Saturday, December 4, 2010
So I spent all my blogging time today updating my blog design to match the holiday season. At this point I am really trying hard to make myself believe it's Christmastime already. Texas has not seemed to get the memo about Christmas being so soon. It is just ridiculous that it was 80 degrees Fahrenheit and the mosquitoes are still thriving this late in the year. This time last year we had snow in Texas!
To get me into the mood of Christmas, I have spruced up my blog design and added a Christmas music playlist to the bottom of my blog that will play as soon as the page loads. I've tried to play different kinds of music from different artists, but I couldn't help putting 3 of Mariah Carey's songs on the playlist. I just love so much of her Christmas work. If anything can make it feel like Christmas, these songs can.
A cold front is supposed to move in tonight, which I will welcome with open arms. Tomorrow morning my kids from the afterschool program where I work will be performing in a Christmas special during a church service. They have been practicing for this Christmas program every day for a while, and I will be so proud to see them finally show off all of their hard work.
Maybe it will feel more like Christmas after it becomes chilly tomorrow and I get to listen to the children's Christmas carols. Does it feel like Christmas where you are?
Friday, December 3, 2010
This Thanksgiving, my sister, Jessie, and I wanted to contribute to the feast, especially since we were hosting Turkey Day at our place this year. My grandma and papa were busy at work creating a new kind of pumpkin custard that would suit everyone's allergies and diets. Jessie and I wanted to try something new, easy, and healthy(ish), so I scoured the internet for recipes. I settled on poached pears and a Moroccan carrot salad called parve.
Here is the recipe we used for the poached pears:
Read more about it at www.cooks.com/rec/view/0,1613,150171-236192,00.html
Content Copyright © 2010 Cooks.com - All rights reserved.
6 oz. frozen cranberry juice cocktail concentrated
1 c. water
12 pears, firm but ripe
1 (3 inch long) cinnamon stick
Mix cranberry juice concentrate with water in a pot large enough to hold pears in a single layer. Partially peel pears (4 or 5 strips lengthwise). Add pears and cinnamon sticks to cranberry juice. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 12 minutes. Turn pears once. Cool in saucepan. Serve with liquid and cinnamon. For festive dessert garnish with thinly sliced lemon. Serves 6.
We wanted to double the recipe, but when Jessie went to the supermarket, she had trouble finding enough fresh pears to even make the original recipe. She was eventually able to find everything on our shopping list except for the cranberry juice. The frozen juice aisle only had cranberry/raspberry juice, so that's what we got.
We decided to poach the pears on Wednesday night, in case we needed to buy a replacement dessert on Thursday. The strips on the pears were a great idea from the recipe, because the exposed parts of the pears were died pink by the cranberry juice, resulting in a more festive-looking desert. We ended up boiling the pears much longer than the recipe called for, because the pears did not seem to soak up enough of the juice. The resulting pears looked like this:
I'll definitely be doing more fruit poaching in the future, because I loved how soft these pears were. They got even softer after soaking in the fridge for a few days. The fruit will also stay good for much longer, just like canned fruit, because of the sugar.
Thursday morning, Jessie and I started on the parve. Jessie really did the whole thing, from slicing and cooking the carrots, to spicing it up. The whole process did not take long at all, aside from the cooling. Here's the recipe we used:
Moroccan Carrot Salad (Parve)
- 6-7 carrots, sliced into rounds
- 3 Tbsp. lemon juice
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/2 tsp. cumin
- 1/2 tsp. paprika
- salt and pepper to taste
Preparation:1. Bring water, with salt, to a boil.
2. Add the carrot rounds to the pot. Boil for 8 minutes.
3. Drain. Rinse under cold water.
4. In a small bowl, mix lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, cumin and paprika.
5. Pour dressing over carrots and mix well.
6. Season with salt and pepper.
The sauce for the parve turned out really really garlicky, so Jess suggested that we add sugar, which was a good idea. We agreed that next time we'd add even more sugar, as the garlic was a little too strong. The carrots went over really well at Thanksgiving; a lot of people seemed to like them. I myself, thought they were a little too bitter. I tasted them later, and realized that they tasted better the longer they were in the fridge. Next time I'll make it a few days in advance. Here are the pictures of the parve:
Grandma and Papa's pumpkin custard turned out really great too. The pumpkin custard was set apart from other custards in the way the texture tasted. It was not a regular custard, and that made for a nice twist.
I wonder what interesting new dishes we'll be trying next year.
Thursday, December 2, 2010
A heart wrenching movie about how the Vietnam war affected a group of friends. Though the movie was very sad around the end, it was very hard for me to get that that emotional point, because the movie was hard to get into at first. The wedding scene went on forever. I was half asleep by the time it ended. I'm not quite sure why they did that during the filming. I'm sure some reviewers would say that it was filmed like that to get the viewer to know the characters more and to fully understand the horror the war caused to the families. I didn't quite get that. I think the time used for the wedding scene could have been used better.
I also thought the naked DeNiro scene was just unnecessary. It seemed thrown in the movie just to fulfill the actor's need to show his dedication to the film.
But all that aside, it was not bad. The acting all around was good. What saved the movie from being a total waste of time was the fine acting by almost everyone involved in the picture. De Niro's emotionally restrained character was well done, while Christopher Walken's final scene was truly an Oscar-worthy performance. Also, the use of the song, "God Bless America" at the end of the movie seemed pretty significant to me. I felt as if it was a song of innocence lost and patriotism. It could be interpreted that each character had a different view of America and Vietnam. The movie never quite says what the characters feel, but it doesn't have to.
My rating for The Deer Hunter: 3.5/5 stars
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Since I had no idea when the new season would begin, I started surfing for Doctor Who news on blogs. I rediscovered my go-to Doctor Who blog: http://planetgallifrey.blogspot.com/.
The video I found there, and have now embedded here has revived hope in me. Perhaps after you see this brief teaser trailer, you'll understand why.
Am I crazy to be stoked about a Doctor Who/Scrooge crossover? Now I am left with the question: Is Doctor Who visiting a Scrooge-like character in real life, or has he somehow found a way to enter the fictional realm of Charles Dicken's book, A Christmas Carol?
At this time, I am guessing that the writers will opt for the cop-out that Dickens' character Scrooge was probably based on a real-life character. On my part, I wish that they would visit book characters, as improbable as that might be, because then the opportunities for fictional crossovers would be limitless!
What do you make of this preview?
Update from Planet Gallifrey: This Christmas episode of Doctor Who will be airing on December 25, 2010. I will probably have to wait a little longer to watch it, as I am in the United States and do not have all of the British channels.
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Monday, November 29, 2010
Sunday, November 28, 2010
This morning, a song that I had heard of, but had never really digested, played while the offering plate was going around. The song took me by surprise, because it listed ways to react to different situations in life. This really caught my attention, because I have a bit of a poor memory. I am constantly forgetting how I should pray in different circumstances in order to live the spirit-lived life that Jesus wants for me.
I posted the lyrics here:
The Desert Song LyricsVerse 1:
This is my prayer in the desert
When all that's within me feels dry
This is my prayer in the hunger in me
My God is a God who provides
And this is my prayer in the fire
In weakness or trial or pain
There is a faith proved
Of more worth than gold
So refine me Lord through the flames
And I will bring praise
I will bring praise
No weapon forged against me shall remain
I will rejoice
I will declare
God is my victory and He is here
And this is my prayer in the battle
And triumph is still on it's way
I am a conqueror and co-heir with Christ
So firm on His promise I'll stand
All of my life
In every season
You are still God
I have a reason to sing
I have a reason to worship
This is my prayer in the harvest
When favor and providence flow
I know I'm filled to be emptied again
The seed I've received I will sow
That last verse is really my favorite part of the song. When things are going great, I thank God for what is happening, but I forget to bless others with what I've been given. When God gives us talents or a little extra of something, He expects us to turn around and give back to others.
I was amazed to find that my Sunday School lesson was also about giving back. We learned that if we follow Jesus long enough, we will become fishers for Him. It is not something that we do all on our own. Jesus said, "Follow me and I will make you fishers of men."
My prayer is now, "Lord, take all of my talents and failings and make something that can be used for You."
I encourage you to take whichever verse most strikes a cord with you, and add it to your daily prayers. It has already begun to bless me, and I hope it helps you too.
Saturday, November 27, 2010
Last week, I passed a professor's bulletin board in the hall. Since I had nothing better to do, I paused to look over the collection of political cartoons and articles. Usually these bulletins serve as an example of the professor's political or religious views, so I was surprised at what I found. The article that caught my eye was entitled, "Grateful People Live Longer." There were many tips on being thankful, in order to lead a stress-free life. One idea for fighting stress-induced insomnia was counting blessings instead of sheep.
This advice caught my eye because I had been having trouble sleeping just days earlier. I tossed and turned in bed for hours; I was just so stressed about finishing my research paper in time. After saying numbers in my head, counting forwards and backwards, I was at my wit's end--and still had no sleep. Finally, as a last attempt, I started at 100 and counted backwards, but this time, after each number, I named the first thing that came to my head. It sounded like, 100 classes, 99 finals, 98 essays, 97 days, and so on. Most of what I said aloud was stuff that weighed down my heart and stressed me out. Focusing on the numbers and the random words calmed my heart, and soon I felt myself drifting off to sleep.
A few days later, in the kitchen, my sister and grandma were talking about the movie, White Christmas. My sister remembered the scene where Bing Crosby sang his touching song, "Count Your Blessings (Instead of Sheep)." She loves the uplifting lyrics, which remind us to focus on the good things in life, and to consider how good things really are. Next time I have one of those sleepless nights, I will try to mention good things that happened during my day, while counting backwards. That way, my dreams might be filled with more pleasant things.
I think the only way to really make the most out of potentially trying times, such as sleepless nights or holiday pressures, is by finding a silver lining in every situation. Lord knows that is a tough one for me, as I am often a glass half-empty kind of girl. Instead of getting stressed over my research paper, I need to think about how fortunate I am for even being able to attend college. The holiday season can also be tough for some, but I thank the Lord for all of my loved ones, here and abroad, that can celebrate this time with me.
Thursday, July 29, 2010
I hardly notice how loud everything is until it stops. Earlier this morning the house blared with the sounds of the TV, You Tube videos, and petty squabbling. My sister, brother and I were responsible for all of the racket. I suppose I've always been more comfortable amid noise, partly because my mother loved to mix work with music or TV, and partly because I grew up with five siblings who were always very outspoken about one thing or another.
Even though I've since moved to a new home, things have not changed that much. My sister, brother, and I still argue over the smallest things. This morning's battle was over computer time. We all share my sister's laptop, so things can get a little tight.
When my sister left for her afternoon shift, and my brother went out to go swimming, I thought I would be thrilled to have the house to myself. Not so. Maybe in order to have fun, I needed to share it with someone. Or maybe it just wasn't as fun without anyone to be jealous of me.
Saturday, May 22, 2010
On Friday morning I woke up extremely parched. Drinking water before bed always does that to me, but I had no other choice. Thursday night marked the last time I could eat or drink anything before my surgery, and I had no idea when I would next be allowed to have food or water. That's why I ate lots of candy, and also an Oreo cookie which had become slightly soggy from Houston's humidity.
I had not slept well on Thursday night. This had less to do with the candy, and more to do with the supposedly caffeine-free sodas. I lay in bed, tossing and turning into the wee hours of the morning. All I could think was, "I have to get up in a few hours." A few hours later I woke up and laboriously looked around for clothes to wear. What does one wear to a surgery, anyway? I finally settled on my favorite shirt, a pretty, green paisley top, to wear over my gym shorts, since they were the easiest to wear over my bulky leg brace.
I tried to sleep in the car on the way to the surgery center, but my mind would not let me forget that it was only 15 minutes away. 15 minutes until the pre-op procedures. Then I was in the surgery center, signing papers handed to me by the lady behind the counter. She was very friendly, but with her tight smile, I inwardly questioned her sincerity.
After all the legal procedures had been taken care of, one of the nurses herded me into the Pre-Op room. A nurse came in with a gentle smile on her face and talked with me about which knee needed the surgery and she discussed everything that should happen in surgery. She asked for a sample for the standard pregnancy test, and then prepared me for my I.V. "What will be in the I.V.?" I asked, wanting to know exactly what was going in me. "Oh, just some medicine that your body needs," she said, vaguely, to my disappointment.
Before pushing the IV stand into the room, she took one last look into the hall, then glances at me sheepishly. "I just wanted to be sure the doctor wasn't monitoring me." A statement like this would normally be a cause of concern for me, but instead, I found myself chuckling inside. I found I could relate to her nervousness. Everything is harder when your boss is breathing down your neck.
She then tied a rubber cord around my arm, to try to expose the veins in my arm. "I'm sorry," she said, "The easiest veins are in your hand, but it'll hurt more." I assured her I would be fine, but as she pulled out what appeared to be a 2 inch long needle, I felt that familiar lurching in my stomach. I looked away quickly, and tried my best to breathe evenly. When it pierced my hand, I felt the urge to panic welling up inside my throat, but then I remembered to concentrate on breathing. "This is not a big deal" circled in my head, in the hopes that saying the words would make it true. And then it was over. She taped the needle down and encouraged me on my bravery. An infantile satisfaction crept into my smile. Yes, I had done incredibly well, hadn't I?
Then the anesthesiologist (thank you, spell check) entered the room and began speaking...with an accent. After he made a few jokes, I became convinced that he was definitely Eastern European. It's funny how different global regions have separate kinds of humor. His jocular manner put me at ease, and made it easier for my mind to wrap around the concept of my upcoming surgery. Then I asked what would be in my I.V. Maybe the anesthesiologist would let me know. "Just some medicine to make you sleepy," was his reply. Why wouldn't anyone be straight with me? I've watched E.R.; I've earned the right to know the names of drugs being pumped into my body!
Next the doctor came in for a few minutes, just long enough to set off my left leg with a marker. I always felt this was hilarious on T.V., although, when I really think about it, it is horrible that some people have lost limbs because the doctors weren't present enough to remember which one was which. I understand that they are busy, but I don't think that is a good excuse. This is one reason why I trust nurses more than doctors. Every time I spoke with a nurse, they were on top of their game, knowing my information, and which questions needed to be asked. They seemed very human in all their interactions, including those with one another. The doctor smiled, but seemed a little aloof, probably due to all of his other patients.
Then, after saying goodbye to my grandma and sister, I was wheeled away through the halls to the actual operating room. By now I had the hospital gown, cap, and grippy socks. I was in the wheelchair, so I didn't have to worry too much about people seeing my butt. The nurses were very nice about helping me keep my modesty. The inside of the operating room had a yellowish hue, and was more cluttered than I expected. I tried not to think that this room would be a perfect set for a horror movie. I tried even harder when they laid me down and stretched my arms out, palms down. Then they reached for straps to tie my arms down. A mask came out of nowhere, and covered my nose and mouth. Cool air flowed into my face. It felt a little like being force-fed, but I breathed evenly, and it
My leg was asleep. The mask was on my face, forcing that cool air down my throat again. I searched around with my eyes. I was still on the operating table. My vision was a little blurry. I could barely see the anesthesiologist walking away, leaving a couple nurses to monitor me. "You're okay, you just woke up," a nurse cooed. "My leg is asleep," I replied, because it was my left leg; was it supposed to be asleep? "That's just because of the position we had it in," reassured the nurse. I was shivering. The insides of my cheeks were raw. I pressed my tongue against my cheeks, careful to not bite it. I must have bit my cheeks during surgery.
The nurse helped me sit up. I was still shivering. "Just breathe," the nurse reminded me. I tried. It was as if my teeth were going to chatter, no matter what I did. Then I realized. "I'm not in the operating room." I remarked to the nurse. "No," she replied, "you're in the recovery room." The nurse chatted with me for a while. I think she was trying to distract me. After an undeterminable amount of time, they let my grandma and sister come in to see me.
Then the nurse helped me into a wheelchair, so I could go home. I looked down and noticed that my leg was yellow. That was probably iodine, or some other disinfectant, but it unsettled me, knowing that they did a lot while I was sleeping. I wish I could have watched them performing surgery. On T.V., of course, because otherwise I wouldn't be able to stand the blood.
Recovering from the surgery is harder than I thought it would be. My knee is very weak, and refuses to lift its own weight. I am doing exercises recommended by the doctor to help strengthen it. Please pray that my knee heals as soon as possible so I can get back to doing normal things.
Thursday, May 20, 2010
I am kinda going to miss being on crutches.
Believe it or not, there are both downsides and upsides to having a bone fragment lodged behind your knee cap. Sounds like it's time for a --da-da-da-daaaaah-- Pros and Cons list!
Pro: With the help of my crutches, the light switches are easier to reach from my bed.
Con: Lying down and getting comfortable in bed is not that easy with a leg brace.
Pro: Cute guy looks at me and shares an empathetic story to cheer me up.
Con: My leg brace leaves me rooted to the chair when he gets up and leaves.
Pro: Professors are really nice about postponing the finals for me.
Con: The strong pain killers make it really hard to study for said finals.
Pro: My sister is sweet and helps me get ready to go.
Con: She has to help me tie my shoes, something I cannot do, due to my leg brace.
Pro: I get the comfiest recliner in the house (pictured above) to rest my aching limb.
Con: While the couch does cushion my leg, it does little for the pain.
Pro: I get to sleep in late and watch as much TV as I want to, because I don't have to go to work.
Con: I could end up missing some very important end-of-the-year events for my students.
Pro: Not having to tidy up very much, because it is really difficult to clean on crutches.
Con: The guilty feeling I get when I can't clean up after my own messes.
Pro: Random people are sympathetic and express wishes for my well-being.
Con: People feel awkward about my injury and avert their eyes.
Pro: I can justify eating candy and ice-cream to make me feel better.
Con: Without the use of my left leg, it is very hard to do any exercises to burn off those calories.
I have gotten used to all of the pampering and attention that my loving family has shown me, and it will be difficult getting back into the swing of regular life and work, but all in all, I know that I will be relieved and grateful when I'll be able to do everything on my own again.
I'll be so glad when all the things on this list go away and everything returns to normal. --Except for eating candy and ice-cream...I might keep doing that...
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Two hearts for the two-hearted Time Lord <3>
"Time is not a straight line, but a wibbly-wobbly ball of timey-wimey stuff"
to show some love for the Tenth Doctor
I would love to buy them all, but mostly I just love to internet window shop.
It's a great feeling just knowing that there are fans who have gone so far as to create beautiful things like these pieces of jewelry.
Thursday, April 15, 2010
Academic walls are closing in around me, constricting me like the anaconda in my student's picture book. Is this the part of the semester when people start giving up the struggle to keep their heads above water? Because that's what I feel like doing.
Like the drowned man in Stevie Smith's poem called Not Waving but Drowning, who was not rescued in time by his so-called friends because he "always loved larking". The dead man argued, "I was much too far out all my life / And not waving but drowning."
When I first read this poem, it really hit me hard that there are people out there that are struggling within themselves, and I might never know about it. Especially those at my age who are under all kinds of pressure, but keep it all inside until it is too late.
Sometimes I wish we all wore signs above our heads, like little Facebook statuses, that would show others when we needed help or were available to offer help. At some point every day I feel like I'm waving and drowning.
All this talk of drowning reminds me of a part of the devotional* I read to my co-workers today:
"When a lifeguard is trying to save you, it's a mistake to try and assist him... When you're flailing around in deep water you tire easily and sink faster; you also drag others down with you. that's why a lifeguard will tell you to stop struggling and trust him. Understand this: God doesn't need your help to save you!"
At this point, the devotional is starting to seep into my mind. A lot of days I feel like I'm running in place like a Looney Tunes character, or trying to bail out a sinking ship with a teaspoon.
I make more trouble for myself by rushing around, getting lost in all the busyness of the day. I need to slow down and stop trying to control everything. Once I stop struggling all alone, I know that God will save me from myself. Speaking of that...if the drowning person (aka me) had listened to the Lifeguard in the first place, and not surfed the web--I mean--waves when it was obviously not good for her, she might not have wound up floundering in the first place.
Thursday, April 1, 2010
He said "breaking up". Alex is a third-grader. He and his girlfriends have gotten together and broken up many times before. Maybe children think marriage is as simple as going out.
"Your shoe's untied, Ms. Jennifer!" Oh no, I had already been April-fooled too many times today. "My shoes are not untied!" I replied. Another student sneakily untied my shoelaces when he thought I wasn't looking. I ignored this little stunt, but Alex didn't. He bent down and tied my shoe for me, taking great care to double-tie it.
At dinnertime, I held Papa's hand and hung on to my brother's, while I listened to my Grandma bless the food. My eyes were closed, but I still knew my family was there. I felt them. Sometimes a human connection is all we need to make the world a little more bearable.
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
"Come on," I said, pushing her to keep going. "Just keep breathing, we're almost there."
She glanced up, and could see the light at the end of the tunnel. It seemed so far away, but at least now the end was in sight. A slight bend in the road represented the finish line.
We crossed it together, and I stopped the time on the stopwatch. There it was: Thirteen minutes and fifty-two seconds. Our goal had been to walk or run a mile in less than fifteen minutes. I shared the good news with my sister and we both whooped aloud like crazy people, even though we were doubled over, gasping for air.
Okay, so maybe I cannot or should not compare exercising to giving birth. Both are similar, though, when thought of as painful processes that lead to something great in the end. Through giving birth, one receives a beautiful baby; through exercise, a beach body.
The day before my single mile marathon, I attempted to improve my upper body strength. My goals were to perform as many sit ups, wall sits, push ups, calf lifts, and bench lifts as I could. Extended across the floor, I tried the push ups first. Onnnnneeee! That wasn't so bad. Twwwwwwwoooooooo! Wow, that one was pretty tough. Thh--Nope. Not going to happen. Lying on the floor, defeated, I saw the carpet closer than I have ever seen it. Two inches from my nose was a bug. I just vacuumed! And a little further away was a wood chip? No, it was a leaf, probably dragged in from outside by our German Shepherd. My nose wrinkled as a repulsive odor met it from the carpet. The dog was probably responsible for that as well.
Maybe it wasn't worth it, I thought, as I crept to my knees and then slunk into the chair and began typing on the computer. All of this work and what would I have to show for it? A six-pack of steely abs? Perhaps. Greater stamina to propel me through the day? Probably. The highest grade in my kickboxing class in the spring? Now, that sounded pretty good to me. Maybe the key to exercising faithfully or having a baby is telling yourself over and over again what there is to gain from all the pain.