Monday, December 28, 2009

Give Us This Day Our Yearly Bread

A little over a year ago, I finally figured out how to make real bread. The kind with hard, crusty deliciousness on the outside and warm, chewy goodness on the inside. The kind you only get if you buy it from the bakery. It's not easy unless you have a special oven (as most bakeries do). It was a milestone and a cause for much rejoicing in our household, since my husband is European and misses his bread almost as much as he misses his family. Unfortunately it is very time consuming as well--one loaf of lovely bread takes about 12 hours minimum to make, and more if you really want the taste of the bread to be fully developed.

Ironically enough, JC and I decided to start restricting carbohydrates in our diet just a few months later to see if the hype about low-carbs diets is true. It is, by the way (at least for us). But oh, do we miss our bread! Anyway, we have been looking forward to Christmas because we decided we were going eat bread as one of our Christmas presents. And of course, if you only get to eat bread at Christmas, it HAS to be the good kind. So we made our Christmas bread and it was thoroughly enjoyed, if not terribly long-lived. And yes, it tasted as wonderful as we remembered. We thanked the geniuses who first took flour, water and yeast and made this fabulous creation. We sang our praises to gluten. And we ate the whole loaf in one day. Now we have to get back on the bandwagon, so we are a little depressed. However, we have decided that this will be our new yearly tradition and now look forward to that great loaf of bread that we will devour next Christmas.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Keeping Busy

My dad always told us when we were feeling tired or depressed that the best thing to do was get moving and do something and that you would feel better. Of course I gave him dirty looks when I was younger and he said something like this, but he was, as usual, right. So, since JC and I are are trying to stay jolly and festive, we are doing our best to be involved in community goings-on.

This morning we ran the Christmas 10K for the Women and Infant's Hospital and although it was a little cold we thought it was worth getting out and supporting the cause!!!!! It was in Newport and it was a gorgeous run. Next time we do this we will take a small camera because we got to run for 6 miles along the coastline and it was really beautiful, even if it is wintertime!!! Afterwards we drank hot chocolate and ate the obligatory New England clam chowder, a necessary part of every New England event. I am not sure where the race coordinators get their volunteers but they had a bunch of teenaged girls screaming and cheering at different points in the race, and it was very helpful, especially on the hills! I will also say that cold water can still hit the spot, even if it is cold outside. But it's Newport, after all, so it wasn't THAT cold.
We didn't finish first, but neither did we finish last! (And yes, I was worried that we would be dead last. JC said I wouldn't have to be last because he would let me finish before him. What a sweetie!) We made it home and stretched and now I have to go get ready to do a show tonight in Boston.

Here we are, tired and sweaty but feeling very festive!!!

Now it's back to memorizing my music--my brain keeps spitting out random lyrics to holiday music, which is good when they are in order and set to the correct tune. Unfortunately they are mostly not at this point. :-)

Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

What I Am Doing This Holiday Season

This year I am not going to Utah for Christmas. I am bummed about that because my whole family is going to be there except me. It's hard to be so far from family--I would say one of the hardest things about living on the East Coast, since everyone else is west of the Mississippi. There are several reasons why I am not going, but one of them is that this year I am doing my first run with the Boston Pops for the holiday concert series. Interestingly enough, this program will be performed 32 times. I am not sure it would be humanly possible for one chorus to do that many performances and be alive at the end of it, especially since sometimes there are 3 concerts in one day. We are split up into four teams and each team is assigned eight concerts. Mine start this Friday, but the festivities began last night with a different team, and it looks like it is going to be a fun season. Eight performances is more than I have ever done for any program anywhere, with exception to maybe the Tabernacle Choir tour. So it is looking to be a very busy season! This week I am still teaching and trying to get tests done before school lets out, running a 10k, helping cook for the ward Christmas party and doing three Pops concerts. And that is just from now until Sunday. Things will be easier once school lets out next week, but they are absolutely crazy right now. Now, as crazy as things are, I have noticed how much more festive I feel this year just being part of some kind of holiday event. After all, the holidays are all about being with people, right? Well, I am getting plenty of that, and although I may not be with my family, I am definitely appreciating the season.

Pops toast the season with glee, tradition - The Boston Globe

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Monday, December 07, 2009

Stick To Your Plan

I am the Academic Decathlon coach at Wheeler. (My assistant coach and I are competing to see who the biggest nerd is, which just proves that this is the right job for us to be doing.) This year our topic is The French Revolution, so this weekend I took the team to Boston to the Museum of Fine Arts to see some of the 18th century French paintings and just to go over Art fundamentals in general. It all started out well at Providence Station that morning and our train ride there was very uneventful. We arrived in Boston and had lunch at Betty's Wok and Café, which is like a 50's anglo diner but that serves Chinese/Hispanic food. We had hoped for a French restaurant, but we were on the wrong side of town. We visited the museum and saw some beautiful artwork and sculpture.

It was all working out to be a great trip. However, Evie (my assistant coach) and I noticed that on the metro map there was a closer train station than the one we had planned on using to get back. So, when we were done at the museum, we asked the museum guide how to get to the closer train station. Well, he sent us in the OPPOSITE direction from the station. I knew we were lost when we started wandering around the Wentworth Institute of Technology. So we started back towards the museum and asked some people on the street how to get to Ruggles Station. Do you know every single person gave us different directions? Oh, yes, and right about now it started snowing. Finally we found a street map and located the general vicinity of the station. At this point we were close to missing our train and had to make a mad dash across the campus of Northeastern to finally find the right road. I am sure we looked like some kind of weird running team with backpacks. But find it we did! Unfortunately we arrived at the train station seven minutes after the train had already left. We had an hour and a half before the next train so we hung out in the Northeastern student center and drank hot chocolate and had some dinner/snacks. We DID make the next train and the evening ended well. The team is mostly boys this year and they are extremely chill so it actually made things more fun to have time to sit around and chat.

Anyway, the moral of the story is stick with your plan because trying to make things faster doesn't always make things faster and sometimes makes things much slower! Here is a picture of everyone at Betty's before we changed from the Wheeler Academic Decathlon team to the Wheeler Night-time Track Team:

The novel the kids are reading for the competition is Tale of Two Cities and after our experience we decided that our motto for the year should be:

"It was mostly the worst of times."

Do I have a fun job or what?