Category Archives: friends


Recently, Google decided not to continue support for the method which I use to publish my blog to I had a few choices as to which direction I could go, and decided that I really really liked publishing to this domain and not to a random blogspot location.   Call it vanity.

Anyhow, I’ve updated to a WordPress blog. I’ve managed to import most of my posts and (sadly, only a part of) the comments from the last few years.  I’m hoping for minimal disturbances.

I still have some updates to make to make my blog pretty.  But that’s not difficult.  And then maybe I should add a post or two of my recent doings.  All in good time.

I do have a favor to ask, Dear Readers.

I’m not sure that my feeds are working correctly.  Can you leave a comment to let me know how you get to my blog normally (GReader, website search, link, bookmark, etc) and if that method is still working for you?


National Poetry Month Recap!

So, there it went. Goodbye April! See you next time around. I’ll be ready for you next time, I really will.

Did you all have a great National Poetry Month? I sure did. I felt like I was surrounded by good poetry. I didn’t do a lot of reading from the so-called masters, but I did get to see a whole lot of poetry from my friends! Both original and favorites. It was great!

I thought I should put together a quick round-up of all of the poetry posts from National Poetry Month. Here goes:

Amy gave us three posts of her poems. I really liked Sinfonia and Laundry!
Volume One
Volume Two
Volume Three

Mike shared a poem about recent history, which he claims he wrote in the third grade. I’m not sure I buy it.
The Battle of the Blinds

Katherine posted quite a few of her favorite poems:
e.e. cummings
That the Science of Cartography is Limited
Musee des Beaux Arts
Housing Shortage

Elizabeth dropped a poem about one of my favorite things in the world: Trees!

Kara also posted two poems. Her site feed is broken, so you might not have seen them, but they were there. I just saw the second while I was looking for the link for the first, so I haven’t had time to digest yet.
i carry your heart with me
Poem about love

Fridge for Thought featured some great poems this month too. I tried to talk Adam into a National Poetry Month theme, but I thought of it too late.
April 13 – Entries 2 and 4
April 27 – Entry 4

Melanie left a poem in the comments from the last thread:
Our Class

I did talk a group of people from my favorite message board,, to write some poetry in celebration of NPM. I really owe Tweleve and the people who populate the Creative Corner over there for my return to writing poetry a few years ago. They are the ones who dared me, and challenged me, and told me when I missed and when I hit. They’re great poets to boot.
Tweleve National Poetry Month thread

I know this post has drawn on a little long, so I’ll link my poems for the month of April, and then I’ll stop.
The Wind Blew in Detroit II
I dance slowly
Suddenly Spring

I hope everyone got to read a favorite poem this month. Adam and Cass, thanks for the emails with poems in them. Thanks to everyone who took me up on my challenge. I hope I didn’t miss anyone.

Did anyone have a favorite poem they discovered this month?

Why I love geocaching

Tonight for Family Home Evening in my ward, we had several spotlights featuring the hobbies and talents of several people in the ward. I was asked to talk about geocaching, one of my unhealthy obsessions.  I made a quick video slide show of some of my favorite geocaching moments.   I figured it would make good blog fodder, but then I realized it was 7 minutes long and silent, so it probably wouldn’t go over well.  So I shortened it and added music,  which makes it infinitely cooler, right?

Here’s some of what I had to say:

When I was a kid, I loved exploring my great-grandfather’s farm. I was convinced that somewhere on the farm was a buried treasure. I hunted all over the place for a clue that would lead me to another clue that would eventually lead me to the place where all the gold was buried. It was great fun, but it wasn’t until years later that I realized that farmers rarely had enough gold to bother burying it and that pirates rarely stopped in Wyoming.

When I first heard of geocaching, I was immediately intrigued. I remembered back to my treasure hunting days on the farm. Here was a real sport where people hid treasures (ok, boxes with treasure (ok, McDonalds toys) inside) all over the world, and then gave you the GPS coordinates to them and sent you off to find them. How cool was that? Grownup high-tech treasure hunting! Awesome.

I couldn’t afford a GPS when I first heard about it, but I tucked it away in the “I’ll do that later” file. By the time I graduated from grad school, I had had my first taste of geocaching with a friend’s GPS and now could afford one. I was still looking for a job, and had quite a bit of spare time on my hands. So I got my GPS and enjoyed finding and hiding caches all over Salt Lake City. 

When I moved to Michigan, geocaching helped me get to know the area and the people. It took me places I probably wouldn’t have gone to by myself. I would have never found Hines Drive or the Metroparks or Belle Isle without geocaching. I would have missed some of the most beautiful places in Michigan.

For me, it’s really about the places and the people that you encounter while geocaching.

I have geocached in three countries, seven US states, and about 1/3 of Michigan’s counties. Other places I’ve cached:

  • The Huron River from a kayak
  • The Pyramid of the Sun in Teotihuacan Mexico
  • The tops of the Big Horn Mountains in Wyoming
  • Sleeping Bear Dunes 
  • Cache County Utah
  • Downtown Toronto
  • Maybury State Park (a Michigan state park that used to be a Tuberculosis Sanatorium)
  • Multiple Pioneer Cemeteries
  • Henry Ford’s house
  • The campuses of the University of Wyoming, the University of Utah, the University of Michigan, and Eastern Michigan University.
Geocaching is a lot of fun for many types of people.  One of the things that surprised me was the number of retirees that participate.  There is really something for everyone.  If you’re interested in a long hike to a beautiful waterfall, you’ve got that.  If you want to try out scuba diving, there are caches set for you.  If you want to solve a puzzle, if you’re just bored and want to explore your neighborhood, if you’re out running errands and you need to kill a few minutes, there’s a cache for you.
I’ve cached with many different people.  Among the highlights:
  • My two and four year old nephews
  • Both of my grandfathers
  • Many of the people on my blog-roll
  • A hilarious nurse from Chelsea Michigan
  • Several dates, one of which I showed off for by falling (gracefully) into the Huron River in late March.
One of the rules of geocaching is that when you find the cache, you have to sign the logbook.  Imagine how surprised I’ve been to be caching in Utah on visits to see my family, and to open a cache and see that it has been signed just before me by someone I know from Michigan. It’s happened twice!  
Another rule is that if you want to take something from the cache, you should leave something else for the next finder.  I love to trade out signature items, little cards and trinkets that identify the person.  Many times its just a laminated business card or something like that but I once found a Smiley face stamp from someone called “S5280ft.”  Geocachers are pretty clever.

I once heard a statistic that made me sad: the average American spends only 6 minutes outside per day and that is usually spent walking to or from a car.  I have no idea if that is true or not, but Geocaching is one way to get past that 6 minute barrier.  I found a sport that has lots of variety, that takes me places I’ve never been with great people.  I highly recommend it.

Here’s that video that I was telling you about:

Top 10 Moments in 2008

I’m going to try to do this in as few words as possible

10- Voting for Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney for President

The fact that I had a choice to vote for a Mormon for President. Awesome!

9- Convincing my nephew in less than half an hour that we could be friends

That was quicker than my dad won him over.

8- Geocache #600

A walk in the woods, in the snow, with friends. Priceless.

7- Ceder Point

Proof that when I am dead, I will be buried in an amusement park. (I actually had fun at the amusement park that day!)

6- Hiking in the Big Horns

The view from the top. The real top.

5- The Regency Ball

Who knew that English Country Dancing was so much fun?

4- Tweleve Reunion

You probably wouldn’t understand… But it was awesome.

3- Kayaking the Huron

Ever heard “Peace like a River”? Well, that, except, with a river.

2- Thanksgiving Turkey

It tasted just as good as it looked.

1- Turkey Trot

A goal completed!

Top 5 Games of 2008

You know by now that I am a big fan of the games. Particularly the creative games from such companies as Days of Wonder and Mayfair. Not so much among the Hasbros and Milton-Bradleys of the world. In any case, as you’ll see I’m not just limiting the word game to games that I played in. Here goes my Top 5 Games of 2008:

5. Michigan v. Utah August 2008

I’m going to let these pictures do most of the talking on this one. Go Utes!

4. Killer Bunnies

I picked up a copy of Killer Bunnies for my birthday after I read a copy of the rules at Kara’s place (one of her roommates had it). The game play seemed unique, and now that I’ve had it out and played it with various groups of people, I can say that it is fun. Almost everyone that I’ve played it with have enjoyed it. Flo still hasn’t come through for me.

3. That Bang game in midsummer where I took out Chalsea in a one on one shoot out

Bang! was another game that I really really liked a lot this year. I got it for my sister for Christmas, and enjoyed it so much that I got it for myself. I selected one individual game as my top 5. We were playing at my apartment, at some point midsummer, and I had drawn the Renegade card and Chalsea had drawn the Sheriff. Somehow, I had managed to knock off a whole bunch of players in a very short time frame, effectively tipping my hand as to who I was. Somehow, it came down to a shootout between Chals and myself. I kept drawing cards that would keep her from shooting me, which was fortunate. In the end, I shot her and won. It’s very hard to win as the Renegade, so it was memorable.

2. Utah v. BYU November 2008

Another one where I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

1. Settlers of Catan

Ok, so Settlers of Catan will probably always be my favorite game. This year has been a great year for Settlers. I’ve had a great group of friends who like to play, and who make for a great game. The rivalries between Jonathan and myself, and between Jonathan and Mike, (Wow, Jonathan, lots of rivalries. What does that say?) have been epic. The victories have been sweet, and the defeats have been bitter. The occasional food has been delicious. I’ll admit that I even had to go buy two more chairs specifically so that I have enough seating for Settlers at my house. In short, I pretty much love Settlers of Catan.

No one has actually made a Settlers of Catan pizza yet, but now that I think of it, I don’t see any reason why this wouldn’t be a good idea.

So there you have it. My favorite games of 2008. What were yours?

Top 5 Recipes of 2008

As well established readers of this blog will know, I enjoy cooking. So what retrospective of 2008 would be complete without a list of recipes that have influenced me this year. I’ve tried out a lot of new recipes this year, and these are the ones that I loved the most and wanted to share with you all.

5- Zucchini “Crab” Cakes

Amy made this recipe for one of our regular get-togethers to play Settlers. I loved the recipe so much that I tried and failed to replicate it by myself, and eventually just broke down and asked Amy for it. With my CSA this summer I had no dearth of zucchini and summer squash, and this became an easy dinner recipe that I relied on time and time again. This recipe is very easy to both scale and tweak. Add extra little bits of whatever you’ve got (ham, cheese, other veggies, whatever) or vary the spices and you’ve got a completely new experience.

Zucchini “Crab” Cakes

2 1/2 cups grated zucchini
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup minced onion
1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning TM
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup vegetable oil for frying

In a large bowl, combine zucchini, egg, and butter or margarine. Stir in seasoned crumbs, minced onion, and seasoning. Mix well.
Shape mixture into patties. Dredge in flour.
In a medium skillet, heat oil over medium high heat until hot. Fry patties in oil until golden brown on both sides.

4- Amy’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

I blogged about Amy blogging about these cookies. I’ll refer you to her recipe for the details, but these are far and away the best cookies you could ever make. Ok, maybe I’m gushing, but this recipe sings. And instead of hoarding the recipe to herself, she shared it! And now you can try them too. I’ve made them several times and they’re great.

3- Cranberry Relish

I’m a cranberry geek. I love cranberry sauce, but its very rare for me to get well prepared sauce not from a can. (Has anyone ever gotten good stuff from a can? I don’t know!) For Thanksgiving this year, I decided that if I wanted good sauce, I would have to make it myself. So I did. And it was good. I trialed the recipe twice, and got slightly different results, but the outcome was great both times.
Cranberry sauce

Here goes:

Cranberry Sauce
1 C Water
1 C Sugar
1 Bag Cranberries (12 oz)
zest of 1 orange
juice of 1/2 orange
Apple Pie Spice (cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice)

Bring water and sugar to a boil, dissolving sugar. Add orange juice and cranberries. Return to boil (It’s hard to tell, because there are now more cranberries than anything else in the pan, and not terribly important, just get the temp back up). Lower heat to a gentle simmer. Cranberries will start to pop. Cook for about 10 minutes, until the cranberries have softened and the liquid starts to gel. Add zest and spice to taste. (I just dumped it in, I didn’t measure… probably 1-2 teaspoons.) Mix on the heat for another minute or so. Remove from heat, pour into serving dish. The gel will harden as it cools. When it has come to room temp, put in the fridge until showtime.

My first go with the recipe, I simmered for less than 10 minutes, and the berries were more whole and the gel less firm. The second round, which I brought for dinner, I simmered a little longer (I wasn’t paying attention), and it worked out fine, and set up a lot harder.

2- Spring Rolls

When I went out to Salt Lake this spring, I surprised my MBA friends. They’re always inviting me over to dinner, but rarely give me enough advance notice to get out there. This time I told them I’d go (which was the part that surprised them!). Jodie was hosting the dinner, and since I was staying at her place, I weaseled my way into helping make it. Or mostly watching Jodie make it. The appetizer course was Spring Rolls, which are fancy and very simple to make.

Spring rolls

I later hosted people for a roll your own dinner, and also forced them upon my family over the 4th of July. I think I ended up taking them to a mingle as well, except I called them Summer rolls.

This is another recipe that is very customizable to whatever you have available.

Here’s a basic recipe:

Spring Rolls

1/4 pound vermicelli rice noodles, soaked in boiling water to barely tender (2 to 5 minutes), drained, rinsed, and drained again
1/2 pound Asian barbequed pork, lean beef or chicken, thinly sliced, or thinly-sliced tofu, or any fairly dry cooked vegetable or meat
1/2 pound cooked shrimp, halved lengthwise (optional)
12 lettuce leaves, washed, dried and thinly sliced
1 to 2 cups shredded carrots, or other vegetables shredded on a cheese grater
1 bunch spearmint, washed and dried
1 bunch coriander or basil, washed and dried
20 rice paper rounds (6 to 7-inch diameter)

1. Moisten rice paper by rubbing with water, or dipping in hot water for a few seconds. Let stand a few moments until softened.

2. On the bottom third of the rice paper round, make a small pile of rice noodles, a few shreds of meat, half a shrimp, some lettuce, carrot, and a leaf of each herb.

3. Roll up the rice paper over the filling, taking it halfway up the uncovered portion of rice paper. Now fold in the side flaps and continue rolling until you have a tight cylinder. Put on a plate and keep covered with a damp cloth.

You should serve these with dipping sauces. One easy dipping sauce is Sweet Chili sauce, which you can find in most Asian sections at the grocery store. Another easy sauce is Peanut Sauce. In a small sauce pan, add 2 parts peanut butter (natural and chunky is the way I like it!) to 1 part hoisin sauce (another Asian section staple). Heat it up a bit while stirring. When it seems well mixed, add some coconut milk or water (or both) to thin it down. Whisk vigorously and serve.

It’s that easy! (Special thanks to Jodie for helping me refresh my memory of how to make these, especially the peanut sauce. She is absolutely awesome!)

1- Indian tomato sauce

I love this next recipe. I’ve blogged it before, but I’m going to go ahead and put it here again. Because I love it that much. And because you probably won’t click the link. I discovered this in my How to Cook Everything Vegetarian cookbook (by Mark Bittman), when Melanie, Leilani, and I were having one of our Vegetarian cooking nights. We did Baked Garbanzos with Fresh Cheese and Spinach (basically a fancied up saag paneer). But this sauce was the star of the show. I’d make this for dinner every day if my stomach wasn’t so sensitive to tomatoes.

Here’s the recipe:

Spicy Indian Tomato Sauce

Makes 2 cups.

4 T butter or 1/4 c neutral oil, like grapeseed or corn
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
one 1-inch piece ginger, peeled and minced
1 T minced fresh chile or hot red pepper flakes or cayenne to taste
2 T garam masala or curry powder
1/2 t chili powder
large pinch sugar
2 c chopped ripe tomato (about 1 lb. whole), preferably peeled and seeded, or drained canned tomatoes
1/2 cream or coconut milk
1/2 c chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1 t cumin seeds
1 t mustard seeds

1. Put 3 T of the butter or oil in a deep skillet over medium0-high heat. When the butter is melted or oil is hot, add onion, garlic, ginger and chile. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in garam masala, chili powder and sugar and sprinkle with salt and pepper; cook and stir until spices become fragrant, a minute or two more.

2. Add tomato and cook, stirring frequently, until it starts to release its liquid, about 3 minutes. Add the cream and cilantro and keep cooking and stirring until the mixture comes to a boil.

3. Turn heat down so the sauce bubbles gently and cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomato breaks up and the mixture comes together and thickens, about 30 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning. (The sauce may be made ahead to this point, cooled, covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days. Reheat gently before proceeding.)

4. Put remaining butter or oil in a small pan over medium-high heat. When the butter is melted or the oil is hot, add cumin and mustard seeds and toast them until they begin to pop. Spoon over the sauce just before serving.

And now two bonuses:
Bonus #1: My favorite new spice: Garam Masala. Technically, a mixture of spices, garam masala is an Indian spice, which packs such an incredible punch of flavor. I had been using my own mixture until I realized there is an Indian grocery just down the road a bit. I found it, and I’ve been finding ways to use it ever since. So far, I have seasoned my Thanksgiving backup ham with it and a lentil soup. I’m looking forward to the other ways that I can use it!

Bonus #2: A Christmas cookie recipe: Rolo Cookies.
I got a great response to these on my cookie trays, and thought I’d share the joy. Clicky the linky above. Mmm!

So there you go. My favorite recipes of 2008. What are yours?

Top 5 Moving Pictures of 2008

To round out the year, many of the blogs that I read are doing their year in summary posts these days. I thought I’d follow suit. I’ve compiled several lists of my favorite things from 2008. I think that it will provide a welcome relief from other recent subjects.

This first list is rather broad. I’m counting anything that I watched, on a big or small screen, for the first time in 2008. And basically, it’s just the 5 things that stand out in my mind. I probably forgot more than I remembered.

Here goes:

5- Strangers on a Train –

I had people over to watch this classic Hitchcock film, after asking Brian of Brian Presents fame for some recommendation to spice up my Netflix queue. The Carousel scene haunts me to this day.

4- Sherlock Jr

Another Brian Presents entry. This was my initiation into the world of silent films. I laughed, I cried.

Here’s the Chase Scene from the end (Be warned, it’s long, but well well worth the time to watch it.)

3- Iron Man

Iron Man proved a point to me. Don’t always believe the critics. I had heard a scathing review on my way home from work, and had no intention of seeing it. Fortunately, somehow I managed to stumble across the Rotten Tomato index for the movie. It was a stunning 93% fresh. Apparently, the poor review that I’d heard on NPR was the only bad review. It was a fun fresh movie.

2- Dr Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog

I’ve already talked this one up. It was so clever and witty that it inspired me to dress as Dr. Horrible for Halloween. If you still haven’t seen it, check it out at

1- The Constant, LOST season 4, Epsiode 5.

Hands down the best episode of LOST, ever. EVER. I don’t even know where to begin. The whole Desmond / Penny plotline is one of the most wrenching, raw, real emotion parts of the show, and the story, the directing, and the acting all came together in one beautiful episode. If the rest of the show fizzles out (highly unlikely), The Constant will have made the whole series worth it to me.

I’m not one to cry, but of all of the shows I saw this year, this one brought me the closest to tears.

You have to be well grounded in Lost lore to really understand this episode, so I won’t put a clip. If you aren’t, you should be. I think is still streaming all of the episode from all of the seasons. Go! Now!

And a bonus:
Show I most like to complain about:

Heroes Season 3. The plot is rambling all over the place. Foreshadowings are ignored, characters are taken down inconsistent paths. I watch, and I hope they tie a nice bow on it, but it doesn’t happen. What happened to Heroes, Season 1? That was awesome.

So there you go. My top 5 Moving Pictures for 2008. What are yours?