Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Norwegian Speaking Week

One of the things we've decided that we really want to do when we have kids (No, this is not an announcement) is to raise them bilingually. However, this would most likely require actually speaking Norwegian both to them and to each other, which is something we don't do as much as you might think. Sure, we probably say something in Norwegian to each other more or less every day, we listen to Norwegian music, and occasionally watch Norwegian movies (we don't have very many), but mostly Norwegian has become a sort of secret language for us. Anyone who speaks another (preferably obscure) language knows what I'm talking about.
Then Annika (a good friend from at home in Norway) came to stay with us, our household language switched completely. Annika and I mostly spoke Norwegian to each other, and then we would both turn around and speak Norwegian to Nick, and the cycle continued. It was great.
I was actually surprised at how good it felt to speak my own language so much. I was raised bilingually, and so I've spoken English since I was about seven months old (No, really. Ask my mum), so I've never really considered one as being "more me" than the other. It might be because English is the norm for me now, and Norwegian is just some party trick I pull out every once in a while. In all honesty, being able to speak that much Norwegian for so long really felt like I was able to unlock a part of myself that doesn't get out much. Just using words and expressions that few people here understand, and that I haven't spoken in a long time felt so good. Befriende, om du vil :)
I honestly don't know what I would have done had I married someone who didn't understand that part of me, who didn't talk to me about what Bergen smells like after the rain, someone who doesn't know about buying strawberries at the town square and eating them på Skibladnerbrygga, or the sound the train makes across the bridge on the way in to Oslo. Someone who knows the parts of me that make me who I am. Oh, whatever would I do without my Nick? :)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I'm Back

Well, after a lengthy break of a month with no posts, I have returned. This sabbatical was due to all kinds of things (a month-long house guest, midterms, new callings at church, getting ready for the holidays, etc, etc, etc), but now I have a lovely week off school, and am enjoying a chance to both relax and get caught up on a few things. Although this blog project has mostly been idle since I've been gone, I have done a few things that I will be posting about shortly. In the mean time, there are two new posts that have now made it out of my draft box, so scroll down and get yourself caught up!

Also, it has come to my attention that I am a mere human. Shocking, I know. My weekly blog projects are crazy fun, but staying on top of them as well as everything else I'm trying to do right now, has been causing me some stress. And guilt. I do that a lot. I could outguilt the entire Catholic church if needs be, but that is another story. For now, I just don't think that something that is supposed to be fun should cause me guilt and stress, so I am kicking it down a notch, and only doing projects when I have the time and desire to do so. Which will hopefully be often!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Kindness everlasting

OK, friends: being kind is harder than you might think! Not that there aren't opportunities, it just gets incredibly awkward trying to rate the things that you do on a "kindness scale", in order to blog about it later. I've been putting off this post, because I just feel silly listing the things I've done to be kind. So bear with me while I blow my own trumpet for a bit!

On Monday, as mentioned, I walked my neighbour's dog.
On Tuesday I gave my very pregnant Visiting Teachee some knitted bootees for her soon-to-be-born son.
I spent Wednesday on campus, studying for and taking a test. Turns out that this is not the best frame of mind for being kind! I did make some efforts to hold the door for people, let them go ahead of me in line (one of my own favourite kindnesses to receive!) and just generally be a bit more friendly to the people around me. Instead I ended up getting annoyed with the testing center people for not doing their job to my satisfaction, or with people for crowding into the elevator when I was trying to get off, and other dumb little things like that. Not a very angelic day for me!
On Thursday it became apparent that everyone else was a lot kinder to me than I was to them! One friend took me to class, another invited us over for dinner. Nick gave up copious amounts of time to help me study for a class
On Friday I made one of Nick's favourite dinners, even though it meant a 40 minute roundtrip, on foot jaunt to the grocery store - and an old lady with a full shopping cart let me go in front of her in line.

By the weekend, i had drawn the conclusion that being kind is hard. You're not always going to be in the mood for it, you're going to see opportunities and not take them, sometimes people will think you're weird and creepy for being nice to them (Hey kid, want some candy?). However, (cue nice moral to wrap everything up) it is so worth it when it works! When I let the guy behind me in line for some on-campus edibles cut in front of me, I saw the exact same warm fuzzies in him that the little old lady at Albertson's gave me when she let me cut in line. I made a little dog very happy by letting him bark at the ducks by the pond (let's not consider the ducks, shall we?), and just maybe taking half a second to thank the driver before hopping off the bus actually might brighten his day the tiniest bit? I feel like there is enough negativity in the world as it is, so perhaps if we add enough small kindnesses, we can be a collective counterbalance for good.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Be kind

I am currently working on a monster post about the planning and execution (in a good way!!!) of Nick's birthday party, which I hope to finish pretty soon. I do, however, have a paper and two midterms this week, so bear with me.

In the meantime, this week's focus is Kindness Week. I'm going to try to do at least one kind thing for someone else every day this week. So far (yesterday) I walked my neighbour's dog while she was at school. However, seeing as this is something I probably would have done anyway, I redirected my kindness to the puppy himself, and took the long way home. Which felt like a genuinely altruistic thing to do, because he's not going to tell anyone, so no glory for me. Then again, I just told you, so my ego gets fed anyway. Oh dear.

I"m going to see if I can find some opportunities for kindness when I'm on campus today. While you're waiting for the thrilling update, please leave a comment and tell me about something kind that someone has done for you, or something that you have done for someone else. That way I can steal your stories and do them myself. :)

Friday, October 17, 2008

This week...

...didn't really happen. There was the aftermath of Nick's birthday to deal with, the lovely Annika came to visit from Norway, and we had a little midweek drama/sadness (which I won't be writing about) thrown in with the usual work, school, church and HOA meetings. OK, so I guess this week really did happen, just not in the way I had planned in terms of my blogging adventures. We just had a lot more week than I had planned for! I have, however, planned a few more weekly activities (see the ever-growing list on the right) that I can just grab on weeks like this one and go with, so I'm hoping there won't be too many more weeks like this one.

Now, let me catch up on last week and give you the run-down of Nick's 30th birthday extravaganza so you can see what all of last week's planning went into. Let me preface this by saying that it is my firm belief that birthdays should be celebrated, and celebrated properly, round number birthdays even more so. I give to you: The Birthday Weekend.

To commemorate Nick's last day of work in his 20s, I got up early and cooked him a yummy breakfast of eggs, bacon and English muffins. I then scooched him off to work, and attacked the house with the rage and voracity of 1000 angry kittens. I cleaned, I wrapped gifts, I did homework and laundry and I pulled a muscle in my neck so badly I couldn't turn my head. Pausing only briefly to take some pain killers, slather on the Icy Hot and crawl into bed to lie flat on my back for an hour, I powered through the day leaving a trail of neatness and order in my wake. I also inaugerated the new North Family Tradition of getting clean sheets and towels on your birthday. Which is high on my list of Favourite Things, and is therefore a keeper. Then I gingerly got myself all gussied up for a Hot Birthday Date with the lovely birthday boy.

When Nick got home from work, we went out to dinner at the Bombay House and had a lovely, splurgy dinner of vegetable samosas, Rogan Josh, Peshwari naan and strawberry and mango lassis, respectively. We love us some Indian food, and the waiters were all super nice and remembered us even though we haven't been there for months. I love that about the Bombay House.

After dinner (when we had regained the ability to walk, talk and breathe again from all the foodiness), we drove over to BYU to see a play. We had a few minutes to spare, so we wandered through the late Modernism exhibit, which had some pretty cool pieces. There was also a medieval music group playing in the museum, which added some pretty interesting contrast to the art pieces we were looking at. Then we scurried across to the Pardoe theater to watch Dial M for Murder. Barring some fairly atrocious fake English accents, it was very well done, and perfect October/Halloween viewing. Then we stopped by Maestro's, a gelateria on Center Street, to grab some dessert before heading home, and pretty promptly falling asleep.

We slept in until about 9:30-ish, when I could wait no longer and had to scurry off to my secret birthday stash and get Nick's Big Present: a Nintendo Wii. Let me tell you, finding, buying, hiding and keeping quiet about that thing is probably one of the toughest things I've done in a while. It's hard to keep your mouth shut around someone you tell everything too, especially when it's something you know that you would both be excited about. There were so many times in the 3 weeks that it has been hiding under the bed in our guest room that I wanted to tell him, but the pay off when he opened it up was SO worth every moment of it. Fantastic. Then I cooked another breakfast of champions while Nick got the Wii set up. He was even in his jammies, so it was totally like he was a little kid at Christmas :) Happy happy.
After that we headed off to the store to do some pre-party shopping. Just before we left, we noticed that the power went out, but didn't really think too much of it because we were planning to be gone for a couple of hours, and it would surely be back on again by the time we got back. Wrong. Two hours (and 5 stores later) we came home and were going to start food prep right away, only to discover that the power was still out. So I freaked out and panicked a little bit, then proceeded to continue cleaning the house. An hour or so later, it came back on again, and I freaked out and panicked some more about how much food there was to make in not enough time. In the interest of this not being absolutely the longest post ever, I will fast forward to the actual party.
The menu consisted of:
-The ever-famous Zucchini cakes (minus the mushrooms) and roasted red pepper sauce. They disappeared so fast that I only had two! We made a triple recipe, so had about 36 of them for the party.
- Pain Chocolat. We had them in Paris, and liked them so much that we figured out how to make them here.
-Trifle. The only semi-disaster of the evening. Due to the power cut (and some poor direction reading on my part), the Danish dessert didn't have time to set all the way, so it was more liquid than I wanted it to be. Sad! Still, it all got mostly eaten up.
- The all essential vegetable platter, which I'm very glad we decided to repeat, seeing as we had some vegetarians, and some people who couldn't eat wheat or dairy. It's kind of a boring party staple, but always gets eaten up, so I'm keeping it on my party food menu.
- Strawberry lemonade with strawberries and lemon slices.
All in all, the party went well. The first guests were here at 6:30, the last ones left around 10:30 (not counting Annika who stayed for another month!), I think we had about 30 guests in all, which seemed appropriate for a 30th birthday party. Nick scored big time on the birthday presents (Thank you, generous friends!), most of the food got eaten up, and an all round good time was had. Annika, Nick and I rounded off the evening with some pretty intense Wii-playing.

The actual for realz birthday! It started out pretty uneventful, seeing as it was a Sunday and we had church at 9 AM, but we cam home afterwards and had tasty lunch, birthday naps and presents. Once again, Nick did really well, and got lots of British television, a shirt (that was magically transformed into a pair of pants a few days later), opera tickets, a book and the quintessential birthday money (later transformed into more British television). The families called, we played more Wii (do you sense a recurring theme here?), and then headed up to the canyons for a combined birthday drive, walk and photo shoot. It is a recent North family tradition that everyone gets an official birthday portrait

I would like to point out that there was only walking, not hiking involved. It was a Sunday, after all. Then we went home and had Cornish pasties for dinner, at the behest of the Birthday Boy himself. The evening ended with the watching of the birthday movies, and possibly, more Wii playing.

And so Nick is 30.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Party planning

This week has been mostly devoted to planning Nick's 30th birthday party this weekend. I am currently in the final throes of planning the menu and the accompanying shopping, and finalizing the guest list - the rest of the RSVPs should be in today or tomorrow. I still need to clean the house (prep the venue, if you will) and figure out where to put 25 of our closest friends. I love me a good party, so it's all fun and exciting, but the more of the prep work I can get out of the way now, the less Nick has to do on his birthday weekend. I can't tell you too much of the schedule (because that might ruin the surprise!), but suffice it to say that three days of celebration has been lined up for Nick's Big Birthday. I'll give you an update when it's all over :)

Image found here

Friday, October 3, 2008

Quick Update

This week has seen two midterms and a paper (ah, the joys of being back in school!) and not much else. I'm struggling a bit with finding time to do the things I've planned for my weekly projects, so should probably try something less ambitious. I'll let you know when I think of what that can be!
I've been fretting all week about not having time for a project, and then I realized that I'll be sitting on my couch for 8 hours over the course of the weekend, watching General Conference, which ought to give me time for something, right? So I decided to knit some baby booties/socks to donate to LDS Humanitarian Services. I have no idea how many I can finish in 8 hours, but I'm hoping at least one or two pairs.
Also, I realize there has been a lot of knitting lately, but it something I like to do (as evidenced by the list on the right), and can quite easily incorporate a knitting project into my week. So hopefully it's not too boring to read, and if it is, I promise I'll do something more fun next week.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Vegetarian Week Roundup

Not having eaten meat since last Sunday, I thought I should summarize a few things. First, one of the questions I have been asked the most is what have I been eating this week. Because I still ate eggs and dairy, breakfast and lunch have stayed pretty much the same as always (cereal for breakfast, lots of toast or leftovers for lunch). However, here is a rundown of what I've been having for dinner:

Monday: The ever delectable Zucchini cakes with mushroom ragoût. They're cheap, they're easy, they're fast, and we are definitely making them for Nick's birthday party in a couple of weeks.
Tuesday: Sweet and Sour vegetables over rice, courtesy of Teriyaki Stix. Except I paid for it. It was fine and good and whatnot, but I think it's also the kind of meal that most people assume vegetarianism is all about. I felt like I ordered it because it was the only option, not because it was something I specifically wanted.
Wednesday: Pasta with pesto and feta cheese. My cute mum gave me this recipe (cook pasta of your choice, add 3 tablespoons of pesto and mix in crumbled feta) and insisted I try it for vegetarian week. So I did. It was very tasty, but I think I would add some halved cherry tomatoes next time.
Thursday: Guru's Veggie Curry Bowl, containing, amongst many other tasties, vegan classics tofu and edamame. This was my entire brief flirtation with vegan food, and it was kind of a mixed bag. I liked the edamame a lot, and the tofu was super tasty while it was still crunchy and hot on the outside, but got pretty uninteresting and slimy as soon as it cooled down. I loved all of the vegetables, but was a bit disappointed with the flavour. The vegetables were cooked in a spicy coconut sauce, which sounded really good, but somehow managed to maintain the blandness that some vegetarian dishes have.
Friday: Cheese fondue - and probably a vegetarian slip up. This was at a party, and while I didn't specifically eat any meat, I'm pretty sure there was chicken broth in one of the fondues. I ate it anyway, though.
Saturday: Cheese sammich at the Relief Society broadcast. Nothing too eventful.
Sunday: Vegetables over couscous. Anyone who has ever lived with me knows that this is a total staple of my diet, and there is no way vegetarian week could have happened without it.

Another thing I wondered about before I started this week, was if I was going to notice any obvious difference. Would I feel amazingly healthy, or would I feel crappy due to malnutrition? Would I feel deprived, or would I like it so much that I didn't want to go back? While one week is only so long, I think I can say that what I experienced lies somewhere in between those things. Physically, I felt pretty much the same as usual. Maybe a little more energized than usual, but I could also attribute that to other things, like spending more time at the gym. Other than that, the only difference is really only that I've mostly felt hungry more often.

I haven't felt deprived or like I've been missing out on something I crave at all. A lot of that, I think is that I've been eating foods I enjoy, which isn't really hard, seeing as I just like food. The only times it was harder, was when I wasn't cooking for myself, and couldn't control what food was on offer. At restaurants and parties my options were limited to what was on the menu, and the vegetarian option wasn't always what appealed to me most. At the same time, as the week is over, I don't feel like I'm dying to go out and chomp down a hamburger, and wouldn't mind at all if tomorrow's dinner was a meat free one. My grandmother eats one or two pieces of chocolate every night, and she'll be 95 next month, so perhaps this week's take home lesson should be one of moderation?

Thursday, September 25, 2008


My adventures in vegetarianism so far have been rich and varied. I have basked in the glory that is Zucchini cakes with mushroom ragoût. I have scoured the contents of a food item to see if it contained any meat or animal product (other than eggs or dairy, I am after all a lacto-ovo vegetarian), and I have been faced with the joys of ordering meat-free off the board at a fast food restaurant:

Me: I'd like the "Garden Delight", please.
Restaurant Employee: Oh, we don't have it anymore.
Me: Oh. Well, maybe you should take it off your menu then?
RE: That's not really my job.
Me. .......?

So we ended up going to Teriyaki Stix and having a veggie bowl instead.

I have also enjoyed using such phrases as "We vegetarians need to make sure that we get enough protein", and "as a vegetarian, that offends me". The latter was to friend Brian, who told me that he would have to eat two animals for every one that I abstained from this week. The philistine.

Some of you have wondered why I've decided to do this, and there are a couple of reasons.
1) As mentioned, I always wanted to be a vegetarian when I was a teenager. However, whenever I would tell my mother about my newfound conviction, she would always listen attentively ("that's nice, dear") and then bust out the beef stew or my favourite carnivorous dish for dinner. As a lot of my friends have been vegetarian since then, it's a thought that has crossed my mind off and on for years, and I thought this would be a nice way to pay tribute to my idealistic teenage self.
2) I've been trying to introduce a lot more fruit and vegetables into our diet, and being a vegetarian seemed like a good way to go.
3) As a member of the LDS church, I try to adhere to the teachings of the Word of Wisdom. Mostly we take that to mean no coffee, tea, tobacco or alcohol, but it does undeniably talk about using meat sparingly, and that is something I've been giving some thought lately. To be honest, we're not exactly throwing back vast amounts of steak or anything like that, but most of our dinners do have meat in them, and it would probably benefit us in more ways than one to cut back a bit.
4) I'm just curious to see if I notice any effects after just one week. My mum said I'd notice a big difference in our grocery bill, Tess says that being a vegetarian is so great I might not ever want to go back, and Daisy said that after one week of vegetarian living, her hair started falling out. I'm only on day 4, so I will have to let you know how I feel at the end of the week.

Monday, September 22, 2008

A quick update

So: I have knitted all but two rows of my blanket, and would have finished it well on time if I hadn't decided to spend all of Saturday painting the stairwell (Caution: Not a decision to be taken lightly). I've been so busy lately that I barely even know my own name, but plan a more detailed update tomorrow night. For now, it will have to be sufficient to let you know that this week I am living out my teenage ambition of being a vegetarian. So far, so good.

Friday, September 19, 2008

A Knitting Update

As of last night: 20.5 inches. This should mean that I have another 3.5 inches to go until I've finished the main blanket part, but on closer examination, it turns out that my blanket is 23" wide, which means that it only needs to be 23" long. So I only have another 2.5 inches to go. Yay! I am getting a little bit nervous about finishing it by Sunday, though. We're going out with friends tonight, and painting the stairwell tomorrow, so that does not leave a lot of knitting time between now and then. I've vaguely considering bringing my knitting out with me tonight, but am honestly not prepared to cross the boundary of knitting at restaurants and movie theaters. So, we'll see.

Before and After

As promised, (now that I've found the cord!) some before and after photos of the raspberry bushes. As you can see, they were unabashedly heading for world dominance before I spent an hour ripping them out. Not that they didn't put up a fight, though - I still have a 4 inch scratch on my arm from them.
Now they look a lot more manageable, albeit somewhat scraggly. I'll blame that on it being autumn, and expect greater things next summer.

And because I couldn't have done it without them, I am including this glamour shot of my new gardening gloves and shears. Which I will call secateurs, because that is how I was brought up.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

A little bit of this and that

Hooray, I'm back on track again! It finally stopped raining, I had some time, and so I got to spend some time in my garden at long last. It wasn't quite as harmonious as today's photo (nor were my hands as manly), with a lot more weeding than planting, but still a good afternoon's work. There's a ton to do, but I did get a good start. First I pulled out the bulbs so they could dry and be replanted, then I turned my attention to the raspberry bushes, which were a bit of a nightmare. They had been allowed to grow pretty wild before we moved in, then we neglected them sorely while we were moving in and painting and whatnot. So I pulled out about 2/3 of them, based on the theory that a few good plants will yield as much fruit as a lot of crowded and scrawny ones. At least that's what I read before I started, so I guess we will see what happens in the spring. It does at least look a lot tidier, and just as soon as I can find the camera cord, I will post some before and after photos so you can see for yourself. I still want to plant some bulbs for the spring and figure out some way of storing all of the pots and soil for the winter, but I am quite pleased with how things turned out.

Well, for this week's thrilling installment, I have decided to try to complete an entire knitting project in a week. Thrilling reading, I know. But it's something I enjoy doing, and so I want to try to challenge myself a bit. I'm working on a baby blanket for a friend's son who will be showing up sometime in October. There was already going to be somewhat of a race against the clock seeing as he'll be born in October, so I thought I would try to see if I could do it in half the time I'd planned on. So far, so good. I'm working on a 24x24 inch square, and am about 13 inches in, which is quite good seeing as I started on Sunday afternoon. I'm not sure if I'll finish the square and the hood and the edging by Sunday, but I'm going to give it a try. I'll get some photos for you so you can marvel at my greatness :)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Come again another day

In perfect accordance with Murphy's Law, it has been raining ever since I decided to spend the week in the garden, so I have had to content myself so far with some research and preparation. has informed of some of the things that need be done in my "zone" (Oh yeah, I'm all hip with the lingo!) at this time of year, and has caught me up on how to prune my raspberry bushes. We also took a trip to the fabulous CAL Ranch Store to acquire my very own gardening gloves and pruning shears. I don't think I've ever owned gardening equipment before (beyond a watering can, truth be told), so we certainly are moving up in the world.
Anyway, it looks like tomorrow will be sunny, so I'll try to accomplish something then. Please breathe easily until you hear from me again.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Two not so great weeks.

So obviously my blog has been having a hard time lately. Life has somehow gotten insanely busy, and I've been having a hard time managing my new balancing act. I am back in school as of last week (Yay! Finally!), and thus seem to find myself spending every waking moment with my head in a book, and suffering massive guilt every time I do something unrelated to school. This has resulted in the messiest house and the saddest blog ever, but I will not be beaten! Somehow, in all of this madness, I have to learn how to find a balance between taking classes and keeping the rest of my life on an even keel. So watch in wonder and awe as I attempt the unattemptable and balance the every day life of a 28 year-old woman!

The last time I posted I was working on making a photo book. For various reasons, ( being one of them) I didn't finish that. I realize now that trying to create a decent wedding book and paint my living room, and go back to school all in one week was perhaps, a little ambitious. The same thing can be said for the following week of sewing that I didn't even post about. Sad times.

Which brings me to this week's dilemma: Now that I'm down to 50 weeks, rather than 52 weeks, do I count the weeks where I didn't complete anything as finished projects, or do I add two "penalty" weeks to the end? I haven't quite decided yet, but I will let you know where I end up.

Now for the resurrection of my blog: This week I am going to be doing some autumn gardening. I've always had this sneaking suspicion that you're supposed to do things in your garden around this time of year, and this week I am going to do them. Pictures of our current sad state of affairs to follow, along with the things I will be doing.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Book maker!

OK, so not the gambling kind of book maker. The papery kind! I have been working on making a book using We just celebrated our third wedding anniversary, and so I decided that it is probably about time to make a nice photo album/memory book (use the term "scrap", and I'll be forced to violent retaliation). I've actually made this decision quite a few times before, but hopefully this time will be at least somewhat different. is a pretty cool concept, but I'm not completely feeling it for the execution. It's a bit slow, has crashed on me a few times, and doesn't give me complete control to make things look the way I want them to. At least I haven't quite found a way to make it obey my every whim. Seeing as I'm using it to make a photo book, I might just end up doing it in iPhoto. However, if I was going to make a more text-based book, I'd be all about People are making some really cool stuff, though, so I'm pretty motivated to keep trying. I have a feeling the key is most likely avoiding their templates like the plague, and going easy on the photos. I'll let you know how things turn out!

On another note, life has gotten really busy lately, and so I haven't had as much time to devote to my weekly projects. Yes, you know what's coming. I really want to keep going with this, but feel like I need some shorter projects that I can just do without intense planning and preparation. Let me know if you have any ideas!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Swimmy Swim Swimmington

The only downside to going to the gym in the mornings is that Nick never gets to come. We'd have to get up much too early for my liking to do that, and I do ever so like my bed in the mornings. To rectify this situation, Nick and I went swimming last night. Can I just say that I love to swim? I'm slow and not very good, and get self conscious about doing anything other than back- or breaststroke, but I just love being in the water. I think I like the same things about swimming that I do about yoga: it's unhurried and controlled, all you have to focus on is your breath and the movement of your body. In spite of being a lazy and self indulgent sort of person, I never turn down an opportunity to go swimming.
Neither did anyone else in Utah valley last night, it seemed. The pool, hot tub and steam room were packed with hordes of young guys. It seems Michael Phelps has done his job as far as inspiring the youth of this nation to get wet. I've never seen so many people at the pool at 9:30 on a Thursday night! Although I suppose that might just be because I rarely go to the gym at 9:30 on any night :)
This morning Jen and I went to the gym again. I added a minute to my time on the elliptical trainer (now a whopping 11 minutes!), and did 15 minutes on the bikes. It felt good, but it was harder to get going today than it has been throughout the week. I still managed to work up a good sweat, though. After that we went to work on the weight machines. I have about zero upper body strength, so I thought I might try working on my arms today. And guess what? I have about zero upper body strength! It was seriously embarrassing how little I could lift, or how few repetitions I could do of each one. If I do keep this up, I'll have to get back to that. I mean, I might have to lift or hold something at some point, and then where would I be?
This week has felt good. I'm a little stiff and sore today, especially in my legs, but overall I feel like I've had more energy and desire to do things. We usually spend our evenings watching movies or relaxing at home, but this week we've been out and about a bit more than usual, not to mention going swimming late last night! I'm a little concerned about what I'll be able to do this weekend, though. Saturdays and Sundays fill up so fast for us, and it's important to me to keep Sunday special, but I really want to try to squeeze in some exercise so I can feel like I've done this week "right". Any ideas?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Week 5: Workout Week

I can't believe it's already Wednesday, and I haven't told you what I'm doing yet! Naughty, naughty.

This week I'm working out. Now, I realize that there are millions of people in the world who do this every week and every day without making a big fuss about it. I also realize that I am not one of those people. I always want to be one of those people, but never really manage to exercise on a regular basis. Something always comes up and throws me off track, and then I feel guilty about it. However, I absolutely can commit to it for one week. Hooray! Of course, my secret wish is that one week will turn into two, and two will turn into three, and so on and so forth. But for now I am on board until Saturday at least.

The week so far:

On Monday I went walking with my neighbour, Jen. I've always liked going for walks, but keep making excuses like it being too hot, or not really knowing where to go, or being too tired. I still wanted to do it though, so when Jen asked me if I wanted to go walking with her on Monday morning, I was all about it. It also has the added bonus of getting to know one of our neighbours at long last. It was a good, half hour walk with a steep hill that got my heart rate up, but not so steep that I wanted to die half way up it. It felt really good to be out and about, and I was happy to find a good walk in my area. We also made the discovery that we both have Gold's Gym memberships, so agreed to go together the next day.

Which we did! On Tuesday Jen picked me up and we headed over to the gym. It's been a while, so I started out pretty gently with 10 minutes on the Elliptical and then 15 on the bikes before we headed over to the weights and did another 20 minutes or so there. And then we stretched like good little girls and came home. We also made plans to go again today.

Which we didn't. Jen wasn't feeling good this morning, so I spent Wednesday morning at home. Fortunately, we have FitTV as part of our cable package, so I did some Namaste Yoga. I've tried a couple of their shows before, but get so annoyed by the instructors that I just can't handle spending 30-60 minutes of my life with them. The yoga one is not so bad, even if the narrator is a bit too breathy for my liking. My main beef with the show is that when the narrator tells you to do something with the right side of your body, the yoga babes all do it on the opposite side. Then I have to stop and think about what I'm doing, which kind of gets me out of synch a bit. I was a bit stiff from yesterday, so wasn't really feeling very bendy, but all in all, it was a pretty good workout.

I really like how I feel when I exercise (or at least how I feel afterwards!), so I wonder why I don't really do it more often?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

I'm not titling this A Midsummer's Night dream

We had an absolutely fantastic weekend of truly epic proportions, but I still absolutely refuse to work that into the title of this post. Even if it was dreamy, and in summer. And at least partially at night.
As fervently mentioned in previous posts, Nick and I spent the weekend at the Utah Shakespearean Festival in Cedar City. In spite of my trepidations, it wasn't nearly as Ren-fairish as it might well have been. Thus I did not have to punch* anyone in the face for the entire weekend. It was lovely.

Our highbrow activities started with dinner on Friday at the Garden House where we had baked Brie as an appetizer. Baked Brie! I don't generally tend to wax lyrical about dairy products, but I might just have make an exception for this little platter of tastiness. It was a wedge of Brie, wrapped in phyllo pastry, then baked and served with fresh fruit, crackers and the tastiest cranberry topping ever. "topping" doesn't even do justice to the little red pearls of ambrosia on my plate. Oh wow! We'll definitely be trying to recreate that during "French week". Dinner was good, but nothing too wildly ambitious, and then we had raspberry crème brûlée for dessert. It was very good, but we got it 'to go' so we could eat it later, so I couldn't break the sugar myself, which is honestly half the fun of crème brûlée. We rounded off the evening with a trip to the theatre where we saw Molière's School for Wives. It was a very fun piece, and I thought they did an excellent job of presenting a pretty dense text "to the masses". Before I sound too snotty here, let me explain: This is a play written for a 1662 Parisian audience who both spoke and thought differently than we do. To be able to make an audience in Cedar City, Utah in 2008 laugh at the same jokes and stay entertained by basically people talking in the same space for two hours is no small feat. Although apparently the two husbands sleeping behind us didn't feel the same way. I don't think I could really afford a $34 nap, but maybe that's just me?

The next day we had tickets to see The two Gentlemen of Verona by old Shakey himself. I hadn't seen it or read it before, so it was interesting to get to know a new play, especially one of his earlier ones. It was very well done, but sadly, by comparison to the other two, it was our least favourite. At least part of that was probably the fact that we were on the balcony behind a very tall wall. This had the effect that the people in the front balcony row were craning their necks to see over the wall, and the people on the second row were craning their necks to see over the people on the front row. And we were on the third row. I did like how they had kept the set fairly authentic to the time period, and the costuming was great. Oh, and it had a dog in it! Sweet puppy! The downside was really that the text was so dense that the actors seemed to feel like they had to do extraordinary amounts of physical comedy to jolly along the audience. It really was funny, but I think they could have relied on the text a bit more. They did have a cute puppy, though :)

We were going to end our play viewing escapades there, but decided last minute to get tickets to see Othello in the Adams theatre. There are two very cool things about the Adams theatre, one being that it is an outdoor theatre, the other being that it is a fairly accurate replica of the Globe in London (which is itself a replica, but that's another story). You can see it in the background in the photo at the top of this entry. I spent almost as much time looking at the architecture as I did watching the play. And the play was excellent.

I liked the set a lot. They used the bones of the theatre very well, and built a set that was both very simple and very elegant. The costuming was also very well done, but as the festival has won awards for that, I suppose that was only to be expected. I think the casting was both my favourite and my least favourite thing about Othello. Othello and Iago were both especially well played, and exactly as you'd imagine them to be. Iago was short, which added an interesting hint of Napoleon syndrome to him. Desdemona was good, but a little too... I think American is the best word I can imagine for it (sorry!). She was very young and blonde and bouncy and it was a little hard to imagine her putting up with as much crap as she is expected to in the play. I think my main issue with the casting, however, was that a lot of the minor parts were played by very young men. The Duke of Venice seemed especially hard to believe, and Cassio was hardly out of high school. Which I suppose might be plausible, but still... All in all though, it was an exceptional performance of Othello, and it has stayed with me since we saw it.

Which pretty much wraps up my weekend, and thus the first month of my project! Keep the ideas coming. As well as being a fun project for me, I'd also like for it to be good reading for you, so let me know what you think! :)

*As most of you may or may not know, few things make me as angry as people why try to behave like they live in the Middle Ages.

Friday, August 15, 2008

A long farewell to my greatness*

My dear little readers!
I wont be updating my blog again until Sunday, because we are going on a lovely little anniversary trip! Nick is leaving work early, and we are going to drive down to Cedar City to watch us some Shakespeare! And Moliere :) I will give you an update when we get back on my cultural activities.
As for the wedding at the Springville Museum of Art (or SMA, as their trendy little t-shirts in the gift shop proclaim) it was a little bit of a disappointment in that they had closed off the permanent exhibit, so our highbrow activities were limited to the 35th annual quilt show. Now, I want you to know that my art appreciating abilities are stretchy, and last night I stretched them to quilts. Last night I appreciated, colour, form, detail, style, balance and rhythm. Actually, I mostly got in really close, looked at the hundreds of thousands of tiny little quilting stitches and exclaimed: "Holy crap! Do you have any idea how long that would take?" Yeah, not really a quilter.

*Henry The Eighth Act 3, scene 2, 350–358

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Emily Dickinson & the New York Times crossword puzzle

Good thing this is a weekly blog, seeing as it's already Thursday and I haven't posted anything yet. But fear not, I have been highbrow and snobbish all week.
I started out on a high note on Monday by reading some Emily Dickinson poetry and thinking about death. Or, to be perfectly honest, about her wish that her "coffin [was] not driven but carried through fields of buttercups" on its way to the cemetery. I really think that's the way to go.

Yesterday I did the New York Times crossword puzzles and only missed 7 words, which made me feel pretty smartypantsed. There was a baseball clue that I couldn't figure out, but I personally feel that only adds to my intellect. And I didn't know what the New Hampshire prep school was, which perhaps does not.
The more discerning among you may have noticed that I didn't mention Tuesday, and that is because Tuesday was an extremely busy and pretty rough day where I didn't have time to do anything at all, high brow or otherwise. Which raises the question: Do I have to do something every day for a week long project to count? What do you think?

Tonight we're going to a wedding at the Springville Museum of Art, so I am going to kill two birds with one stone and think some very intellectual thoughts about their art while I am there. If you're extra lucky, I might even write a post about it when we get back.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Seared Skirt Steak with Mushroom Salad - And we're done

I ended my week of new recipes on a high note with a very tasty Sunday dinner of Seared Skirt Steak with Mushroom Salad, unsurprisingly from the August issue of Real Simple. I don't really cook a whole lot of steak, and don't generally feel overly confident about doing it right, but this recipe was actually pretty easy. All I had to do was thaw the meat, season it with salt and pepper, and then pan fry it for four to five minutes on each sides. I can do that! Thanks to Nick and a little bit of internet research, we also knew to cut the meat against the grain, rather than with it, which made it seem even more tender. Yay for conquering steak! I was a little big skeptical about the mushroom salad, because it just seems like mushrooms served with steak should be sauteed, but I resisted the urge and followed the recipe like a good girl, thus ending up with a very fresh and citrusy side dish that I would absolutely make again. I also made some green beans, and Nick baked some rolls (I love having a husband that bakes!) and we ended up with a really delectable Sunday dinner. It was definitely a high note to go out on, and a very appropriate farewell dinner for Cody who is leaving us tomorrow.

Thus endeth week three.

Like I mentioned earlier, next week will be somewhat coloured by the fact that three days will be spent on a little anniversary trip. Not that I mind, of course :) Seeing as we're going to the Utah Shakespearean Festival to see a couple of plays, I am going to get in touch with my inner Humanities snob and do a week of highbrow activities. Stay tuned to be intimidated by my intellectual prowess.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

My first trainwreck: Fiskekaker

As a combination of Cody the Fish Lover visiting, and a fit of homesickness, I attempted to make fiskekaker. In Norway, they are juicy, fishy and cohesive. At my house they fall apart and get stuck to the pan. I fretted and frowned all the way through cooking them, convinced that they were unfit for human consumption - and then fed them to my family. Shockingly, we all survived. OK, so they actually tasted pretty good. Looked awful, but tasted decent. I think I definitely want to try making them again, but will make a few alterations and take a few precautions next time. As this was another Norwegian recipe, and not one that turned out too great, I will refrain from posting the recipe this time. Men hvis du er norsk og veldig lysten på å lage fiskekaker, så finner du oppskriften her.

I still haven't quite decided what to do next week. I need to take into account that I will be gone on an anniversary trip (YAY!) from Friday to Sunday, so it needs to be something I can do away from home without taking up too much time. Any ideas? (I'm just going to keep asking!)

Image shameless thieved from here.

Friday, August 8, 2008


As we were going out to dinner with friends tonight, I went the dessert route and made Havreflarn, which is a fairly traditional Norwegian oat cookie. I haven't eaten them in years, let alone made them, so it was fun to make something that tasted so much like home.

They're super easy to make, as long as you don't let it weird you out too much that the "dough" is pretty much the same consistency as really runny oatmeal (it's supposed to look like that!) and if you take into account how much each glob runs. Because I don't really want to translate and convert the measurements in the recipe I used, I found one online that is pretty much identical to mine, only they added almonds. I love nuts, so I'd be all for that. Or, they sell them at IKEA, so you could just go and buy some. I loved eating mine with a tall glass of milk and feeling like a little Norwegian kid again. :)

Image borrowed here

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Zucchini Cakes with Mushroom Ragoût

Oh my. Goodness. I made these zucchini cakes for dinner today, and they were delectable. I mean, wow. If all vegetarian food was this good, I'd be all about it. They were also quick (about 25 minutes, maybe?) and really easy to make seeing as they were made with a corn bread mix with zucchini and cheese thrown in. The only annoying part was having to pull out and dirty the blender for a cup of roasted red peppers. My only alteration this time was to use red pepper rather than cayenne pepper in the cakes.

Also, seeing as Better Homes and Gardens makes you sign up before you can see their recipes, I copied and pasted it for you so you can do yourself a favor and make them:

Zucchini Cakes with Mushroom Ragoût


Nonstick cooking spray
1/2 of a medium zucchini, shredded (1 cup)
1 8-1/2 oz. pkg. corn muffin mix
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (4 oz.)
1/4 cup milk
1 egg
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
12 oz. assorted mushrooms, quartered (4-1/2 cups)
1 cup drained bottled roasted red sweet peppers

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly coat twelve 2-1/2-inch muffin cups with cooking spray; set aside.
2. In mixing bowl combine zucchini, muffin mix, cheese, milk, egg, and cayenne pepper; spoon evenly into prepared muffin cups. Bake for 11 to 14 minutes or until golden.
3. Meanwhile, heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms; cook 3 to 4 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper. Place roasted peppers in blender. Cover; blend until nearly smooth.
4. Arrange 3 cakes on each plate with some of the mushrooms and pepper sauce. Makes 4 servings.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Pot Sticker Salad with Snap Peas

Tonight's recipe was the one that inspired it all. As mentioned, the August issue of Real Simple had a lot of really tasty-looking recipes in it, and the Pot Sticker Salad with Snap Peas looked so tasty I knew I had to try it. And I'm glad I did! The preparation method leaves the carrots and peas just the right amount of crunchy, and the bean sprouts added a very fresh feel. I think I might pan fry the pot stickers next time, rather than just steam them like the recipe called for, because I missed that little bit of crispness. Also, although I had bought the ingredients for the sauce, I just used the sauce that came with the pot stickers rather than make my own. Which I honestly think was probably tastier! Nick and Cody really liked it too, so I think this one is definitely a keeper.

On a different note, I can't quite decide what to do next week, so I'm going to ask y'all what you think. Consider this a shameless solicitation for more weeklong project ideas. Leave them in the comment section (you can leave a comment without signing up for an account) or tell me in person if you prefer. I also think it would be fun to see who's reading this, so let me know! :)

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Cool Southwestern Salad with Corn and Avocado

Tonight's dinner was another recipe from Real Simple magazine. Hey, it's not my fault that the August issue was packed with tasty treats! :) The recipe itself was pretty straightforward, but I was so scatterbrained while making it that I kept skipping steps and forgetting things, so I was forever picking pinto beans out of the lettuce so I could rinse them, and remembering after I had already added 1/4 cup of bottled lime juice that I had bought two fresh limes to squeeze. After I finally managed to wrangle my head in the right direction, the salad turned out really good. The lime dressing made it taste really light and fresh, but the avocado added enough bulk to fill you up. And it was so tasty! I made some corn mufffins to go with it at the last minute, as well as the tortilla chips suggested in the recipe. Plus we have Cody staying with us, and that boy is starving 30 seconds after he eats, so I wanted to make sure there was enough to eat.
So far (day two, I know) of making new food has been pretty fun. I practically never use a recipe when I cook, so it's nice to slow down enough to read and think about what I'm doing along the way. And I especially like getting some new ideas and trying some things I haven't done before. If we're lucky, this could lead to a whole new world of North family eating, and if not, at least we will have eaten well for a whole week :)

Monday, August 4, 2008

Berry Shortcakes

We always have dessert on Monday nights for Family Home Evening, so I decided that my first recipe would be a dessert. I picked this recipe from the August issue of Real Simple because it looked light and summery. And it has berries. I love berries! It also looked fairly quick and easy, which I was all about seeing as I knew we were going to have a busy day. Little did I know that we'd spend two hours shopping in preparation for this week's project! And a significant chunk of change. I bought all kinds of stuff that we don't typically get, including a jar of sweet red peppers, sesame seed oil (expensive!) and Crimini mushrooms, so now our kitchen is bursting forth with foodiness. I'm excited to try it all out!

Back to the berry shortcakes. Basically they're biscuits topped with whipped cream and fresh berries. Call me un-American, but it would never occur to me to put whipped cream and fruit on a biscuit! Gravy, yes (it might not taste good to me, but I have seen it done), whipped cream, no. The most time consuming part was baking the biscuits, but all in all I estimated that it took about 20 minutes start to finish. And they were tasty! I think I'd omit the sugar from the berries next time because they were just good on their own, and maybe try less salty biscuits. We made them with blueberries and strawberries, and against the whipped cream I think they'd make a very good July 4th dessert. Yum!

Sunday - the end of week two!

Sunday was a pretty mellow day. We went to church, and then took Nick's brother Cody to go and visit tiny little Grandma Jo, who will be 99 in December! Isn't she beautiful?

I'm adding this photo of her with Nick and Cody so you can get a better sense of scale and her true tininess. I think she was about 4'11" at her tallest, and, being 98, has shrunk quite a lot since then. The thought of picking her up and carrying her around is almost irresistible, and if she wasn't so frail, I think we'd all do it.

After that we went to the temple to get some shots of a photo project I'm working on.

Temples are admittedly pretty easy to work with. They sit still, and are beautiful from just about everything angle. When you add the super blue St. George sky to the equation, along with my natural bias from the fact that we got married there, I think these turned out rather well.

And that concludes week two! Next up: A new recipe every day. Sometime this week, I will also adding a new "Featured Blog" section to the bar on the right where you can learn about other some of the other blogs I read.

Saturday - Dustin & Dani's wedding

The wedding started out great with Nick's parents forgetting their camera, Andy's (Nick's brother) camera being broken, and us
discovering that our camera battery was about to die. This meant that all the North family wedding photography fell to me and our fading battery. Lesson learned. A few favourite shots from the wedding:

I like this one of Nick's mom and our sweet little niece Abi, even if she does look a little apprehensive. It was taken before she warmed up to the situation and started running around like she owned the place.

One of the most exciting things about this wedding was that we gain a very cute little new nephew, Gavin. He was a bit skeptical about all of the new people, and felt most comfortable with a couple of fingers in his mouth.

More Abi. She's just cute!

Backwards weekend

And I'm not just saying that because we spent it in Hurricane, UT. My laptop is having some issues, so I am going to write about each day in order, and then post Friday's photos later* because they haven't made it onto Photobucket yet.

Friday was hot, and mostly spent stressing about getting ready and what to pack, and then in the car on the way down to Nick's parents. We were driving down to go to Nick's brother Dustin's wedding on Saturday, and to spend the weekend with family. I tried taking some road trip photos on the way down (don't judge me for my giant strawberry limeade! It was hot!), but mostly things were pretty uneventful. Until they weren't.

Yup, that is our tire. I don't know if you can tell, but the hole is actually just below the word "Assurance". Nice. We didn't actually realize anything was up until we got off the freeway and were driving through town. About five blocks from Nick's parents house we suddenly heard a thump-thump-thump sound that seemed to be coming from the front left tire, so we carefully drove the rest of the way, and got out to take a look. At first everything looked fine, until Nick noticed a bubble the size of a softball on the inside edge of the tire. The size of a softball! We freaked out a little bit, and then went inside to tell Nick's parents about it. Ten minutes later Nick's brother Andy and family pulled up, and were unloading their car when they suddenly heard a loud BANG! From our tire. If we had taken ten more minutes getting there, that would have happened on the freeway. Scary!

*edit* Obviously the photos are up now! :)

Thursday, July 31, 2008


Today was a pretty uneventful day, and I have the pictures to prove it! I had to run around the house and look for some subjects, and this is what I came up with.

First I took a second attempt at my pebble:

I'm happier with the focus in this one, but I think I liked the lighting better in the last one.

Then I peeled Nick's socks off and forced him to be my foot model, which he patiently put up with, but was not too excited about. I think he has cute feet!

I tried doing it in black and white and upping the contrast a bit. I kind of like it, but want to experiment with black and white a bit more.

Finally I decided to take a picture of my knitting. I think knitting is so neat and pretty with its orderly little rows. The lighting wasn't so great, and it was trickier than expecting to come up with an interesting composition, so I might have to give it another try.

We're taking off for a wedding in St. George tomorrow, so expect some more interesting photos to come.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Game night

Tonight's photos illustrate the point (I hope!) that you don't always need to set up a formal photo shoot to get some decent shots. One of the reasons why I wanted to do this week's project was to remind myself to take more photos of every day life. it would be so sad to look back on this stage of our life and realize that we didn't think to take any photos of the things we have done, and the good friends we did them with.
Tonight we went to a game night at a little store called Board Game Revolution with our friends Matt and Bonnie to try out a new game called Swashbuckled. It was lots of fun, and the game pieces were super cute little ships that I couldn't stop taking photos of:

I'm quite pleased that I've found a way to take close up photos with a point and shoot camera, while still being able to get the focus on the things I want. And the little ships are so cute!

Speaking of super cute: Nick won the game (shocking, I know.) and was quite pleased about it, as there was a very close and nailbiting end to the game where it all came down to Matt and Nick and one roll of the dice.

I came in second, which was pretty much miraculous seeing as I spent most of the game taking photos and being in an almost perpetual state of confusion as to what I could and couldn't do on my turn. I guess I must have had one or two lucid moments, though.
All in all, fun times. Stay tuned for more excitement tomorrow, when I might do anything from go to the mail box to fold laundry. The thrills! The spills!