Saturday, June 28, 2008

Melville Pie Days Come to a Close

And here's the pie I actually entered into today's competition. Or didn't, because we didn't get there in time for the judging, which was, reports say, done so haphazardly that one of the judges missed it too and the top three winning pies were all store bought.

It turns out I don't like baked cherries (I'm feeling glad I did a test-run yesterday), so today I went with an Apple pie:

Yup, Apple.

P.S. With all this pie-making, you may be wondering how my bar studying is going. My bishop was wondering, too. Today at the barbecue/pie competition:
Bishop: How's your studying going?
Sarah: It's not.
Bishop: Repent.
So, I'm going to stop making pies (except maybe one more Monica's raspberry--for dinner tomorrow) and excuses and repent.

Coming up: Bar/Bri Days at Melville.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Pie #6! Homemade cherry pie! And pies # 4 & 5!

I couldn't wait to show this one. It just came out of the oven, and it's kind of unbelievable. I'm planning on having this be a test pie--since I've never made it before, and my last few attempts at gastronomic winging it have left me a little disappointed. But good goo, it's beautiful! If weird!

The pie before I baked it.

(It was inspired by some Tiffany glass I've been thinking about.)

These are my fingers when I was done with all my pie creating. I'm amazed my laptop keys haven't turned blue yet.

But here's the baked pie--newly removed from the oven!

Oh man, I am satisfied.

And, for completeness' sake, pies #4 and #5 (both of which are presently keeping cool in the fridge):

R's pie (a beautiful, beautiful pie we know will taste good)

And pie #5, Monica's frozen raspberry pie. It isn't decorated yet, and I think next time I'll make it with more filling, but good goo it tastes good. (Yes, I licked the filling bowl.)

Pie Days at Melville

My roommate R has already made three pies this week: one strawberry, one experimental strawberry-plum, and one full-blown strawberry-plum. She served the first at a ward function, and she and I have eaten the other two.

R is at the store now, as we speak, buying more strawberries and plums to make into a pie for a regional YSA pie competition being held tomorrow.

Her fantastic crusts and strawberry-plum-with-a-kick pie notwithstanding, I'm going to be making two pies today, in preparation for the pie-making I will do tomorrow for entrance into the pie competition. (I was personally asked to enter a pie, though it was an invitation I neither deserved nor turned down.)

And so--Melville pies #4, #5, and #6 begin.

The recipes are included here for (1) sharing and, more directly, (2) consolidation. Much easier to look at one webpage than two. I will tell you how it goes.

Pie #5: Frozen Raspberry Monica
This is the astonishingly good pie my friend Monica made for my 15th birthday in 1995. We think. Awesome.

1 graham cracker crust
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
3 egg yolks, beaten
3 tablespoons lemon juice
Dash salt
1 1/2 c crushed raspberries (fresh or frozen)
3/4 cup whipping cream
fresh raspberries & whipped cream, for garnish

1. Prepare crust. Set aside. In a small saucepan combine gelatin and sugar. Stir in water, egg yolks, lemon juice, and salt. Cook and stir over medium heat until boiling; remove from heat. Transfer gelatin mixture to a large bowl; stir in crushed raspberries. Cover and chill for 1 to 1-1/4 hours or until mixture is partially set (consistency of unbeaten egg whites), stirring occasionally.

2. In a chilled large mixing bowl, beat the whipping cream with an electric mixer until stiffpeaks form. Fold whipped cream into raspberry mixture. If necessary, cover and chill about 20 minutes or until mixture mounds when spooned. Spoon filling into cooled crust. Cover and chill at least 4 hours or until filling is firm.

If desired, garnish with piped whipped cream and fresh raspberries.

Pie #6: Homemade Cherry Pie
From I've never had homemade cherry pie before, let alone made it, so we'll see how it goes. But I have all these cherries I haven't gotten around to eating. And I think it might taste awesome.
1 recipe pastry for a 9 inch
double crust pie
4 tablespoons quick-cooking
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup white sugar
4 cups pitted cherries
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (205 degrees C). Place bottom crust in piepan. Set top crust aside, covered.
2. In a large mixing bowl combine tapioca, salt, sugar, cherries and extracts. Let stand 15 minutes. Turn out into bottom crust and dot with butter. Cover with top crust, flute edges and cut vents in top. Place pie on a foil lined cookie sheet --- in case of drips!
3. Bake for 50 minutes in the preheated oven, until golden brown.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Two Cool Things Totally Unrelated to the NY Bar Exam

1. This website! It was profiled in this NY Times article: "Down with Helvetica: Design Your Own Font." On it, you can design your own fonts FOR FREE! Oh man, my inner amateur graphic designer is overwhelmed by the sheer possibilities. True: The best day of my working career was the day that Dean Hansen let me and Natalie, the other secretary, spend the afternoon picking new fonts from a CD for our desktop publishing responsibilities. I've only begun tinkering around on fontstruct, but you can bet your favorite dollar that I'm going to be working towards a font specially designed and hand-constructed for the Stanford Second Ward's sacrament meeting program. Oh man. Oh. Man.

2. Turns out, learning to love truly and heartfully, even when spurred on by romantic feelings, can be tricky. My roommates and I have been talking about this, and one today pointed me to this article: Long but pertinent, I think. At least for us. My favorite part upon a first read-through:
[T]here is something attractive about the idea of being totally self-sufficient and self-contained. It seems safer and easier. If our world is self-created and self-contained, nothing seems beyond our understanding or control. Hence, many of us relate, not to other people, but to our mental images of other people. This tendency also explains, I believe, why so many people have preferred theories about the world to the world itself–have preferred, that is, to develop philosophical systems rather than to step out into the real world, vast and beautiful and terrifying as it is, with all that they do not understand about it, and grow step by step in their understanding. I believe this is also one reason many people have preferred to worship a conceptual God–a God in their minds–rather than the true and living God whose voice, though it pierces to the very center, comes from outside themselves.
Parts of the article that feel salient and true to you?

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

As a Hen Gathereth Her Chickens

I've been rereading the story of Moses and the exodus of the Israelites as part of my daily scripture study, and I've been asking a Jewish friend for some insight on some of the passages that seem to me to be either cryptic or culturally significant.

Last night I asked him about Exodus 3:13.
And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them?
I wondered why Moses would ask this particular question. Would the Jews really have asked him what God's name was? And, if they would have, what answer would they have been expecting? Or what would they have done with that information?

I wondered if maybe Moses was anticipating that the Israelites would try to identify Moses's God as theirs--as opposed to all of the Egyptian or other gods that were running around being worshiped.

Or I wondered if Moses himself was wanting more information about the deity he was talking to, so he was using the Jews as a decoy, as an excuse to find out more about the God he was talking to.

Steve, my Jewish friend, raised this possibility: that Moses asked God what His name is, or what Moses should tell the Jews what God's name was, not to find out a name but to find out information about God himself. To explain, Steve pointed me to an online source:

In Jewish thought, a name is not merely an arbitrary designation, a random combination of sounds. The name conveys the nature and essence of the thing named. It represents the history and reputation of the being named.

This is not as strange or unfamiliar a concept as it may seem at first glance. In English, we often refer to a person's reputation as his "good name." When a company is sold, one thing that may be sold is the company's "good will," that is, the right to use the company's name. The Hebrew concept of a name is very similar to these ideas.

An example of this usage occurs in Ex. 3:13-22: Moses asks God what His "name" is. Moses is not asking "what should I call you;" rather, he is asking "who are you; what are you like; what have you done." That is clear from God's response. God replies that He is eternal, that He is the God of our ancestors, that He has seen our affliction and will redeem us from bondage.

And we see this, of course, in God's otherwise unusual/interesting response to Moses's question:

God is eternal
14 And God said unto Moses, aI AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.
God is the god of our ancestors
15 And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, The aLord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my bname for ever, and cthis is my dmemorial unto all generations.
God has seen the affliction of the Israelites and will redeem them from bondage
16 Go, and gather the aelders of Israel together, and say unto them, The Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, appeared unto me, saying, I have surely bvisited you, and seen that which is done to you in Egypt:
17 And I have said, I will bring you up out of the aaffliction of bEgypt unto the land of the cCanaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the dJebusites, unto a eland flowing with milk and honey.
18 And they shall ahearken to thy voice: and thou shalt come, thou and the elders of Israel, unto the king of Egypt, and ye shall say unto him, The Lord bGod of the Hebrews hath met with us: and now clet us go, we beseech thee, three days’ journey into the wilderness, that we may dsacrifice to the Lord our God.
19 ¶ And aI am sure that the king of Egypt will not let you go, bno, not by a cmighty hand.
20 And I will stretch out my hand, and smite Egypt with all my awonders which I will do in the midst thereof: and after that he will let you bgo.
It is interesting and beautiful to me that the Israelites might have been anxious to be reassured about the nature of God. After so many years, will He protect us? Will His involvement be kind to us? Will He remember and save us, or will He continue to neglect us or--worse, worse--add to our sufferings? And so, God answers Moses's question--so fully, so lovingly--so that Moses can take back a message of love and protection to a people who have been wounded for so long.

I was struck, then, by the relationship between Steve's answer/this insight and this month's home and visiting teaching message by President Eyring.

The Savior has always been the protector of those who would accept His protection. He has said more than once, “How oft would I have gathered you as a hen gathereth her chickens, and ye would not” (3 Nephi 10:5; see also, for example, Matthew 23:37; D&C 29:2).

The Lord expressed the same lament in our own dispensation after describing the many ways in which He calls us to safety: “How oft have I called upon you by the mouth of my servants, and by the ministering of angels, and by mine own voice, and by the voice of thunderings, and by the voice of lightnings, and by the voice of tempests, and by the voice of earthquakes, and great hailstorms, and by the voice of famines and pestilences of every kind, and by the great sound of a trump, and by the voice of judgment, and by the voice of mercy all the day long, and by the voice of glory and honor and the riches of eternal life, and would have saved you with an everlasting salvation, but ye would not!” (D&C 43:25).

There seems to be no end to the Savior’s desire to lead us to safety, and there is constancy in the way He shows us the path. He calls by more than one means so that it will reach those willing to accept it. Those means always include sending the message by the mouths of His prophets whenever people have qualified to have the prophets of God among them. Those authorized servants are always charged with warning the people, telling them the way to safety.

So here it is--a parallelism of probable truth: That even as we are, as I am, as the Israelites were, so anxious to know that God remembers us, that He will rescue us from (our various kinds of) bondage, that He will be good to us after all this time, God is anxious--eager, anxious, wanting--for us to remember/know that He wants to be good to us in our suffering, that He always remembers us, and that He will protect us, if we will let Him.

"How oft would I have gathered you as a hen gathereth her chickens, and ye would not.”

Ye would not. Ye would not.

That's a charge I'm praying I can change to avoid.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

It's here!

My directorial debut is finally uploaded to the internet for (y)our viewing pleasure:

It's called "Puppet Love" (and there are bloopers, too, linked on the same website). I directed this short film for my ward's film competition, and on Saturday, we beat out the competition (one other video) for the audience choice award. And we won best production, best actress, and best actor.

There is, of course, explanatory backstory to this little film and how it came to be, but for now, I have to run to school. I just wanted to post it because, I have to say, making it totally delighted me. It was a ward activity success. And it makes me maybe want to give up my chosen career thing and make movies instead (like most of the Hoggard-Olsons I know).


Monday, June 09, 2008

Fostering Religious Diversity in the Public Schools

I received this email via the area LDS listserve today:
I'm doing some informal research for a presentation I am giving at a conference for soon-to-be teachers this Friday. My presentation is on creating respect for religious diversity in the classroom. If any of you have personal stories about:

a) A time during your school years in which a teacher/school official was not respectful of your religious beliefs, or said or did something that made you feel marginalized for your religion,


b) A time during your school years in which a teacher WAS respectful of your religious beliefs, and how that impacted you,

Would you be willing to share them with me, so I can use them as examples in my presentation? I won't use your name, or any identifying details, just the story. Also, this isn't meant as an opportunity to complain about persecution; rather, I'm hoping to use these experiences to help create awareness among my fellow prospective teachers of the issues that might arise in the classroom for their students who are religiously devout.
I remembered an experience and then another (and another and another--I'm feeling a little e-chatty, as you can maybe tell) and sent him the following:
In 11th grade American history class, my large, loud, and frank-faced sort of teacher began his lesson about the Mormons by saying these words: "Now, Joseph Smith was a crazy man. I mean--a crazy man. He thought he saw angels, got these gold plates, starting testifying. He was a crazy man." I, of course, am sitting there, 17 years old, wondering how on earth he could have taught me and two or three of my older siblings and not known that I was Mormon. Also, I was sitting there wondering what on earth I would say in this moment. I felt like I should say something--something--but I also felt like I was pressed up against a wall. I mostly wanted to cry. I finally raised my hand and said something like, "Mr. K? I want you to know that I'm a Mormon and Joseph Smith is important to me, and I believe he is a prophet, so please don't speak about him that way." I was, of course, beginning to cry from the sheer intensity and awfulness and something of the moment. My teacher stared at me from his lean against the front chalkboard and sort of sputtered. "Oh, yeah, no. I didn't say he WAS crazy. I said other people thought he was crazy. Didn't I? Didn't I say that?" He turned to one of my classmates for confirmation; she shook her head, no. He vaguely apologized, I remember, but that's all I remember. I zoned out for the rest of class, staring at my desk and wondering why that moment had been so awful. I was glad I'd taken a stand and was feeling embarrassed it had made me cry, but I was feeling sad that I'd had to take a stand at all. In a safe place like history class, no less.

Also, a related but more subtle moment. I was in driver's ed one day, in the driving car I shared with three classmates and my driver's ed instructor. We were talking about physical intimacy, unusually and for one moment, and I was trying to say something strong and clear but cool about my thoughts about physical intimacy, my decision to be abstinent before marriage and to stay well within romantic boundaries before then. And my teacher turned around, looked at me with wry, self-satisfied sort of irony, and said, "Sarah, are you saying that you're a prude?" He wasn't joking, kind of. And I felt stupid. And I wondered why I wasn't getting support for this (a) hugely important and (b) (I thought) hugely valuable decision of mine (growing, among other things, out of my religious convictions) from a teacher.

And a third, totally third-hand story. I've heard of teachers who, for fear of the law or social repercussions, wouldn't let students list their own religious rites as some of the most important moments of their lives on those "get to know me" posters that kids sometimes make. They weren't allowed, absurdly, to put up pictures of them in baptismal dresses or christening dresses or confirmation clothes or bar mitzvah attire to hang on their posters on the wall. This is ridiculous.

Also--one more (a good one): my brother's great friend from high school was Sikh, and he received his turban (apparently, a very important ceremony in the life of a Sikh man) during his senior year of high school. They let him wear his turban and not his graduation cap during his graduation ceremony, and we loved seeing him up there with his red turban (the color of the graduation caps, probably not coincidentally) with his '07 tassle swinging from the back of his turban. That was a triumphant religious diversity moment I thought.
You? Team, you? What have been some of these moments--good and bad--for you?

P.S. It's 11:45 pm. My goal is 12:20. Let's see if I can make it happen.

Weird, Possibly Regrettable Decisions from Today, a Sunday

1. I put a dash of Worcestershire sauce in my chicken-broccoli-rice casserole.

2. I put a lot of other things in my chicken-broccoli-rice casserole (garlic salt, kosher salt, peppercorn medly, marjoram, basil, parmesan cheese, crushed whole wheat saltines, cheddar cheese, mozzarella cheese, cream of chicken soup, cream cheese, minced garlic, rice, broccoli, chicken), but I didn't put onions in. No onions. We didn't have any onions.

3. I didn't, in any meaningful way, follow a recipe for my c-b-r casserole.

4. Nevertheless, I served my casserole to people other than myself.

5. I didn't bring a sweater with me to the ward dessert potluck tonight, despite being pretty sure it was going to be chilly. Which it was.

6. I wore giant (GIANT) yellow-and-gold flower earrings all day.

7. I didn't watch Dan in Real Life again.

8. I provided, moderately recommended, and didn't stop some friends and myself from watching Shooting Fish (a circa 1998 British romantic comedy starring Kate Beckinsale before she sold out with Pearl Harbor but after she peaked with Cold Comfort Farm), which, it turns out, is less "vaguely charming" (how I described it) and more underwhelming and plot-spotty than I had remembered (I first and last watched it sometime in 2001)--all when I could have been watching Dan in Real Life again.

9. I made a comment in a packed and particularly spiritual Sunday School class in which I explicitly said that perhaps a possible way I could stop a friend from making a poor religious/moral decision was by "punching her in the face." Also, my convert friend Sarah's non-LDS mother was there. Her mother literally applauded when, much later, a guy in the class said that perhaps we should accept people for who they are and stop being self-righteous and be more like the Savior. Also a possibility (though I want to point out that I'm trying these days to make sense of the crazy important commandment to really, honestly, heartfully love people and the commandment to stand for truth and righteousness, which sometimes seem to complicate each other).

10. I stayed up late (it's 12:31 am), I spent more time cooking today than I did reading my scriptures, and I didn't call my mother.

Mom, Dad--happy Sabbath. I love you. We should talk soon.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

P.P.S. Yes. No. Sort of.

Here's the scoop: 12:12.

The last time I looked at my phone after I'd prayed, scriptured, and turned out the light, it was 12:12 am. Not quite midnight, but close, very close.

Waking up was easy. Church was awesome. I wasn't even tempted to fall asleep. This is a good thing.

One note, however: Remember how my concerns about early sleeping revolved around missing out, because I have these nocturnally optimistic tendencies that make me feel like if I were just to stay up later, something great might come my way like boys or lovin' or cookies?

When I woke up this morning, I had a text. It said this: "Bob's?" It was, of course, a late-night invitation, from boys, to drive to SF and get, really, honestly, the best donuts ever. An invitation I shouldn't have taken--and wouldn't, I have to say--but still. Still. That's some old-fashioned irony for you. With a warm and heavy sugar glaze.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

P.S. Can I do it?

It's 11:46 pm. My teeth are brushed and flossed, my face is washed and shiny, and I am pajama-ed, email caught-upped (ish), and sitting cross-legged on my bed. The only question remaining is this: Can I go to bed before midnight, and on a Saturday, too?

Tune in tomorrow for the thrilling conclusion. (And find out if, in fact, this kind of "early" bedtime affects Sarah's alertness during and enjoyment of 9 am church services.)

Goodnight, friends.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

"I know why you're always tired..."

I was telling my friend Steve that I always fall asleep places--in school, at church, and now, each morning during my Barbri review class.

"My family--" I said, "we can fall asleep anywhere. It's a family thing. We heard once that you know you're under-rested when you can lay down on the floor of your office and fall asleep in ten minutes. We laughed when we heard that because we can always fall asleep, almost anywhere and at anytime." Steve looked nonplussed. "It's a family thing," I said. He said nothing.

Tonight, I called to ask him a Barbri question, and halfway through the conversation, Steve interjected emphatically (emphasis like this being something of an anomaly with him): "I know why you're always tired. I see your light on in gchat until like...two in the morning! Falling asleep in class. Ha! It's not a family thing. You're tired because you stay up late!"

I laughed. I laugh. I thought back to two nights ago, when some new boys were over, and one said to me, "Are you a night owl?" and I began to say "not really," when Michelle made a sort of snorting/knowing/objecting noise, and I looked at her, and she said, "You are a night owl. Yes, you are!" She turned to the boys and said, "I go to bed, and when I wake up, Sarah tells me things that happened to her after she went to sleep. Things she's learned, conversations she's had, things she's done. Sarah has this entire life after I go to sleep."

(Note: Last night after Michelle went to sleep, I drove her car to Las Vegas. And back again.)

I remembered back to my second year of college, when I had a roommate who went to bed consistently and uncomplainingly at 9 pm. She did work early in the morning, admittedly, but to go to bed, every night, during the summer, at 9 pm STILL requires discipline and decision-making the likes of which I had not yet theretofore seen. So, one day, I asked her: "Jacqui, how do you know when it's time for you to go to sleep? How do you decide when your day is done and you should go to sleep?" She said, almost without blinking, "I go to bed when I've done everything I need to do." I was baffled. She had a to-do list. When she'd completed it, she went to sleep. Wash dishes--check. Fold laundry--check. Do visiting teaching--check. Next up? Bed--check.

I realized then that I was a sort of nocturnal optimist--that each night I stayed up late and late and later, waiting, waiting, waiting, just in case the best part of my day was still ahead of me. Thinking (irrationally, I know) that if I stayed up just a little bit longer, the day might bring its best treasures. Boys? Lovin'? Cookies? Transcendence? I'm not sure exactly what, but something. Something GREAT.

Having identified it--and becoming more committed to the sheer and almost overwhelming goodness of sleep--I thought I had left those voluntarily nocturnal ways behind. I really, honestly thought I had become a different girl, more committed to sleep, to good habits, to daytime living than I was in my pre-grad youth. All these years--all these years, I thought I'd changed.

But it is 12:41 am, and I am up entirely at my own volition. And when I'm falling asleep tomorrow during my review class (as I inevitably will), maybe it will not be the product of some mysterious narcoleptic family tendencies. Maybe it will be because I went to bed--again, again, for the umpteenth night in a row--at an indecent and ungodly* hour.

"Retire to thy bed early, that ye may not be weary; arise early, that your bodies and your minds may be invigorated." D&C 88:124

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

The Memorial Day Weekend Wind-Up

Well, I'm well back from my whirlwind mid-Atlantic East Coast adventure. I saw my foster brother Joe in his new Marine Man mode. I had my toenails painted by my nephew Soren (his first time nail painting; I was grateful he was willing--my nail painting is profession-confirmingly bad). I jumped into a cold, cold pool, courtesy of the many enthusiastic demands of my intrepid niece Coco. I raced Dan and Nate in an underwater swimming competition (Dan won, but I like to think it was a close race). And I realized, once again, I am my parents' daughter, as we three similarly and delightedly negotiated our South Carolinian hotel's breakfast offerings.

Once back in DC, I reconnected with former and future roommates--Alison, Jeanette, Erika, Becky, Stephanie. I cartripped from DC to OBX (North Carolina's Outer Banks) in a baby blue convertible VW with J-Lym, E-Borg, R-Rygg. In North Carolina, I spent two afternoons on a beach, one morning at church, one morning running and panting through the hot (hot!) NC sun, and two evenings choosing couch-chatting with the girls instead of crowd carousing with the young single adult LDS masses. I reconnected with Rich A., the first boy I ever went on a date with; with Maren R., a blonde-headed woman out of my Stover Hall heart and past; with Bobby H., a law school compadre expatriated to DC for year; and with Jed B., a white-toothed and smiley-faced law student friend, with whom I had two Welch's fruit snack fights (the second of which, I have to say, he totally won).

And then, given a day by myself in DC, with an empty house, all my friends at work, and all my Barbri books and supplies around--I watched an entire day of TV. I opened with Fever Pitch in the morning (a Drew Barrymore romantic comedy I'd never even heard of, surprisingly satisfying) and, in the afternoon, I stocked up on 3, 4, maybe 5 episodes of The Real Housewives of New York City, a Bravo-network reality TV show (of course). And then I did a short run before a short trip to the airport and a 5-hour, TV-full flight on JetBlue back to OAK (and to Reija, who so kindly picked me up and returned me home).

That is my Memorial Day Weekend report. I did not hike the Grand Canyon. I did not visit a long-distance boyfriend. I did not decide to go medical school. I did not make any professional or academic headway. I did not even meaningfully consider the wartime sacrifices of those who lived and died in ages past. (Memorial Day Weekend doings of some I know and love.) But I did have a good, good time. A good time.

And I will remember that.