Thursday, June 30, 2011

Norske Pannekaker

Happy Pancake and Pea Soup day!  Or, if you are NOT Scandinavian, Happy Thursday!

All the men in my life are great cooks.  All of them.  I don't know why that is, but it's a good thing they are, as I'm not.  I'm not horrible, I just haven't had the practice.  (That's my story and I'm sticking to it.)

Case in point, my handsome brother Jay, seen here circa 1980-something, whipping up a batch of pancakes.

And my neighbor and his friend making a killer Thanksgiving feast last Thanksgiving... truly yummy!

And that's not to mention my favorite Italian cook, who is a master at whipping up dinner for 21 people on a regular basis - a feat that's made more complicated by the crazy food allergies, aversions and preferences of our crowd!

Speaking of pancakes...  Here's my favorite!

Norwegian Pancakes
• 3 eggs
• 1 1/2 cups milk
• 1 cup all-purpose flour
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon sugar

Combine the eggs and milk in a bowl, or use a blender. Add the flour, salt and sugar, and beat or blend until smooth. Batter will be thin.  Heat a skillet over medium-high heat, and coat with  butter.  (Cooking spray?  Fogeddaboutit - to get the authentic Norwegian taste, use BUTTER.)

Scoop about 1/4 cup of batter into the skillet, and tilt the pan to coat the bottom.

Cook until the top edges look dry, about 30 seconds. Carefully slide a spatula under the pancake and flip. Cook for a few seconds on the other side, just until browned.

Remove to a plate, and repeat with remaining batter.

Serve with jam, syrup, lingonberry preserves & sour cream, or just sprinkle with sugar and roll them up as a finger food!

You will probably have to double this recipe to properly feed people.  My mom usually just started with a whole quart of milk and went from there.  But then, she was a wonderful cook and could make anything from scratch.  
Have a great day!

Now I'm hungry...

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Bagged Cat

I was cleaning the bathroom the other day, had just taken out the last roll of toilet paper, excuse me, bathroom tissue, out of the package and placed it in the dispenser, when I turned around to see this!
The glowing eyes in the photo just make it better, don't they?

Anyway, back in my mind I'm thinking smiert bagonam!  Smiert plastik bagonam, or death to plastic bags!  Every cat has a thing about bags.  They have to inspect them, hunt them, kill them, and take possession of them.

Smiert plastik bagonam is my take on the old Russian smiert spionam (death to spies) from the James Bond novels.  Okay, I confess, while other little girls were reading Anne of Green Gables, I was knee deep in Ian Fleming's books.  And I apologize to everyone out there who actually speaks Russian.  Like my cousin Alan's entire family.

But I digress.

Jack's foray into plastic bag 'ownership' left me in stitches, as did the fact that he just sat there, sweetly looking at me from inside the thing, while I ran to get the camera and took his picture.  That made it even funnier.

Here's to Jack.  The intrepid slayer of plastic bags!  My hero.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Critters of Altamirano

Iguana tell you another story from Elder Nils, my nephew who is serving as a missionary in the south of Mexico.  They had elders visiting and there wasn't enough room for all of them, so someone was sleeping on the floor:

"So here we are, all asleep, and it´s like one in the morning, when I get woken up, because I can feel something on me.

"At first I didn´t worry too much, usually when I wake up from something on me in the night, it´s usually like a spider or something, which is pretty common here.

"So I go to brush it off, when it jumps, and lands on my side, and that´s when I feel that it´s really slimey. And then it jumps again, and I realize it´s a frog.

"Hahahhahaa so I hit it off me, and it lands on the Elder whose sleeping on the floor. But he´s totally out! And I´m sitting here trying to figure out if I should wake up the elder, or if I should just leave him there asleep with this frog hopping around on him.

"Finally I just let him sleep and the frog left. But it was pretty funny, a good little way to wake up.

An Iguana
"The next day we woke up, sent those other Elders back to their pueblo, and got ready for the day. Right when we were about to leave, the kids who live in the big house next to us came over and started telling us that the needed help. They showed us that in their swimming pool, an iguana and a bunch of baby iguanas had fallen in. ( the swimming pool was empty)

"So of course we went down there to get the iguanas out! .. Elder Dahl had the big one (you gotta be careful with that one, they can bite hard enough to take off a finger) Hahaha but it was pretty fun, the little ones climbed all over my head. We let them go only to find out that you can sell them as food for a lot of money, or just eat them.

"Apparently they taste really good, one of the members here told me that they were going to give us iguana next time we eat with them. Mmmmm iguana.

"So then the next day, at church, the primary kids find a turtle outside. We kept trying to keep them away from it, cause you could tell it was trying to bite them.

"....  this kid named Donavan .. was walking around with this turtle. He walks up to us and we told him to be careful, and he says to his mom, "no look! It doesn´t bite!" and puts his finger right in front of the turtles mouth.

"Which of course it bites.

"Hahahaha I probably shouldn´t laugh, because those turtles bite hard, but the kid dropped the turtle, and started crying, and his mom started laughing and telling him that he should have listened. Elder Dahl and I took the turtle out and let it go.

"It´s been a fun week with little critters. (found another scorpion too)"

"Life is good here, missionary work isn´t too hard, you never have to think about yourself, just how to help others."

And that's the news about the critters in Altamirano.

[I don't think I'd do very well down there!  I even have to call my neighbor in to kill the big bugs. ]

Monday, June 27, 2011

Mount Vernon - then and now

Here is Kirsti's grandmother on a 1934 trip to Mount Vernon.  (She's one of the two ladies on the right next to the couple on the left.  I have no idea which one.  Sorry!)  She was on a roadtrip from her home in Oregon.

Jay took this picture of Kirsti last week near the same spot at Mount Vernon.  The house and grounds don't look appreciably different, do they?

This Historic Home, which once belonged to our first president, George Washington, has gone through quite a few changes since I visited here as a child.  Jay says they've made a lot of changes to the place, all in the name of historical accuracy, and they have built a large museum on the grounds.

The society that runs the site started out with a handful of original artifacts many years ago, and now has over 50,000.  New things are coming in all the time.

For example, a family in Oklahoma just discovered they had a sugar bowl that was part of an original Washington set from the late 1700s.  It was acquired somehow and handed down by this family as a heirloom.  It has the GW initials on it set in a cloud, which fits perfectly in with a set of the Washington's china.  That acquisition by the society completed a china set that once belonged to the President.

Jay and Kirsti found their tour fascinating.  The house is air conditioned now and there are tour guides in each room constantly explaining things out loud to the visitors.

George Washington is one of my heroes.  There are few men who could have done what he did.  He served humbly and ably and set the example for all the presidents who would follow him.  A great war hero, he had the command of an army and could easily have become a dictator or a despot.  There were many at the time who wanted George Washington to be not just president, but King.  He had the strength of character to turn that honor down.  I bless him for it.

Even though necessity forced him often to leave it, George Washington preferred the life of a country squire and loved his Mount Vernon home.  I don't blame him.  Even more than two hundred years later, it's a beautiful place.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Touring Shenyang

 Daniel has settled into life in Northern China.  He's in the city of Shenyang.  I'm glad he sent some pictures, to give us an idea of what it looks like there!  Here is a large statue of Chairman Mao saying "Hiya!", which apparently he said alot.  Right.  I think it's funny that it's so large.  He was actually a tiny guy, like four foot something.  I was so surprised when I toured the Nixon Museum in Yorba Linda and discovered the life-size statues of world leaders from the Nixon years.  Mao, in particular, seemed very different than I had imagined.

 This is the local park.
 Looking out from the apartment out over the Heping District.  It's a huge city.
 Here are some familiar brands that should make Holly, Daniel's wife, happy!

The local Mickey Ds! You can just make out the familiar golden arch symbol down the street.  (I'm loving it!) Daniel says much of the city is under construction.

Shopping areas are plentiful.

I'm so happy that Daniel is sharing all these great pictures.  It is fun to see this corner of the world that I know so little about!

Funny to think of people in China shopping at H&M, Walmart and McDonalds.  Those are the ties that bind us to people all over the world now.  Add in Blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Skype, and the like, and the world has become a very tiny, connected place.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Happy Sankthansaften!

Well, I'm posting a day late - but the evening of June 23rd marked Sankthans night, a special mid-summer holiday in Norway, Sweden and Denmark (and other parts of Northen Europe), a folk festival, where people light huge bonfires and sometimes get a little crazy.  Actually, I think it ws celebrated on Friday the 24th this year...

This festival predates Christian times and is rooted in pagan mid-summer festivities. When the Christians adopted the holiday they called it Saint John's Day (as in John the Baptist).  Sankthans is a contraction of 'Saint Johannes'.  It's usually celebrated by lighting huge bonfires, if the weather permits.  Rain was expected in Oslo this year, but I can only assume that if it wasn't too wet, it wouldn't have stopped anyone.

The Swedes call it Midsommar.  I've heard it is celebrated in the Bristish Isles as well.  I have no idea how it ties in with John the Bapist at all, actually, other than his birthday would have been six months before Christ's so perhaps that is the idea.

So, happy midsommar, summer solstice, and Sankthans!  Enjoy the beautiful weather!
 From what my mother has told me, her dad, my Norwegian Bestefar, prohibited any celebration of Sankthans, because these parties were usually full of dancing (often around a May pole), games and  lots of public drunkeness.  He wasn't opposed to the dancing or the games as much as he was worried about his daughters!

So, I celebrated quietly with my cat Jack on my lap, Japanese food, and some Chuck DVDs.  To each her own.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Goodnight Moon!

Fred and his grandmother
(photo by Jay)
Fred had a chance to visit with his beautiful Farmor, Kirsti, this summer.  (Yes, she's a grandmother twice over now and looks... well, way too young for that!  I would hate her if she wasn't so darn wonderful in every way.)  I liked this picture because Fred seems so happy he looks like he's ready to burst into song!  Yes, I'm sure that's what he was doing...

Fred won't be two years old until the middle of August, but he's already wearing 3 year-old sizes.  He's a big, healthy boy!  And he may be a couple of months short of two, but he's already hit the 'terribles' - full of curious energy and yearning for independence.  Guess he's right on track.

Fred and his favorite book
(photo by Linnea Farnsworth)

Fred's favorite book is Goodnight Moon.

He likes books, even, as his Aunt Linnea noted, when they're upside down.
Fred's a happy kid!
(photo Linnea Farnsworth)
I like books too.  Runs in the family.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

More on the Mo Tab Flash Mob

The words Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Flash mob don't usually show up in the same sentence!  But yesterday, while on tour back east, the Choir did just that - they showed up at Colonial Williamsburg and wowed a very surprised audience of tourists to the facility!

The choir performance was planned in cahoots with the staff of the largest living history museum in the U.S.!

I'm so glad that my friend Don is featured prominently in the video (see below post with the video).  It makes it so much more fun.  He said they weren't given much notice about the event, and had to learn the music very quickly.  They all took off their choir nametags and mingled with the crowd prior to the performance. 

The video was shot by a tourist and posted to YouTube. Whoever you are - Thanks for doing that!  Just a hint - the singing doesn't start until well (3.28 minutes or so) into the video.

What a fun thing!  I wish I had been there too!

Colonial Williamsburg is one of those places I've always wanted to go.

Mo Tab Flash Mob at Colonial Williamsburg

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Jay & Kirsti and Their New BFF

Jay and Kirsti at the Results International closing reception, with actress and activist Valerie Harper.

Jay said there were at least 4 congressmen in the audience, which was cool.  He also said that Valerie gave him a big hug and thanked him for his writing.  Evidently Jay's columns have changed some people's minds on certain pieces of legislation.  She went on for at least 5 minutes in front of an audience of 1,000 people on how terrific he is.

I've always known this.  I'm glad others are starting to notice!

Monday, June 20, 2011

My Brother, the Rock Star

Here is Jay receiving the Cameron Duncan Media Award from Dr. Scott Leckner of Results International at the Four Points Sheraton in Washington, D.C. on Sunday night.
My brother is an excellent speaker and can be really funny.  He graciously thanked everyone for his award - and standing ovation - telling them he was committed to continue "afflicting the comfortable, as you comfort the afflicted".
Here is Jay with his major award (it's beautiful)!  I love my brother.  He's a good guy.  He really deserved this.  In addition to the honors, he and his wife will get to attend a reception for members of Congress one of the evenings he is there in Washington.  Sounds like fun to me.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Jack's Track and the Box It Came In

For Christmas, I gave Jack a Turbo Track.  It was the best money I ever spent.  He really loved it from the moment he got it, and has played with it constantly.  This has involved not only batting the ball around the little green track, which I had snapped together in a 'figure 8' configuration, but tearing the thing apart from time to time.  Jack has also performed scientific experiments to see if his other toys would run on the track.  Jack has since proved conclusively that his mousies and old shoe laces will not run on the track.  This should be of great interest to the cat community at large.

Last week, Jack pulled apart the Turbo Track one last time... and lost the ball for it... thoroughly... and quite effectively rendering the track, well, not so much fun any more.

I got the bright idea to buy a new one, and merge the two tracks!  Two times the fun, right?

So last night we got the thing and laid it all out in an interesting way.  I was so excited and waited with anticipation for my boy's reaction.

Jack dutifully came into the living room when I called him.  He flopped down.  He stared at me.  Then he stared at the track.

And stared some more.

Huh, he seemed to say.  New ball.

 New ball.  Big Deal.
Part of it is blue now.  What's up with that?
 I think I've seen this before...
 But what's this?  This is cool!
 Wow.  This is cool - and yummy!  This is a fun thing!
 Wow.  I can tunnel under it!
And I can lay in it!  Thanks for the very cool box!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Someone Special is 9 Years Old Today!

 My nephew Christian is 9 years old today!  I think he's a pretty cool kid.
 He gets excited about fun things...
 He proudly wears his Swedish soccer shirt (with attitude!) in our nation's capital...
 He's very smart and fun to be with...
 He's a fairly typical enthusiastic All-American boy...
Happy Birthday, Christian!  Have a wonderful day!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Scripture Power!

Recently one of my friends commented that she’d learned nothing in all her years of Sunday School, apart from a general admonition to “Be Good”. At the time, I remember thinking, ‘Boy! If you’d had ME for a Sunday School teacher, you would have had fun and learned a lot more than that!’.

Okay, don’t laugh. I’m not a particularly hot-shot teacher, but I do have a love for the scriptures and recognize they have had an impact for good in my life, and not just to “be good”, but to do good. It’s a legacy from my father, who was a Gospel Doctrine Sunday School teacher most of his adult life. He loved the scriptures and got excited about the things he learned there. His excitement was infectious, and made me want to read and find out these things for myself.  (Thanks, Daddy!)

The Prophet Isaiah
 I love the people I’ve met from the great stories in the scriptures and the truths I’ve learned through their life experiences: Hannah & her son Samuel who became a great prophet in Israel; Daniel and his friends Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego who were men of integrity; the great prophet Isaiah who saw the Savior in vision; or father Abraham who was promised that through his seed all the earth would be blessed.


Jesus Calling His Disciples
Then there are the wonderful stories of Jesus from the New Testament. How can you not be profoundly touched by his message and ministry, his death and resurrection? How can you not be moved by the miraculous conversion and subsequent ministry of the Apostle Paul?

Nephi and His Family

The Book of Mormon offers another testimony of Jesus Christ. There are also marvelous stories and people to be met there: Nephi, whose own brothers made his life miserable, but who saw the virgin Mary in vision as a young man and proclaimed the condescension of God; Ammon who defended the flocks of King Lamoni and changed lives with his testimony; Captain Moroni the great defender of freedom; or Alma, who repented of his sins and changed the course not just of his own life, but of his people’s history.


These people have been my companions all my life, and my life is better because of it.

It was Jesus who commanded “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.” (John 5:39)

So the question, I guess, is this: If you think the scriptures are holy writ, that they are truly God’s word, why put them on a shelf and forget about them? I have friends who find my old, underlined and beat up scriptures an anathema. I guess it’s all in perspective. To my mind, if God writes something, or causes something to be written, it might be a good idea to read it, study it, ponder it! Who honors God more, the person who keeps a set of pristine scriptures on a shelf and never looks at them – or the person who reads them over and over and studies them until the book is worn and falling apart?

Have you read the Old and New Testaments cover to cover?

Have you read the Book of Mormon?

These books can change your life.

I challenge you to make scripture reading a daily habit. And I promise you, that if you do, you will grow in your testimony of Jesus Christ and have the guidance of the Holy Spirit to help you with the concerns of your daily life.