't that bad.

But by the second bite...SOO GROSS!!!! It tasted like there was some chemical or something in it, and I couldn't even force myself to swallow it. I spit it right out, and kept on spitting for like forever until I finally got the taste out of my mouth. It turns out baking soda really doesn't taste that great in large quantities...

And so, we decided to celebrate that we have enough food to not have to eat our icky cornbread/baking soda bread, and go find some ducks to feed it to instead. 

But then we couldn't even find any ducks. So I guess this should actually be called happy Pioneer Day to the trash. Oh well, at least it'll be pretty easy to top our cornbread tasting experience next Pioneer Day!

Friday, July 20, 2012

How to Be

I found out yesterday that an old man I know from home passed away earlier this week. His name is Chuck Barron.

Death of a close loved one is not something I have experienced yet, fortunately. But there is still always a sense of loss that follows the death of someone I know, and gratitude for the life they lived. Especially for this man.

Honestly, I have hardly thought about him at all for the past few years since I haven't been living at home, and had all but forgotten about him until I heard that he had passed away. Then I started thinking back and remembering all the things he did for me through the years and the difference he made in how I felt about myself.

Whenever he saw me - even if I was at the other end the long church hallway - he would light up and take off towards me as fast as he could with his cane and give me a great big hug and an even bigger smile and tell me how beautiful I was and how glad he always is to see me.

I realized yesterday that I'm pretty sure he's the first person I remember ever telling me I was pretty. And he's definitely the only person who ever told me that consistently growing up and made me feel like I actually was. I'm sure my parents told me I was pretty at some point, but they really aren't the type to hand out touchy-feely warm fuzzy compliments like that - or weren't that I remember back then - plus I was a rather unfortunate-looking little girl for quite some time, so that made it all the more meaningful to me. How can you not feel special when someone makes an effort to talk to you at every church event, and sometimes comes rushing over to catch you right before you leave and tell you he just couldn't let you leave before he got a chance to say "Hi" to his favorite beautiful girl and give you a hug and tell you how lovely you looked that day?

And even more than just making me feel special and happier, he did that for everyone. I read through some things others posted about him on facebook, and it was really touching to see how he affected all of us. What an amazing man! These words about him are posted on facebook where they'll soon be replaced with new posts, but I want to remember them, so I'm including some of them here.

This first one is from me.

"For as long as I can remember he used to joke about his bald head and tell me and my sister we had such pretty long hair, and say we should teach him how to do his hair like that sometime. I'm pretty sure every girl will agree, he had a way of making us all feel noticed and loved and special and worth being complimented. He was always teasing and flirting and smiling and telling me I was beautiful, and joking that if he was just a half a century younger he would ask me for my number :) He made me birthday cards and Christmas cards on his computer each year, and after I left for BYU he started sending me funny/cute e-cards periodically. Since I rarely ever saw my real grandparents growing up, my parents deemed him our adopted grandpa, and he used to come and watch my ballets, and come share holiday meals with us, and stuff like that. He was one of those people who just made you feel better when you talked to him, even if it was just for a minute, and I'm pretty sure he always left people happier than he found them. Or at least he always did for me." 

And I'm leaving the rest anonymous. If you see something you posted and would like your name added or your words removed, just let me know.

"He was a very special person, and I know not to just me...I consider him my adopted Grandfather. He loved and took care of all of us C2 kids though. Brother Chuck Barron is very loved and will be missed very much!"

"He was like a grandfather to all of us. He sure knew how to make a girl feel beautiful"

"Chuck Barron, you are an example of strength, endurance, and grace amidst immense adversity. Your kindness to my family and so many others' challenges us all to serve our fellow man charitably. Love you." 

"He will be truly missed. I'm sure there was a great homecoming on the other side."

"One of my heroes passed away today. Chuck Barron, a man who went out of his way to let me know he cared. To most it'd be a small gesture, but at that point in my life it meant the world to me and I will never forget it. The world has lost a great man."

"Sundays won't be the same without your smile, hugs and kind words."

"A great man, honest, true and humble! God speed Brother Barron the Lord's kingdom is brighter with your smile and open arms. May we always remember you..."

"I loved that man!!!! He was so dear and always so cheerful!!! He will be missed!!!"

"We will miss you terribly. Thank you for your love of those that most often went unnoticed to everyone else. You always made everyone feel special."

"I have a feeling not only his funeral will be packed and filled with loved ones and people whose lives he touched, but his welcome home was also packed with the same! He was truly an angel on this earth. To me...his countenance already reflected Christ in his interactions with his fellow man...Always willing to help and speak kind words!"

"Dear Brother Barron, I will forever have fond memories of your kindness, your sweetness, and your unconditional love to all. You will be missed, but I know you haven't gone far. You just finally figured out the best way to give all of us a hug at once. We love you."

The world lost a great man this week, but he touched and bettered SOO many lives while he was here! What an inspiration to us all! I hope I can be just like him (well, except hopefully with more hair :) and bring sunshine so memorably and consistently into the lives of those around me!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Home Away from Home...Away from Home

I know, I know, another ballet post. But dancing is so great how can you not blog about it? :)

I just got back from ballet. My first class in Ohio, and my first time dancing since Swan Lake over a month ago! It's been far too long! And I really loved how much it reminded me of home. Not just because it's ballet, but everything about it. The heavy engulfing heat and humidity reminding me SOO much of dancing in Maryland! I was sweating by tendus, not from exertion, just from the heat! And it made my arms and body feel all sticky and slimy the whole class. I haven't felt that way in a dance class in years, thanks to the dry climate of Utah. I guess it's really not something I particularly enjoy or miss, but it's just so familiar it was just good. I don't know how to explain it. Maybe kind of like that friend you have who has some habit or something they always do that just drives you absolutely crazy, and you don't see them for years, and then you see them again and they still do that annoying thing...and you still don't like it, but at the same time it almost makes you happy because it's so familiar and you know it means you're with your old friend again...if that even makes any sense.

Another thing that reminded me of home and I absolutely LOVED was that the class was taught by a man. Several of my ballet teachers growing up were men (Vyachesalv Mesropov, Vadim Pijicov, Urie Nikitenko, Jan Dijkwel, Frank Galvez, Charles Abel, Jonathon Stafford, Scott Thighberg...) as well as my favorite teachers at Summer intensive camps, but it's been about 6 years since I had a ballet class taught by a guy and I miss it! It was great! I don't even know how to explain how it's different, but it just is.

And after class I got to talk to the teacher for a bit while I signed up for a Summer punch card for classes, and found out he used to dance with Ballet West! So that reminded me of my Utah home and dancing in Utah, and we talked and reminisced about Utah for a bit and that was cool.

And now my body is tired, but happy I danced, and I'm stinky and disgustingly drenched in sweat.

Yep, a great way to start the day off, and a great way to kick-off the beginning of my brief Ohio ballet Summer :)

Oh, and the teacher gave me a compliment in class. Not just a generic "good" in my direction, but a good solid, "Karin, that was really nice" during a pirouette/waltz turn combination :) It's a good day!

Friday, July 13, 2012

It's Time

It's high time I blogged again! It's been over a month, and so so much has happened!!!! I don't even know where to begin! For starters, today is Friday the 13th. I got off work a couple of hours ago; now I'm sitting here on our nice plump couch with the AC blowing in effort to combat the heavy humid heat, relaxing my sore quads, thinking about how I should sweep up the salt I spilled on our hardwood floors, and I don't feel sick. That's...all very different from what I would be doing right now under normal conditions!

First off, work? Yes, I got a job :) Just a temporary position in retail (blech!!) for the next few weeks while we're in Ohio (oh yeah, did I mention that we're in Ohio now?), but hey, a job means income and it gives me something to do. I'll take it!

Second, a nice plump couch? One of the many many perks of living in my Grandparents' basement is that we don't have to buy much furniture. They already have an old couch and arm chair that they keep downstairs and let us use and it's great! One downside, it's pretty old. The springs are broken, it looks awful so we always keep it covered with mis-matched blankets, the cushions don't fit it right anymore, etc. All that being said, once we got out to Ohio with only as much stuff as we could fit in our car to drive cross-country (which means absolutely no furniture other than an air mattress...well unless you count the flat-topped cooler we've been using as a kitchen table, or the subwoofer that Trevor has been using as a desk), we were reaaaaally missing that couch! So, how did we end up with an awesome couch in Ohio? Well that's another story I'll have to tell later :) For now suffice it to say, we have one, and an armchair, and I LOVE them!

Next, air conditioning and heavy humid heat. Ohio heat is NOT the same as Utah heat. At all. And there's been this awful heat wave for the past like 2 weeks making things miserable, especially since we didn't have power for almost an entire week right in the middle of it!! So the air conditioning is WONDERFUL!

Sore quads. Dance? Nope. I wish!! But no. Running. That's right, I went running :) I only ran a mile and walked about another mile, but for anyone who knows my exercising habits when it comes to cardio, that's saying something. And I'm proud of myself. There's this incredible ice cream place/bakery almost 2 miles away from our apartment, and Trevor said when I can run all the way there without stopping or walking, we can go get ice cream again! So that's my goal, and I'm sticking to it! And I might even go out for another job tonight!

And then there's the matter of the salt-covered hardwood floors. Well I guess me spilling food isn't anything new, but the hardwood floors are, and I absolutely LOVE them!! The entryway, kitchen/dining area and living room are all connected, and are this lovely happy shade of wood. And windows span nearly the entire length of one of our livingroom walls, so the light comes streaming in and it's amazing! I have my own ballroom/ballet/yoga studio right in my own home! And the whole not having furniture thing just means more room :)

And last, but not least, I don't feel sick? What?!?! Since when has that happened regularly? Since I came to Ohio, that's when. I don't know what it is, but I have been noticeably more well since we got to here. I really wish I knew why! Part of it I'm sure is because I've been careful about not eating too much dairy, since I'm pretty sure I'm lactose intolerant. Not 100% avoidance, but being really careful and smart about milk stuff. Also, There's not too much stress. I didn't really have much to do until just recently when I got a job, so I got to do whatever I wanted. Plus it's warm, so it kind of forces me to relax, and sunshiney weather does wonders for me. It really does. Another possible factor, maybe there was mold or something where we were living before that was contributing to me not feeling well? But what I really think it comes down to, is that this is a fresh start out here. There's so much to do and explore, and there's just something magical about new beginnings!! I love familiar things, and I'm happy we're going back to Utah in a couple months, but I just really love how inspiring it is to be out here trying something new for a change!

And speaking of all the new changes I've been trying, I have waaaay more adventures to tell in blog posts to come!