Friday, January 29, 2010

Favorite Things

As of this week, my blog has received over ten thousand views since its inception three years ago. While I know there are many blogs that receive that many views in a single day, it's still touching (and a little humbling) to think a few people care enough about what I think to drop by here that many times.

I considered writing something profound for this momentous occasion, but I decided to follow my friend Liesl's lead and do something fun instead. So with out further ado, I give you a list of ten of my favorite things:

The Gospel
Every good thing in my life--present, future, and eternal--stems from Jesus Christ and His teachings. His Gospel is a constant source of hope, perspective, strength, and inspiration to me.

My Family
My husband, kids, and extended family bring such joy to my life (no pun intended).

I love learning, and I love good stories. My all-time favorite book is Garlic and Sapphires.

Yes, they deserve their own category. I love cooking and trying new recipes, so every page of a cookbook is a potential new adventure. My favorite cookbook is probably How to Be a Domestic Goddess, not because I actually use it that much, but because the photos are luscious and it always inspires. As for which collection of recipes I use the most (aside from my own cookbook), I love trying things in the Taste of Home magazines I subscribe to.

Kitchen Gadgets
Something about kitchen stuff just makes me happy. I'm particularly fond of my citrus zester,* probably because it makes me feel like I'm some sort of haute cuisine diva (and sometimes I am, but usually not).

Public Radio
My local public radio station is brain food for me. I rarely turn it on at home (cuz I'd get nothing done), but I nearly always listen to it when I'm in the car. I like the fact that they strive for balanced, in-depth news coverage, and I enjoy the segments on books, current happenings, global culture, you name it.

I love different blogs for different reasons. Some are a great way to keep in touch with family and friends. Others provide recipes or entertainment (or both). Still others offer inspiration when I'm having a rough time and need a smile.

I'm so grateful to live in So Cal, where even in the dead of winter I can take the kids on a walk for some fresh air. It rejuvenates the soul, and is the best cure I've found for cabin fever.

I'm a compulsive gardener. Not necessarily a skilled one, mind you, but I am persistent. Since I'm currently an apartment dweller my garden presently consists of lots of herbs and greens in pots. When I think of my future dream house, I don't dwell much on the interior; I tend to think most about the yard (and the kitchen--duh). In the meantime, I garden vicariously through other people.

And last but not least . . .

Foaming Hand Soap
I'm ridiculously fond of BBW's Gentle Foaming Hand Soaps. It's hard to say exactly why. I guess the kid in me loves that they make bubbles and smell good. The OCD adult in me is kind of picky about fragrances, though, especially since I have to find one that my husband won't mind exuding each time he emerges from the bathroom. I wouldn't mind smelling like wild honeysuckle, but it's hard to imagine Phillip splashing that fragrance on before heading to school. I like Coconut Lime Verbena, and I think Phillip does, too (if he hated it, he would have said as much by now); Kitchen Lemon is a good choice, as well.


*Note: I don't actually own the zester I linked to; I couldn't find a picture of mine.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Needle in a Genetic Haystack

My friend Caitlyn has a daughter with disabilities, and no doctor has been able to figure out what's causing them. Caitlyn recently posted about another parent in a similar situation, a geneticist named Hugh Rienhoff who copes with the frustration of unanswered questions in a unique way: he's spent years combing through his daughter's DNA sequence one nucleotide at a time, looking for variants that might be responsible for her condition.

I followed Caitlyn's link to a recent Wired article on Rienhoff. It notes that many of his colleagues and friends call the project a fool's errand, and he himself admits that there is little chance he will ever find the offending gene(s), let alone be able to use that information to help his daughter. However, he says that's not really that point. He’s sifting through that huge mountain of data because it feels better to do something potentially helpful than to sit on the sidelines helplessly wondering and worrying. The author notes that “to Rienhoff, being the father who never relents is itself a noble goal. ‘In the end,’ he says, ‘this is simply about the extra ways a daddy can love his little girl.’”

While I've never faced any challenge as grave as Caitlyn's or Rienhoff's, the latter's quest really resonated with me. The most staggering problems of my life have been the ones I had no clue how to solve. It's easy to despair when you feel powerless. On the other hand, once I hit upon something--anything--I could do to improve my situation, hope rekindled. Taking action, even in a small way, lifted my spirits and made me feel like I was steering my ship, not being keelhauled under it. I'm sure that effect is compounded when the trial involves your children.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Burning Twice

The first thing that burned today was me. At least, it felt that way. A friend invited me to attend a Bikram Yoga class, which involves 26 strenuous poses in a room heated to 110 degrees with a few humidifiers running. I won't deny that I feel great now and my posture is much improved, but it was the most grueling experience in my recent memory. The kicker is that when you pay for your first class you get a second one free. I'm still debating whether I want to accept that offer.

The second thing that burned today was the maple pecan topping of the pumpkin pie I made this afternoon. Part of the topping sloshed onto the baking sheet when I put the pie in the oven, and our home still smells like burnt sugar.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Fight Fire with Water

“Conquer the angry man by love. Conquer the ill-natured man by goodness. Conquer the miser with generosity. Conquer the liar with truth.” (Buddha)

. . . and the impatient man with patience, and the rude man with courtesy, and the grumpy man with (measured?) good cheer . . .

"Conquer" is an interesting word choice, since as I understand it Buddhism is a rather peaceful philosophy. I suppose the implication is that it requires more strength and discipline to respond positively than to react negatively.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


"Man’s partial good resolutions that always succumb to ingrained habit are like the cleaning, scrubbing and adorning that we practice on Sundays and feast days. We always get dirty again, to be sure, but such a partial cleaning process has the advantage of upholding the principle of cleanliness." --Goethe

This seems a fitting quote for the new year, when so many of us are making (and all too soon breaking) resolutions to be better. It's important to remember that even an imperfect effort to improve makes us better, if only because it reinforces what we value.

I don't know how often I'll post this year--maybe weekly, maybe monthly, maybe this is the only thing I'll write this year (I hope not)--but every now and then I read or hear something that I want to share with you, and I believe it will do me (and hopefully you) more good if act on those good impulses rather than telling them to go play somewhere else.

Happy New Year, gentle reader, and here's to resolutions, kept or otherwise.

P.S. For whatever reason, most of my readers seem to be of the non-commenting sort. While comments are still very much appreciated if you feel so inclined, I've added a feature at the bottom of each post where you can just click to say if the post made you smile or made you think. I appreciate your feedback in whatever form you prefer to give it. --KB