Sunday, November 28, 2010

thankful turkey

in my family, every november was marked by the creation of a paper bag turkey, complete with construction paper feathers and a head that took far too much effort.  we stuff this turkey and on thanksgiving, we rip it open and destuff it.  of course, this isnt ordinary stuffing-its tons of little bits of paper, scribbled with the things we are most thankful for (usually this also includes drawings, to add to the horror of the person who drew it out).

 since getting married, i have insisted on doing a thankful turkey with brian, though i constantly have to remind him or else it will only be fun of the things im grateful for.this was last years turkey.  yes, that is scrapbook paper for feathers, yes, i am a closet paper junkie.  dont judge.

so since we had thanksgiving with my family this year, and were totally out of town, we just tore this puppy-er, turkey-up tonight, and i wanted to share with you some of the things that we are grateful for:

a nice apartment
snow (twice by brian, once by me)
a husband who makes me take care of myself
a wife who goes to the store for me
a fabulous family in law
my wife (brian put that in twice, that stinker)
a husband who makes sure im safe driving in the snow
good gluten free food (i put that in twice-apparently im REALLY thankful for it!)
forgiveness and the atonement
the gospel
friends who invite us over for dinner

these are just a few things we are thankful for this year, and i hope that you guys have all been able to reflect on your blessings as well.  
i know one thing:

im thankful for YOU!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

do doo, do-do doo, do DI, do doo.....

harry potter is out!!!!! eeeeee!!!!! in celebration, i am gonna share with you this little gem.

the BYU bell tower, which chimes every hour, got harry potter fever too, and it made up for the fact that i didnt get to see the movie at midnight, or yesterday, or today, or any time on the horizon.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

a poppy for my poppy

happy veterans day!
i think almost everyone knows someone who is or was in the military. but i dont think most people have actually told those soldiers and veterans that they are appreciated. today is the day to do it. in honor of the veterans who have fought, protected and sacrificed for our freedoms, wear a poppy today.
today is a special day for me. my dad is a veteran and, coincidentally, as a kid i called him "poppy." in high school, i wrote a paper about my dad which my mom recently discovered and emailed to me. because of the occasion, and the nature of the paper, i think its fitting and i hope you can join me in honoring him and other veterans like him today. (sorry its long, and remember it was HS so its not my best work:))

The Gulf War
with Scott Konopasek

All my life, I’ve respected my dad. To me, he was a hero who risked his life for his country and who had a bunch of cool army gear. I never knew how close I really was. During this interview, I learned a lot about my dad: how he felt during the Gulf War and how he feels now and how his life has changed because of it. To think, my dad was a vital part of the end of the Gulf War.

Scott Oliver Konopasek, during his service in the army, attained the rank of captain and worked in Army Intelligence. After being stationed in Red Bank, NJ and Fort Huachuca, AZ, he and his family moved to Giessen, Germany, where he and every other American troop trained to fight in the Cold War against communism in Russia. After serving there for four years, the Konopasek family was eagerly awaiting Scott’s call to reassign to the U.S. for him to attend graduate school. Unfortunately, his assignment to Desert Storm came first.

With the official title of Assistant Regimental Intelligence Officer of the Second Armored Calvary Regiment, Scott became the man with a mission. His unit was nicknamed the “Tip of the Armored Spear” because they were the first of the armored forces to cross over enemy lines. Their unit mission was to conduct reconnaissance ahead of the main armored forces to find and engage the Iraqi Republican Guard. Scott’s personal mission was to analyze the battlefield information to figure out where the Republican Guard was located and to activate troops to that location. When his regiment located the Republican Guard, it was the major Iraqi defeat that was the turning point of the war. Despite his accomplishments during the Gulf War, Scott retired just a few years after the war ended.

When the reassignment to the Gulf came in, Scott and his family was just about to leave again for the States. Scott describes his feelings about his sudden call to war as “not happy” for a couple of reasons. He feels that he had earned the opportunity to return to the U.S. after four years of over-seas training to go to graduate school to further his education and earn his masters degree. He also did not want to go because of his personal opinions against the war. Though these feelings did not change at all during the course of the war, Scott persisted in his duties as a soldier.

“War is never a good thing,” says Scott about his opinion of war in general. Part of the reason he says his feelings were so negative is because of the sudden change from his training to his assignment. Trained to help fight in the Cold War against communism, he was mentally prepared to fight in a war that threatened his freedoms and rights as an American. However, he feels that instead, he was told to fight in a war for economics and oil. This is not what the then-President George Bush Sr. said. Nevertheless, Scott maintains his opinion that oil was the ulterior motive for both Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Scott also finds that the war has changed the way he looks at life. He says he now realizes just how valuable life really is, and perhaps consequently, does not receive adrenaline rushes from thrill seeking anymore. He also refuses to use any kind of chemical, including lawn fertilizers, because of his multiple exposures to chemical weapons. Lastly, he has changed the way he approaches the idea of joining the Army. When his children were younger, says Scott, he would always talk about the Army academy and how well his kids would do there. But after the war, he decided he wasn’t going to encourage them to do so unless it was their own desire because he didn’t want his children to go through and see everything that he had seen. In doing so, he also changed his career aspirations to give his children a chance to decide for themselves.

In the last several years, there has been some very successful war movie productions done in Hollywood fashion. These, Scott says, are nothing compared to the real thing. Movies end and life goes on and if you don’t like it, you can get up and walk out. But true war is not so simple, for you cannot just leave when it gets too hard or gruesome. “In movies, you only see and hear the war. When you are actually at war, you also smell it, feel it, sleep it, it gets into your skin and it becomes part of you,” says Scott, whose little portable radio still carries some Iraqi sand inside of it.

When asked what kinds of emotions he felt when actually in war, Scott said that he was surprised that there was only one true emotion that stood out to him as being a prominent emotion that he felt. It was “empathy and sadness for the Iraqi people that were mostly just innocent people, who were just doing their jobs just like [him],” and he explained that he felt for their families and knew what they were going through. But mostly, it was just one minute at a time, taking every minute at a time and not looking forward to the next minute until the last one was over with. He uses a warm can of Pepsi to illustrate his point: “In war, you are reduced to the very basics. A hot can of Pepsi, when you are in the desert, becomes the most important thing to happen to you in your week. To have the opportunity to take a shower and wash all the dust from war off of just feel clean, those become the important things. I know it sounds like a cliche but you really appreciate all the things you really have. All the things you would be complaining about at home become your greatest blessings when you don’t have them to take for granted.” This experience, he says, has taught him that he can overcome any hardship if he wants to.

As for the obvious question; “Yes, I did know some people who one who was under my command at the time but four men that had been under me previously were killed...I was very happy that there were so few casualties and that made it easier to deal with the casualties there were.” Besides some small pieces of memorabilia, Scott kept two things from his service in Desert Storm: his holster that he wore all day every day for the seven months he was in the desert, and a duffel bag, one of two that held all of his belongings for those long seven months. To him, it represents his life and he’s “not yet ready to part with it.” My dad has always been my hero because he fought for the country he loved even though he didn’t necessarily believe in what it was doing at the time. He was still a soldier and he did his duty honorably and willingly. This is the only time he has ever answered my questions fully and answered any question I had about the war. At the end, he told me he loved me and that I was the only one who knew so much about his experiences in war other than my mother. Until I did this interview with him, I never knew how much I didn’t understand how much he loved his kids. We were the reasons why he got out of the Army and the reasons why he did it in the first place.

Monday, November 8, 2010

gluten free chewy chocolate chip heaven

the other day, brian told me that he wanted some chocolate chip cookies.  but i cant just make him some when i cant eat any of them.  so of course i had to make some for me.  now that would be easy if i didnt have to worry about, you know, the main ingredient.  thanks, celiac, for allowing wheat to destroy my intestine.

anyways, i have tried alot of variations of chocolate chip cookies-different recipes, different flours, and had all sorts of funny results.  but go figure, the best recipe so far has been my mother-in-laws.  brian loves it because they come out chewy and gooey, and i love it because, besides being chewy, they come out normal. which is just AWESOME.

so recipe down, now what about the flour?  the best mix i have come across so far has been from this cook book, Cooking for Isaiah.  i make it in bulk but ill break it down for the recipe if you dont want to make a huge amount of it.  mmmmm dont those look good?!  sorry for my bad pic, but as you can tell, these cookies dont last too long...

bulk flour:

6 cups rice flour, white or brown
3 cups tapioca flour
1 1/2 cups potato starch
1 tbs salt
2 tbs xanthum gum

brenda's chocolate chip cookies:

1 c. sugar
1 c. brown sugar
1 c. butter, super soft but not melted
2 eggs
3 cups gluten free flour mix (substitute regular flour if you arent gluten free-still fabulous)
(1 3/4 cups rice flour, 3/4 cups tapioca flour, 1/2 c potato starch, 1 tsp xanthum gum)
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla
Chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350ยบ. Mix sugars, butter and eggs. Then add flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, vanilla, and as many chocolate chips as you like. Bake for eight minutes, and let cool. cookies will look very under done, but take out when the edges start to turn light brown.

this recipe makes about 4 dozen cookies, and is easily doubled (since this version is actually HALF of my mother-in-laws proportions...)


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

i hate taxes but...

today i voted.  which is somewhat depressing.  im glad that i have the ability to vote without fearing for my life, but its not like my vote really counts here in utah.  im pretty liberal, and compared to the "tea party" libertarians, im near communist.  so my vote doesnt really mean much in a state that is unwaveringly red.

this will be relevant later.

on a related note, today i realized i have become a california snob.

last night, our landlord came down and gave us the mail key since they are going out of town, and we had the world series on [sounds of celebration].  he didnt know we were giants fans, or even that we were both from califonria, though different parts.  his parting comment? "you guys are good people for being from california."

what the H does that even mean?

apparently people from california are generally awful?  maybe we are generally liberal? generally homeless?  generally high?  no idea.

and then someone i know who recently moved to california for grad school posted something on facebook about:
a) how if a resolution about medical marijuana passed, she was leaving CA,
b) that california didnt need any more hippies,
c) that she as a californian had a vested interest in this, and
d) that californian registered voters were "hipsters."

you are going to think im nuts, but this genuinely annoyed me.  i dunno if it had something to do with the fact that we have always had differences stemming from the fact that i was a liberal west coaster and she wasnt, but now she was calling herself a californian, or the fact that, regardless of your political beliefs, you at least shouldnt be surprised that california has lots of hippies and resolutions about marijuana, or that most californians would be at least mildly offended at being called hipsters.

insert first paragraph relevance here.

id give anything to live in a state when im not surrounded by people who cant see the issues beyond their weird conspiracy theories or where people dont think that life as we know it is ending because there is a black man in office or where people have the ability to understand that taxes are necessary to decrease the deficit.

if you dont like the hippies, maaaaaaaaybe you shouldnt be in california.

and if you dont like marijuana, dont vote for it.

there. my conscience is clear now.  im a california snob.  and i blame it all on the fact that utah is a ridiculous place that is slowing eroding my sanity and ever darkening my blue status.

now im going to go watch the voting results, relieved that christine o'donnell lost, but still trying not to throw the remote at the other obnoxious tea party idiots.