Sunday, December 4, 2011

"Breaking Dawn" parodied script

I'll admit it, I am a bit of a "Twilight" fan. No, they're not great literature, and yes it is a guilty pleasure, but I still like them.
Eric D Snider writes some of the funniest stuff on his "Snide Remarks" columns, but I always look forward to the "rejected" Twilight scripts. This last one is fantastic! Click here to read it.
Some of my favorite parts:

"BELLA: So your big dark secret is that you, a vampire, have a history of drinking people's blood?"

"JACOB: Bella, he'll kill you! He'll kill you with sex!"

"BELLA: ... I'm pregnant.
EDWARD: What?! That's impossible for several reasons! One, vampires are infertile. Two, it's only been a couple weeks. Three, you can't get pregnant on an island.
BELLA: But it's -- wait, what?
EDWARD: Sorry, the last time I took a high school health class was in 1932. Some of my information might be outdated. "

"JACOB: Listen, Cedric Diggory. I love her more than you do. At least I didn't beat her up with sex and put a devil baby in her!
EDWARD: Whatever, Sharkboy! You're just jealous that you CAN'T do those things because you're all smooth and plastic down there, like a Ken doll."

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Need a gift for a boy 9-14 years old?

If you are trying to find a gift for a boy late elementary to jr high age, check out my review of Noah Zarc by D Robert Pease over at The Crooked Word. It's a space/time-traveling adventure and would be a perfect gift.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


I have many moments where later I think, "Der! That was stupid." But, they are usually only a couple hours delay between the incident and the realization. This example brought to you by the letter "x" took a good 8 years.

I'm not going to announce my email address, but it is through Haven't heard of that? I'm sure you haven't, it's been my parent's isp for the last decade and I have kept it after moving out because, well because I'm lazy. So, here's my "Der" moment:

Realizing, for the first time, when giving my email address of to a cute clerk at a store that it kind of seems like a stripper email.... Oops.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

You SERIOUSLY have to check out this website...

Or, maybe you've heard of it before? I'm always behind on this stuff. It's called "DearBlank, pleaseblank." It's funny, fictional short letters that anyone can post. Check it out here!

Here are some funny ones that I saw just looking at it for 5 minutes:

Dear neighbor,
You have curtains, use them.

Dear male teacher who gives detention for spending more than three minutes in the bathroom,
Have you ever timed yourself putting in a tampon and changing a pad?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Thank-you Mr. D.S. for the topic of a blog post rant :)

One of the things I enjoy about facebook is the opportunity it affords to have interesting conversations with people of differing views regarding current events, politics, hot-button issues in general, etc. Maybe a friend posts a link to an article such as this one, which starts a little bit of a debate amongst the FB friends. Now, most of them, despite very different opinions, are able to present their arguments in a level-headed and perhaps slightly teasing manner. I enjoy these and find it refreshing to see smart people of different ideologies debate what they think about certain subjects and why.
Then you come across a comment from someone (referenced in the title as DS) that says " I just like the unbiased news sources like KSL and the desert news. They report about democrats all day, but when sh** that the republicans pull every second of everyday they commend the b*****ds. People like Gary Herbert can pull every disgusting deal under the sun but you won't hear about it from the mormon news media. Or Chris Butters, lets give the racist a**hole a standing ovation. The list goes on and on. That's the problem with the tithing funded conservative nonsense that goes on in this state and the mindless "followers of Christ" eat it up like the deseret news is preaching the word of god. What a load of sh**. Not only is the deseret news clearly biased and insulting to anyone's intelligence, its also poorly written." (* added by yours truly).
Okay, whatever. Some people get a little hot headed - especially when it comes to politics and religion where there is a predominant religion.
My comment, verbatim right below his was "That is more than disturbing! To try to use a fictitious pen name is one thing, but to use a picture of a real person! And, the fact that he hasn't even apologized is soooooooo typical of politicians! Republican and Democrat. I understand that he was trying to do something good, but that is at the top of a very slippery slope of comprimising ethics for the "greater good" that should be left untraveled. And, Mr. DS, let's face it, herd-minded mentality is found in any and all religious and secular groups, not just LDS. We don't come close to holding a monopoly on that corner!"
I was tempted to add a disparaging comment, but chose to refrain (*pats herself on the back*) :)
Within minutes he replied (to my very restrained rebuff):
"haha, that's laughable! I guess you are justifying your lack of decision making capabilities as an lds person then Ms. Aroura Wench Sh**(Clever play on my last name, no?)? At least you admit that you are unable to think on your own. Which I can't understand, because Joseph Smith said that God gave us brains to use for a reason? Mayor winder who I think is poor representative anyway, couldn't be tried for any criminal offense. Identity theft as a crime would require him to have stolen and used his identity for financial gain. He could be charged with libel, but unless some one is going to go after every fake profile in the social media universe, I highly doubt its worth the time, money and energy of the legal system."
Where's my lack of decision? I never said he should be criminally prosecuted, I said it was typical of politicians to not take responsibility for their own actions. And I never admitted I couldn't think on my own, I only conceded that though there are some LDS who follow the strongest voice, those kinds of people exist everywhere.
Now, let me say, this post would not exist if the personal attacks had ended here. I am not one for mocking others, but this previous comment was deleted by our mutual FB friend with a comment that rudeness and swearing would not be tolerated on her wall, though DS was more than welcome to repost his thoughts minus the personal attack.
Within A MINUTE of this occurence, I received the following message sent to me personally:
"Somebody must have stolen your husbands identity. hope you get an apology.


Seriously? I felt it necessary to post a reply and with it I'll end, because I feel like it sums up my personal views on being able to have civil discussions with those of opposing views:

"Wow. The fact that you can't handle a very cordial disagreement with your philosophies in life shows a complete lack of intillectual integrity. Do you even believe in the validity of your own word vomit? Because I can see no other reason to be so incredibly hostile to a complete stranger who never insulted you. I wasn't implying you were of a herd-minded mentality. But, is this clarification wasted on someone who is looking for opportunity to take offense? I didn't know if this mayor was R or D. And YOU don't even know if I'm one or the other, either. Your arguments will never be given credence if you can't control your emotional diarrhea."

Saturday, November 5, 2011

A moving story of strength

Everyone I know who has read this book absolutely loves it! Go check out my review over at The Crooked Word!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

If I could only have this serenade every night...

The song doesn't start until 3:15, just forward to there because Douglas Sills has an inhumanly good voice. mmmmmmm.... yum :)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Epic series!

The Great Hunt (Wheel of Time, #2)The Great Hunt by Robert Jordan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

4.5 stars is more accurate.
Good grief! I had such a hard time putting this book down. Which didn't bode well for my sleep since it's almost 600 pages long. You wonder (at least I did) when you first start reading this series, knowing it's an epically long series - how can Jordan stretch this story out over that many novels and still make it interesting? By being inhumanly talented as an author and storyteller, that's how.
The short of it? The plot thickens! Duh duh duh! :)

View all my reviews

Saturday, October 8, 2011

A powerful story of human connection

The Only Alien on the PlanetThe Only Alien on the Planet by Kristen D. Randle

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was published in 1996, so too long ago for "The Crooked Word" to review it. So I'll just post it here :)

This was a book club read. I thought at first it was going to be your normal high school drama, but was so pleasantly surprised that it pretty much ignored most of that. What a beautifully written story of.... how do I even describe it? It's a powerful story of human connections. There you go. And it is so perfectly realized! It slowly draws you in, and then before you know it, you cannot put it down until you find out what happens! But, even beyond wanting to know what will happen is just the desire to spend as much time with these characters as possible. They feel so real and fleshed out.
I highly recommend this book to anyone!

The Speed of Dark

Doesn't the title alone intrigue you? It did me!Click here to read my review at "The Crooked Word" about this insightful and moving novel told from the point of view of a functionally autistic man offered a "cure."

Can't decide what book to read next?

Have you ever just picked up a book at the library or book store, hoping from the cover and summary you'll like it, and end up hating it?Well, lucky you! My good friend and author, Rebecca McKinnon, has started a book review blog and I'm one of a handful of reviewers on there! So, now my full reviews will be posted there, but I'll try to link up to it from here.
The best thing is that all the reviewers have different tastes and so at one stop you can see what's come out recently (we try to keep it to books published withing the last few years), and if it's any good. Then every friday one of us will highlight a book that's been out for a while, but is worth checking out.
So, head on over to  and check us out!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

1st attempt at reupholstery and some helpful hints!

Well, I've finally completed it! I was hoping to post the before picks (I did actually take them), but our hard drive crashed and now they're gone :( My hubby is slowly getting pics off the old hard drive, but I wanted to put this up without waiting too long.

Anyhow, it was a pretty ambitious project, I have to say, for a first attempt. And although there are things that are a little shoddy, I've learned from them, and you can't see them right away either.

I got this material a while ago at a design fabric store that was closing their location and I lucked out and only paid 30% of the price. Not 30% off, I paid 30%! Don't we all live for deals like that? :) I was originally going to paint it to look like grain sacks, but then I thought, what if I hate that in 5/10 years? So, I'm going to put the more trendy stuff on the pillow I'll be doing next. If I could easily afford another chair, I would just go for it, but for us cheapskates ... :)

Anyhow, here's the final product - Voila!

I did manage to get a picture of a piece of fabric that came off it (just imagine the whole thing in this with really shiny legs):

And, yes, the whole thing was that dirty.

So, there are a lot of tutorials on this topic out there in blogland. The gist of it is take lots of pics/videos/notes and pay attention while you're taking it apart.

But, here are some things I learned (from many mistakes) that I haven't really seen in a lot of tutorials that I've read....

1. So you're using the old pieces as patterns to cut out the new ones? Good for you - make sure to cut them AT LEAST an inch bigger! Especially if there are curves on your chair. You can (and will) cut off excess after it's stapled on.

2. Along the same lines, if there are little cutouts in the old material, wait to cut them out until you start putting it on the chair and you can see EXACTLY where it should go.

3. Be careful with larger weave material, it's going to fray a LOT easier! Just plan that and maybe cut just a little more than that extra inch. And get some seam sealer!

4. Even if you think the seams will not show (when sewing the welting or cushion), don't use contrasting thread. It sounds super obvious, but I didn't think it would show, that's what was in my sewing machine and I lazily didn't want to change it. But, when I sit it pulls the material away just enough to see the black thread. Classy :)

5. To take the staples out, I ended up using a phillips screwdriver and needlenose plyers. I loosened them with the screwdriver first (as many in a row as I could), then went along with the plyers.

6. Number the pieces as they come off and write on the old material. Also, draw which direction faces up, front, etc.

7. If you decide to do nailhead trim - way to be ambitious! :) These are actually not to bad (not nearly the love/hate relationship I had with the curve-ease). If you start hammering it in and the head isn't exactly in line, you can gently hammer at an angle until it is in line.  I didn't use a marker (I didn't want it to show up), but if you have one of those fabric markers that dissapear, just draw a straight line.

The bottom line wasn't too hard, but if you do a second one, or the first one isn't directly along the bottom, here's what I did:

Measure between the two lines, then go out 8-10 spaces and measure the height difference and put that in, then you can visually check the line as you further along.

But, you do have to be willing to take them out if it isn't working. Like, when I looked at the left-hand side and realized I actually wanted the right hand side,

And end up with a pile of unusable brads like this

To end up with the end-goal you want.

On the arms, they had used finishing nails or something to attach it (you have to put the material around the little insert and then connect it to the front of the chair. I didn't have access to one. So, I just used the brads to hold it in place.

I wanted to do the second row along the bottom to do something a little differently (I was inspired by a  chair on Restoration Hardware). Plus, because that first row was right in line with the bottom, you couldn't really tell. Here's a close up of the nailhead trim:

You also get a good look at the legs. I just sanded off the old stuff and got a sample-size paint at Home Depot (paint for $2.50? sure!) Then distressed it with sandpaper. Then lightly sanded over the rest of the paint as well to kind of blend it all together.

Overall, I'd say it turned out pretty darn good for a first attempt and all those blasted curves!

I knew for sure it was pretty good when my hubby (whom I married because I loved his willingness to be honest even when it would be easier to offer noncommital placations) tried to claim it as only his to sit on!

Linking up to:

freckled laundry

three boys

Saturday, September 17, 2011

What to do with all those zucchinis and tomatoes...

Garden Minestrone Soup

If you're like, well, anyone with a garden, you have many many zucchinis and tomatoes. I have just the recipe for you! Truly yummy Garden Minestrone Soup. Even my husband (whose philosophy is that soup is how a woman tricks a man out of a real meal) liked it!

Garden Minestrone


2 t olive oil
1 c chopped onion
2 t chopped fresh oregano
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 c chopped yellow squash
3 c chopped zucchini
1 c chopped carrot
1 c fresh corn kernels (about 2 ears)
4 c chopped tomatoes, divided
6 c chicken broth (= 3 cans, preferrably fat-free, less sodium)
1-2 c uncooked macaroni
2 (15.5 oz) cans Garbanzo Beans
6 oz baby spinach
1 t salt
1/2 t freshly ground pepper
1 c grated Asiago cheese

I would chop everything first and have it ready by your stove


1. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onions to pan and sautee 3 minutes or until softened.
2. Add garlic and oregano and sautee for 1 minute.
3. Stir in squash, zucchini, carrot, and corn; sautee 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
4. Meanwhile combine tomatoes and 1 can broth in a blender and process until smooth. (You can keep some of the tomatoes to put in the soup if you'd like, but the texture bugs me, so I blend all of them)

5. Add tomatoe mix and remaining 2 cans broth to pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes.
6. Add pasta and beans to pan; cook 10 minutes or until pasta is tender, stirring occassionally.
7. Remove from heat, stir in spinach, salt, and 1/2 t pepper.
8. Ladle soup into individual bowls and top with cheese (if desired).
9. Enjoy!

The total cooking time may seem long, but while your soup is simmering, you can clean up the prep mess:

Then after you eat, you only have the pan and bowls to clean, nothing else.

Friday, September 9, 2011

What the heck?!

Why does my google account not "have access to view" the blogs I follow? I can still see them, but can't comment on them?! Grrrr.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Random thought of the day: Chivalry

Firstly, this post is NOT inspired by anything my husband does/or does not do! :) His actions go above and beyond mere chivalry. I'm, of course, alluding to the fact that I pass out when I vomit. Which is really fun for him to check on me and make sure I'm okay when I have one of those illnesses that make your visits to the bathroom multi-purpose. :)
I just thought I'd say - Listen up guys - just because women decline your chivalry doesn't mean we want you to stop offering. Is that selfish and silly? Perhaps.
But, I think of all those times I lugged around my double-bass (you know, the "really big fiddle" in the back of the orchestra (As all the old men used to call it when talking to me and thinking they were so clever and funny)?), and the stool I would use to sit, AND a music stand, and guys would pass by and.... not offer to carry anything. Now, had they, I would have maybe let them carry my music stand or stool, if I didn't outright decline (I'm NOT entrusting an instrument that cost thousands of dollars to anyone else!), but still, the offering lets you feel important.
Like the time I was assistant manager at an apartment complex and was called to go snake some resident's backed-up toilet. (The maintenance guys didn't work weekends unless it was an emergency).  I walk into the lady's apartment and am greeted by her boyfriend. Now, does this man, seeing a gal of 22 years of age, in office attire, carrying a large metal pole that will shortly be used to mash up the "material" blocking the water from draining out of the toilet, offer to have me show him how to use it so he can risk getting splashed by what is probably his stuff? Of course not! Would I have accepted his hypothetical offer? No. But, come on! You don't even offer?
Or, all the males at the apartment office who, though my official title was Assistant Manager and I was accountable for all pertaining responsibilities, thought of me as a glorified secretary (being the only female there).  And, thus when I was hugely 8 months pregnant and in risk of hypertension, thought nothing of letting me pass out 256 flyers to the residents, when only 2 apartments were on each of the 3 floors in a stairwell. So for every 6 apartments I had to walk up 2 1/2 flights of stairs and also down those 2 1/2 flights of stairs. Now, would I have accepted their hypothetical offer? N..... You bet your sweet non-bloated ankles I would! I'm not bitter . . . really, I'm not. ;)
Like Nike says - just do it!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

SYTYCD has ended... now what to do with my Wednesday nights?

A (mostly) brilliant season of SYTYCD has ended and now my children will be able to play outside on Wednesday and Thursday nights instead of being ushered inside so mommy can "watch her show." :)  So very many memorable dances this season (and some seriously silly and amateur ones as well)! Perhaps I'll bother you with some YouTube vids of my faves another day when I have time :) But, for now, a link to an editorial I couldn't agree with more about the guest judges:
Yes, I know, it's written by Orson Scott Card. I promise, I don't always agree with him. But, this is almost the exact article I would write (if I could think straight when I have time to blog) about the differences in approaching guest judging between Christina Applegate (charming, interested in the contestants, helpful) and Lady Gaga (I can't think of phrases to aptly describe the wretchedly horrific, attention-greedy antics).
Just scroll past the review of The Rise of the Planet of the Apes if you want.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Current state of undress

Every time I complete a stage on my first attempt at re-upholstery I get unduly excited.
Here's where I'm at now...

Actually, now that I'm finally posting this, I do have the legs painted. But, you'll just have to wait to see that :)
Now, comes the hard part - making the new material look good.
Wish me luck!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Q&A with Orson Scott Card

Anyone who has ever talked to me about books probably knows I have a slight obsession with the author Orson Scott Card. When my husband and I were first married he suggested I might like some of Card's books. I started with Stone Tables, a fictionalized recounting of Moses and the Ten Commandments. I was hooked. From there, I devoured every book of his I could get my hands on and have since read almost every novel, numerous short stories, and regularly read his reviews and political rants on his website ( Ever since I read his novel Saints, it immediately became one of my all-time favorite novels. It cozily socializes with the likes of Gone With the Wind, The House of Mirth, and Anna Karennina in terms of epicness, heart-aching beauty, variety and breadth of character, and an honesty of storytelling that is requisite in any truly great story.
Saints follows the Kirkham family through their fall into poverty in Manchester, England in the early 1800's, their subsequent trials and struggle to rise above all that is thrown at them, their introduction to the Latter-Day Saint missionaries, and their moving to and settling in Nauvoo, Illinois where even more heartache and drama are thrown at them. Now, this book was not written for an LDS (Mormon) audience - Card has stated it was written specifically for a non-LDS audience. It deals very bluntly (moreso than any other fictional story I've read) with polygamy, but does not  apologize for, explain, nor justify. It merely explores what some people's experiences with that practice may have been. But not even polygamy is the central topic - it's background. It's part of the setting.
What sets Saints apart from the above-mentioned novels, I believe, is a strength of character that rarely occurs within fiction. Most of the characters in Wind, Karennina, and Mirth are barely hanging on through their trials, bitter, and/or completely engulfed by the ravenous waves of their misfortunes. While Saints certainly has its share of weaker characters, Dinah Kirkham and several others are streched beyond what almost anyone can endure and they endure it. Are they perfect? No! But, that's what helps them be even stronger characters. You don't empathize with perfection. You empathize with a human with foibles and follies who struggles to cope and endeavors to grow from their trials and heartaches.
It took a few years for me to recommend this for our neighborhood book club. Firstly, it's over 600 pages long. Secondly, I did worry that some would be offended by a humanized characterization of the LDS prophets Joseph Smith and Brigham Young. I was very relieved to hear they had the same reaction I did - it only increased their love and respect for these amazing men!
In preparation for leading the discussions, I tried in vain to find a Q&A with Card that was Saints-centric. Failing at that, I contacted him through his assistant on his website to see if it would be possible to submit some questions from the ladies in my book club that he could answer in time to discuss when we met. Despite his many other writing obligations, he consented. I would obviously like to thank him for his generosity! Everyone was very impressed that he took the time to answer our questions!
Before I copy his answers, I would urge you to go purchase this novel, or get a copy from the library. The cover of my copy says, "An epic of independence and devotion, of hardship and fulfillment . . . of a woman so strong that knowing her could change your life." In my case, that absolutely turned out to be the truth. This story of strength and struggle has become a part of me and my perspective in life. It isn't religious fiction - it's historical fiction! Don't not read it simply because the characters in the book believed in a different theology than you! Don't cheat yourself out of reading an inspiring tale of people who sacrificed when they discovered what they believed to be truth!

There are some spoilers in these questions and answers, so if you want to go into the story fresh, don't read this until after you finish the novel.

Here's the Q&A unedited:

1. What inspired you to write this story? Do you have ancestors that came from England or that lived in early Nauvoo ?

None of these characters is based on my own ancestors — I’m a great great grandson of Brigham Young and Zina Diantha Huntington, but they appear in the book as themselves.  Instead, I wanted to do a story very loosely based on the life of William Clayton — my father-in-law, noted LDS historian James B. Allen, wrote a biography of Clayton (writer of “Come, Come Ye Saints” and the scribe who recorded Section 132 and followed JS into plural marriage), and I have used many incidents from his life to provide the core of the story.  Dinah is my own invention, but everything that happened to her happened to somebody.  In a way, though, EVERY Mormon gets adopted into the great pioneer heritage, and what so many Mormons don’t remember is that a large portion of the Mormon pioneers weren’t Americans!  They began their lives as urban English people in the heart of the industrial revolution, so crossing the plains and founding Salt Lake was far more radical to them than to the American converts.  We all are their heirs, whether our genealogy traces to them or not.

2. I’m interested to know if Dinah giving up her children was based on a true story — did that come from a journal for example?

I read several journal accounts like this — several women were faced with that wretched choice.  But remember that in that era, children legally belonged to the father.  If women left their husbands for any reason, there was no chance of their taking their children with them.  What a wrenching choice!

3. Why did you have Porter Rockwell say to Dinah that she was Joseph’s Rachel? I wanted Dinah to be truly happy but this didn’t sit well with me when Joseph chose Emma. What was the character/or you thinking at this point?

Joseph Smith, from all accounts, loved his plural wives and regarded them as real marriages.  But his relationship with Emma always came first, if only because they had been through so much together.  Just because he believed that the Lord required him to set the example in plural marriage did not change the fact that it was terribly painful to do something that he knew would hurt Emma so badly.  So from one day to the next, I imagine that different feelings dominated in JS’s heart.  We get this idea sometimes that people in the past must have had only one attitude or one set of feelings, but human beings have many feelings and attitudes, often contradictory ones, and we are rarely able to sort them out in any rational way.

4. In your mind did Mary, Hyrum’s wife, know about plural marriage or was she strictly thinking she was helping convince Dinah to teach when she suggested that John Kirkham walk her to the neighbors so that Hyrum and Dinah could talk?

I just don’t remember what I had in mind.  If it isn’t clear in the text, I can’t help you.  I wrote this more than 25 years ago!

5. I’ve heard the story of Heber being willing to give Vilate to Joseph and I’m wondering if there is any account of this in a journal that you’ve read or if it’s just Mormon myth (as far as you know). Likewise, the story of Emma getting angry with one of Joseph’s wives and her falling down the stairs. Is there any truth to this?

I read the account in a fairly authoritative source based on Heber’s own account.  If you want, I’ll try to find the original source on that.  (I got all the research material from my father-in-law who was, at the time, Assistant Church Historian.)  Remember, though, that just because something has a source doesn’t mean it’s accurate.  Memory changes, people notice different things, and stories bend to fit present needs.

The falling-down-the-stairs story is more mythic than the Heber/Vilate account, which is definitely accepted by the family as true.  The fall down the stairs is part of the folklore attached to Eliza R. Snow, but she herself never said any such thing to anyone.  Doesn’t mean it wasn’t true.  And Eliza was considerably older than Dinah — she may simply have had a miscarriage and other people came up with a story that blamed Emma.

6. What was the concept behind John Kirkham coming back and claiming he wanted redemption just to sin with a prostitue? When it seemed that toward the end of the novel he had given up that life for good. What do you feel the turning point was for him? Was it when Dr. Bennett hurt Dinah? Did he truly turn his life around?

Everything I had to say about that is in the book.  I created these characters as believably as I could, making them behave in ways that real people behave.  But in general terms, I don’t think people have many “turning points” in their lives.  We are who we are, and while we might deceive ourselves sometimes about our motives or intentions, your core nature will come out.  If you’re a deeply good person, you’ll eventually overcome your pride and selfishness; if you’re truly strong, you’ll overcome temptations.  And if you’re not so good, or not so strong, then that, too, will surface, because your commitments fade in the face of attractive opportunities to sin.

7. When you are doing research for this kind of novel, how do you know what sources are trustworthy?

You don’t.  You make your own measured judgment based on what you know about human nature and the other behavior of both the source and the people the source is talking about.  Fortunately, in fiction I have a lot more wiggle room than a historian would have.  Readers aren’t supposed to take my speculations about motive as “the truth” — merely as one author’s best guesses.

8. You have said people are bothered most by things that actually occurred — can you give a few examples of those?

The idea has been around for years that Joseph’s plural marriages were all spiritual — he never actually consummated them physically.  But it was regarded as very important in the early days of polygamy to affirm that JS did in fact have real marriages with these women.  Emma’s supporters who did not embrace polygamy liked to put it about that JS was never really married to anyone but her, so there are conference talks and many testimonies by early brethren that polygamy wasn’t just preached by JS, but also practiced.  Many people want to deify JS and put him on some lofty plane where he doesn’t touch real life — but that’s simply wrong.  JS was a real person, with foibles and quirks, and he had a physical life as well as, and along with, his spiritual one.  Deifying our prophets is actually the opposite of what we should do — it puts them out of reach, as if they were not participants in human life.  It gives people the idea that we ordinary people can never attain their spiritual level.  The truth is the other way: They are real people and prone to mistakes like the rest of us.  They face all the same temptations and have all the same pleasures and pains.  So if we don’t match their spirituality, it’s not because we CAN’T, but because we haven’t chosen to do so — spirituality, like repentance, is equally within the reach of all of us.

9. Do you think Dinah’s children grow up hating her? Did they ever forgive her?

I always wanted to write their story, too.  I think their reactions would have been different, and vary over time.  When young, they would have been angry and severely hurt; older, having experienced life, some of them would have come to understand her, while others never would.

I think if you get a chance, you should look at Kim Catrall’s experience on the tv show Who Do You Think You Are.  Her great grandfather abandoned the family when her grandmother was little, and she tracks him down.  What he was thinking simply can’t be known — but the responses of the children are fascinatingly diverse.

10. Do you feel Robert was a bad brother because he tried to control others’ lives? Or, was he just misguided, though well intentioned?

Some people think they know best.  They truly believe they’re helping.  And sometimes they really are.  But often it’s also pride and the evil desire to control others.  Fortunately, it’s up to God to judge our motives.  If there’s anybody who has NEVER tried to force someone else to do “the right thing,” raise your hand!  Well, if you raised your hand, you’re just delusional, because you HAVE.  You just didn’t admit it to yourself.  When you withhold information from someone “for their own good,” you’re forcing them, deciding for them in ways they might not have decided for themselves.  And nobody’s motives for such a thing are pure.  You might think you know best; you might be right! — but you’re still keeping someone else from making their own decision.  So I don’t really think of whether Robert was good or bad.  He simply believed he had the responsibility and the right to decide for other people, and under law and custom at the time, he did!  It’s not as if he had Section 121 to guide him in exercising his stewardship.  It is the nature and disposition of almost all men ...

11. Did you have O. Kirkham say Dinah and Charlie’s hymns and poems are mediocre to show his characters critical view? Or because you didn’t want to seem to be basically touting poetry that you essentially wrote?

I don’t actually like O. Kirkham that much.  I know a lot of people like him, and it’s very important to them that people realize that they’re “superior people.”  So I’ve heard a lot of people speak with contempt of Eliza R. Snow and other early Mormon writers.  When they do, they merely reveal their ignorance of the period and of literature, and their arrogance and their hunger for the high regard of others.  It’s just sad.  The poems I wrote are of the kind that the Church’s best poets were writing at the time.  Fashions have changed — but what gets praised today by people like O. Kirkham is actually quite wretched, in my opinion.  Most people who take pride in being intellectuals are merely entrenched in their ignorance.

12. The short blurbs on the title pages of each section, are those the view of O. Kirkham of the events? Or yourself?

O. Kirkham.  Not me.

13. Is there any documentation that Joseph ever have any children by  any of his plural wives?

None whatsoever.  There were claims in the 1850s and 1860s that there was one child born to someone, but these are pious rumors and there is no believable claim.  He may have slept with his plural wives, but NOT OFTEN — his life was too confused, and he was in hiding too much of the time, plus he had to conceal polygamy from the public.  So it’s not really a surprise that JS didn’t father other children.  (The Eliza-falling-down-the-stairs story may have been invented simply to explain why he didn’t have children by his most famous plural wife.)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Dinner in 30 minutes: Cashew Sweet and Sour Pork

It tastes soooo much better than it looks! My cute neighbor was asking me about this recipe and instead of making her a copy, I told her I'd post it on my blog. I'm always shamelessly trying to get people to read it :)

Ingredients: 2T cornstarch, divided (if you run out like I did, just use flour - it worked fine)
                    1 lb. pork tenderloin or boneless pork chops
                    1/3c water
                    1/4c sugar
                    1/4c cider vinegar (I just used white and it tasted great)
                    3T soy sauce
                    3T ketchup
                    1T oil
                    1/2c chopped cashews (or more or less, depending on your taste)
                    1/4c green onions
                    2T finely chopped ginger root (if you don't want to cut it up, just sub 2t ginger spice)
                    2t minced garlic
                    6-8 oz snow peas, trimmed
                    8-12 oz pineapple chunks, drained

1. Slice pork into super thin strips.

2. Coat pork with 1T cornstarch (just stick in a baggy together, and shake) :)
3. Combine 1T cornstarch, water, sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, and ketchup. Stir with whisk until there are no clumps.
4. Collect everything you'll need next to the stove.

Don't you wich you could smell this right now? Trust me, you do!

5. Heat 1-2T oil in large frying pan or wok over medium-high heat. Add pork and stir-fry 3 minutes.
6. Add onions, ginger, and garlice. Stir-fry 1 minute.
7. Add snow peas and pineapple. Stir-fry 3 minutes.
8. Whisk sauce ingredients again and pour into pan. Bring to a boil, then cook 1 minute while stirring frequently.
9. Stir in cashew and serve over hot rice.

*The pork should be slightly frozen so you can get it into super thin strips.
*Trimming the snow peas just means to snap off the ends and the stringy parts.
*Do yourself a favor and get unsalted cashews, there's already enough salt from the soy sauce and ketchup!
*Start the rice cooking BEFORE you start cutting up stuff, that way they'll get done around the same time.


p.s. The good news is this makes 4-6 servings and (not including rice) is only 184-275 calories per serving and 5-7 grams of fat per serving! Healthy and scrumptous?! How can you beat that?

Saturday, July 23, 2011

"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2"

When has there ever been a movie franchise (let alone one that's based on books) as successful as Harry Potter? I remember when the books were super popular when I was in high school and I refused to read them (mainly because they were super popular). I can't remember exactly why I decided to read them, I think curiosity finally won out. The books don't get any good until book 3 (movies are the same, in my opinion) - and then they continually get better with each book (and again with each movie).
Who could have known those kids cast as the leads those many years ago would actually grow into very credible actors? Anyhow, the movie...
It has all built up to these 2 hours and 20 minutes and what a climax it is. Now, I'm usually not a big book vs. movie person - they're such different mediums that I don't think comparison is really fair. However, there were some things I missed: the timing of Neville's heroism (I know why they did it, to build up tension, but I feel like it's a bigger moment for Neville in the book), and going back into the headmaster's office after it's all done and the reaction Potter gets from all the old headmasters).
Other than those two things though, it was SUPERB!!!! I balled like a baby, I'll admit it. A few times. The music is perfectly intense where it needs to be. The "last stand" at Hogwarts is fantastic! The break-in to Gringott's had me on the edge of my seat. The two things with the most emotional resonance were the Resurrection Stone with his family (though his poor dad didn't get much of a moment with him) and Snape's memories. Gah! Alan Rickman is one of the most talented actors out there, and I always thought he was oddly sexy. But I digress. The way the imagry combines with the acting and just the revelation of the truth is overwhelming! LOVE IT!
So, if you actually haven't seen it yet, get a babysitter if needed and go!
I only wish I could have seen it in a full theatre (we went to a matinee) - I'm sure there was much clapping and whooping (especially when Mrs. Weasley calls Bellatrix a B****!), but when there's only 10-15 people in a huge theatre, there isn't usually too much vocalized reaction :)

I feel the same was about the movie as I did about the last book:
This is soooo much better than a Harry Potter movie/book deserves to be!

By that I just mean that it excedes all previous installments by so much that it really is only bound to them by the material of the story and not by the calibur of presentation.

9/10 Stars

Thursday, July 14, 2011

A good intro to Sondheim's music

There are some shows by Stephen Sondheim that I don't like the music ("Sunday in the Park with George" being one), but overall, I really love that his songs sound like conversations that just happen to be sung. If you want a good introduction to some of his best music performed by an uncomparable cast (Ruthie Henshall, George Hearn, John Barrowman, Bronson Pinchot, and Carol Burnett) then you need to get the DVD of "Putting it Together." It's a musical review with a very flimsy storyline only meant to provide some sort of excuse for the next song. But, they wink at that fact.
The songs are taken out of their original context, obviously, and modernized a bit - I personlly like it!
I seriously cannot say enough good things about it! Here are a few of my most favorites that I could find on YouTube (be aware there is some language and suggestiveness, moderate PG-13 stuff, but just so you're aware):

This first one is Carol and Ruthie killing it on "There's Always a Woman" - comic genius:

And how do you not put the next vid of Bronson Pinchot after that entrance! This is "Buddy's Blue's" - a hilarious look at someone who always wants what they can't have and never wants what they can:

This is possibly the best rendition of "Hello Little Girl," originally from "Into the Woods," where the wolf sings to Little Red Riding Hood. George Hearne plays it like a dirty old man and his voice is pure perfection!

Gah! How do I only choose a few?! Okay only 3 more. I wanted to put in "A country House," which is the perfect example of his songs sounding like a conversation, but whoever had it on YouTube before took it down :(
So, once you get past the fact that Ruthie sings through her teeth sometimes, her control over her voice is inhuman! As evidenced in her rendition of "More" (originally from the motion picture "Dick Tracy," and makes Madonna look like the ametuer singer she really is)And pardon the quality of the picture, it's the only posting of this:

Speaking of inhuman control (and inhumanly good looking!) John Barrowman could sing the telephone book and I think I would still want to listen. Here he's singing "Marry Me a Little" (a completely immature look at marriage)

And lastly, one of the great group numbers. A fast paced one with insane harmony (as befitting Sondheim!):

And there are many many many more gems! I rented it from the library, so you should be able to get it from there. But, I definitely want to own this at some point in the future!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A link to "Snide Remarks:Positive Buzz"

The video of Buzz Aldrin (at 72!) socking a harrassing pest alone is worth clicking on the link below. But, click now and you'll also receive a hilarious perspective on what anyone who's ever walked on the moon should be able to get away with.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Wanna see my new Undiez... for my feet?

I came THIS close to putting the second half of that in the body of this post, but I didn't want to scare people too much :) I'm so excited to try these out at my ballet class this week! Why weren't these around when I was doing dance all the time? It's great because you can still get traction (full shoes can be slippery), but you can turn without tearing up your feet. Just imagine the song "I'm so excited!" playing in the background right now :)

Other randomness:

Totally enjoyed doing Yoga with my husband last night. Not sure trash talking is usually done during Yoga, but it was fun anyway :) Which, by the way, I obviously dominated :)

My good friend Rebecca Mckinnon just self-published her first novel!!! I'm attaching links on here and will now, of course, urge all of you to purchase it. Amazon was selling it for only $9!!! And it's eligible for Free Super Shipping. You can also order it in ebook/kindle format.
It's actually really good! It's a cute romance story and quite the page turner. It's the first in a trilogy. I can't wait to get my copy and read her final version! (I had read the rough draft and several versions since).

Her little blurb says:

"Friends or family?
Desire or responsibility?
She thought she’d made her choice.

Now, finding herself trapped in a world splintered from her own, Narissa is determined to return home. Learning that the means of crossing between realities has been lost, she vows to find the elusive gateway.

Narissa doesn’t plan to make friends. She certainly doesn’t intend to fall in love.

Faced with the decision, will she choose the life she wants, or return to the world where she belongs?"

You can buy it here:

you can also enter to win a free copy of it on Goodreads here:

There's only 13 days left to enter - so head over there. Or, just buy it! It's a fast read and you'll love it!
There's my randomness for today :)

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Fantastic fantasy novel...

Eona: The Last Dragoneye (Eon, #2)Eona: The Last Dragoneye by Alison Goodman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the sequel to "Eon: Dragoneye Reborn," and while you could probably read this without having read the first - I would still recommend reading "Eon" and then "Eona." This is just as fast-paced (well, perhaps a little bit slower) as the first and such a page-turner!

The summary on Goodreads is as follows:

"Eon has been revealed as Eona, the first female Dragoneye in hundreds of years. Along with fellow rebels Ryko and Lady Dela, she is on the run from High Lord Sethon's army. The renegades are on a quest for the black folio, stolen by the drug-riddled Dillon; they must also find Kygo, the young Pearl Emperor, who needs Eona's power and the black folio if he is to wrest back his throne from the selfstyled "Emperor" Sethon. Through it all, Eona must come to terms with her new Dragoneye identity and power-and learn to bear the anguish of the ten dragons whose Dragoneyes were murdered. As they focus their power through her, she becomes a dangerous conduit for their plans. . . .

Things I love about it:

A love triangle, but it isn't really a choice between two people she loves.

That all parties involved are powerful - no one is on unequal ground.

The characters are sometimes petty, obtuse, greedy, untrusting. Yes, that's on my list of things I like.

The characters also take big leaps of faith in each other, overcome selfishness (sometimes unintentionally) to protect one another.

The dragon storyline and the twist at the end are fantasticly surprising and yet feel inevitable because she set it up so well.

The intrigue and betrayels.

The pull of power on Eona and that it's truly a tempting god-like power.

Both "Eon" and "Eona" are in my top ten favorite fantasy (I count series as one entry) and are next to "Bitterwood" and sequels for dragon stories. Even if you don't like dragons, these are wonderful books!

View all my reviews

Sunday, June 26, 2011

3 fantastic independent films!

I often worry about watching any independent films, you know, with the lack of MPAA ratings and such. Also, some of them tend to apparently believe that you need to be avant-garde or raunchy and "cutting-edge" to be good. So, I stick to those that are recommended, or you can tell by the trailers will be okay. Speaking of trailers, I've included the trailers as well.
Anyhow, I've recently watched three very different, but all superb indies.
1. "An Education"
Firstly, this has a stellar cast - Carey Mulligan (one of the Bennet sisters in P&P), Olivia Williams (who I loved in Joss Whedon's "Dollhouse"), Alfred Molina, and Rosamund Pike (also from P&P, she's so luminescent!), and the superb Emma Thompson. Those were just the names I recognized.
Carey plays Jenny, a 16-soon-to-be-17-year-old student working toward being accepted into Oxford. You're not quite sure how much of this is because she wants to, or her father (Molina) wants her to.
Then she meets David Goldman, an adventurous man over twice her age. David is played beautifully by Peter Sarsgaard (and by beautifully, I mean it's a nuanced and complex performance). Jenny gets caught up in David's world with his friends Helen (Pike) and Danny (played by Dominic Cooper, who seems to just ooze sex appeal with no apparent effort).
I have to admit, I got concerned that this was glorifying what I saw as a potentially dangerous and very inappropriate relationship, but, without spoiling anything, it's not.
I really enjoyed this and found it very touching.
7 out of 10.

2."Sweet Land"
This movie was so fantastically realized! "Twilight" fans will know Elizabeth Reasor, but only by name. She is wonderfully unrecognizable as German immigrant, Inge, who has come as a postal bride for Olaf, a Norwegian farmer in rural Minnesota. The problem is she has arrived post World War I and Germans are viewed with, at the very least, suspicion, if not outright hostility. Alan Cuming is uncharacteristically subdued as Frandsen, Olaf's more outspoken friend. He's married to level-headed Brownie, played by Alex Kingston (who, I guess, was on ER).
Listen, all the performances in this movie are exceptional, from the accents that almost everyone has (American, German, Norwegian, and in between), to the quiet yet compelling realization of their divers characters. But, above and beyond all these is Tim Guinee, who plays quiet Olaf. To have very few lines and have to act almost everything out through looks and reactions, but still get across what you need to is so underappreciated it's almost laughable. His performance is sweet, but strong, a bit naive, but smart. I just can't see enough good things about him - just watch this sweet sweet love story.
Be warned the first 9 minutes are a bit jumbled and a little confusing. Let me save you some headache. An older Lars, at the death of older Inge, remembers when Olaf died a few decades before that Inge told him about how they met. Then you get into the actual story. Get past the first 9 minutes (watch it, it comes around in the end), but just hang in there.
8 out of 10 stars

3. "Arranged"
I cannot say enough good things about this film. Rochel, an orthodox Jew, and Nasira, a Muslim, both work at an elementary school in Brooklyn. We first see them at a meeting where they are all learning how they'll have to deal with many cultural differences in the student body. They strike up a friendship that only strengthens when they both go through their culture's different paths to a somewhat arranged marriage.
It's a quiet movie about two women who want to be strong and also honor their culture, religion, and heritage. If you've ever been on the receiving end of "helpful intolerance" (you know, those people who try to help you escape what they see as an oppresive and unsatisfactory life), you'll empathize when the principal tries to chat with these two teachers and "help" them out. Having said that, there aren't any bad guys (not even the principal) - just people with different lifestyles and viewpoints trying to interact and get along. It does all this without being maudlin, it even pokes fun at it a little when Rochelle and Nasira are at a park and their younger family members are playing and Nasira says, "someone should be shooting a world peace commercial right now."
A beautiful movie! 9 out of 10 stars.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Spicy (or not) Chicken sandwiches with cilantro-lime mayo

I love summer meals, don't you? Especially anything with cilantro! yummy!!! This recipe is soooooo easy! You just have to remember to get the chicken marinating earlier in the day, but once it's time to cook it, you'll have dinner ready in ten minutes!
I omitted the hot sauce altogether (neither my husband nor my kids are fans of spicy stuff) and it turned out great! The crunch on these is great (it's tortilla chips!). For my girls, I just cut up the chicken into strips and gave them the Kaiser rolls on the side.
As you can see above, we had ours with a simple salad that had a Spring/Baby Spinach mix with sliced strawberries, crumbled bacon, and mozzarella cubes. You honestly don't even need a sauce over it, but Lighthouse's Raspberry Walnut salad dressing would be a fantastic choice.
The link is at the bottom for the recipe.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Another book review...

My Fair Godmother (My Fair Godmother, #1)My Fair Godmother by Janette Rallison

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I started this book out of obligation. My cute neighbor dropped it off to me and I figured I had to at least try it, despite the fact that it is very much not the kind of book I normally read. I'll tell you what - I was surprised by how often I wanted to pick it back up and find out what happened to the characters! I was actually surprised by some of the plot twists and felt that the whole thing was fun and adventurous.

View all my reviews

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Craft organization for the kids

I've been wanting to have something to organize all my daughter's craft stuff. I had it all in a bin before, but that ended up being a big mess, of course. Then, it just was a huge mess all over the floor at the bottom of the basement stairs :) So, I was keeping my eye out for something on KSL classifieds and found this nightstand for FREE! Yay for KSL :) I forgot to take a before picture, of course. I'm still trying to remember to take pictures of any of the process at all. Anyhow, instead of trying to type between the pics and having to move everything around, I'll just type all the shtuff up front and then you can scroll through the pics. Or, just skip over what I type and look at the pics.
I didn't worry too much about sanding because it was just cheap plastic vinyl and the paint I used (Martha Stewart's "Popcorn") was a primer and paint in one deal. I just used a $2.50 sample and painted the front, one side, and drawer fronts. Then on the left side, I used chalkboard spray paint that I got at Home Depot for under $5. Actually, I sprayed the chalkboard paint first, then painted it white (it took several coats, but I didn't have to buy any more).
The top was a little trickier, as the veneer was coming off in several spots, so I knew even if I did sand it great, you'd be able to see the change in texture. So, I got a yard of fabric from Walmart for $4.50 and mod podged it on the top and inside the drawers. On the top, I sealed it with a few coats of varnish, but left the inside of the drawers as is.
The handles I spray painted copper, then brushed black acrylic paint over and used a soft cloth to rub some off. If I rubbed too much off, I just dry painted over that area with the black.
Anyhow, there's some shoddy workmanship (no painter's tape to be found in the house), and I do want to eventually wax over it, but I think it turned out pretty great. And now, all her crayons, markers, papers, coloring books, scissors, blah, blah, blah, yadda, yadda are out of my sight :)

Linking up to these parties:

Organize and Decorate Everything

Beyond The Picket Fence