Merry Christmas to All!

We are off to the land of wintery goodness to celebrate Christmas with our families. But before we set off, I'd like to share some of the holiday things we've done around here.

In front of the National Christmas Tree (on a chilly night!)

with Mrs. Claus (and the nice meter)

At the Festival of Lights, DC Temple :: out in the first snow of the winter

this Santa was very cool (a biker by day, Santa by night) and had a great Santa demeanor, but Oliver didn't think so (I was entranced by the magic of it all, I admitted to Jess on the way home. They had set it up so that Santa's helper would ask the name of the child, then secretly tell it to Santa, and then Santa would say, "Oliver, it's so good to see you!" It was awesome.)


bp's science: Christmas themed science (v.1)

A few Christmas-themed science thoughts for the holidays:

1. This year for our December Primary Activity we made Gingerbread (graham cracker) Nativity Scenes. I volunteered to lead the task, which meant, I had to make "gingerbread house frosting." I had never heard of that before, but it made sense to me, we needed a STRONG frosting to hold the things together. Turns out, the frosting is 3 egg whites, 1/2 tsp Cream of Tartar and 1lb. powdered sugar. It may not harden in 5 minutes (try 1-2 hours) but man, those eggs do just the trick. Here is my final Nativity Scene. Not craft magazine material, but it'll do.

2. Also, I just learned this year that poinsettias are not poisonous. So don't worry about Fido, or Grover, or Fifi getting into them.

3. And you know how, in How the Grinch Stole Christmas, the Grinch's heart grows three sizes? In the story, that's wonderful. I can't get enough of that Christmas classic. But in real life, an enlarged heart is not a good thing. It's a sign of overcompensation of the heart for one reason or the other caused by heart disease. For some reason I always think about that when I watch How the Grinch Stole Christmas, that and Cindy Lou Who.


bp's science: it's getting cold (v.1)

When we have these cold, windy days, I try to get my weather info early in the morning so I can tell my family what kind of warm gear we'll need for the day. Jacket, hat, and gloves? Just a jacket? For O it's always just a coat. He is not a fan of the hat or the gloves.

Our weather is always in Fahrenheit (F), but I find that more and more we need to understand Celsius (C). For our extended stay in Belgium, I was always trying to figure out what 20 degrees Celsius meant in Fahrenheit.

To convert F to C:
Subtract 32 and then multiply by 5. Divide that result by 9. In shorthand:
(F - 32) x 5 / 9 = C
for a quick estimate, subtract 30 and divide by 2, (F - 30) / 2

Looks hard, but it's so easy (especially since we've all got calculators on our phones these days).

So today it is 34 degrees F. Let's see what that makes it in C:
34 - 32 = 2 x 5 = 10 / 9 = 1.11 degrees C
or quickly (34 - 30) = 4 / 2 = 2

And for the other way around:
Multiply C by 9, divide by 5 and add 32. In shorthand:
C x 9 / 5 + 32
for a quick estimate, multiply by 2 and add 30
So what was the temp in Belgium?
20 x 9 = 180 / 5 = 36 + 32 = 68 degrees F
or quickly 20 x 2 = 40 + 30 = 70
Other computer is still not working, so the exciting thing I promised last week is still on hold.


I'm still young...or so I thought

but then today, while teaching the Primary kids, I...

1. used WITE-OUT to represent repentance,

2. played a cassette tape (which the kids thought was a video tape),

3. and told the kids that when they sing for the Christmas party next Saturday they are going to make their parents cry (out of joy).


bp's science: viri (v.1)

Okay, the plural of virus is not viri, it's viruses, but anyway.

Our new computer caught a virus, or some other such nasty cyber ailment yesterday and we are currently trying to figure out how it got there. We have Norton Anti-Virus, so this isn't supposed to happen. Hmmm.

And because this post is about viruses, I'll tell you that we are experiencing our first colds of the season here at our house. All of us, that is, except for the man with the amazing immune system. He has yet to catch the virus. Which is a good thing, since he's fighting the one on the computer this evening.

I did have a great thing to share for bp's science today, but it requires the use of our stricken computer. More on that great thing later.


I never thought I'd buy that

How many times have you seen something for sale and thought to yourself, "Who would ever buy that?" I have. And I may have spoken too soon.

Take for instance, aviator glasses. When I inherited my dad's truck, he left not one, but two pair of aviator sunglasses in the glove compartment (see left photo). Man, did my passengers and I get such a kick out of those! I remember driving down to St. George with a friend once, wearing them and making clever remarks (Ma'am, do you know how fast you were going?) thewhole way down. Fast forward to two weeks ago. There I was browsing the sunglasses section looking for a pair to replace the others I'd lost on a recent hike. "These aviator's don't look too bad," I thought to myself. And I bought them.

It happened again with skinny jeans. "Hideous!" I thought, "who can actually pull those off?" They reminded me of when I was in grade school and pegged my pants. Then a few months ago I secretly went into a store (although I don't really know who I was keeping the secret from, possibly myself?), tried some on and bought them. I needed a little pick-me-up and this was the adventure I was looking for.

So as I went on a long drive in my jeans and sunglasses I got to thinking about how many things I've purchased that I never thought I would ever, absolutely never, buy. One thing that came to mind was my Martha Stewart Living subscription. We ended up getting a year for free because of a furniture purchase. I picked up the first issue laughing to myself that there couldn't be anything in there worth reading. I ended up dog-earring several pages and I've used a brownie recipe from that very issue many times now. This past month I re-upped the subscription.

Then I remembered my knitting needles. Never thought I'd knit. Never really had much interest in it. But after a friend offered to give me some lessons, I took her up on it. She's created so many neat things for her friends and family, I couldn't pass up her offer. And now I like knitting. I'm certainly not a pro, but I've bought needles and yarn and I'm pondering my next project.

There have also been several car designs that I've really disliked as they were unveiled to the public. "Do you like that look?" I'd ask Jess. "Is that going to sell?" I'd ask my brother. "Of course," he'd answer, "every 30-something will love that." And he was right, as time has gone on, I've come to like the look (think past models like the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Volkswagon Jetta). That's why I'm not a designer and my brother is.

And on the subject of cars, mini-vans are now considered to be "in-the-mix" if we ever have a need for a 6+ passenger vehicle (something smaller than the Sprinter on right). Try to convince my 19-year-old self that I'd be typing that nearly ten years later.

Of course I realize that I'm eating my words a lot and that's okay. Maybe the problem is that I'm not a big fan of change. Just take a look at many of the things I own. Most items date pre-2007, some even from before 2001 (think stereo, watch, a pair of running shorts - yes they have holes). I stick with the things I know I like; for instance, a black turtleneck, it can do no wrong in my eyes, or wishing someday I could own a Z3 before a van.

So with this newfound knowledge, I will try to tone down the declarations of, "I will never buy that," except, that is, while perusing the SkyMall catalog.


December 1st

Our Christmas tree is up, the festive banner's hung, and holiday tunes are sounding in our little apartment. And O chose to wear this festive lei the other night. Perfect way to start the holidays.


bp's science: speech sounds (v.1)

I talked with a friend of mine the other day, she is studying speech pathology and shared a bit of interesting info with me.

The R sound is one of the hardest sounds for a person to learn. 90% of kids have learned the sound by the age of 8.
The L sound is another. 90% of kids have learned the sound by the age of 7.
The TH sound is difficult too, as is the J sound. (I didn't ask about X, but I'm curious).

The M and N sounds are easier. As are B, C, D and all of the other sounds Oliver is using like crazy right now. Lately, he's fond of saying, "Jess, what doin?"


bp's science: how baking powder and soda make things rise (v.1)

Jess and I have recently been watching Top Chef Just Desserts. I am pretty amazed at the contestants' skills. No recipes! Make an anniversary cake in 2 hours! Build a dress out of sugar! In the show, the pastry chefs are always talking about rising ingredient ratios and how hard it is to make sure they are correct. This got me thinking about rising ingredients.

Baking soda and baking powder are two biggies. They look the same, but how are they different? And how do they work? Baking soda is sodium bicarbonate and that's it. Baking powder has sodium bicarbonate in it, but it is also combined with some other stuff, one of that some being an acidic ingredient. This leads us to how the rising agents work. When sodium bicarbonate reacts with an acidic ingredient the chemical reaction gives off carbon dioxide causing your cake, cookies, or pancakes to rise. When you use baking soda in a recipe, you must add an acidic ingredient, something like buttermilk, sour cream, chocolate, so the reaction can happen. When using baking powder, you must add moisture to your recipe to start the reaction, but it will happen on it's own.

Take a look at a chocolate chip cookie recipe versus a sugar cookie recipe. The prior uses baking soda, the other, baking powder. Interesting. Now about correct ratios, I haven't figured that out yet. I'll stick to my recipes for the time being.


Some omega-3s

For dinner this evening I put together some salmon with a spinach salad and bread sticks. I was pretty sure Oliver wouldn't eat the spinach or the salmon, so my hope was that he'd at least eat the bread sticks and I'd supplement with the usual kid fare for the rest. The bread sticks were warm and I thought, delicious. Oliver did not agree. He didn't even try a bread stick, but preferred to eat most of my salmon and more than 5 leaves of spinach. I won't complain about that.


Born to Run: A Review

So did you hear about the running barefoot craze? And did you believe it? When I heard about people running barefoot or in vibram five fingers shoes, I thought it was a bunch of baloney. After reading Born to Run, it doesn't seem like baloney anymore, and even though I don't think I'll take up barefoot running, I have tried to adjust my running technique a bit.

Born to Run is a non-fictional account based on the author's experience as he learns about, talks with, and runs with the Tarahumara, a tribe in Mexico whose running technique and stamina would amaze anyone really. As he prepares to run for a 47-mile race, he goes on to explain the nature of running and why humans are "born to run." Take for instance the arch in our foot, the Achilles tendon, the nuchal crest in our skull; all things that show we are born to run. We were built to run and our bodies require that we do it, the author says, to keep us healthy, physically and mentally. And when we run, we need to being doing it for a greater purpose. Running should not be work. It should be fun.

A lot of new ideas were brought up in this book that I'd never even thought of before and I really enjoyed the way the author did it. He explained things that were fact-based by telling an excellent story alongside the bits of information. Full of characters like Bonehead Billy, Barefoot Ted, and Caballo Blanco, it really is a joy to read. A discovery of sorts. You won't be thinking barefoot running is totally and completely preposterous by the time you finish. I promise.


A small hip hip hooray for dinner

For the past three weeks, I have successfully made healthy, pleasing dinners for my small family. Some of these dinners were delicious, others were more healthy than delicious, but every night there was a dish and it had nutritional value. An accomplishment for me indeed. I have also almost successfully gotten rid of my dislike for grocery shopping. A bigger accomplishment. And now I feel as though I can "throw something together" if required (although, I must admit, those dishes are not the best dishes I make). Dinner is doable and that feels good.


bp's science: fastest land mammal (v.1)

It's been a bit busy over here, so we've got a quick scientific fact for you.

The cheetah is the fastest land mammal and can go about 70 to 75 mph at it's peak speed.




About that oil change

Do any of you out there like to take your car to get its oil changed? I am guessing the answer is a resounding no. I absolutely dislike it. Not my idea of fun. You have to deal with the customer service reps who seem to be nice, but then they mention that you should get a tire rotation service for $89.99, when you can see the same service they are offering you as advertised on the garage door outside at $29.99. How dumb do I look? Okay, I'm not going to answer that.

I used to change my own oil. My dad taught me when I was in high school and since I drove a truck, I could fit under it without having to drive it up on ramps. Changing the oil was easy, it saved me some cash, and it spared me from having to deal with any customer service reps.

But since we've parted with the truck and bought a new car, my oil changing days are temporarily over. The car has a cover on the bottom of the engine which makes changing the oil more labor intensive. And so, to the car service location I go. This time, I went to a place very close to my house. Oliver and I played outside while the mechanics took no more than 15 minutes to change the oil. Wonderful! Then came checkout.

"Owner of the blue car outside?"

"Yes, that's me."

And then the customer service rep went into this rapid fire explanation of everything that was checked, and if it looked good or not.
"Coolant level good.
Tire pressure good.
Steering fluid good.
Wipers working.
All lights working.
Brake fluid low.
Air filter good.
Belts good."

Did I catch a "brake fluid low" in there?

After she was done flinging her report in my face at the rate of the micro-machine man, I asked, "So what can I do with the brake fluid low information?"

The rep didn't even look at me, but reached for a peace of paper, about the size of a postcard. It read: WHAT YOU SHOULD DO IF YOUR BRAKE FLUID IS LOW and so forth. Thanks guys. I wondered what would have happened if I hadn't asked the question about the low brake fluid. What then? I paid my total and was off.

True, the oil experience was a good one overall. I tend to be a bit cynical in these situations and dwell on the negative. I'm trying to work on it. But really? What kind of service is that? I mean, come on, give me more of an explanation. That's like going to the eye doctor and having him say, "Glaucoma test good. Dilation test good. Your astigmatism bad. That will be $120." I'm here to get my car serviced by professionals so I expect to get some good, solid, information. Oh well. I'll check up on the brake fluid situation and try not to be so cynical.


30% off, wahoo

This past weekend we went to the store to buy Jess some shoes for work. He'd just about worn through his old pair and needed some new. As you know, dress shoes for men are not a cheap item, so you can imagine my delight when a stranger came up to me:

"Ma 'am?"


"I've got this 30% coupon, and I can't find any shoes that I like. Could you use it?"

"Of course! My husband is picking out a pair of shoes right now. Thanks!"

And off he went.
And we saved about 25 bucks. I will tell you, that was one of the closest situations I've had were there was nearly no opportunity cost whatsoever, just free discounts! That $25 savings helped to pay for the majority of the oil change I got yesterday. More on that later...


bp's science: exercise, it does a body good (v.1)

It all started back in college when I got stuck with PE 102 - the lamest physical education class any person could take. I signed up as a freshman because I didn't want my PE requirement to catch up with me when I was a senior and there weren't any other PE credits available, except for swimming, and I wasn't about to do that - I am no star swimmer and I didn't really want to relive my time in middle school changing into and out of a swimsuit between classes, walking outside with wet hair in the cold winter breeze. So PE 102 it was.

Forget reliving my middle school days, because as I walked into the gym, I felt like I was 13 again. Here we were, college students, dressed in the college "issue" (navy blue shorts, gray shirt) all trying to act cool as we were minimized by the huge space. Our first assignment was to ascertain our fitness level. I passed all tests except for flexibility. When I attempted to stretch to the minimum requirement, the student measuring my results responded with, "Can you try to at least touch your toes?" Again, middle school. I felt lame. PE 102 was lame. And swimming was sounding better.

Our homework for the first day was to write down what we thought a good workout program involved. If this is what PE 102 called homework, I was loving it again. I finished it in 2 minutes flat, by answering that it's at least 20 minutes of aerobic exercise a day for at least 5 days a week, supported by calisthenics or weight training. Done.

At my next class, we handed in our homework assignment. Then came our PE teacher's surprise announcement. "Whatever you wrote on your homework," he explained, "you will be required to do this semester to pass this course."

And so it began. What could I do to pass this requirement with my nights spent doing homework, socializing, more homework, and more socializing? And have you noticed that I like socializing? I didn't want to have to schlep to the gym and I wanted results fast. 20 minutes out the door and your done. Answer: running. I had run in small community races before college and I knew I could do it, so why not? At first, I asked my roommates to come with me. A few were up for it and it became a nightly, required, activity. As time progressed, we took runs that were a lot longer than 20 minutes, and we were really enjoying it. As more time passed, friends would ask us if were busy at night, to which we would answer, "We're going running at 10pm, want to come?" And people came. At times we were a running herd. I passed PE 102.

Come the next semester, we kept running. Not because of a requirement but because we were really liking it. And I could finally touch my toes! Friends continued to join us. Even Jess, my future husband joined us. And on those nights, I was running hard, fast, and far. So was he.

And with that, I got into running. And I've stuck with it. Sure, there have been times when I've taken a break, but I always go back. And no, I am not a pro and am not sponsored by New Balance, but I like to run and I know it's good for me.

Now I am sure I am preaching to the choir, but I had a fun time writing this memory down, so I thought I'd use it for a post.

Exercise in any form or fashion is good for you for these reasons:
1. It keeps you in good physical shape, keeping your bones strong, your muscles toned, and your metabolism up.
2. It keeps your head clear. Exercise is a recommended stress-reducing activity.
3. It helps you sleep better. Not only has your body worked hard so it requires rest, but since it does reduce stress, you are able to relax quicker and thus fall asleep faster.
4. It strengthens your brain. Research shows that when you exercise, new brain pathways are made. Neat!
5. It helps your immune system (when done in moderate amounts - 30-90 minutes a day).


A month of Thankfulness

Jess and I were talking the other day, kind of surprised that it was already November. After some discussion, we decided that we really like November. And we really like Thanksgiving.

If you think about it, Thanksgiving is the only major holiday that hasn't been made "commercial". The only real thing you need to buy is a turkey. But, if you think about it, you really don't have to buy one. In fact, I've enjoyed a Thanksgiving without a turkey. We had turkey loaf instead. And I liked it. Thanksgiving is about gratitude, it's about family, it's about being around a large table talking with the people you love (or like) and really just enjoying the day, all of it.

If you'll take a moment and let me reminisce.

An hour away from our house, in a more rural part of the state, I'd spend my childhood Thanksgivings. We sleep over the night before and wake up to mom and dad, showered and dressed already busy in the kitchen, removing giblets and prepping stuffing. As 2pm came upon us, relatives would begin showing up at the garage door, wiping there feet on the rug and placing on the table their addition to the meal: creamed corn, yogurt pie, string (green) bean casserole. Sometimes these were relatives I hadn't seen for a while, and it was fun to catch up with them, even if I did do it by listening over my brothers' shoulders and hearing how my uncle drove a truck like a stuntman in a commercial he was hired to put together. My dad would say the blessing, getting teary, making me realize what the holiday was really all about. Sometimes we'd start a fire in the fireplace and eat to the sounds of the crackling wood. I really enjoyed the food, but in normal Ashley fashion, I enjoyed the conversation that much more.

Ahh, the memories.

What makes your Thanksgivings special? What makes you grateful? What can you be thankful this for year, this week, today?


Wonderful hiking weather

Great Falls :: Billy Goat trail river stop


more Great Falls :: Roosevelt Island Trail


Halloween over here

We had a wonderful Halloween. So great, I didn't get many photos. My talented sista made this Grover costume for her cute little girl last year, then sent it our way this year. Oliver was a hit at all of the Halloween festivities we attended. Let's just say, he loves to dance to scary music (i.e. Thriller, Ghost Busters, and the like) and he digs the sweet treats too.

Here's the cute Grover wanting to get on stage to do none other but dance


bp's science: blood pressure (v.1)

Have you ever been to the doctor when they spout off your blood pressure numbers and you think to yourself, now what's a healthy blood pressure again? I have. I simply can never remember.

A healthy blood pressure is anything under: 120/80

The top number is your systolic blood pressure, or the amount of pressure on your arteries when the heart muscle contracts (or pushes the blood out of your heart and into the body).

The bottom number is your diastolic blood pressure, or the amount of pressure in your arteries when the heart muscle relaxes (when the heart is relaxed and being filled with blood).

Now how to remember 120/80? 12 months in a year, 8 hours in a work week (+ the zeros of course)? I've been thinking about this for a while and that's the best I could come up with. If you've got a better way of remembering, let me know.

In other news, I voted today.


I made homemade applesauce this morning

and it was so delicious.

What made it doubly delicious was that I made it out of apples that Jess mentioned I should throw away because they were mushy. And to his credit, they were darn mushy, so mushy that we didn't want to come within 5 feet of them, but I just couldn't trash mealy things without attempting to transform them into something.

And what made it triply delicious was how easy it was to make. See here for recipe.


This boy likes frozen, frozen peas

I was making dinner yesterday, when some frozen peas fell on the floor. Ollie picked them up and ate them, and wanted more. Hey, why not? His dad eats them too, on occasion.


bp's science: the power of being a sports fan (v.1)

Football season means game day every Saturday at our house. Jess is a big football fan, and as a result, I am too. It probably helped that my mom was a big football fan herself. I've grown up on football and I have no doubt that Oliver will too. I like football. I enjoy the games. If we win, I'm very glad. If we lose, I'm bummed. But Jess just really LOVES football, so when I read an interesting tidbit on being a sports fan, it gave me some insight into his fandom.

According to scientists, avid sports fans release pent up stress, get a shot of self-esteem, and feel socially connected when they're watching a big game. In fact, one study found that men experience a 20 percent rise in testosterone levels after cheering there team to victory. -Marriott Alumni Magazine, stress.org

Jess and I talked about this. We found it interesting. Then he asked a follow-up question: "What if your favorite team loses? What happens to your body then?" It would seem like stress levels go up. And it's true, physical stress goes up. When you are watching a game, win or lose, your heart rate goes up during intense events. In fact, during the World Soccer Championship in Germany in 2006, scientists studied the occurrence of heart rhythm disturbances in emergency rooms. They found that during games that involved Germany's team, heart emergencies went up at the same frequency, regardless of whether the team won or lost.

So we learn that physical stress goes up regardless of victory. But my guess is that when you lose, your mental stress about the game does go up, but that kind of stress is very temporary, and can be let go within hours. (I see testable, thesis-type theorizing here...)

So what does this mean? From what I can gather, this tells us that supporting a team can lead to a decrease in mental stress (i.e. stress about life & work, not stress about the game which is much easier to let go) but at the same time, a possible increase in physical stress. And from the number of fans in the world and the amount of money that goes into organized sports, it appears that the decrease in mental stress is worth an increase in heart rate.


bp's science: fake vs. genuine smiles (v.1)

We can thank my sister for today's cool post (I even used the same clip art she chose). She directed me to a BBC sponsored survey that shows quick video tidbits of 20 people smiling. It then asks you whether you think the smile is genuine or fake. At the end, you learn the difference between a fake smile and a real one (the two are signaled by different parts of the brain and thus look different!). My wise and scientific sister received a 15/20. So 75% of the time, she's in tune with people's sincerity. Myself, well I didn't fare so well, and got 9/20. This means that 45% of the time, I can tell if people really like my jokes or not. Maybe that's for the best. Anyhow, try this survey out yourself. It's fun. Then come back and tell me your score. Maybe, just maybe, we can learn a little bit about ourselves and come to some conclusions.


Time for some pumpkin patch

We visited a pumpkin patch this past weekend. The weather was wonderful and we picked out some beauties.


A Review: The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio

When I read, I have a tendency to fall asleep. But I've found a book that had the exact opposite effect on me. In fact, I'd reach for this book to keep me awake. A rarety indeed!

The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio by Terry Ryan is a true story of a mother of 10, Evelyn Ryan, who works to keep her family afloat by winning various product contests. Throughout the 50s and 60s, companies like Paper-Mate or Dr. Pepper would ask consumers to finish a rhyme or describe in 25 words or less why their product was the best. Evelyn had a knack for words and her winnings showed it. This story weaves through the Father's alcohol problem, older brothers making it to the minor leagues, and the family cat raising a hen and a sparrow. And that is just the beginning. It's a tale of strength and humor, patience and fulfillment, positive thinking and reward. Three important things I gleaned from the book:

- Don't ever judge others.
- Don't waste your life being bogged down by what others have done to you. Rise above it and live your life free of their's.
- Positive thinking and a sense of humor do wonders.

If that's not a recipe for happy living, I don't know what is.

bp's science: how hot is the sun? (v.1)

The sun is 9,941 °F at its surface.

Quick tidbit for today.


neat and neat

Check this out if you haven't already. I saw it from a blog I follow.

After Oliver watched this, he was tapping the table with his hands. Love it.


bp's science: is the pumpkin a fruit or a vegetable? (v.1)

It's fall and time to think pumpkins. It's also Tuesday and time to think science...well, at least over at this blog. So we take pumpkins and science and we wonder, is a pumpkin a fruit or veggie?

Take a guess.

Well the answer isn't all that clear, really.

Science (of the botany sort) says SEEDS if it has SEEDS, it is a fruit. Simple as that. So an orange is a fruit, an apple is a fruit, a tomato is a fruit, a cucumber is a fruit, and a pumpkin is a fruit. Surprised? I am.

So if seeds are what make the difference, then yes, a carrot is a vegetable, celery is a vegetable, spinach is a vegetable, but what about green beans, peas, squash?

It appears that in everyday terms, lots of our fruits are called vegetables. Green bell peppers anyone? So when I'm told to eat 2-3 servings of fruit and 3-4 servings of vegetables a day, is this in science terms or everyday terms? I'm pretty sure it's the later. See mypyramid.gov for more info on how much of each you should have each day. And remember to eat your vegetables, er, I mean fruits, um, wait, I mean both.

photo and pumpkin recipe here


Etiquette Faux Pas, I think...

Tell me what you think about this:

When I invite people over for dinner and they ask what they can bring, I tell them, "Don't worry about it. Don't bring anything. I've got it covered."

It came to my attention that this makes people feel uncomfortable. Guests do not like to go to a place and not bring anything. This has been made clear to me a number of times. For example, when a friend brought flowers, and again when another friend brought fresh fruit. I wasn't bothered by the flowers or the fruit, I always enjoy fresh foliage and with fresh fruit you can't go wrong, but it got me to thinking. I need to start telling people to bring something.

Last weekend we had guests and they brought dessert. I asked them the very question I ask you, "Do you feel uncomfortable going to someone's house and not bringing anything?" Their answer was yes. And now it is clear. I am changing my ways. I will no longer tell guests they don't need to bring anything if they ask. Case closed. Unless I hear otherwise via comments or other conversations.


bp's science: how does a microwave work? (v.1)

The microwave motor coverts electric power into short - or micro - radio waves. These waves bounce back and forth inside the machine until they are absorbed by the water and fat molecules in the food. When the molecules are struck by a wave, they vibrate, which generates heat. Since the waves penetrate no deeper than 1.5 inches, the center of a dish is cooked by the conduction of heat from the outer layers of the food. (This is why you need to stir your beans halfway through cooking.) After the motor is turned off, the food continues to cook until the water molecules come to a standstill, so it's best to let a dish sit for 2 to 4 minutes before digging in.

Now don't all of your declarations of, "Man this food is really hot on the outside but not in the middle!" make sense?

explanation taken from REALSIMPLE, October 2010 issue


Home visit, Installment VI:

And now to end the home visit installments, we celebrate with Jess' brother's wedding. It was a wonderful affair, full of happy times, dancing, wedding cake, and one stunning couple. I love going to weddings, I must admit, and this one was superb. Oliver danced the night away to the live band. He was totally feelin' the beat and wiggling his head as he danced among the crowd. The view from the venue was spectacular, the company was marvelous, and it was a great way to end our visit back home.

clockwise: us in our wedding getup :: Oliver dancing to the band :: couples first dance


Home visit, Installment V:

Next up, a trip to the lake. Summer would not be summer if we didn't get into our swimsuits, enjoy a hot dog roast, and enjoy the lake. Our hosts always go above and beyond what we expect and we always have the best time. Oliver loved the new toys that were at the lake house, Jess rocked it on the slalom ski, and I was diggin every minute of it. We played tennis, "Ski[ed] the Lake", had shakes, drove a hybrid car (very cool), and relaxed. Wonderful.

clockwise: the fam on the boat :: relaxation on the hammock :: Ollie enjoys the life jacket :: Jess skis


bp's science: why does hairspray get ink out of clothes so well? (v.1)

A comment/question on a recent bp's science post led me to my topic for today.

Why is hairspray an excellent ink remover? Easy answer, it has a lot of alcohol in it, like ethanol. Alcohol acts as a solvent and works to get ink out. Solvents are liquids that dissolve other solids or liquids, in our case ink. Rubbing alcohol would work just as well too. If you are going to use a hairspray, make sure the hairspray you are using has a lot of alcohol in it.

Have you ever tried to get ink out with hairspray? I have and it works!


Home visit, Installment IV:

After Lagoon, we needed to get serious. I mean, c'mon. So off to my brother's graduation we went. It was good times, with the graduation going off splendidly. Wahoo to my brother! I was really glad I could be there. Here's the best photo I got of the grad. Needless to say, I don't have a zoom lens.

Then a visit down to Provo proved to be good times. Oliver must have climbed the porch stairs 20+ times. It's what hanging out with family on a summer night should be.

A pretty big summer rain came our direction in Salt Lake. We went out and watched the rain. My dad fell asleep to the dibble, dibble, dop. Oliver decided to go walk around in it. We had to come inside and warm up. Another pleasant summer afternoon.


bp's science: iron in your blood (v.1)

One of my main goals during the day is to make sure Oliver is getting enough iron. His doc said that we need to focus on that, and so I do. May I just tell you that this is kind of hard for me. I am getting better at it though. Let's just say Oliver likes chicken, but spinach, don't even try to fool him. And rice cereal, let's just say yogurt and applesauce make it edible.

This has led me to think more about my iron intake.

When I was little and I had a bloody nose or a scraped knee my mom and/or dad would say, "Well then, look at your blood. It's nice and dark. Looks like you're getting enough iron." To this day, whenever my nose bleeds or I get a cut, I check out my blood to make sure I'm getting enough iron. There have been times that my blood isn't a dark maroon like I like to see, but my love of iron-rich cereals I think is keeping me on track.

Iron makes your blood dark because it helps to build hemoglobin and healthier red blood cells. The more iron, the more healthy RBCs (red blood cells). Most people get just the iron they need from their diets in meat, beans, spinach, avocado, fruit, enriched pasta and cereal.

Cheers to dark blood! That sounds kind of wierd. I hope no strange internet searches lead here because I used the words "dark" and "blood" together.


Home visit, Installment III:

Next was our visit to Lagoon. I haven't been there for years, and boy have they fixed the place up. My sister and I were surprised to find no gum on the walls of the Terroride. Can you believe that? And I think there are just as many new rides as there are old ones. We were really lovin' it. Mostly my sister and me. All of the memories of 9th grade Lagoon day, Stake Lagoon day, and visiting Lagoon with the cousins came rushing back to us. The little ones loved it too. Oliver enjoyed the boats, went on the helicopters with both cousins (they were small enought to fit three in the helicopter), and even braved Puff the Magic Dragon! The Tidal Wave is still as great as ever, and the Colossus (aka the Fire Dragon) was a thriller. We ended up staying longer then we had planned which was a surprise to all of us. I guess it's what fun is.

clockwise: in the parking lot :: the old woman's shoe :: the Terroride :: our last hour at Lagoon


Home visit, Installment II:

Next stop, Heb. A visit wouldn't be the same without a trip up (and over) Parley's. We aimed to go boating, but the weather wasn't cooperating. Instead, we ate at Arby's (I'll say it here and I am not ashamed, I really enjoy their roast beef sandwiches. Always have, always will.), Oliver played in the sprinklers (it was hilarious, I'll spare you the video I took), and we fulfilled our need for speed. Jess and I don't get to do that too often here in the city, so we were happy to enjoy the open roads. At one point a Chevy Cobalt passed me, which I am not happy to admit, but it sure felt like I was screamin' up the canyon road. A great time had by all.

clockwise: sprinkler fun :: Oliver taking control in the airplaine :: Lotus S1