Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Boils and Stuff

1. I just texted Cynde, "Remember that one time we got caught in a hail storm with a bunch of German tourists overlooking Circus Maximus? Let's go back to Rome!" We were on our way to stick our hands in the Bocca della Verita when suddenly the skies opened and rain and hail poured down and the only cover we had was a cypress tree that we had to share with like 20 other people, which is silly considering that cypress trees give about zero coverage. But we all had shifted to one side of it to at least block the hail from pelting us.We just kept laughing at how ridiculous the whole thing was. It's one of my favorite memories from the trip.

2. Who wants to come light all of my stuff on fire? Or at the very least move it out to the dumpster for me. Because I really don't want to pack any of it. Did I tell you I'm moving to Chino? Katie and I are taking care of Mom and Dad's house while they're on their mission. I'm sure you'll hear me whine about how much I hate moving over the next month so I won't bore you now. But really, come and throw everything away for me, will you.

3. Here's a free tip: while preparing your seminary lesson about the plagues of Egypt don't look up pictures of them. Some are fine, like flies and hail. Frogs are comical. Lice makes you itchy. Locusts are disturbing. I mean, sweet land of liberty, can you imagine? Any large, winged bug is a nightmare. But you're really getting into horror territory when you look up boils and dead cattle. I couldn't stop looking at the pictures of boils. And they just kept getting worse the more I scrolled. And then I came across one of a butt covered in boils and I nearly died because a.) it was gross, and b.) I kept hearing Ouiser screaming, "He is a boil on the butt of humanity."

4. If you can believe it, I finished Graham Master Flash's stocking before his first Christmas. I've made all of my nieces and nephews stockings and most have had to wait several years. But because I have to pack up the World's Largest Felt Collection I thought I'd just buckle down and do it. So I watched many episodes of the Great British Baking Show (who else is watching this and don't you LOVE it?! Do you think we should stage an intervention for Ruby before she throws herself off a cliff because she didn't have a good bake?) and stitched my heart out.  I am amazed at how neat my stitched writing looks compared to my actual handwriting. It's my one true Lady of Elegant Leisure skill.

5. I snapped this picture the other morning of this palm tree, the moon, Venus, Jupiter, and Mars, which you cannot see but is there, I promise.  Everyone should start their day out with a little cosmic viewing.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Stout-hearted men

While checking in on the ISS space walk this week I noticed something when they showed mission control at Johnson Space Center:  Tupperware.

See it? Down in the right corner? Are they having a space walk pot luck?! Did someone bring in brownies? Astronaut shaped sugar cookies? How often do they have these? Is it every Wednesday or just for space walks? Obviously, I need to know these things for when I get the call from NASA. I don't want to look like a noob. There's just something so perfect about space nerds bringing in treats for each other while they watch two of their colleagues bob around outside the space station.

In other news I went to the Upland High School fall choir concert last night. About half of all of my previous and current seminary students are in a choir and so I thought I'd go support them. My expectations for high school choir concerts is low because I went to a high school that had a crappy choir. And the most exciting one I've ever been to was only memorable because a tenor passed out mid-song and fell into the alto section. But this was great. Four of my boys are in the Men's Choir and they sang a song last night called Men of the Sea. They were fantastic. But the content and the choir made me think of a particular episode of The Wonder Years. (It's a little long and the quality is bad and it has Portuguese subtitles (I think that's Portuguese) but what can you do, right?) Enjoy.

Only one more day and then we're free of the pumpkin-spiced tyranny of Halloween! Although I did manage to come up with a semi-costume for my ward's party. I'm a firm believer that I can make anything out of felt. Add some tulle, a glue gun, jeans and a tee-shirt and you have yourself a casual witch costume.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Endings, Reunions, Grammar

1. Did you see that Tyra announced the end of America's Next Top Model? And thus ends a massive chapter of my television viewing life. My interest in the show has definitely waned over the years but I can't deny that she is still crazy and possibly needs to be medicated and therefore a real joy to watch. Thanks for the memories! And also, I kind of loved how everyone on Facebook messaged me with the news. Although it was not necessary as I follow her on Instagram. Because she's insane.

2. In other TV news DID YOU SEE THE RUMOR THAT NETFLIX MADE A DEAL TO BRING BACK GILMORE GIRLS? What in the name of Sookie St. James is going on?! I am both thrilled and horrified. Because, look, I love that show. We ALL love that show (except my Dad hates that show but that's to be expected). And who doesn't want to be reunited with our best pals. But this could be awful. I really don't like it when I've made peace with a beloved story that has ended and then it keeps coming back (I'm looking at you, JK Rowling! Stop telling me stuff about Harry Potter! He's mine now!) Let me live with my memories and my imaginary futures for all of them. Like how I think Kirk stages a coup against Taylor and barricades himself in Dooce's Market and sings "Do You Hear the People Sing" through a megaphone while Taylor just goes through the back door to end it. Or how Babette and Maury get into a fight over what to name their next cat and Babette moves in with Luke and Lorelei (because they're married now) and rearranges Luke's kitchen according to ease of reaching and he gets adorably irate. Or how Zack and Lane have made it into the county fair circuit with their band and Rory is a foreign corespondent for the Washington Post and Sookie and Jackson have 4 more kids and they don't have any more names so they start naming them after vegetables and how Dean has fallen off of a cliff. See, I have plans for these people and I fear that additional shows will ruin them. But, let's not kid ourselves. If this does happen I will make a paper chain and host a viewing party where we all have to dress up in themed costumes. I'm thinking Lorelei's cat sweater years.

3. In other viewing news, here are two things of note I saw last week:  1. Hamlet staring Benedict Cumberbatch. Holy smokes and stuff! This was so great! It was a live recording from the National Theater in London shown at local movie theaters. Wow and wow. At intermission we learned that the Dodgers lost to the Mets, thus dashing all of our dreams, and several like-minded baseball/Shakespeare fans commiserated with me. Then we cheered ourselves up by watching everyone die on stage at the end. 2. I took myself to the movies on a Friday afternoon with a bunch of other lone wolves and watched Bridge of Spies. And it was so good. I think that Spielberg is such a cornball but gosh if I'm not charmed by it every time. And watching it with all the other single riders made me want to shout out, "Loners of the World, UNITE! (By ourselves!)"

4. Here is something wonderful that happened today. I was sitting in my office and a kid walked by my window that looks into the lounge and said something that I didn't hear, but then he rounded the corner toward my door and shouted, "Sorry about that, Rachel!" So I asked what it was he said, to which he replied, "I said, 'me and Josh are going to the weight room,' and I knew instantly that you would hate that. Because it's supposed to be Josh and I." These kids really get me, you know.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Fantasy Gifts

When you were a kid didn't you love looking through catalogs? Like from JC Penny's? I loved it. In particular I loved the bedding section. Everything looked so luxurious. They always had really shiny sheets and lots of pillows. Now a days I just want really cozy sheets and I think throw pillows are ridiculous, but back when I was 8 I could spend hours dreaming of a very fancy bedroom. I was thinking about those catalogs a few months ago and wishing that I got them.

Well, Katie tipped me off to the Neiman Marcus Christmas Book, which is just like the JC Penny's catalog, if that catalog was nothing but cashmere ponchos, fur coats for kids, and backgammon sets made out of exotic woods. It's basically where every Woman of Elegant Leisure does all of her Christmas shopping for her Woman of Elegant Leisure friends. I did not see any turbans in there, which is a bit of a let down.

But the real treat of the book is the Fantasy Gift section. Oh, the fantasy gift. There are all sorts of things your boring old rich uncle would love. Like a trio of Texas guitars or a barrel full of Bourbon. And then there's the crass, like the luxury trip to India where you'll be shuttled around in private planes and vintage cars. Just like the colonialists! Watch out for all those little street urchins playing cricket in the street. You wouldn't want them denting the chrome.

But then there's the surreal, like a two day motorcycle ride through the Angeles National Forest with Keanu Reeves and his pal. Could you imagine?! I mean, that is a very specific gift, right? Your boring old rich uncle would have to both a motorcycle enthusiast and a fan of the Lake House. Or how about a trunk full of accessories from Iris Apfel. Because if you can't find a turban, than a statement necklaces is the next best thing. What about the couture diary where an artist will draw you in 20 of your favorite wardrobe pieces. It is bound in Scandinavian calfskin and, according to the J. Peterman write-up, will be "cherished for generations." I don't know about you, but I don't think I want 20 hand painted renderings of me in various stretchy pants.

But there are two I'd go for. The craftsman tour of Venice and Florence, where you visit shops and make paper and blow glass and eat gelato and pasta for 7 days. Are you kidding me? Alert the Wealthy Benefactor! Because I'm also going to need him to spring for the Exploration of the Edge of Space. The WB and I, and 4 of our closest friends get to go up in a luxury space capsule via a jumbo weather balloon to the upper atmosphere and float around for a few hours. Is this even a joke?! Can I really do this?! For only $90,000. Let's all start saving now! That's only $15,000 we each have to come up with the if WB bails. In all seriousness, if given the opportunity would you go up in a metal box attached to a balloon? What if I told you that there would be snacks?

Me? In a heartbeat.

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!