Thursday, April 21, 2016

Dearly Beloved...

Oh gosh guys.

Cynde texted me with the news because it's important to hear these things from your best friend. And then everyone started texting. Even my Mom! And Andrea posted on Facebook that she was waiting for a tribute blog post and I said to hold on because I had to get a sparkly black caftan and turban to mourn properly and then she responded, "Take all the time you need. If you can't find the turban, I hear a raspberry beret works too."

ZING, Andrea! I could leave it at that because you can't beat it. I laughed until I cried.

But I won't leave it at that because we need some music. The man was a star.

First, let's watch this video of Let's Go Crazy, which features two incredible performance - one by Prince and the other by Prince's feathery cape:

Forget the caftan, where can I get that outfit?

And now for some Purple Rain because this was the song that got me hooked on him over 30 years ago.

Next, this chart of Prince's hair through the years. I would absolutely hang this in my bathroom.

And finally, how much are we going to miss his epic side-eye.

prince gifs photo: prince side eye prince.gif


So much!

Let's all go sit in our cars and weep as we belt Purple Rain.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Small town charm

My sister-in-law Kylea is from a small town in Nevada called Logandale. It is halfway between Las Vegas and St. George right off the 15 in this little valley but you can't even see it from the highway. You probably didn't even know it was there, right. I had driven that road dozens of times (what California Mormon hasn't?) before I met my friend Sara, who is also from there, and even then I didn't exactly know where it was until I went there for Casey and Kylea's wedding. And here's the crazy thing, besides Kylea and Sara, Camille's roommate is also from Logandale. How in the world do I know three people from this little tiny town? Furthermore, Sara's mom lives right behind Kylea's house and Kylea's mom has lunch with Camille's roommate's mom on the regular. It's like the Stars Hollow of the Desert and I know half the population. I wonder who their Taylor Doose is. 

Anyway, Kylea brought the kids out there to visit her family so naturally the Knechts descended. We like Kylea's family a lot. They feel like our family only younger and more tan and they cook better food. Camille drove down from Salt Lake and Katie and I drove up and we had a lovely 20 hours of snuggling with the kids and dancing and painting our nails and running around their enormous backyard picking wildflowers and generally loving on them before having to get back.

But worth it, because look at these kids.

Sigh. They're just the greatest. Dumb Oregon.

Small town life is so charming. Sure there's no Target (deal breaker), but there's a real draw to going into your local ice cream parlor and literally knowing everyone in there, which Kylea did. When we got there we found out that her youngest brother wasn't going to be home that night because he was going to the school for a senior lock-in, or lock-down, or something like that. This is a senior activity where the kids bring board games and hang out in the gym all night long with just two adults supervising. We were initially confused by the term because lock-down means something very different in California schools. Stop being so cute, Logandale! 

Off-shoot conversation: what's with all the random trailers in the middle of the desert. Have you noticed this? Like, you're literally miles away from civilization and there will be an outcropping of derelict trailers. Who lives there? Who dragged his family somewhere between Baker and Barstow and said, "This is where we're going to settle, Mama." Because men like that always call their wives Mama. Are they so opposed to city dwelling that they can't even stomach Baker?! If Logandale is the Stars Hollow of the desert then Baker is its roach motel. You have to either be desperate for solitude or running from the law if you can't handle Baker. And it's never just a trailer. It's like a mini settlement. Like three trailers and several pick-up trucks and some haphazardly planted palm trees that are now dying because even palm trees need some water. What sort of dream life did these people envision for themselves? And at what point did they abandon it? I have so many questions. 

Additionally, I have a million questions about that enormous solar plant at the state line. What the heck is going on there?! Why are those towers glowing like the Eye of Sauron?! I'm all for alternative energy but yikes!

But as we were driving by it Freedom by Wham! came on and you know I can't pass up reminding you how great this video is. You're welcome.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The Art Society Does the Getty

The Art Society kids were on spring break a few weeks ago and when Heather asked them what they wanted to do they said, "Hang out with Rachel on one of the days." Oh geez. My heart. So we went to the Getty. 

If you're in LA and you have time for just one massive art museum choose the Getty over LACMA. Yes, it's farther and you will feel like you've been in traffic for your entire life, but it is so worth it. It's free, it's in the prettiest spot, the art is amazing, the gardens are restorative, and the tram ride up is fun. I promise you will feel like a more cultured, elegant, enlightened, and sun-kissed person while up there. 

Also, you should take children. Because that's a hoot. You get to follow them around and say, "Don't put your hands on that priceless work of art." Which is really rich coming from me because all I want to do at a museums is touch the art. I've been called out by several security guards for getting too close. So I get it, kids. I totally get it.

Here's something you should know about my Art Society Kids. They are engaging, curious, and fun. They are up for adventure. When I ask them to do something silly or thoughtful, they do it and they do it well. If I ask, "Which painting in this gallery would you hang in your bathroom," they will answer not just with the choice but why they chose it. And they'll be genuinely amazed at what they're seeing. I don't know what other kids are like but these kids are the perfect museum companions as well as totally great life-long buddies. I said to Kaiya as we were walking through the gardens, "Isn't it great that 30 years from now we'll still be friends and still go to museums and have adventures together?" Then she grabbed my hand and said yes. How many other childless spinsters are lucky enough to have that?

How about some pictures.

Quinn didn't want to take off his mask he made in the kids room. Even when he passed out before we made it out of the parking lot. Art is exhausting!

Near the end of the day Sammy started posing like a statue in every gallery we went into. She's too much!

This is titled "Elegant Lady Writing at Her Desk with a Dog Beside Her". As the kids say, #goals.

I made Jarron stand still for 30 seconds so I could arrange the mirrors for this shot. That's a tough thing for him to do but worth it.

The most glorious thing they have at the Getty is this bed. They have a mini version of it in the kids room.

Love these faces

It was such a treat to have Heather and her amazing bangs with us.

And finally, will someone please talk me out of planting bougainvillea. It's such a pain to maintain but I love it so much!

Monday, April 4, 2016

Roll Heaven

1. Does anyone else get stressed out by baking bread? Cooking is easy enough because you can taste as you go but with baking you have to hope that you got all the measurements right and you kneaded the dough enough times and the temperature was perfect for the yeast to work its magic and you sacrificed the goat properly in the light of a full moon. Then you pop it in the oven with a prayer in your heart. Well, on  Easter I was in charge of the rolls and if there is one thing I really care about at holiday meals, it is the rolls. And if there is one thing that has ruined many perfectly lovely holiday meals is me making sub-par rolls. I feel like Ruby from the Great British Baking show every time I have to make them.

Get a grip, Ruby!
All my life I've been trying to find the perfect roll recipe. I like rolls to be enormous and fluffy and have those layers that kind of peel away. You know what I'm talking about. And you guys, I did it. I made those rolls - and I did it entirely by accident! I totally botched three steps on the recipe and yet they still turned out like roll heaven. So now the question stands: do I follow the recipe exactly the next time or do I make the same mistakes? It was America's Test Kitchen Fluffy Dinner Rolls from their baking cookbook, which you should own. Amen.

2. In other success news, I changed my first sprinkler today. This morning at 5:30 I woke up to a gusher outside my window. I think the guys who mow our lawns must have run over it. So I got Dad on the phone and had him talk me through it. Here's how you do it: 1. unscrew broken one, 2. take it to Home Depot and find a similar one, 3. screw in new one, 4. test it, 5. do a victory dance when it works, 6. consider getting a job at Home Depot since you're there all the time now. The hardest part was digging the old one out enough to unscrew. I was covered in mud and felt like a real champion. Now, if I could just be more successful at growing stuff my Yard Master status would be secure.

3. Maybe you're really missing Commander Kelly's Instagram feed from space now that he's home. Well, never fear, fellow space nerds! There are always astronauts in the ISS and most of them are on Instagram. All three of the non-Russians have accounts. There's Tim Peake (astro_timpeake), Tim Kopra (astro_tim) and Jeff Williams (astro_jeffw). Have a look.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

A Week

Ugh, it's been a week of sad things for people I know and love. Like horrible violence, and death, and cancer. And as no sad news go without a good cry from me, I've shed a few too many tears.

But it has also been a week of happy things for people I know and love. Like babies being born and mother's waking up from comas. I'm not even kidding you guys, a coma! I tell you, life. It's just been really big this week. And in case you are worried, I cried for the good stuff too. If there is something to cry over I volunteer as tribute. Which reminds me that I need to recommend Sephora's ginseng and green tea eye masks to you. They are your puffy crying eye's worst enemy.

So today, after I had to shut the institute down early because there was a bomb threat across the street on campus (for crying out loud!) I ran errands and watered my flowers (Spring! You are saving me with all your glory!) and turned on the Stevie Wonder Pandora station and had a dance party while I made dinner. Tacos. Of course. Because what else do you eat during a week like this? And because Camille sent out this question in a group text to the sibs: "If you had to choose between eating tacos every day or being skinny would you choose hard or soft shell." Soft. Although there's no denying the appeal of a good crunchy taco.

Here, watch these baby bunnies in cups. 

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Business Casual Bro

This morning, while waiting for a bagel, a Business Casual Bro got in line behind me. You all are familiar with the BCB, I assume. Dresses well but talks like he just left the frat house, is constantly on the phone to one of his BCB friends talking loudly about deals they've made and plans for the weekend*, says dude a lot but in kind of a creepy way, yells, "get in the hole!" when watching golf, will probably vote for Trump. And in this case, stands too close to you in line. One of the best things about America is that we value our personal space. Not having to touch the sweaty masses is our birthright. The general spacing rule for strangers in public, unless you're administering CPR or putting an assailant in a full-nelson, is that someone should be able to comfortably walk between you. A large person. Two is better. The BCB was no more than a lithe Russian ballerina's width away - front to back, not side to side. I had to do the old half-turn trick to let him know to back it up a bit but he didn't move. Even with my shoulder in his chest he was too busy talking on the phone to his BCB pal about the sweet San Antonio deal they were working on to notice. I tried to move forward but then I would be encroaching on the lady in front of me. It was quite a pickle. And then he kept grossly whispering, "Get it, dog," to his buddy. No doubt San Antonio would be very lucrative for the both of them.

In other line news I was in one at the grocery store last week and a checker from the 15 items or less lane came over and said she could check me out. But I had way more than 15 items in my cart and said so. I am, in my heart of hearts, a rule follower. Even if I have 16 items in my basket I will not do it. And if I see someone in line who has more than 15 items my fiery rage cannot be contained. She said it wasn't a big deal. But let me tell you, it FELT like a big deal. I wanted to tell the people who got in line behind me that I was INVITED. I didn't just slip in like some no-account hooligan who thinks that all these cans of chickpeas count as one item because they're the same. They're not the same!!

*They all will be where I will be, which is Indian Wells, CA for my annual Tennis in the Blazing Desert Sun Weekend with Camille. They will all be wearing salmon colored shorts and Roger Federer hats. That place is teeming with BCBs. 

Friday, March 4, 2016

On being social and other things

I go through periods where all I want to be is a hermit living under my covers watching Kimmy Schmidt. And that's lovely. But then I start to think that I should get out and be amongst humans and it's usually when I get to that point that my calendar starts filling up. It's nice that it works out that way. Which makes me think that maybe I'm giving off vibes that people pick up. Like, "No. I'm hermitting right now." or "Yes, please. Take me out into the sunshine." For those of you who are around me on the regular please don't feel hurt when I give off the hermit vibe. It's not you, it's me. I genuinely like you. I just really also like my silent bedroom.

Which isn't so silent right now as there is a pack of feral girls over at the school behind my house having a shrieking contest? I think? I mean, they're really going for it. Aside from the fact that it's making my ears bleed, I do think it's kind of charming because my childhood friend Shanley and I would go over to the school and do all sorts of random things. Like run around the field on foggy mornings. Or bring pencil and paper and write letters to marine biologists with questions about sea horses. Shanley was desperate to get some. I do wonder sometimes what has become of her.

On childhood, longtime chum Valerie was in town for a few weeks and when she brought her girls over for a visit the first thing she did was walk to the side yard to check out the wood pile which is no longer there. She and my sisters used to spend many hours after school on that wood pile, avoiding nails and stuff. It's been moved and organized and covered with a tarp, which is a real shame for all the future children who will play back there. Ah, youth. Keep screaming girls!

Val and James also came over the other night and watched Cdm. Scott Kelly land on the Kazakhstan steppe after his year in space. They brought Marinelli's and we toasted space and Mars and the astronauts and exploration! We also really felt for Sergey, one of his fellow travelers, because he looked like we all would look after a rumbley flight through the atmosphere. That is to see, barfy. They pulled him out of the capsule first and immediately he had the barf bag to his mouth. Poor guy. I would literally be lolloping out of the top and wailing if I were in his shoes so I get it. They carried him over to his chair and bundled him up and then pulled the other two out. They both looked hail and hardy and poor Sergey looked like a wet rag. At one point someone started combing his hair and it was such a pathetic moment that I loved him instantly.

Where was I even going with this? Oh, right, I'm being social now. And as such my friend Jill and I have started a regular lunch date. Jill and I taught seminary together for 3 years. I had the freshmen and she the sophomores. And every day we would meet up after class and talk it out - about the kids, and doctrine, and chocolate. And I've missed it since moving away so we've instituted lunch. And today we went to the Nordstrom's Cafe. And here's the story about that (Is that not the most Perd Hapley thing I've ever written?) When I was younger and going to the mall more regularly I used to park in the Nordstrom's covered parking and take the elevator up. There was always parking I would cut across Norstrom's to get into the mall because their perfume aisle was far less aggressive then say, Macy's, which is a gauntlet. There used to be a sign in or near the elevator with the departments and I would always notice that the cafe was on the top floor. And in my mind it seemed like such an elegant thing to do - to spend the morning shopping at Nordstrom's with friends, possibly getting some kind of frivolous accessory or a tweed suit, and then go get a salad at the cafe. It was all so very ladies-who-lunch. I never shopped at Nordstrom's of course. Only Ladies of a Certain Age and Tax Bracket did that. So when Jill suggested our next lunch should be at the cafe I was all in because I am of age and also living the life of Elegant Leisure. Although I still don't make enough to shop there. It wasn't as fancy as I had hoped. I mean, the servers were wearing matching t-shirts, for crying out loud. But it did live up to the expectation that I was eating a salad with a friend. We are officially ladies who lunch. And I did peruse the accessories on my way out.

Monday, February 29, 2016

All Hail the Papal Countess

Firstly, Happy Leap Day to one and all

Secondly, on Saturday we went into LA with our friends Rex and Vickie to some of our favorite places to eat. The intent was to go to one place then go to the temple then another place, to kind of space things out. But then we found out that the temple was closed that week so we went and got food anyway but in between went to the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels instead. It's always fun to take people there because it's pretty impressive. It doesn't exactly look like a regular cathedral because it's really modern. But it is cavernous and there are all of these cool tapestries of saints and the organ is just grand. Did I ever tell you about the time I was there with some friends and there happened to be a wedding going on? The place is so big that we sat in the back with a tour group and reveled in the glory of that organ playing the wedding march. Wowee! My bones rattled.

When you go you must visit the mausoleum downstairs. If only to say hello to Gregory Peck. I spotted something that I had never seen on any of my previous visits. In the back of the mausoleum is an alter where Daniel and Bernadine Donohue are buried (placed? entombed? resting? I don't even know.) And on their tombstones it says that he was a Gentleman in Waiting to His Holiness and she was a Papal Countess. What is this?! A Papal Countess! You know for sure there is a turban involved with this title. Definitely large jewelry. I looked it up and it turns out a pope can bestow the title of  Papal Count and Countess to wealthy patrons basically. This makes sense. And they did sound like decent people who helped unwed mothers and such. But geez, what a hefty title. Pope John XXIII gave them the titles. And if you're interested, his bone marrow is encased in a decorative thingy for your viewing pleasure. The security guard who pointed this out kept referring to him just as 23. This kind of grated me as much as when people of my own faith say, "Well, Monson said..." Heathens.

Incidentally, rates for the mausoleum start at $50,000. So start saving your pennies if you want to be next to Atticus.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

I've got the goods

Recommendation time:

1. May I point you in the direction of this hot cocoa mix from Alton Brown? I know that it's practically spring but some of you may still be feeling the bite of winter. I like having a jar of cocoa mix at the ready because truthfully, those little packets are not enough. They are for an 8 ounce mug and who wants just 8 ounces or cocoa? Monks, maybe. Every year I just wing a recipe and it turns out fine but not like, the BEST. So I thought this year I would be an adult about it and find a professional to help me out. And now my cocoa jar (one that has a silhouette of a steaming cup of cocoa etched onto the glass, which I made at a Relief Society function that was more for etching your name on your Pyrex 9x13 so no one steals it at the next ward pot luck. Don't worry, I did the 9x13 too. I am nothing if not precious.) is filled to the brim. And it's gooooood. I went the extra mile and mixed in some finely chopped chocolate. I liked this recipe because every other recipe I've seen involves non-dairy creamer and/or tapioca, both of which are weird.

2. I'm loving the Washington Post's podcast Presidential (you can find it on iTunes). Each week until the election they feature one president starting with dear old George Washington and his rotten teeth. Although it's a quick 40 minutes so they didn't even get to his rotten teeth. They did talk a lot about how much the ladies liked him. The downside of the podcast is that it makes me a little nostalgic for true politics and not this slimy pandering we have now. Kind of like when I watch the West Wing and start praying that Jed Bartlett come to life and run for president with the help of the whole gang. I am hitting my cynical phase of this election season. (Oh, sweet land of liberty, please let this election season hurry up and die. I'm at the point where I think every single one of them are horrible mutants and I don't even care anymore, just make it stop!)

3. The book Radioactive by Lauren Redniss. About Marie and Pierre Curie. Geez, this was beautiful. I read the whole thing out loud to myself. Sometimes I do this, okay? It's not weird, I promise. Sometimes writing is just so pretty that it needs to be heard. And there is gorgeous art throughout. But it's a little sad, because, you know, radiation. Every time it was mentioned that Marie was sleeping with bits of her dust tucked under her pillow I would groan and say, "Oh, Marie." Also, the book glows in the dark. Just like Marie's lab notebooks still do to this day.

4. Photographer Steve McCurry's blog. You know his work with National Geographic, I'm sure. But on his blog he complies pictures he has taken over the years into a single theme. So eyes or books or prayer and puts in quotes about that theme. It's really lovely. Also, his Instagram feed is good too.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

For Ravenclaw!

Stacy and the kids were down for a week and the party never stopped. (Dear Sam, you cannot stay away forever. One of these days you have to come back to California! I know that you're busy with your "job" and being the "bishop" but we will not be ignored! Love, Rachel) One of the driving reasons for moving into my parents home instead of renting it out to someone was so that family could come and visit us and have a place to sleep. Mission accomplished. There was sleeping all over the place. In fact, at dinner on Sunday night Eliza burst into tears and wailed, "I just want to go to bed now!" We wore that girl out.

Commence highlight reel:

1. A Valentine's Day party. Complete with tacos, treats, fancy pink beverages, and bingo. And the requisite Aunts Dance Party to cap the night off. Ben and Tom missed out on their school V-Day parties so we wanted to go all out. There was pink everywhere. Also, the kids got us red roses and handed them out to us. Maybe the best Valentine's Day I've ever had.

2. The Beach, where we froze. It has been hot here, even for February (I say that like I'm south of the equator but it's true, February is historically warm.) Every day last week was a roaster, even Saturday was a roaster everywhere else but the beach, where it was cold and cloudy.

We rented a duffy and putted around Newport Harbor. The kids were less than impressed - they kept asking when it was going to be over, the little savages - but any time spent on a boat is heaven for me as boats are one of the four truly appropriate methods of transportation for a Lady of Elegant Leisure. The other three being convertibles, trains, and zeppelins. But it was rather gloomy.

If you drove literally one mile inland it was nothing but sunshine and warm breezes.

3. Eliza is always hungry. She is a bottomless pit...for sweets. We would eat lunch and then 30 minutes later she would say, "I'm really hungry." So I would suggest a piece of fruit and then she would counter with a pan of brownies. So we made brownies, after fruit. Look, this is what aunts do! They were all excellent little cooks:

4. Phoebes is getting extra cute:

5. Ben and Tom are reading Harry Potter and it is thrilling. They love it. Do you remember the first time you read it? It kind of kills me that I had to read it as an adult. I think 10 year old me would have died over it. They're in the middle of The Prisoner of Azkaban so as we were talking about death eaters they started listing them off.

"Lucius Malfoy."
"Sirius Black"

We sorted them into houses on Pottermore (the new version of which is not nearly as fun) and Ben was not thrilled to be in Hufflepuff

Tom was in Ravenclaw like me and all weekend he kept saying, "For Ravenclaw!" to me.

Come back to us, family!! We have spare rooms and everything!