Friday, December 18, 2015

#HeForShe Recipe

A photo posted by #HeForShe (@heforshe) on
Two of my coworkers were enlightening another of how our fathers empowered us as young girls so that we could grow to be confident, strong women. Growing up, I often heard how proud my dad was of me for being smart, getting good grades, and being a good big sister. He and my mom entrusted me at an early age to help care for my younger siblings and let me make all of my own decisions, supporting me each step of the way. I was blessed to grow up knowing that I was not limited because I was a girl. And that I could do whatever I set my mind to. It has made me the uncompromising, demanding (but only in the best of ways--I think) person I am today. With expectations that might be a little too high.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Why I'm Glad I Didn't Marry at 19

I know that I blog about how dismally sad that I'm not married and I'm childless and all these other things at the age of 30. But the truth is, I am infinitely more grateful that I didn't get married at 19.

At the age of 19, it's hard to have a true understanding of what real life is like. 

If you're lucky, you graduated from high school with little to no challenges. You weren't struggling to find creative ways in which to meet your basic needs. Shelter, food, and clothing were provided. The hardest thing I had to do was find a way to balance my part-time job, some homework, and wake up at 4:30 a.m. for early morning seminary. Once, I ran out of gas on the way to Edison. Once, my tire went flat at midnight on a country road. This was all before I had a cell phone. See? My life was hard.

I'm glad I had the opportunity to move out of my parents' house, and into an apartment. This is where it became critical to learn how to pay my bills. I had to balance my needs (rent, food, tuition) with my wants (those pants that fit because I wasn't actually buying food and that double-feature movie procrastination day). I lived a bunch of kids my own age and to varying degrees of success. Some of my roommates were gems that developed into long-lasting or lifetime friendships. Others were straight up trials, that helped me figure out how to deal with difficult people.

Life has been one barrel roll over a waterfall after the other. From my cars falling apart at the most inopportune times, to health or family challenges, and job changes, it seems like nothing is ever easy. That there's always something. And it always happens at the worst time.

But inbetween the trying times, there's the trips, the laughing fits with your best friends, the cozy meals, and the exploration of the city/state/country or the world. If I had been married at 19, I would have missed out on so many amazing experiences that have colored my life with happiness. I would not be friends with any of the men and women that I associate with now. It was during the ages of 19-25 that I really was developing into the person who I am today and to have been married during that time would have changed so much. And I'm not convinced it would have changed for the better.

At 19, you're still trying to figure out who you are. 

How can you possibly know who you are if you have never lived on your own? If you have never dealt with anything outside of your comfort zone? If you have only a few years of part-time employment experience, and spent the rest of the time in a classroom studying things that you're guaranteed to forget instantly?

There's so much to know. And so much to experience. Trying to figure out a way to support a young family before you've learned how to support yourself seems ludicrous to me.

At 19, you haven't had enough relationship experience to know what you're doing.

I equate picking a spouse at the age of 19 to blindly picking out a boat before you know what kind of water you'll be in.

And honestly, it doesn't hurt to test out some of the boats, before you know how they'll handle the crash of the waves, or the bends in the rivers. Do you really want to take that rowboat into the open ocean? Or try and fit that cruiseline down a mountain stream?

Sometimes you choose correctly. I do understand that. But at 19, how can you have really had enough experiences in relationships, to know you're making a choice that you are going to be happy with 10 or 20 years from now? In what other scenarios is is appropriate to just pick the very first thing to come along and go with it in full confidence?

I think it should be illegal to marry before the age of 25. (Ok, maybe 24.)

This seems extreme, but I really believe it. Even in Mormondom, where we expect everyone to save sex for marriage, I think that it doesn't hurt to experience a little bit of life outside of college, outside the realms of these very temporary blips of our life stories. Once you've graduated, and found at least the first step in the ladder of your career, things start to settle. You start to realize that life is always going to be crazy, and if it isn't one thing, it will be the other, but you'll have a strategy with how to deal with it. You'll know how you handle all kinds of life situations, and know what kind of person you'll need in a life partner in order to help you be successful. Or in helping you become a better person.

I believe that every relationship you're a half in, should help you become a better person. If there are people that are dragging you down, then you shouldn't continue with the relationship. But if you don't know what kind of person you are, then you don't really know where to set the bar! And it should be equal. You should be encouraging those around you to be better people and to grow in some way. If you don't know who you are, then you won't know what kind of influence you are on other people, either.

There are sometimes I wish that I were married, and that I had begun this other stage in my life. I get tired of what I feel like is ACT I. Marriage and babies would be my ACT II and I do feel like I'm ready for that scene change. But the thought of starting ACT II at the age of 19 would have been a huge detriment to my story. There would have been too many plot holes, and too many characters cut. Yes, ACT I has been long-going, but, I wouldn't cut anything from it. It makes me sad to think that there are so many that do without truly weighing in what they are losing.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Birthday Month Part 2 - The Biological Clock

Posting about something that you logically know is ridiculous, but can't help how you feel anyway, is always conflicting. On the one hand, you don't want your most inner thoughts and feelings public. And on the other, you can't imagine going another minute without making sure that someone knows exactly how you are feeling. When you write on a blog, you make yourself vulnerable and open to others' judgments, their advice, and their criticisms.

Of course. I've always been one to lay it all out there, regardless of what someone else is going to say.

Which is why, when I was sitting in a team meeting the other day, and my coworker had finally had it about my complaints about my upcoming birthday and snapped at me, I shrugged and nothing changed. Despite his reassurances that I'm fine, and that I have nothing to worry about, I don't really believe him.

Despite the fact that most of my friends have hit this upcoming milestone, does nothing to assuage my own fears and anxiety about it.

I turn 30 soon. Less than two weeks away and I am freaking out.

I don't want to freak out. I would love to enter into my 30s gracefully. But instead, I feel like the reluctant cat being dragged into the bathwater. I'm trying to grab at anything that will give me more time, and Time just keeps pulling me right along and out of my 20s like it's no big deal.

That's what everyone would have me believe, anyway. That it's no big deal. That so far, their 30s have been THE BEST. Any maybe that's true for them. And maybe it'll be true for me. But I'm having a hard time accepting it. Especially when it comes from those who have married and started having their babies (or not having their babies, if that was their choice). Of course being 30 is no big deal when you have your partner in crime to be there with you.

The problem is that when I turned 24, then 25, 26, and then 27, I said to myself, "It doesn't matter that I'm not married. That I haven't started having kids. At least I'm not 30." Every year that things haven't happened the way that I wished them to, I've reassured myself that I have plenty of time. That I'm not 30, and therefore, it was OK to continue on. That somehow things would be different by the time I hit this particular date.

But nope.

I can't say that things are really much different at all.

And so I'm panicking. Because even though I could probably transfer all this dread and worry onto the age of 40. "At least I'm not 40!"

I worry. I worry because the last decade has gone by SO quickly. And if it has happened once, who is to say it won't happen again? And how can a decade blow by and nothing change?

“Today we tell girls to grow up to be or do whatever they want. But the cultural pressure to become a mother remains very strong; rare is she who doesn’t at least occasionally succumb to the nagging fear that if she remains childless, she’ll live to regret it.” —Kate Bolick 

I wonder if I were raised differently if it would matter so much. People are quick to accuse the fact that I've lived in Utah for the last 11 years, watching 19 year old girls marry; or that I've been raised Mormon where the emphasis on being a wife and mother and a part of a perfect little family unit; and that is why I am so hung up on all of this.

But I find that hard to believe as a full explanation. My earliest memories are of me mothering my younger siblings, writing stories about two lady bugs that fall in love and have babies. Playing house....

Being a wife and mother has always been something that was important to me.

I wish I could be content with the thought of not. I wish I could be strong enough to be OK with the idea that if it happens it happens and that is great. But if it doesn't happen, then that's great too.

I'm not though.

What happens if 40 comes, and everything is the same again? Then there is no hope. Even my doctor told me, "If you were turning 40, then I'd be crying with you." I just can't seem to leave the timeline of events alone. No matter what I do, I can't negotiate with Time to give me more. I don't want to go back to when I was younger and more naive. I don't want to have to relive the years where I wasn't quite sure of who I am, or remake some of those same mistakes. But I do not want to be 30. Not yet.

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Birthday Month Part 1 - The List

Things that I thought I'd accomplish before the age of 30:

  • Graduate from college
  • Travel
  • Know who I am
  • Have my finances under control
  • Own a house
  • Kiss men
  • Fall in love
  • Have my heart broken
  • Fall in love again
  • Introduce my family to "the guy"
  • Go through the temple
  • Get married
  • Have a baby
  • or two babies
  • Have my own family traditions established
  • Drive a car that works
  • Move out of Utah
  • Live closer to my parents
  • Write something
  • Lose weight
  • Be important to someone
  • Have my health under control
  • Have lifelong friends
  • Feel content and ready to leavy my 20s behind
Things that I will have accomplished before the age of 30:

  • Graduate from college
  • Travel
    • Scotland
    • Hawaii
    • Japan
    • Canada
    • Utah
    • California
    • NYC
    • Florida
    • Idaho
  • Know who I am
  • Have my finances under control
  • Own a house
  • Kiss men
  • Fall in love
  • Have my heart broken
    • By a friend, not a boyfriend
  • Fall in love again
  • Introduce my family to "the guy"
  • Go through the temple
  • Get married
  • Have a baby
  • or two babies
  • Have my own family traditions established
  • Drive a car that works
    • Have my car totaled in a car accident
  • Move out of Utah
    • Fall in love with Utah
  • Live closer to my parents
  • Write something
  • Lose weight
  • Be important to someone
  • Have my health under control
    • Have surgery to remove an ovary
    • Go through cancer treatments
    • Lose my hair
    • Regrow my hair
  • Have family members go through cancer
  • Have lifelong friends
    • Watch lifelong friends move away
    • Have lifelong friends move back
  • Feel content and ready to leave my 20s behind

Monday, October 26, 2015

One Year

I passed the year mark of my surgery on September 19. Tomorrow will be the one-year mark from the day that I went in and discussed my chemotherapy just before I started treatments. (And then bawled in my car for a good 30 minutes before I could call my mom. FYI: NO ONE should go to those appointments alone. They are the worst.) As I hit these little anniversaries, I've been trying to be really introspective about it all.

What have I learned in this past year? What have I really experienced? Am I as strong as everyone keeps claiming I am, or have I just been really successful in deceiving them all?

The truth is, I feel like I'm a failure of a cancer survivor.

I'm only introspective because other people keep bringing it up. I don't feel like I've learned any major life lessons. I haven't developed lasting, supportive relationships with the women I worked out with for 12 weeks in a study up at Huntsman, or with the doctors and nurses who treated me. I tried really hard not to need anyone during the whole ordeal.

I saw some friends that I hadn't seen in probably a year, and they asked how I was feeling. People ask me that all the time. Not in a "hey, how are you?" question that everyone asks everyone. But a "So. How are you feeling?" I know exactly what they mean, of course. But my health is never high on my list of concerns and so I don't think about it. Ever. Until someone asks, and then I don't want to think about it because I'm feeling fine. I'm tired because I didn't go to bed until 2 a.m. I'm lonely. I'm stressed because of work. But I'm not anything because of cancer.

I'm done with all of that. (Minus the millions of worthless follow-up appointments.)

I don't like being associated with cancer unless it is to my advantage. (Yeah, so what? I still try to play the cancer card when it suits me. Never mind that it hasn't worked for me much.)

For something that can be so earth-shattering and life-changing for some, has been a relative nothing for me. If it weren't for the fact that my hair is still the bane of my existence that I have to deal with every single morning, I think that I would literally forget that any of this happened a year ago. It would be on the radar the same as when I crushed my hand in a falling window. Or that time I checked in the hospital for bleeding to death. (A precursor to everything else I've dealt with turns out.) Something that sucked while I was going through it, but aside from the medical bills and follow-up appointments, has nothing to do with my day-to-day.

Every reason that I've come with as to why I had to go through all of this has been shot down as the year progressed. Did it fix any of the medical things I was dealing with before? No. Did it exempt my family from having to deal with cancer? No. So perhaps there is no reason, except that life sometimes sucks, and that we have to go through sucky things.

And then we're done with them. And they are a blip on the radar of life. Here, and then gone in a year. And in its wake leaving a path of insecurities, debts, and not a whole lot more. Something that you would totally forget, if others did.

Even when I was going through treatments, it was not always the highest on the list of woes in my life. When listing out the trials of my life, it usually landed on spot number two or three or four. (The exception being the second or third day after treatments, when I'd forgotten to take my Dex. Those days truly did suck.) Unlike so many true survivors, I never thought of myself as in a battle or as if I were fighting off cancer. I hate being grouped in with those who have had it so much worse. Who have tried treatment after treatment, only to find that their cancer morphed into something different and had to switch up their meds or add treatments. I lost an ovary. But the physical evidence is limited to a scar that no one will likely ever see, and the scar left behind by my port.

I also hate how much I care about my stupid hair. I'm obsessed with it. I talk about it all the time, but I hate whenever anyone else does. I hate what I see when I look in the mirror. I obsessively look at pictures from a year ago when I had long, blonde hair and cry over the fact that I'll be 32 before it looks anything close to that again. I hate that it matters. I want to want to embrace my short hair, and instead, I just get angry about it all.

So have I learned anything in the past year? Am I a better person? Have I grown? Am I really that strong? I think no. I remain me. Unchanged. Unhinged. Shorter hair.




Nova Scotia


At the beginning of the month, the FTC flew into Halifax, Canada, and explored for our annual birthday trip.

It was beautiful, and fun, and I let those two reprobates take all the good pictures of the three of us.




I was super stoked to find this delicious treat in Canada! I lived off of this stuff in high school, because it has a good amount of sugar to make me act like a total drunkard.



The Green Gables









We managed to avoid four moose on the Skyline trail. They made us only slightly nervous when we stumbled upon them right in the middle of our trail.

The worst part of Nova Scotia is the food. Pizza everywhere--both good and bad. And French fries. And literally, not much else. We had the worst luck.

The area's stunning, natural beauty made us gasp and squeal with glee. And I'm sure that the few people we encountered probably thought we were total idiots. We had trouble with the tolls. We swooned over the pretty bills. (I now understand why Canadians make fun of our money all the time.) And we kept getting caught by older couples in the middle of our totally inappropriate, albeit hilarious, conversations.

It really was a beautiful trip, and despite the fact that the customs agents all thought we were crazy for going somewhere "so remote" and seemed genuinely confused as to why we would vacation there at all, (Probably because it was way off-season, and the few people we did encounter were older than us by at least 40 years, everywhere we went.) I would totally go back again.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Cooking

Last week, Meghan and I alternated whose turn it was to cook dinner each night, and the result was that we both ate really well for several days in a row. Or, as my dad would say, we were eating like kings!

It was such a delightful experience. I don't cook. At least, not often. I don't really enjoy it. Except, when you're cooking for someone that is as willing to try anything as you are, doesn't complain about the ingredients that you are using, or the time it is taking to make it; when you're cooking for someone who also helps clean up. . . well, I guess it isn't so bad. It was a fun reminder that even though I don't necessarily enjoy cooking, I actually can do it.

The recipes we used are definite keepers, so here they are: 

Crispy Black Bean Quinoa Burritos

from: http://www.twopeasandtheirpod.com/crispy-black-bean-quinoa-burritos/
Yield: 10 burritos
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes

ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
1/2 cup diced green bell pepper
1 (15 oz) can Libby's Organic Black Beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup Libby's Organic Sweet Corn, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Juice of 1/2 lime
Salt and black pepper, to taste
Cilantro Lime Quinoa
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
10 burrito-sized flour tortillas
Creamy Avocado Yogurt Dip, for serving (THIS IS A MUST--it was soooo good!)

Directions:

1. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the peppers, black beans, corn, chili powder, cumin, and cilantro. Cook for 5 minutes. Add the fresh lime juice and season with salt and pepper, to taste.
2. Place a few spoonfuls of cilantro lime quinoa in the center of a tortilla, leaving a 1/2-inch border around edges, then add the shredded cheese, and bean/corn mixture down the center of the quinoa. Roll burritos, by folding over the ends and rolling up. Continue making the rest of the burritos.
3. Heat a large non-stick skillet or griddle pan over medium heat. Arrange burritos, seam-side down, in pan or griddle and cook until golden brown and crisp, about 2-3 minutes per side. Serve warm with Creamy Avocado Yogurt Dip.
Note: You don't want to fill the burritos too full or they will be hard to roll up. You can also use Cilantro Lime Rice, instead of the quinoa.

Kung Pao Chicken Zoodles For Two

Skinnytaste.com

Servings: 2 • Size: scant 2 cups • Old Points: 6 pts • Points+: 7 pts
Calories: 277 • Fat: 12 g • Protein: 24 g • Carb: 21 g • Fiber: 4 g • Sugar: 9 g
Sodium: 725 mg (without salt) • Cholesterol: 62 mg

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium zucchini, about 8 oz each, ends trimmed
  • 1 teaspoon grapeseed or canola oil
  • 6 oz skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp fresh ground ginger
  • 2 tbsp crushed dry roasted peanuts
  • 2 tbsp thinly sliced scallions along diagonal
For the sauce:
  • 1 1/2 tbsp reduced soy sauce (tamari for gluten free)
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp hoisin sauce
  • 2 1/2 tbsp water
  • 1/2 tbsp Sambal Oelek Red Chili Paste (or more to taste)
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
Directions:
Using a spiralizer fitted with a shredder blade (this makes a thicker noodle), or a mandolin fitted with a julienne blade, cut the zucchini into long spaghetti-like strips. If using a spiralizer, use kitchen scissors to cut the strands into pieces that are about 8 inches long so they’re easier to eat.

In a small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, balsamic, hoisin, water, red chili paste, sugar and cornstarch; set aside.

Season chicken with salt and pepper, to taste. Heat oil in a large, deep nonstick pan or wok over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook until browned and cooked through, about 4 to 5 minutes. Set aside.
Reduce heat to medium, add sesame oil, garlic and ginger to the skillet and cook until fragrant, about  30 seconds. Add the bell pepper, stir in soy sauce mixture and bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until thickened and bubbling, about 1-2 minutes. Stir in zucchini noodles and cook, mixing for about two minutes until just tender and mixed with the sauce. If it seems dry, don't worry the zucchini will release moisture which helps create a sauce. Once cooked, mix in chicken and divide between 2 bowls (about 2 cups each) and top with peanuts and scallions.

Panko Crusted Chicken Piccatta

 

Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 cup flour
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 cups panko breadcrumbs
  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves,
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 6 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 Tablespoons capers
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice + A few slices of lemon
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley

  • Instructions
  1. Place the flour, eggs, and panko in three separate shallow bowls.
  2. Butterfly the chicken so each piece is half as thick as it was to begin with. Lay the chicken out on a cutting board, cover with wax paper, then use a meat mallet or rolling pin to pound it to a ¼ inch thick. Season both sides with salt and pepper.
  3. Heat half of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Dredge the chicken breasts in flour, shake off the excess, then dip in the eggs, and coat with breadcrumbs. Add half the dredged chicken breasts to the skillet and fry for 3-5 minutes or a side or until golden brown and cooked through. Remove to a plate.
  4. Add the other half of the oil to the skillet and repeat with remaining chicken breast.
  5. When the chicken has been removed, add the butter to the skillet and use a spatula to scrape up any brown bits (that's where the flavor is!). Let the butter cook until sizzling and just starting to brown. Stir in the capers, lemon juice, and lemon slices.
  6. To serve, plate the chicken then spoon the lemon butter sauce over top. Top with lemon slices and fresh parsley.

Thursday, June 04, 2015

Strawberry Festival Pie

Yes. I made this.

This weekend Troy will celebrate the Strawberry Festival.

Celebrating the Strawberry Festival as a kid was the official way to usher in the summer holiday. For a few years, our ward had a float (that was back then, when they actually did floats) in the parade and I remember stuffing tissue paper into chicken wire to get our floats to match whatever berry silly theme had been chosen for the year. We rode on a few of those floats and even won prizes.

The Boy Scouts in our ward at some point started doing a fundraiser at the Friday night festivities in the downtown square. Friday night was reserved for a children's parade and bed races. There were all sorts of vendors and booths, and the Boy Scouts sold pies. Delicious strawberry pies.

I believe the original recipe came from an older lady in our ward, and throughout the years, my mom and Aunt Elouise in particular, along with the help of women in the relief society, developed the recipe into something that not only tasted better, but was more attractive, and more efficient to make.

The first several years went something like this:

The Boy Scouts would go to Fulton Farms and pick the berries.

The Relief Society would divvy out the jobs from making pie crust shells to glaze and then drop these off Friday morning at our house. (Our house is only three blocks from The Square, and easily accessible through the alleys to the booth set up there.)

Volunteers, be it Boy Scouts, Young Women (mostly Amy and me), and other Relief Society members would meet at our house and top and wash the berries. Then we would pour on the glaze and set up the pies on long tables, which they would set up until they were loaded in the back of a van and driven to Square.

The Boy Scouts would then top them with whip cream, and serve the pies.

Throughout the years, they started doing pre-orders and sold whole pies instead of by the piece. The prices rose. My aunt started working in the school cafeterias and we gained access to nacho cheese and chili meat to put on hot dogs. The enterprise expanded to the point where the health department said that they couldn't be made in our house anymore.

By that point, they were selling a hundred pies at least, with my aunt always pushing to make more. Which could be done as the process streamlined.

Saturday, Amy and I would wake up to the sound of people finding their seats in front of our house, as we were the last street on the parade's route. We would have to move the cars we parked on the street for the day. Members of our ward, school friends, and people we knew would come and find a place on our porch and we would watch and yell at the participants to give us one last performance. (Because we were the tail end of the route, the performers would be tired and ready to be done, and often, we didn't get to hear the bands or watch the dancers.) As a kid, I always loved to see the different pageant queens and courts. Several of my friends competed and won a spot on the Strawberry Queen Court float.

Following the parade, we could go to the levy and walk through the booths. Mostly artisan booths, crafts, and food. There was a duck race at some point, where they would send hundreds of yellow ducks down one side of the river to the other.

Sunday, our regular route to church was diverted because of a 5 or 10k race.

I have good memories of the Strawberry Festival. And it is sad that the last time I was home, the parade had gotten SO lame. It now mostly consists of people driving in cars with a magnet advertising their business. Other changes over the past couple of years also sound sad. No more bed races. A change of venue from the levy. And because of that, a change of procedure for the strawberry pies.

Luckily, not only is the pie famous enough to have the recipe passed down, it's also famously easy to make. I always try to make at least one around this time for a little reminiscing.

I may never be as good as my mom. But I can certainly hold my own. And you can try, too, because here is the recipe:

Strawberry Festival Pie

Pie Crust:
  • 1½ C. Flour
  • ½ tsp. Sugar
  • ½ tsp. Salt
  • ½ C. Oil
  • 2 T. Milk

Filling:

  • 1½ C. Sugar
  • ¼ C. Cornstarch
  • 1½ C. Water
  • 1 box of Strawberry Jell-O (3 oz.)
  • Fresh Strawberries

Topping:


  • Real Whipping Cream
  • Vanilla and Sugar to taste

Crust: Blend and press into pie shell. Create an edge at the top to hold the pie filling. Bake at 400° for 10-12 minutes or until light brown. Cool.
Filling: Mix sugar and cornstarch, add water and boil until transparent (~2 minutes), stirring constantly. Add Jell-O and return to a boil. Remove from heat and allow to cool. It should be cooled quite a bit before you use it. The filling will do one deep pie, and you'll probably have leftover glaze. Just double the recipe for two pies.
Put berries into cooled glaze and stir, coating evening. Pour into cooled pie shell. Refrigerate to set completely. 
Topping: Serve with Whipped Cream.




Sunday, May 17, 2015

Knowing

There's a difference between knowing something and KNOWING something.

I knew that I was going to have to go through chemo, but it wasn't until I did it that I really understood what that meant. I know that if I eat the pound of mashed potatoes or 9,000 cookies that I'm never going to lose the weight I put on while going through treatments (and seriously--who puts on weight?) but somehow I can't reconcile it in my mind as actual truth. I know that I'm out of shape, but until I go and try and climb a mountain, I don't actually realize how out of shape I am.

It's the same mentality that people go through when they think, "It'll never happen to me." Whether the it is related to crashing your car while texting, getting STIs, cancer, etc. We know the consequences of a thing, but we never actually believe it will happen to us.

You can know that your friend is in pain or feeling one or more of the above, and have no idea what to do and say because you don't really KNOW what the heck is going on with them. Which is too bad, because sometimes your friends know that they aren't alone but still feel that way. They know that they are loved and have support and meaning, but still feel empty. They even know that there is a loving Father in Heaven that has a plan for them and still feel a completely adrift.

I'm always afraid to say out loud how utterly lost and alone I feel sometimes because I really do know all those things. I know that turning 30 is not the worst thing in the world. That especially after all I've been through in the past year, I should be grateful that I'm celebrating another year of life. I know that I'm not the first 30-year old single Mormon that feels lost. And I'm not the last. I know how cool people find my really awesome grayish buzz cut. I know a lot of things.

I know that I can live a totally fulfilling and happy life even as it stands now. I have good friends and a regular paycheck from a job that I--for the most part--enjoy. Indeed, I feel that all of my basic needs are being met. (At least as far as Maslow's pyramid goes.) But I still don't KNOW how to continue on as things stand and be content. Sometimes there is this overwhelming, pressing sadness that I can't seem to shake. Sometimes I hurt and yearn for things that I can't change that I feel backed up into a corner and too exhausted to try and fight my way out.

The future, as it stands, is largely lacking in the things that I have been raised, engrained, trained to want. I never thought for a second, until recently, that there was a possibility of not achieving my goals. And they are my goals. Regardless of my upbringing, whether it is just too late to change, or because my biological clock is ticking, or because I'm just me: I want these things. I wanted them 10 years ago. I wanted them five years ago. I wanted them yesterday. I just don't know how to go about getting them anymore. I feel as though I have tried everything, and thus far, nothing has worked.

I'm in the same position I was 10 years ago. I'm in the same position I was five years ago. And I'm in the same position I was in yesterday. Despite my efforts. Despite my prayers and pleas and wishful thinking. Despite my fantasies and daydreams.

So here I am, on the cusp of 30. And I know it will pass by like every other birthday I've dreaded. Perhaps there will be a few more panic attacks. And perhaps there will be a lot more tears. But I KNOW I'll deal with it like everything else life has thrown my way. And maybe I'll continue thinking that there's still a chance.

"It'll never happen to me."

I just know it.





Tuesday, April 21, 2015

It's Not as Bad as You Think

We hear all the time that God doesn't give us trials we can't handle. But sometimes when you are anticipating or going through a particular trial, you're absolutely certain that it isn't true. Or maybe, you're prepared to handle it, but dang it, you're not going to do it cheerfully!

I was dreading losing my hair. Absolutely dreading it. I talked about it as though it didn't matter. But I cried about it, a lot while it was falling out. And then I shaved it off, and it was nothing. All that dread, all those tears, and all the anxiety over it, and it was nothing.

Sure, there are times when I miss my routine. I miss looking like a person, and not an alien. I miss ponytails and braids and getting my hair done. And I will never willingly sport a bald or buzzed cut ever again, once I have finally grown it out.

I dreaded the surgery. I dreaded the chemo. I was so nervous about feeling nauseated and sick. And yes, it was horrible and I hated it. But it was doable. So much more doable than I thought it would be. I had friends who would bring me soup or apples. My mom helped clean my house a couple of times. But, for the most part, I went to work and I was pretty self-sufficient. And not in terrible spirits. (When I felt crabby or unhappy, I mostly just slept it off, anyway.) I never got sick. I never had to change my routine in order to avoid germs--my immune system worked beautifully. I made it through.

And now the regrowth and repair stage.

Hardly any regrowth at 4 weeks after final chemo
People have said that for as many months as I was on treatments, that is how long I would need to recover. But, I've generally felt well enough. I stopped taking treatments, and nothing has really changed! It took me about 10 days to recover, and then I was back to normal and knowing that I would never have to do any of it again. (Here's hoping! That's what cured means afterall.)

I have been so revolted by the regrowth stages I knew I would have to go through, and dreading it MORE than I did actually losing my hair. And you know what? It's not that bad. I made it through the baby bird stage--the one where I was sporting little gray/blonde feathers that looked absolutely ridiculous. And I didn't really care.

6 weeks regrowth
The feelings of dread and loss and sadness aren't ones that can just be swept under the rug. If anyone else told me that it wasn't going to be as bad as I thought, it wouldn't matter. It wouldn't get rid of those feelings and, in fact, often just made me more irritated about the whole thing. However, I've been surprised at how often I've said those words to myself in complete epiphany during this whole process. It really wasn't as bad as I thought. Or it really was totally doable.

7 weeks regrowth

Pretty soon I'll be into the butchy buzzcut look (I'm halfway there with the regrowth of all the dark hairs). And while I'm not looking forward to it either, it is what it is. I'm just sick of wasting so much emotion on it. Because in six more weeks, I'll be in a totally different awkward regrowth stage. And maybe I'll even have eyebrows again!*

I'm pretty sure I can handle it.

*I have hair where my eyebrows should be, but it's super blonde and hardly counts for the bushy eyebrows I'm used to. I'm close to going and getting them threaded, anyway, though, just for shape!

Thursday, April 02, 2015

Japan

Remember that time I went to Japan??

It was an AWESOME trip. My cousin and his cute family have lived in Iwakuni for the past three years, and I had been promising to visit ever since. As a "Done with Chemo Celebration!" I decided I just had to get over there before Simon moved back to the States. I made it with only four days to spare.

Between the craziness of Simon and Daisy packing up, checking out, and trying to tie up loose ends, we were able to do and see and eat so many amazing things!

We spent the time visiting some of their favorite places. Our first stop was the Kintai Castle in Iwakuni. Inside there was a little museum filled with samurai swords, and the lookout at the top of the castle overlooked Iwakuni. My favorite part was that we were free to open the windows as we pleased. I couldn't help but think there was no way a museum in the US would offer such freedom.




We went and had ramen, and I have to say, it's better than any of the sodium-packed meals we have over here! So delightful. And then I toured the base, and Simon showed me that he basically doesn't work as he sits in the flight tower all day. We went to the radar room, where it was dark, and looked like radar screens that you see in the movies, and that was pretty neat. 

The next day, we did a little bit of trespassing when they had "closed" signs posted. Into a small grove of bamboo they had gated off, and then again at the Three Falls hike. Three Falls was gorgeous!






And just enough dangerous for me--I was in heeled boots, and they had taken out all the guardrails. (Yes, yes I am an adrenalin junkie. . . Nope.) Apparently the Marines go and jump from some of the rocks into the pools. I doubt you'd ever catch me doing that, but I could see how it would be appealing to others.

It was really pretty, and a good reminder that I've been mostly bedridden since I started chemo. I am more out of shape than ever! It was an easy hike, but the stairs about did me in.





Another favorite restaurant was the Chicken Shack. It was just what we're taught as little kids equates to Japanese dining. There were small pads on the floor, and we had to take our shoes off. We ate skewered chickens that were roasted to perfection and rice. And it was seriously delicious. The atmosphere was really fun too, with the fish kites and decorations. We had ice cream for dessert, provided by one of the many, amazing vending machines that can be found all over.









First, I have to give credit to Simon, who navigated all over the place without the use of a working phone (and GPS). Japan charges to use the highway, so in order to avoid the tolls, we took a lot of back roads through the mountains. I don't have to tell you that if it were me, I would have been utterly lost. And probably have ended up in Okinawa without even trying. Even when he thought for a second that we were lost, we actually weren't. And he got us to exactly where we needed to be. 



Which was, the first of the onsens. At a resort in the mountains. Everyone, if I haven't told you yet, I will tell you now: I have found my ultimate happy place.


We spent the a lot of time in the area that reminded me of a hotel pool, but was tiled and divided into different sections which provided different types of jets. There was the private bath area, the ones that targeted your back, helped tone, the too narrow areas that hit your legs. There was a steaming hot pool and a more tepid one. There was a kid area. And then outside, there were two giant--GIANT--tree trunks, hollowed out and turned into little hot tubs. (Consequently, where Charley jumped onto Parker and tried to drown him a few times.) 

But none of that was my favorite part.

My favorite part was when I walked into the other area of the bathhouse and sat outside all by my lonesome in a pool of hot water, surrounded by rocks and trees and the open sky. And oh, right, naked. We went at the perfect time, as the resort wasn't very busy and by the time Daisy had gone in and out and I went in, I was all by myself. I could have stayed there forever.

I was nervous, of course, and a little self-conscious. But it didn't take me long to shed my pious American modesty and enjoy a little freedom! Really, it was the most peaceful, content, luxurious, and pleasurable experience. After soaking for as long as I thought Simon and Daisy would want to wait for me, I got out and there were showers outside. How do you make one thing a million times better? Add a shower outside. 

On the way back, we stopped and ate at a Japanese truck stop. Which was pretty neat. You ordered and paid for your food at a machine, not unlike a lottery ticket machine, and then the order comes up and the poor employees have to try and catch your attention because you have no idea what you've ordered or what they are shouting from the counter. 

We spent the next day at a touristy island called Miyajima. We arrived by ferry. Known for its pesky deer, and the cool overlook that takes two verticle rides up in a gondola, it was really pretty. We found some souvenirs and enjoyed some steamed buns. 

















We spent the next two days shopping at thrift stores around the area, packing and cleaning the apartment for a move into temporary housing, and seeing what there was to see in town. The most hilarious thing was the types of clothing sold to Japanese children with English words printed on them, that make absolutely no sense.





Simon certainly has the infamous Hatton blood running through his veins. He is a wheeler and dealer just like the lot of them and would absolutely make my grandmother proud. We went into one thrift store that was packed full like a hoarder's storage unit, and somehow walked out with a carload of treasures for just a couple hundred bucks. We walked in and spent a couple of hours just putting things we wanted into a pile (yes, I participated!) and then at the end, Simon made an offer for the lot of it. It was fun to watch Simon as he tried to talk the guy down in price and was pretty successful. 

My mom will be ashamed, but I couldn't pass these babies up as souvenirs for the FTC!


Good eye?! I sure think so.

We had Japanese Indian food at Ganesh. And let me tell you, I have never had better or more interesting naan. So creamy and smooth, and topped with some sort of sauce the likes of which I have never tasted. I don't know how I'm going to satisfy my craving for it now that I'm back in the States. The samosas were different and the curry slightly different too. And the way they served things. I thought it was so interesting how two different cultures can influence another one and what they offer at their restaurant. It also makes me realize that the only way I'm going to have authentic Indian food is to actually go to India.

But we really haven't even gotten to the best part of the culinary adventures. One night we went to Janjaka, a Korean barbeque, that was to die for good. 



Seriously. I've got to figure out a way to get this here. There's a Korean BBQ in Salt Lake City that just does not measure up. And the waitress came and cooked everything for us in a very awkward way. In Japan, they let you take care of it all yourself.

I went bowling with Charley. She nearly beat me. And kept getting bored in the middle of the game. But then I'd make her finish, and she would want to start another one. Silly, girl.



We did a trip to a sushi restaurant, where all the plates were something akin to $1 a plate, and they came to us on conveyor belts. We went to another restaurant called Shabu Shabu, and it was similar to the barbeque, and just as delicious. But one of the weird delights (except to Daisy) was discovering that there is a Japanese curry that is spicy and cheesy and wonderful. It comes out looking a little like baby poop, but holy goodness, it's fantastic. 

The dollar store in Japan was pretty amazing. And there are some really cool Japanese candies, that I can totally get on board with. Namely the chocolate filled marshmallows. 

Simon and I went to another onsen the night before I left. We got little 30-min massages which was just the thing before a long flight home. It was busier, and I found that I did not care at all. But I did spend most my time outside, in a pool alone. I was surprised how little the Japanese women cared about me. They didn't look my way at all. Simon made some friends, which was funny, and I walked out with him surrounded by a bunch of college-aged kids that eagerly waited to hear me respond to Simon's, "How was it?"

On my final day, Simon and I went to Hiroshima and went through the museum and walked around the Peace Park. It was blustery and cold, which matched the somber mood. There were a lot of things that I didn't know about the bomb being dropped in Hiroshima. Like the fact that we had POWs here, or that the city center was filled with young, middle school-aged children who were doing building demo labor and things.






I'm a million times indebted to Simon and Daisy for opening their home, especially during such a hectic time, and really making sure I had such a cool experience. I hadn't had an opportunity to spend much time with him since moving to Utah, and seeing the type of husband and father he is, was really cool. He and Daisy have two really cool kids, and it was fun to spend time with all of them. It was definitely a great way to celebrate the end of chemo, the beginning of my 30th year! 

I never thought I wanted to go to Japan, but I'm so glad I did. Everything feels so clean (seriously, you should have seen the public bathrooms--though, I did avoid any type of squatting ones) and safe. Everyone was super happy to help and try and understand and overall, it could not have been a better trip!

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