Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Merry Christmas

Chris and I debate getting a tree every Christmas because we always leave town for the holidays. Tuesday night we stopped by a local tree lot in our neighborhood on a whim and picked out a perfect tree for our home.

Chris found a bunch of lights and ornaments in the basement that belonged to his mother Glenda. Glenda went through a southwestern decorating phase so we were not surprised to find cactus and chili pepper tree lights. Initially I said, "There is no way those tacky lights are going on my tree," but I soon changed my tune to, "There is no way those tacky lights are NOT going on my tree."

Here she is before the ornaments went on. Look at those great lights.

Glenda also had several boxes of amazing ornaments--a lot of them are handmade.
Chris's favorite is the blow fish with a beak glued on to his lips.

Here is his face. Isn't he so cute!

My favorite ornament is the sequined stegosaurus.
There is also a matching brontosaurus.

Other classics include the dangling snake,

pink flamingo whose feet are wired to the branch so it stands upright,

sequined trout,


and the California Condor.

I got out some of my ornaments from my childhood including my very first ornament,

And finally--you can't have a tree without an angle on top!

I also got out my Nativity set my Mom got for me a couple of years ago.

Chris got out our little St. Francis of Assisi figure which somehow made it into the Nativity set.

Happy Holidays everyone!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Two of my brothers, two of my cousins, my aunt Carol, a roomate of my cousin, this roommate's brother, and Chris and I gathered round our coffee table (because the kitchen table only seats four) for a wonderful meal (Tofurky prepared by Chris!). Later we watched My Fair Lady and ate three kinds of pie. It was wonderful day.
Happy Holidays everyone!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Famous Chris

Chris was interviewed by the UVU student newspaper about our trip to DC and his involvment in the Humane Society's interfaith group. Here is a link to the story:

This photo is entitled "Young Chris with Monkey"

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Washington DC

A few months ago, the Human Society of the United States contacted Chris and asked him to join their faith outreach group as a representative of the Mormon faith. Chris has been involved in animal welfare issues for many years and was happy to say yes. The HSUS has an annual interfaith conference in DC and flew him out for two days of discussion and speakers. I have never been to Washington DC and was excited to join him.

It is so fun to arrive to sights like this:

The next morning we started to walk the mall....

Chris forgot to open his eyes for the picutre

...and then stopped for a 'quick peek' in the Smithsonian American History Museum. Five hours later we finally emerged.

Yes, these are those ruby slippers.

This are Jim Henson's first muppets.

Julia Child's kitchen

On Saturday, after eating at Ollie's Trolly, we stumbled upon 'Occupy DC'. Actually, it was one of two such groups. One is the legit organization that pre-planned "Wall Street Uprising" months in advance. The other is a group of young radicals who think the older group are hierarchical sell-outs and won't even use bank accounts to store donations. When our friend Kate described this to us, Chris said it was the closest he ever felt to being republican.

This Samantha Bee clip will explain it all (though it's about NYC, pretty much the same thing here). The relevant part starts about one minute in.

While Chris listened to an aging liberal speaker practice 'reflective listening' with a troubled young radical, I read The Onion newspaper and spoke with a possibly homeless person who offered to 'protect me' should I need it. Funny!

On to the pro-America stuff:

This monument was actually quite moving. The quotations on the walls are powerful. Chris says "I never felt so patriotic."

On the way we stumbled upon our National Merry-Go-Round. Chris got us on the ride, just the two of us:

I am sooooo amused (it cost $7!!!!!)

He insisted: "It's what Audrey Hepburn would have done."

That evening we went to Chris's Aunt Donna's where I got to meet his cousin James and Clare and their two kids (Kora and George). It was rather nice. Sorry no pictures.

That evening we took the metro to our friends Kate and Neil's place. They took us to a vegan soul food restaurant called "Everlasting Life Cafe" It was pretty awesome. The best smoothie in the history of the world is called "Sunrise"; its active ingredients are Tahini, molasses, and spirulina.

Then we hit the mall again:

I think he looks a little grumpy. Interestingly, this was done by a Chinese artist.

This is our dear friend Kate. We had the best time at their place.

On Sunday we went to church service at the National Cathedral, whose gargoyles include Darth Vader and Homer Simpson.

The sermon by the new (female) bishop was about trusting Jesus' teaching and doing the brave thing of sticking up for the poor and supporting homosexuals. Kind of different that we're used to.

Afterwards we stopped by Clara Barton's home. She was the founder of the Red Cross in the late 1800's, but would never have been called 'nurse' since that referred to convicts and prostitutes.
So thanks to the Humane Society, thanks Mr. Smithsonian, thanks Lincoln, thanks Aunt Donna, thanks Kate and Neil, and thanks DC. And thanks to Chris for pretty much writing this post. We had a great trip.

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Canning Chronicles

We very appropriately found this at the American History Smithsonian museum in DC last week:

Chris and I have been talking about gardening/canning since we got married. This summer we planted some fruit trees and a small garden. We aspire to be more like our amazing friends Raquel and Oliver. Check out their homestead:

Our garden in the front was quite productive, especially in the beet and tomato departments (are those actual departments?). We picked all of the remaining tomatoes the night before the big frost. We ended up with a few red tomatoes and about a million pounds of green ones. The fun part was that we decided to can all of them. So about $200 worth of equipment later (in addition to all the money we spent on the garden), and we had our own little cannery going.

Notice that Chris puts the giant canning over two burners at once!

Chad came to help. Yes, that is a football game he is watching in the background. Go Ducks!


As for what to do with all those green tomatoes, I checked out some online recipes, and let's just say that we are like the Bubba Gump of green tomatoes. Green tomato relish, green tomato chutney, plain green tomatoes, pickled green tomatoes. You get the idea: You're really going to want to be on our Christmas list this year!

And after all that we still had a bunch of green tomatoes left over. Luckily they ripen surprisingly well on their own:


Two weeks later:
Next year we will probably just let everything turn red before we can it. It's nice to still be eating fresh garden tomatoes well into November.

We're not quite at the pioneer level but working on it. Chris even bought a 'sprouter' last week.

Chris's Birthday and a Portland Adventure!

A couple of weeks ago Chris and I went to Portland for the weekend. Chris attended the annual "Animals and the Law" conference put on by Lewis and Clark Law School. I walked around downtown and hung out with my sister and her husband who just moved to Portland two months ago.

This is my sister Courtnie and I on our way to the Portland Saturday Market.

If you haven't seen the show Portlandia (available to watch on Youtube), it is a must see. Courtnie told me that she doesn't really get it. Kenny, her husband, said that Courtnie just hasn't lived in Portland long enough to find it really funny. The Saturday Market it a great place to "get" Portlandia.

Case in point:

We went to the Saturday's market to try to find the perfect birthday present for Chris, whose birthday was that very day. I had already bought Chris a bunch of fruit trees for our backyard, but I wanted to get something to give to him that day. We were wandering among the booths listening to a live Peruvian flute band play Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance" when I stumbled on this gem:

So perfect. What else says 'I love you' like your face on a garden gnome? And what better companion for all of our new fruit trees? Of course I had to do it.

Me posing for the sculpture

Pretty decent likeness I say!

The final result unfortunately had to be mailed to us four days later, which meant that I had nothing to give to Chris on the day of his birthday...

but here we are in our garden. Happy birthday Chris.
You are the love of my life!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Texas: First stop our Mason Dixon Vacation

Chris’s Aunt Janine lives in Dallas and it was here that we began our Mason Dixon vacation. I first met Janine at our wedding two years ago and thought that she was fabulous. Chris’s mom passed away three years ago, his uncle Eddie about seven, so Janine is really the last living member of his maternal line from that generation. She lives in Dallas with her husband Tim who is your quintessential Texas man. They have one daughter Lauren who also lives in Dallas. Chris’s two cousins John and Ned (both son’s of his late uncle Eddie) also live in Dallas so it was a big ol’ family reunion.

Ned and his girlfriend Trisha (who both came to our wedding) took us to down town Dallas to show us around. Ned is one of the best mixologists in the Dallas area and recently won a cocktail competition that was filmed as a pilot for a possible reality show (aptly named Cocktail Confidential). Ned is in the process of opening his first bar/cocktail lounge in downtown Dallas.

The permits are turned in, and construction is to begin soon.

He has big plans for this place.

Tim is the ultimate host and really rolled out the red carpet for us. Before our arrival Tim went to Central Market and said to the clerk, “I have vegetarians coming to stay with me. Take me to your food.” He bought about 30 lbs of fruit and Tofurky meat substitutes. He also treated us to a wonderful dinner at the steak house where Ned tends bar in the cocktail lounge.

Ned in his element-the master mixologist

Our yummy watermelon and basil infused cocktail drinks (virgin for Chris and I).

Trisha is a cocktail lounge singer and was has a regular gig at the steak house. Although it was not her night to sing, the band invited her up to sing “Very Superstitious”.

It was a great night!

We also went the site where JFK was shot and toured the museum there. Chris got into the all of conspiracy theories and was out on the street and in the museum talking to everyone, measuring angles and bullet trajectories, etc.

Chris is standing on the first "X" where the bullet first hit JFK and passed through his throat .
The shots were fired out of the second window down on the far right side.

Standing on the second "X" or the "Fatal Head Wound".

Chris and Tim discussing a possible second shooter from behind the fence.

One of the conspiracy theories is that there was a second shooter that lay wait in the gutter. After Chris carefully assessed the angles, he decided that this was pretty far-fetched.

Chris has a personal interest in JFK. His great aunt Florence Pritchett (Dad’s mom’s sister) dated JFK seriously and may have married him except that she wasn’t Catholic. Even after they both married (he to the infamous Jackie O and she to the ambassador of Cuba) they still carried on an affair (according to some sources). She is often written up in JFK bios. In fact we just bought a JFK biography at DI (second hand store) in Provo about a month ago and there was a blurb about her in a chapter entitled “The Hunt for Sex.”

Speaking of family history…Chris and I bought a genealogy program and have started researching his line. We have it traced back to a Scottish King. We shared a lot of our findings with Janine and she was so touched. She shared with us photos and stories of family members.

These are some of my favorite photos.

Chris’s grandfather (Janine’s Dad). He was a WWII bomber and went on over fifty combat missions. He is buried in Arlington Cemetary.

Chris’s grandparents right after they got married.

Chris’s great-great grandmother on her 85th birthday. The cake took 50 egg whites.

This last one is Chris’s great grandma Lina Etta Lawhorn. She was Native American and looks a lot like Chris.