Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Monday, December 17, 2007

Photography

Lately, I have been stealing ideas from my friends. I don't know if you can call it plagiarism, exactly. . . maybe more like inspiration.

There's Fletch, who recently posted an exhibit of some his amazing photos, and Kirsten who is constantly unveiling very artistic new profile pictures, and Gina who just posted some awesome Christmas portraits. Then, there is L.L. Barkat, whom I haven't actually met, but whose blog is teeming with great photography. And, of course, there's always D.V. who has never taken a bad photo in his life and who could probably win international prizes for some of his shots (since his blog is set to private, you can click here and here to get a sampling).

Anyway, I've decided that I really want to learn more about photography. I don't know much, so the best I can do right now is try to imitate. This morning I studied some of the professional portraits we had taken in July and, utilizing a few tips D.V. gave me a while ago, I came up with this:

A Portrait of a 14-Month-Old

This portrait leaves plenty of room for improvement, but it's way better than my usual flash-on, cluttered-background shots.

If any of you have any tips on how I could have improved the shot or just tips in general, please, please let me know!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Isn't It Ironic. . .


Today I bought a pair of scissors at Ikea. I thought it was rather ironic that, when I went to use them this evening, the only thing capable of cutting the plastic zip-tie was another pair of scissors! Wouldn't you think that the scissor-makers would know that reason you're buying scissors in the first place is because you don't have any!?

Friday, December 14, 2007

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Yummy Pie Recipe

Oats and Honey Granola PieWe went over to a friend's house for dessert and she introduced me to this delicious recipe. She found it here on Oprah.com

Oats 'n Honey Granola Pie
Created by Suzanne Conrad


INGREDIENTS
Crust
1 Pillsbury® refrigerated pie crust (from 15-oz box), softened as directed on box
Filling
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup corn syrup
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 eggs, lightly beaten
4 Nature Valley® Oats 'n Honey crunchy granola bars (2 pouches) crushed. To easily crush granola bars, do not unwrap. Use rolling pin to crush bars.
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup quick-cooking or old-fashioned oats
1/4 cup chocolate chips
Whipped cream or ice cream, if desired

Heat oven to 350°F.

Place piecrust in 9-inch glass pie pan as directed on box for One-Crust Filled Pie.

In large microwavable bowl, microwave butter on high 50 to 60 seconds or until melted.

Stir in brown sugar and corn syrup until blended. Beat in salt, vanilla and eggs.

Stir crushed granola bars, walnuts, oats and chocolate chips into brown sugar mixture. Pour into crust-lined pan.

Bake 40 to 50 minutes or until filling is set and crust is golden brown. During last 15 to 20 minutes of baking, cover crust edge with strips of foil or pie shield to prevent excessive browning.

Cool at least 30 minutes before serving. Serve warm, at room temperature, or chilled with whipped cream or ice cream.

Store in refrigerator.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Dinner Party Debt

I found this hilarious article on rd.com while looking for reading material to give my ESL students. I hope you enjoy it! If you would like to view the article at it's original location, click here.

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Dinner Party Debt
by Mary Roach

Our friend Dave loves to cook. Dave will call us up and say, "Hey, come on over. I got a leg of lamb," as though it had just sort of landed in his lap like a fly ball. Dave talks very fast, which he needs to do to answer the question "What're you making?" in a reasonable amount of time. The last time we went to Dave's -- for a 50th birthday dinner for our friend Sandy -- the answer was, and I'm not even slightly kidding here, "Gonna start with oysters with lemongrass and a blood orange granité, then a fish plate with halibut and preserved lemon, a little cauliflower soup, pasta with anchovy sauce. Meat course, I'm thinking bavette steak with white beans and fennel. Ed eats beef, right? If not, I'll whip him up some Thai snapper."

We happen to have a Thai cookbook, which we use constantly (for propping up the Tex-Mex cookbook), and it has a recipe for snapper. So I happen to know this isn't something you "whip up." It is something that whips you. The shopping alone would require a month's sabbatical. The recipe called for, among 278 other ingredients, "1 tablespoon coarsely chopped kha." As I know from our Scrabble dictionary, ka is what the ancient Egyptians called the soul. Who sells this? What sort of knife does one use to chop life energy?

Generosity like Dave's is difficult to reciprocate. I once tried to cook for Dave and Kate. It was humiliating. I made angel hair pasta with toasted walnuts and some variety of cheese that had not showered in a while. When I tried to mix everything together, the angel hair pasta simply moved around the bowl in a solid lumpen knot. "You forgot the conditioner," said Ed, who has since quietly absorbed the cooking duties on the rare evenings when we're not eating at Dave's.

I have tried to convince myself it's okay that Ed and I have not properly reciprocated by preparing 22 six-course dinners for Dave and Kate. "He understands that we're not up to it," I said to Ed. "Besides, he's not keeping score."

"Everyone keeps score," said Ed. "How many times have we had Lou over without his inviting us?" Lou is one of a small group of bachelors whom we sometimes invite over for a meal at the last minute. It is never intimidating to cook for these men, as your culinary talents need only surpass those of Mr. Top and his ramen.

But Ed was right. I knew exactly how many times Lou had been over.

Last week I e-mailed Dave to tell him I'm writing a column about dinner party debt. Dave was leaving on a business trip that afternoon. "Have a good trip," I wrote. "When you get back, you'll be eating at our house for the next year and a half." I had anticipated some reassuring reply, something along the lines of: "Oh, Mary, I cook for you guys because I love to cook, and I love you. In fact, what are you doing next Saturday? I got a school of tuna."

However, Dave wrote: "Gotta run. Look forward to collecting."

It's true. Everyone keeps track. We owe Dave, we owe Steph and Jerry, we owe Bill and Adair big time. We actually sat down and made a list. It was shocking. What should we do? said Ed. Can we offer them the cash equivalency? How can we ever erase such an enormous pile of debt? Is it possible to declare dinner party bankruptcy? There should be a system in place that allows us to collect credits for feeding Lou, credits that we can then apply to Dave and Bill and Steph.

If I could, I would sell Dave my soul to repay his kindness and generosity. And I know for sure that he's got the right knife to chop it up.

Experiment


Ever since taking Child Psychology in college, I have been itching to conduct an experiment that I will call "The Color Confusion Experiment."

Here is the basic idea--from the time a child is born, he/she would be told that the color blue is called "red", green is "purple", red is "black", etc. The person conducting the experiment would have to be very careful to doctor-up all the evidence to the contrary (so books naming colors would need revision, crayons would have to be de-papered, etc.) Other than switching up the names of the colors, everything else about the child's life would be "normal" (if there is such a thing).

What I would be curious to find out is how such a scheme would effect the child's long-term development. Would he have a deep-seated mistrust of authority figures? Would he end up with some serious psychological disorder? Would he assume that his eyes were color-deficient and blame himself? Or, would it create in him a heightened sense of humor, making him a world-class prankster? Or, would it not really effect him at all?

Well, my opportunity has come, but being the kind, loving, and fairly normal mother that I am, I am not going to subject my son to my hair-brained idea. Instead, I'm posting it up here in case one of you wants to conduct the experiment on your kid. If you do decide to undertake this scientific endeavor, please get back to me in 20 years and tell me how your kid turned out. =)

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Please pray.

Some dear family friends are currently going through a very difficult time. Eric, father of six children (two of whom were recently adopted from Africa), is in the hospital in a forced coma due to severe respiratory problems. If you would like to read more, please check out their blog. Even if you don't have time to read the whole story, please do keep them in your prayers.