Monday, November 28, 2011

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Cake Making

If you don't already know this about me then just understand that sometimes I look at something and decide that I could probably do that if I tried. So I do. Example. Example. Example. Example. Example. Example.
Guess what I've gotten my hands into now?
Cake Decorating.

I made my first attempt cake yesterday night/today.
Crumb coating. 

I didn't have the right size of coupler but I didn't realize that until it was already in the bag with frosting... So duck tape came into the rescue to help me with the piping. 

Are you slightly impressed? 

I feel good about this being my first decorative cake. Granted the frosting is kind of messy looking, but this was my very first time piping frosting. 

I found the idea for the decorating here and decided that since those flowers are pretty forgiving, it would be a good first attempt idea.

Frosting recipe was a Buttercream Icing which was really good. But the recipe hardly makes any. Of course I used a ton for the flowers but with one batch it wasn't enough for the filling and crumb coating, let alone adding all the flowers on top.

The cake was a Hersey's Perfectly Chocolate Chocolate Cake recipe which was really good and moist. I obviously didn't use their chocolate frosting but I think it turned out well in the end.

It was a really fun experiment! I would love to take some classes though, just the basics so I'm not stumbling around like a chicken with its' head cut off. There are so many details!! What kind of cake? What kind of filling? What frosting? Colored? What decorations? If you want the flowers to harden then it's one recipe, if you want them to soften up then it's another. What freaking frosting recipe is good?! What tip to use for piping? Remember how painting is a complete art and science all it's own? Cooking decorative cakes is exactly the same way. There is so much that goes into planning a cake.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving Leaves

I'm grateful the most for my family and the gospel. Those are the two things in my life that will always be there for me. And those are the two things that I need most in this life. 

Thanksgiving this year was simple. At home, with family, relaxed.
Thanksgiving "dinner" was eaten at 2:00 in order to maximize our lethargic digesting stage while still spending time with each other. A movie was watched. Pie was served. And leaves were played in. 

Let me introduce to you my cousin Doug's children...
Emalyn and Liam. 

Basically the cutest little kids out there. 


It was a grand ole time to say the least. 
I'm thankful for the beautiful Thanksgiving Day weather. 

Monday, November 21, 2011

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Seven Miracles

I just finished reading a book called Seven Miracles that Saved America: Why They Matter and Why We Should Have Hope, by Christ Stewart and Ted Stewart. At times I get so frustrated with our country, our education system compared with other countries, some of the people leading our government, the debt that we are in... it's hard to appreciate the greatness of this land. This book helped me gain more of an insight and a better appreciation for the things that have happened here. It showed without a doubt God's hand in preserving this nation. In every single miracle, men were guided by a divine intervention. It's clearly seen. Our nation truly is blessed. The author made an interesting note at the end of the book. He said, "A person  might ask, by what right do any people claim that God would select a particular people or country for special blessing? It is important to understand that He accomplishes this not by diminishing other nations, but by lifting a nation up. And if He raises up a nation, it is with the expectation that that nation will then lift up others."
The seven miracles they talk about are these:
-The Miracle of Christopher Columbus and the Discovery of the New World
-The Miracle at Jamestown
-The Miracle of a Summer Fog
-The Miracle of Our Constitution
-The Miracle of Abraham Lincoln and the Battle of Gettysburg
-The Miracle at Midway
-The Miracle of a Fraction of an Inch

You'll have to read to the book to find out what these all mean, but here are a couple quotes from great leaders in our country.

John Adams observed, "I must study politics and war, that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history and naval architecture, navigation, commerce and agriculture, in or to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry and porcelain."

In a speech to congress in 1862, Lincoln encouraged his colleagues not to become discouraged: "We know how to save the Union. The world knows we know how to save it. We - even we here - hold the power, and bear the responsibility. In giving freedom to the slave, we assure freedom to the free... We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last, best hope of earth."

Monday, November 14, 2011

Sunday, November 13, 2011

They Never Wavered

Do you remember this book I was reading? Well I finally finished it today. It's taken me well over a year to read (mostly because I only read a few pages every Sunday) but I'm grateful for this book. I'm grateful for the lives that my ancestors have lead. I'm grateful for their examples. Let me share with you some excerpts from the book.

While a POW, Forrest Packard kept track of the days of the month and on the first Sunday of each month he would fast. He would give his allotted portion of food to another POW whom he felt needed the food for then he did.

Esther Packard had 11 children to support alone. Ward and stake priesthood leaders came to exempt her from paying tithing during the time her husband was a POW. Her answer was, "You wouldn't deprive me of that?" She then pointed to her eight boys, "with eight strong boys like these? And you want to deny me the blessings of tithing?" During all the rough times, she always paid her tithing.

Esther Packard also said, "I am even thankful I have two babies dead, that I may have the privilege of raising in a time when sin and temptation will have no place."

Forrest was given a blessing May 8, 1941 in the Hawaiian Temple before leaving to Wake Island. "Brother Packard, I bless you that you will return to your loved ones unharmed and in happiness after much trial and hardship. Your family will be in good condition and their number increased. You will be blessed on land and sea. Eventually you will return and find your family chain unbroken."
Forrest was also told in his blessing to obey his temple covenants. Many on the other men worked in shorts with no shirt. Forrest wore bib-overalls, a shirt and his metal hat. It was said that Forrest would hook his thumbs in the straps of his overalls and smile at you as he talked. On a side note, there was a heat wave in Wake Island soon after Forrest arrived, and no wind to cool them down. But he never strayed from obeying his temple covenants.

Forrest was caught between some of the buildings when the bombs started to fall in Wake Island. He heard a small voice tell him to lie down. At first he hesitated but the voice said as clear as day, "Fall on your face." So he fell down on his face until the bombing was over. In one direction 60 ft. away a bomb had dropped, in another direction 90, in another 120 ft. He was surrounded by bomb craters. A coworker did not lie down and was mowed down by shrapnel. If he would've remained standing, he would have been killed.

Esther wanted to continue carrying out the traditions she and Forrest had started. She prayed for guidance and help. The answer she received was to play games with her children. As a result she had two purposes; first, to improve herself and her own skills so that she could earn a livelihood, and second, to spend every possible moment "living it up" with her family.

Esther would play games with them every night, often until 1:00 AM or later. While they were playing, she would teach the principles of the gospel in an atmosphere that was easy to accept. There wasn't much arguing - if there was, Esther would stop the game. One time when they continued to bicker, Esther threw the game into the fire and burned it.
Bill Packard said, "A team of horses couldn't have pulled up away from home. If there was a choice of playing with mom or our friends, we always chose mom."

Forrest never did any wheeling and dealing when it came to the Red Cross boxes and trading. He just exchanged with the fellows the things he did not use for useful food. He did not take advantage of the others.

Esther would encourage her children when they had the hard farm work. "She would keep encouraging us to do it, so we developed the attitude that we could." Someone would have to ride the cultivator in the raspberry patch so it would get down in the ground. They would get all scratched up from the vines. Floyd said it was a "miserable, miserable job, but we did everything we could to make things work, because our mother convinced us we could."

"Probably the only time Forrest was beaten was when he was defending another, or when he would be working and the workload was such that he couldn't carry his load." - Lloyd Nelson

Even with all the abuse, Forrest did not have ill feelings about the Japanese people as a whole - "just certain individuals were bad." He never said anything bitter about them. He never called them Japs, but Japanese. He tried not to turn against them even though he was certainly hit and abused during his internment. A common sentiment by the former POWs was that Forrest did not become hateful or hostile; he didn't become bitter or antagonistic toward the Japanese. We learn a great lesson from Forrest: It is possible to overcome obstacles harassment, and abuse we may face without losing our dignity and goodness. And we can face prejudice without becoming prejudiced in return.

Forrest's personality was tempered by his experiences as a prisoner. His faith was strong. Every survivor who knew him said he was a good man; a spiritual man; a peacemaker; a man of sterling character; a man who lived his religion; a man who helped many others survive their prison ordeal; a truly great man; a man who quietly relied upon his Heavenly Father for the strength to endure those terrible indignities.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

21 Guns

What the? When did American Idiot by Greenday get turned into a Broadway?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Portrait Painting

People surprise me.
Steve is one of the techs at the hospital that works graveyard shifts. He's older, a grandpa actually with 15 grandchildren. But he's also so nice and helpful when I work the swing shifts. The other night he brought in some of his paintings that he did in Zions National Park and also a portrait of his son. Blown away. That's what I was. It was like he was a double agent living this night life of x-ray tech while painting the days away. He teaches an art class in Provo. He told me that he's always looking for models to come in for his class to paint. (Portraits mind you.) I was immediately interested for reasons that I wasn't quite sure of at the time. It sounded like a new opportunity to do something (slightly strange) that I had never done before. If anything, I would most likely just get an intriguing story from it.

The class is held above a cozy little art shop on the corner of Center Street and Freedom Boulevard in Provo. The tables were splattered with paint and easels were stacked in the corner. There were only a few of us. I'm guessing the other students were intimidated by the idea of painting a portrait so they didn't show up. I don't blame them.

It's amazing and humbling to find out how much you really don't know about something. For one, the beginning process of painting a picture. The questions and preparations astound me. Lighting? Plain white canvas or painted canvas? Colors to use? Method? Sketch with pencil or paint? Placement on the canvas?

Steve likes to prepare all of his colors first. It's a mathematical equation mixing those colors. It's a science, an art. Understanding color and then being able to see it takes skill I don't understand and can't explain.

I feel like I can hardly describe in an adequate way the learning I gained just by being a model for this small art class. I wish people would take more time to understand the complexities and skills of other hobbies and trades. There is so much that goes on under the surface of everything we do. I'm starting to understand that with my x-ray program. Especially with my physics class in learning how exactly x-rays are made, how they interact with matter, with film. How kVp and mAs affect the type of x-rays you're producing. There's so much more then just pushing a button. There's anatomy, understanding body placement and positioning, physics and pathology.

I want to learn and understand everyday. I want to try out new experiences. That's what I loved so much about being a portrait model for this art class - the opportunity to be around something I don't understand, to see the process. It was a new experience. One that most people have never done. (Of course everyone I told about modeling for an art class looked at me weird with that I-hope-you're-modeling-nude look.)
But it gave me an appreciation. One: for the people capable of such art and two: for the opportunity that people have to enjoy the arts. John Adams once said, "I must study politics and war, that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history and naval architecture, navigation, commerce and agriculture, in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry and porcelain."