Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Bad at Baking

I really enjoy making things.

Sometimes, I stop thinking. Like last night, when I put the vegetables on the stove to be steamed, but never turned on the burner. Or the other time when I didn't turn on the burner to cook rice. Or how I have forgotten to turn on the oven to cook chicken...

A friend gave me a zucchini (so kind of her), and I've been wanting to make zucchini bread for a while now. I pulled up a recipe, and realized that I had exactly half of the amount of vegetable oil that was required in the recipe.

Okay. Cut the recipe in half. Easy. I'm a math teacher. I can divide by two.

Halfway through mixing I forgot I was halving the recipe, and started putting in full amounts of ingredients. Oops. I ran to the store to get the rest of what I was missing, and quickly doubled everything that was previously halved and finished making the batter/dough.

Blunder solved! Because I'm a math teacher and can multiply by two.

I tried to put away the flour. Instead, it ended up staying on the kitchen floor.

You see, we ran out of flour a week or so ago, so Hiram bought a HUGE bag of it. I've been carrying it around by holding it inside of a plastic grocery bag (the flour leaks otherwise). When I picked it up to move it back to our shelves, the grocery bag split and I spilled the flour. I was holding the flour bag AND the plastic bag, but apparently it was too heavy to hold steady. My black shorts changed to a nice white and grey, and the floor was looking pretty nice, too.

I grabbed the broom and the swiffer and fixed my mess.

FINALLY, I started pouring the batter into bread and muffin pans. After I had dished almost all of it into the pans, I realized that there was about a teaspoon of nutmeg at the bottom of the mixing bowl. So, I scooped out all of the batter, put it back into the bowl, and mixed more thoroughly.

For a second time, I scooped out all of the batter into the baking pans. I set the pans into our oven. You would think I would be able to relax and wait and read Harry Potter (since it's his birthday). But no... I don't trust our oven.

Let me explain: our oven is temperamental. Sometimes it takes 10 minutes to preheat. Other times it can be turned on for over an hour and nothing will happen. I can bake the same recipe over and over and produce something different every time.

I don't trust our oven.

After forty minutes (when they should have been done), the muffins and bread had risen about a half inch, but were extremely watery. I closed the oven door and reset the timer for ten more minutes. After about five minutes, I smelled smoke. I opened the oven door, and saw that the batter had overflowed the bread pans and was burning on the oven floor.

I actually saw flames. Small ones, though.

As this was my first oven fire, I think I did a good job. I made sure the fire was out, took out everything that was still baking as well as the rack that had batter. I scooped out some of the zucchini bread batter and put the bread pans back in the oven on a new, clean rack and on top of a cookie sheet. Then I let the zucchini bread continue baking. I opened up tons of windows and turned on all of our fans. I'm still curious as to whether Hiram will smell the smoke when he comes home...

The muffins came out a little interesting, but the bread is perfect. Which is wonderful because I'm keeping the muffins and giving the bread away.

Weird muffin. Awesome bread. Raw zucchini for me to bake tomorrow.
What I learned from this experience:
  • Always check how many ingredients I have before baking
  • Don't trust plastic bags
  • Put less batter in my pans (really, I filled them about 3/4 of the way, and thought this would be fine since that works for banana bread)
  • Bake in someone else's oven 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Family: What it means to me

I've been thinking about how to write this post for a few weeks now. Many things in my life lately have been focusing around family (such as my anniversary and TWO family reunions this week).

Family as an idea has always had a great impact on me. Since before I can remember, I've cried in movies when the scene focuses on the family unit. I cry when a family is separated (Bambi, The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Beginning, Dumbo, Brave, or any Disney movie you can name), and I cry when families are formed (have you ever watched Meet the Robinsons? Tangled? Tear-jerkers!). I have no shame. Those scenes are focused such a precious and important blessing.

Anyone who has spent a half hour with me knows I talk about my family. A lot.
Because they matter to me. A lot.

The family is so important that the Lord asked his prophets and apostles in this dispensation to clarify:
WE, THE FIRST PRESIDENCY and the Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, solemnly proclaim that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.
(The Family: A Proclamation to the World, emphasis added)
I've reflected on how the family can be central to the Creator's plan. For the past ten years, I have often found during scripture study that the verses frequently speak of family organization and leadership. I have been taught that the family is important, that without a family one cannot complete the ordinances to live eternally with the Father. I know that as stated in Genesis Chapter 2 and in other modern revelation, the first commandment Adam and Eve received "pertained to their potential for parenthood as husband and wife" (The Family: A Proclamation to the World).

I have felt in my heart the joy that can come from spending time with family, and spending time on family. I have felt the peace that comes from researching family lines, learning about them, and completing their work. I know by experience that family is essential to happiness now, which leads me to believe that family is essential to happiness in the eternities as well.

I know that being in a family can teach you qualities essential to eternal happiness. In my familial relationships, I have learned (and am still learning) how to be patient and humble, how to find the positive lesson in a situation, how to love, how to serve, and how to press on.

Just recently, as Hiram taught a fantastic Sunday School lesson, I was reflecting on how our families can protect us from deception. Just in our sweet little family of two, I've recognized a difference in my life. It comes from me focusing on him and his needs rather than my own. My decisions no longer affect only me. They affect Hiram, and our future children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

I don't read the scriptures for personal enlightenment. I don't pray for individual guidance. I study so I can be wise and worthy enough to stand equally alongside my husband as we work and progress towards eternal life. I pray to build a stronger relationship with my Father in Heaven, so that when trials come I can be firm in the faith of my Savior Jesus Christ, and teach my children to do so as well. My efforts have changed from personal and even selfish to selfless. My life is not just my own, it's my family's.

I don't think this is unique. Hiram and I have both seen our parents make decisions that were better for the family than for themselves. My own father has traded family for perhaps a more satisfying career. My mother has devoted her intelligence, creativity, and enthusiasm to raising six very different (and often difficult) children. I see my friends working hard in school not so they can climb the ladder of success, but so that they can raise their families on a higher plane. My sisters-in-law sacrifice time, talents, and sleep to the raising of their little sons as their husbands work so hard.

Ten years ago, Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles stated, "In a world of turmoil and uncertainty, it is more important than ever to make our families the center of our lives and the top of our priorities." (The Importance of the Family, L. Tom Perry)

I am beginning to understand that the family is not only a central organizational establishment of our Heavenly Father's plan. The family has been given to us as a safeguard. It is not the home that can be a haven from the storms that rage in the world today, it is the family.

This is because when you are truly invested in your family, you are working for not only your well-being, but others. In doing so, you are forced to push aside pride. When you are truly invested in your family, you are given an added sense of accountability. Being focused on your family influences your thoughts, words, and actions. It prevents you from allowing the devil to deceive you, for you'll be more focused on loving, serving, studying, learning, praying, and pondering. When you are truly invested in your family, you will recognize that a strong relationship with Heavenly Father is necessary and essential.

In short, being part of a family saves a part of you.

How wonderful that our Heavenly Father has commanded us, encouraged us, and blessed us with this opportunity! How perfect that in one simple unit, we not only gain the experience we need to prepare us for eternal life but are given a reason to live righteously for others, not just for ourselves. I know that the family must be strengthened, as our prophets have stated so many times. I will be doing my best within my own.

I am so grateful for the blessing of families, both on this earth and in the eternities. I am especially grateful for the families I have been blessed with. They are beautiful inside and out, and have made my life beautiful as a result.

The Allen Family - July 7, 2012

The Jacob Family - July 7, 2012
To read more on the LDS perspective on families, you can visit the following:

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Our first anniversary!

Hiram and I have been an eternal family for one year today!

Here are some things we did to celebrate our first year:

Earlier this week we decorated t-shirts with some friends. Then we wore them to the Freedom Festival Parade in Provo.

When we stood together, it completed the American Flag.       
We visited the Hogle Zoo. The weather was absolutely perfect for visiting the zoo. We learned a lot about elephants and birds, and watched some monkeys reach out of their habitat to steal some berries from a tree. We also learned that I'm way better at crinkling my nose.


We visited Temple Square and the Church History Museum, but the photos we took of ourselves were too grainy to share.

This one worked out, though! You get to see the Salt Lake Temple!
We ate really yummy food at Blue Lemon.


Hiram has been an absolutely wonderful husband. When we woke up this morning, we chuckled at how similar our "Happy Anniversary!" cards were to one another. We both wrote about how much we love each other and everything, and then both thanked each other for service and patience and for a perfect first year. We still have the rest of today to celebrate!

And the rest of our lives.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Goodbye Google Reader, I'm embracing Bloglovin'!

Friends and followers!

I don't even know if you follow this blog faithfully, but Google Reader is shutting down/maybe already over.

Something quick and easy to do is to add blogs that you love on ...

I have been using it for about a week now (I didn't know about it before...) and LOVE it.
Here are a few reasons why:

1. Bloglovin' makes it incredibly easy to stalk every single blog that I love. In fact, it can jump from one blog to another, in the order of most recently posted or unread posts. Kind of like your email!

2. My account was very easy to set up.  Just type in your google account information and it automatically syncs the blogs you were already following. In addition, you can click on "manage blogs you follow" and type in the web address of any blogs you want to follow. It automatically finds them!

See how easy and simple this is? I just clicked on the heart.
3. You can organize your favorite blogs. I have created categories based off my interest in the blogs. Some are interesting to me because they're written by family and friends. Some are food blogs, some fitness. I can organize them any way I want!

4. It is user-friendly. If you have a smartphone, you can purchase an app that will pull all your favorite blogs to your fingertips! I have bookmarked it to my toolbar, so it's easy to access. It quickly updates all of my favorite blogs!

Try it out! It makes it so much easier to keep in touch with the people and blogs you love.

You can click here to follow my blog on bloglovin'! (Please do.)

Also, please let me know if you blog and I'm not already following you. I would love to!