Wednesday, September 30, 2015


1. One day last week I was feeling tired and gross when I got home from work so instead of my usual unwinding period I jumped right into my seminary lesson then it was dinner, shower, and in bed by 8:00 and asleep by 8:15. All of this was entirely unheard of before this time. But it felt so great to get 8.5 hours of sleep that I have done it every night since. My goal is to be asleep by 9 every night. My whole life I've gotten by on about 6 hours of sleep and now I think of all of those hours that I've missed doing what? Watching reruns of Gilmore Girls? I am now reveling in my old-lady bedtime and yawn-free days.

2. You guys, not one of us is ever going to be as good as Malala. I just finished I Am Malala and it was astoundingly good. She is as inspirational as everyone says she is. She gets shot in the face by the Taliban for speaking out about girls education and instead of screeching, "I got shot in the face by the Taliban! I'm going to go live in a cave now with sticks of dynamite at the entrance," like I would, she's like, "Whatever, Taliban! I'm still going to talk about it. At the UN, losers!" That was me adding the loser bit. She seems far too gracious for name calling. I finished the book right after watching the Pope give his talk at the 9/11 memorial. So basically the rest of my day involved me being weepy and singing Give Peace a Chance.

3. I've noticed that the demographic at the Institute this semester is guy-heavy. Or maybe it's just the demographic of those who come and chat with me on a daily basis. Which means that I talk a lot more about sports and Lord of the Rings then ever before. Although I did have to put a stop to a conversation that was getting a little too deep into Star Wars. When guys start talking about the intricacies of Star Wars my mind wanders off to Pemberley.

I would write more but it's my bedtime. Nighty-night, pals!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Leaving Early

Sarah invited me out to a concert on Saturday night and about an hour into it she turned to me said, "Do you want to go?" and I said, "Yes." and it was confirmed once again that we are related. Because Knechts value sleep. It was a really great show, (Brandi Carlile. I'm a super big fan now.) And still I thought, yep, let's call it a night. It reminded me very much of this Portlandia clip:

Like all shows where standing is involved, this was my view.

I overheard a girl behind me say, "I'm not nearly as short as I feel at a concert." Truer words, sister.

Not only did we leave early but we also went to dinner instead of catching the opener. Because there is nothing worse than an opener. Especially when you're in a venue with no seats. By the time the main act gets on stage you've been standing for 2 hours with a few more to go. It would be fine if you were walking laps or something. But you're just standing while the blood pools up in your ankles. And I have found that the time between the opener and main act is comparable to the time between the dinosaurs walking the earth and humans showing up. Which is approximately 64 million years. I looked it up. The only thing better than skipping the opener is going specifically for the opener and then leaving before the main act comes out. 

Isn't it grand to be old enough to leave a concert early? When I was in my 20s I would never have done such a thing, even if I was tired or having a miserable time. Your 20s are a time for late night fun, even when you're desperate for your bed. And I was, often. I think more than anything age gives you confidence to say, "I want that, not that," and not be ashamed of it. You can follow it up with, "So what if I'm old. I'm going to get like 5 more hours of sleep than you, sucker." Because being older also means you can speak your mind and people just laugh it off.

Monday, September 21, 2015

These signs are a web of lies.

Gina sent us this picture last night of Levi's church class. And you guys, if this face doesn't capture the very essence of Levi, then I don't know what does.

Here it is zoomed:

Levi is all, "I don't miss you at all, Malyssa. These signs are a web of lies." I can't stop laughing over it. This is "Who stole my pork bun" 2.0. And it's a real shame I had to cover the faces of the other kids because they are equally unconvinced. As someone said last night, "It doesn't look like any of them really miss Malyssa." They're 4. What more do we need to say.

But who's with me that Levi's little shiny shoes are the cutest things ever?

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Deep Fried Pineapple of My Dreams

It's been a take-to-my-bed kind of day, minus the taking to my bed. All day long I've been like, Ugh! Humanity! Where are my stretchy pants? Will someone please call up Julie Andrews and have her come over and sing me to sleep.

But on the bright side I had the single best thing I've ever eaten at the LA County fair last night. Behold, the deep fried pineapple:

It was, in fact, the size of my face. And it was drizzled in caramel sauce. Wowee. Also, I was a bit of a hero when I attempted to push it up the stick a little and the whole thing popped right off. I lunged and got caramel all over my hands but the pineapple, and thus the whole fair, was saved. If you're going to the fair it's just outside of the craft section of the Grandstand. Get one and then go on the Big (formerly) Yellow (but now it's blue) Slide for me and your fair will be made. 

(Please excuse my hair in the above picture. Who's done with this Summer of Humidity we've been suffering through? How do you all do it? I mean, really. How? But my skin is incredibly soft these days, so there's that.)

We went on the slide, naturally, but as we were hiking up the stairs a group of rather eager young children were right on our heels. I was in my powering through it mode and refused to stop or move over for them to pass and I wanted to shout back at them, "Children, I am a Very Old Woman. Give me a break! We will all make it to the top so that we can hurl ourselves right back down." But I do have very fond memories of rushing up those stairs on warm summer nights, so I indulged their enthusiasm and let them go ahead of me once we were at the top. Before shoving off the worker told us to hold on to the front of our burlap rugs but to that I say Stuff It! The only way to enjoy that ride is to throw your hands in the air like a champion.

Here, look at this picture of cuddling sheep:

Okay, I feel better reliving the fair. But I'm still going to wait up for Julie to come tuck me in.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Summer of Ice Cream Recap

Remember how this was the Summer of Ice Cream? I'm calling it a success and I may just carry it into the Fall. Believe it or not, making ice cream is a hot business. Like, sweltering. The Knecht way of making ice cream is to just throw everything together and chill for an hour, if you remember to, and then throw it in the maker, raw eggs and all. It has worked for us for decades without a single case of salmonella and the only sweltering part is that it has to be made outside as the ice cream maker is 43 years old and requires a lot of ice and leaks a bit. Whatever, it's amazing and we refuse to change. But for the Summer of Ice Cream I wanted to try a cooked custard recipe which is labor intensive and requires some time stirring over a hot stove, in my kitchen with no air conditioning vents. Just like the pioneers. Plus, it has to chill overnight and then you make it, and because I like a firmer ice cream it had to sit in the freezer over night again. So it's a three day process, but I think, worth it. I used a recipe from the New York Times and it is really great. It's definitely richer, which was good and bad, depending on the flavoring.

Here's the rundown:

1. Strawberry Balsamic. The flavor was right on but the consistency was off. It was too thick. I think I overcooked the custard.

2. Goat Cheese, Honey Pistachio. I know what you're thinking. But Leo makes a blueberry goat cheese that is so, so good. This was not so, so good. I thought I would go nuts and add some orange zest to it and that threw the whole thing off. I still think it could work if I took out the zest and put in more honey. The pistachios were delish.

3. Salted Caramel. The flavor on this was amazing. The consistency was like silk. But it never firmed up properly. I made it twice because I liked it so much and just dealt with the meltiness. 

4. Chocolate Malted Crunch. It needed more malt. But the chocolate ice cream was great.

5. Toasted Coconut Fudge Ripple. This was COCONUTTY! I loved it. I even made my own fudge syrup and had left overs for the occasional chocolate milk, that is until the container got knocked over  and oozed all over the fridge. Thanks for cleaning that up, Katie!

6. Plum. Katie and I both agreed that this would have been better as a sorbet (this was where the richness was too much. I may cut out a few yolks on my next fruit ice cream.) But this is not the Summer of Sorbet. And the flavor was so good so I'm not complaining. Plus, the color was straight out of my dreams.

Speaking of sorbet, did I ever tell you about the last time we went to Neveux's when Camille was in town? After we were done with our ice cream Leo came out and placed a ramekin on our table and said, "Try this lemon sorbet I just finished." The first taste was LEMON!!!! but the second taste was SUMMER! and SUNSHINE! and HOLY CATS, HOW CAN I HAVE THIS IN MY LIFE EVERY SINGLE DAY!!! I'm not even going to try it. You can't start out being Van Gogh. 

Friday, September 4, 2015

Bunny Killer

1. Big news first:  My parents are going on a mission to Boston, MA and they report on Jan. 4. They've only been talking about this my whole life so it's kind of hard to believe that the day has arrived. The whole family watched, either in person (me, Katie, and Lindsay) or online (all the defectors) as they opened up the call. Super exciting! And you're not going to believe this but there was hardly a tear shed. This is very un-Knecht behavior and I don't know how to explain it. Anyway, go Red Sox!

2. Seminary has begun and I am loving my class so far. We've had so much fun already and they ask really thought provoking questions. They're really great kids. But to bring us back to reality, I've started keeping track of the number of times I spot one of the boys picking his nose. So far three of them have done it. I don't know what to say about this other than their 14. What can you do but laugh and Clorox their desks after class.

3. Do yourself a favor and make this Pineapple Coconut Cashew Rice. I tried it the other night and whoa. It was delicious. This may have been the first time I cooked an actual meal all summer. My summer diet consists largely of toast, eggs, apples, cheese, pasta, Slurpees, and breakfast cereals. I eat like a 3 year old in the summer. The heat makes it impossible for me to even think about standing over a stove. Our wee kitchen doesn't have an air vent in it (I know. It seems insane to me too.) So I do what I can to get by. But this week we have felt the first nip of fall. Most people outside of So. California may not actually be able to feel this particular nip. It is slight. But there was just something autumny in the air and so I slung on my apron and cooked. And not just rice but chicken too. Like I'm Martha Stewart or something.

4. And now for some sad news: yesterday on my drive to work I passed by a dead bunny. I have a strict no-looking rule when it comes to roadkill but I think I spotted ears before averting my eyes. And then, maybe to cheer myself up, I made up a little song about dead bunnies on the road and I sang it to myself the rest of the way in. I don't know, guys, alright? I have no explanation as to why I do these sorts of things but let me tell you there's a catalog of little ditties I make up through out the day and sing to myself. Oh, like you don't do weird things. Anyway, several hours later I was driving home from work through Cal Poly, which is  practically a bunny sanctuary there are so many of them hopping about, when suddenly a bunny leaped in front of my car and then I heard a horrific thwump. I KILLED A BUNNY!!!!! And I'm kind of sick about it. I was teary the whole way home. I feel like I need to make amends somehow. Do they have actual bunny sanctuaries I could donate to?  Ugh, circle of life.

My dead bunny on the road song is a little reminiscent of Blue Shadows from the Three Amigos so here you go. Happy weekend. Keep safe, bunnies!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Tragic Pants

If you're interested, here's Gwyneth Paltrow's latest recommendation from Goop for fall denim.

Are she and her staff living in some kind of clown universe? What are those things?! She, in all seriousness, put these up as an actual possibility for denim in the workplace. At what office do you think these would fit in? Possibly the receptionist at the Home for the Tragic and Misguided has a pair. If you enlarge the picture you will see that the hem is frayed. Because when you have already committed to looking really out of your mind you had better go all the way. Also, it should be noted that they are $340. Or $10 if you head on over to the Goodwill and pick up the two most unflattering jeans you can find and make a pair for yourself. Knights of Columbus!

And what goes well with the Ugliest Jeans in the History of All Jeans? A $1700 blazer. You read that right. This whole look, in fact, is $2500. Is it time for me to stop hate-reading Goop? For some reason I can handle all of her stuff on herbal colonics and $10000 hotel rooms in Tokyo. But this has crossed a line.

Never has an article of clothing deserved this more:

Prince is the prince of questionable clothing and even he knows these are Crazy Town, USA.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Oregon Trail

You know how Virginia is for lovers? Well, Oregon is for weirdos, in the most charming way. I recall my old high school chemistry teacher always saying how weird people were in Oregon and maybe that has stuck with me. He did sport a handle-bar mustache, so take that for what it's worth. But I think he may have partially been on to something because they are proudly and aggressively weird there. But I'll give it to them because it's so pretty. Around every corner was something breathtaking. People kept apologizing for how brown and dry it was and then I'd laugh and mumble something about a drought and apply more lip balm out of habit. It was literally the greenest place I've ever been to. I had a really great time there and will definitely be back. Well, as long as Casey and Kylea and their amazingly adorable children live there.

On to the list:

1. Oregon seems to be filled with a high percentage of vagabonds. I stopped counting how many people I saw roaming the highways, some hitchhiking, all hairy and toting giant backpacks. In California if you see someone walking on the freeway that means that they are in some kind of trouble, like their car is on fire or something. But in Oregon the dozens of people I saw walking down the interstate all seemed to be carefree hobos casually walking from town to town. Their hub, obviously, is Portland. It seemed to be populated entirely by unwashed hippies waiting for the next drum circle. It was actually difficult to tell who was homeless because of mental illness or who just chose to live the wandering life.

2. In that vein, as I was driving back from my day-trip to the coast I passed a couple hitchhiking and my initial thought was, "I'd bet money that if I picked them up I'd be abducted into a cult."

3. That day-trip was a dream. It was gray and drizzly and there were pockets of mist hanging in the pine trees. I stopped at every viewpoint. I wandered into a used bookstore in Astoria to get out of the rain. I sat on some driftwood at Cannon Beach. I ate cheese and ice cream and fudge in Tillamook. This is all to say that it was a perfect day.

3. Gina came out for my birthday! Just for the day! Isn't that that best? I am always totally happy lone-wolfing it when out and about but I'm never going to turn down a sister to share in the adventure. Sisters always make things better. And we had a huge adventure. I wanted to do something fun and different so I booked a jet-boat tour up the Willamette River (did you know that it's pronounced Will-AM-ette? I did not until Kylea corrected me.) You guys, promise me that if you ever make it to Portland you will take this tour. Just do it, okay? It is the most fun! We went so fast, did donut after donut, and got so wet and I HATE getting wet when I'm not in appropriate clothing for it but who cares when you're having this kind of fun. It was so worth the time and money and tumbleweed hair.

4. On the other donut front, we did get Voodoo donuts. I'm going to be totally un-American right now and say that I don't exactly care for donuts. They taste like delicious regret. The first 5 minutes of a donut are wonderful but the rest of day I feel like I've eaten a sugary brick. Because I'm 80. But these were really tasty. And while I did have the sugary brick feeling all day I did not regret it because you've got to live, right?

5. Thanks to that mutant sinus/bronchial infection I left (and came home) with my ears clogged up on the descent into Portland. A baby started to cry on that descent and I wanted to hold her and say, "I know, right? Let's cry together." They stayed clogged for FIVE WHOLE DAYS and I wanted to die. But now I'm good as new. And it didn't ruin my trip. Every morning I would tell my clogged ears and nose and lungs to go eat a worm sandwich, I was going to have fun anyway.

6. I mentioned this on Instagram but it bears repeating: I went to this pizza place that a friend recommended and I was literally the only person in there who was not eating it with a fork and knife. I refused to feel like the weirdo in this situation and ate my pizza like a human being, with my hands so the grease can drip down my arm.

7. Oh, Sweet Land of Liberty! Just let me pump my own gas!

8. Best thing I overheard in Portland, "No, she's already gone. She helping set up for Burning Man this year."

9. Best sign I saw, "Squirrel Fest 2015!"

Picture time!

C&K have a shortcake place that is everything you want in a non-chocolate dessert.  My parents were up there a few weeks before me and my dad literally cannot stop talking about this. I ate really well on this trip but this was maybe my favorite thing.

I had completely forgotten that logging is a thing. But you can't forget up in the Pacific Northwest. I drove through a logging town with actual stores for logging supplies. I live in the desert, okay. That's it in the distance, across the Columbia River in Washington. 

If you've seen Goonies you know what this is. If you haven't seen Goonies, you need to crawl out of your cave. But also, isn't this so lovely? The tide was way, way out but it left these pretty ripples behind.

Powell's takes up an entire city block. And it's 4 stories. Which means that I spent a lot of time there. And it was everything I wanted it to be. Yay books!

Every morning as I was getting ready Addie would come up and hang out with me. Every time I was out doing something fun I was kind of wishing I was back with the kids. 
The Graham Poo-Bah. This kid is the sweetest. He doesn't cry. He hardly fusses. He just snuggles with you. He did not fit in my carry-on.

Nearly everyone I know who has been to Oregon comes back and shows me this picture. I've been looking for a Wealthy Benefactor but I would just as happily take a rich uncle.

This is exactly how I wanted to look on my 40th birthday. Happy and surrounded by beauty. In this case, the International Rose Test Garden, which I am putting on your must-see list for Portland. I'M HALF WAY TO 80!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The Old Wet Lung

This illness has very nearly knocked me out but I think I may have turned the corner. I am still coughing like an 80 year old coal miner. Also, I have coughed so hard that I think I injured my ribs and definitely have sprained a muscle in my neck. But I definitely feel better and have more energy and I can breathe through my nose some of the time. Progress! I even did some laundry today. Although taking my laundry down to the laundry room wiped me out. And in about 15 minutes I'm going to have to go down and get it and schlep it up the stairs and then fold it. Ugh, the folding. On a good day this is drudgery.

Tomorrow I fly out to Oregon. And I'm afraid that I'm going to be That Person on the plane. The one who is sniffing and coughing and generally making you paranoid that you're going to be struck down with bird flu. Should I hand out little bags of Airborne to all of my fellow passengers with a note explaining that I've been on antibiotics for nearly a week and even though I sound like I've got the old Wet Lung I should not be contagious at this point, it's just holding on to me like clammy, snotty, hacking death. Pray for me and my poor little lungs. And the people on the plane that they will be understanding. And that I'm well enough to kiss Addie and Baby Graham Piano's chubby cheeks and also drive out to the Goonies beach and also spend hours wandering through Powell's bookstore. I have goals on this trip that I need to achieve.

Do you know what the real tragedy of being sick is? I can't read. My mind can't focus long enough to make it through a page. So it's been a lot of Netflix and Hulu for me. I watched many episodes Running Wild with Bear Grylls. You know, where he takes celebrities out into the wilderness and tries to kill them by feeding them worms and throwing them off cliffs. For the record, I literally would die if I ever attempted anything like that. I am an enormous chicken when it comes to doing dangerous things. And if I didn't die I would be whining the entire time. Much like Kate Hudson did. But you should all watch the episode with Kate Winslet. If you did not already love her you will after watching her insist on washing her bra out after her first day.

But before that you should watch this video that Camille sent to cheer me up from my death bed:

Friday, August 7, 2015


The good staff at Kaiser in Upland need a little training in timing. Remember that time a doctor asked me if I wanted a pap smear while he was examining me for what turned out to be acute bronchitis and shingles? I had expended all of my energy that day just putting on my bra so there was none left to hit him. Well this morning I went in because I have a sinus infection that has turned into a whole body infection. I was in my stretchy pants, no make-up, and my hair was back in a wet ponytail. You know how much I oppose going out into society wearing stretchy pants and yet this is the state I am currently in. So there I am, and the nurse has just flipped the switch on the blood pressure torture machine and it is at this very moment that she chooses to say, "We don't have a picture of you on our database. Let me take it." And then before I can even say a word she points a camera in my face and takes a picture. At best I looked like Marty Feldman dressed as a hobo. I asked her if she could at least wait until the sphygmomanometer was done squeezing my arm off and my body was in less distress. She seemed put out but agreed.

This made me wonder what all the pictures look like at Kaiser. Because no one looks their best when they're sick. It must be a database filled with bloodshot, pallid, consumptive, droopy-eyed zombies with runny noses. I know for sure this is what my picture looked like because after that I walked into the exam room and caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. Egads! Also, I saw everyone else sitting in the waiting room. There wasn't a single person in there who didn't have bedhead.

Speaking of bad timing, I HAD ALL SUMMER TO GET SICK AND IT HITS RIGHT NOW WHEN CASEY, KYLEA, ADDIE, AND BABY GRAHAM CRACKER ARE IN TOWN!!!! For crying in the mud! Nine whole weeks when I could have very easily lounged about all day recuperating and watching Jane Austen adaptations. And on the very day that they arrive in town I'm sidelined. The doctor assures me that once I have the antibiotics in my system for 24 hours I should be fine to be around humans so there's still time this weekend. And I'm going up to Oregon to visit next week. But the timing is just too ridiculous.