Monday, February 23, 2009

More on Book Choices

I got this quote by Richard H. Cracroft e-mailed to me the other day. It goes right along with this post from a month ago.

"Because life and time are short, we will be able to read only a few thousand books in our lifetime. When we pick any book, we are ruling out hundreds and thousands of other books. How important it is then, to choose time-proven great books that will foster the Holy Spirit and enable us to rise to greater levels of truth and beauty and insight and understanding and, hence, spirituality. Many great men and women have found that a steady, systematic approach to literature has enabled them to fill their beings, in a lifetime of good reading, with the great thoughts of men and women of all ages, for through reading great books we are put in touch with the great minds of all time, and we become their spiritual and intellectual heirs."
This is in response to a question about how to judge literature as good or bad. The rest of the article is excellent too. I highly recommend it. If I wasn't already getting picky about what I read, this helped me be even more so.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Grandma's Rolls and Other Recipe Info

Here is the original recipe, my revisions throughout and after. This is also great for scones and cinnamon rolls.

One Hour Rolls
1 c. hot water
6 Tbsp. shortening
1/4 c. sugar
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. yeast
2 Tbsp. lukewarm water
1 egg, beaten
3 1/2 c. flour

Combine the hot water, salt, shortening, and sugar. Cool slightly (I start with very warm water but not hot so I don't have to cool). Soften yeast in lukewarm water, add yeast to shortening mixture. Add egg. Add 1/2 of the flour and beat well. Add enough of the remaining flour to make dough easy to handle. Knead on floured board (counter, etc.). Roll out and shape into rolls, bread, scones, etc. Place on greased pan, brush with melted butter. Allow to rise until doubled in size. Bake at 425 degrees for 12 minutes.


The original recipe calls for 2 Tbsp. yeast, but when I made itthe other day I only used 2 tsp. of yeast and it turned out a lot better. Since I was making scones with it and used the extra for rolls, the dough had time to rise while I was cooking the scones and eating, so maybe the extra rise beyond what it says here had something to do with it too. I've learned that patience is a very good thing when dealing with bread.

The biggest help I had in my 'training' so far was reading about the 12 steps of bread in Peter Reinhart's "The Bread Baker's Apprentice." He has 3 basic white bread recipes in that book and I was very happy with the first (haven't made it to the other two yet).

If you want to see someone that REALLY LOVES bread, check out this video of Peter Reinhart talking about it.

The recipe I used for wheat bread was from "The Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book," highly recommended by the breadly talented Cindi. If you look a few posts down in her blog, you'll see she is also very cakely talented.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Bread Making Progress

I made wheat bread today using wheat we ground and it turned out great. This whole breadmaking thing just gets more and more fun.

While I was kneading the dough Adam asked if we could have scones for dinner, which of course involves a batch of white dough. With my newly learned bread making knowledge I cut the amount of yeast in the recipe and the scones turned out better than they ever have. With the leftover dough I made some rolls. Now they taste a lot more like grandma's (it's her recipe, but they still didn't taste like hers before).

Sammy's review: "When I first bite into these rolls, it's like fireworks!"

Hold the applause, he boosted my ego enough. :)

There's just something about bread, isn't there? We'll save some for you Jamie!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Brain Wreck

I woke up this morning and thought, "I am not going to read anything about CPSIA today. I'm just not. I have other things to do." Then I made a list of everything I was going to do today.

Then I went to my computer. I'm rubber necking. There's a brain wreck out there in the CPSC, and I can't look away. I am so weak.

I'm not going to reiterate everything being written, but The Book Room has been posting tons of great information, including links to other posts and information. The Common Room has been writing eulogies for now targeted books. (I've personally added several to my wish list.)

It is ludicrious to think of books, clothing, and everything blanketed into this legislation as hazardous materials. While well-intended, I cannot imagine the thought process that expanded this law as far as it has. Even California and their stringent laws (you've seen the labels, "This product contains a chemical known to the state of California to cause cancer") had to prove a risk before products could be added to their lead law, and swarovski crystal, though high in lead, wasn't included because the lead isn't in an accessible form.

The Common Room posted this picture. We've all read the jokes about how we ever survived with only mom's arm as a seat belt (nevermind car seats), playing outside barefoot all day long only stopping in for meals, riding bikes with no bike helmets, drinking from the hose, chewing on crib railings painted with lead-based paint. Now we can add, how did we all make it this long with our mothers and grandmothers reading to us?

I'm glad people are writing about this. I hope people are listening.

What really chaps my hide for today is this really neat video of Julie Vallese, a CPSC spokeswoman and former director of public affairs talking about the CPSC's "very big sweeping piece of legislation" (0:40, that alone should scare you) that involves children's products, which are defined as "anything sold for the primary use of a child 0-12." Lead is defined as a "banned hazardous substance," as is anything containing it.

Ms. Vallese states that resellers are not required to test products they sell (which is why snopes made a false determination on the claim about the CPSIA), BUT they are required to obey the law. So if not test, how do you know? We really get a great insight into Ms. Vallese's superhero talent when she suggests resellers "look at it" (5:30) to determine if their products contain more than 600ppm lead. Thank you, Ms. Vallese! You don't have to pay to test! Just use your laserbeam eyes and determine whether there is too much lead or not. She also suggests calling the manufacturer about every product that comes into the thrift shop. Right. Watch the video closely, you can see her brain sliding out her ear.

I have to say the best part of the video is when she states that there is "misinformation being floated out by...the mommy blogs...that they are just not understanding" (about 3:10 in the video). Don't tick off the moms lady. Don't tick off the moms. Type "mommy bloggers spreading misinformation" in a google search and you'll find a whole lotta ticked off moms.

I guess we're all terrible mothers because we actually want to keep these "banned hazardous substances" in our children's hands. But I'm going to keep talking about this because I don't want to have to buy books on the black market.

The Handmade Toy Alliance goes point by point through the myths about CPSIA.

If you want to look at lists of lead recalls for yourself, here's the CPSC website.

"These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will...shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as freedom should not be highly rated."

Thomas Paine

Mommy Blogger

Friday, February 13, 2009

CPSIA - Bad to Worse

I first heard about the CPSIA Act in December when an eBay jewelry friend e-mailed me asking what I knew about it. My reply, "Nothing." December is always busy so I didn't read more about it then. In January another eBay jewelry friend e-mailed me about it so I did more looking. I got a little nervous, given the fact that it is in regards to lead in products intended for children, and yah, I've got a little business making children's jewelry. About half of what I sell is banned as of February 10th, anything with crystal on it (lead is part of all we like about crystal).

But enough about me. What is really chapping my hide is how this silly thing is affecting books. My kids don't regularly chew on books, and I've never heard of anyone getting lead poisoning from a book, but guess what? Books are included under the act. I can't even think straight over this, so just read more about it here at the BookRoomBlog.

For those that don't want to go read that blog, the basic gist is that books older than 1985 cannot be resold. So used bookstores are throwing them away, because what else are they supposed to do with them?

One of the quotes posted on that blog mentions that the government is trying to destroy history. I don't know if I could go that far, but I love older children's books because they have real home-grown values. Kids being taught honesty, hard work, love, virtue, and kindness.

Did you know there are book burning memorials? There are.

This one in Berlin is the site of the May 10, 1933 Nazi book burning. It is a translucent panel showing empty bookshelves below ground level. There are enough empty shelves to hold all the books that were burned. Nearby in Heinrich Heine's words it says, "Where books are burned, in the end people will burn."

So far libraries are exempt (probably an oversight), and I know there are lead-free reprints, but really, just go read these for my sake:

"Big Sister, Little Sister" by Charlotte Zolotow
"Big Brother" by Charlotte Zolotow
"Pelle's New Suit" by Elsa Beskow
"Pumpkin Moonshine" by Tasha Tudor
"The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes" by Dubose Heyward

Pass on your old favorites so I can make sure I get to those too.

Even if you haven't heard of these, there are plenty of others you have, like the Beatrice Potter books and even the first Arthur books by Marc Brown.

BookRoomBlog also has other information, including a post on who to contact about this.

I wonder what the true intention of this straitjacket is. Seriously, I would like to see the cases of kids getting lead poisoning from buttoning their coats, zipping their zippers, and eating their books. We're all about protecting the individual, but at what cost?

More on this from Semicolon, here, here, and here.

As Marcellus puts it in Hamlet, "Something is rotten in the state of Denmark."

Friday, February 6, 2009

I'm so Famous, Part 2

This is really a continuation of Famous Part 1. To remind you, I played on the computer a lot, loved the chat rooms, and was heavily involved in an online LDS community. I was still doing that when I went to Ricks College, chatting plenty with my pals in the youth group. During Christmas break, I decided I was maybe old enough to see what was going on in the singles group. Lo and behold, they were talking about setting up cool things like we had with the youth, monthly meetings and the like, but no one knew what to do. So I told them what to do, but no one would do it. I volunteered (hello, it wasn't hard). In the process, Jamie e-mailed asking for information and I wrote back. We e-mailed a few times during the next month mainly about that, but nothing too exciting.

My birthday is in January, and I was surprised when he sent me a Happy Birthday (he'd seen it on my AOL profile). I sent back a thanks, and mentioned I would be visiting family in Ogden the next weekend. He wrote back and said he would be in down from Utah State to visit his grandfather in Ogden. I had met some of the kids in the youth group and it was great knowing who I was talking to, so I asked if he would be interested in meeting, not thinking of romance, just fun. He said sure, so we arranged to meet at my aunt's house where I was staying. I don't remember a whole lot from that, but he never made it to his grandfather's.

My ride back to Ricks was meeting me at a friend's apartment at Utah State the next day, so Jamie stopped by while I was there to say hi. He couldn't stay long because he was going on a date. I attribute that to the fact that when I got back to Ricks I e-mailed my mom and said, "Nice guy, but no chemistry." (She still has the e-mail.)

Over the next week there was a lot of e-mailing, probably even a phone call. That weekend he drove to Ricks to see me. The next weekend we met at my aunt's again. A few months later we were engaged, and a few months after that, married!

Given the newness of this online thing, let alone online dating, we were on the front page of the Times News in Twin Falls, Idaho and the San Ramon Valley Times in San Ramon, California. Though I do say we weren't really online daters, because there was no romantic interest until we met in person, if then, given the whole 'chemistry' e-mail.

If you can't read the articles, all the better. They were both terrible. I have a hard time believing reporters because they were pretty creative with something as simple as two wonderful young people finding each other online and ending up married. The Twin Falls one has a quote from Jamie saying the wrong city where we were engaged and says Orson Scott Card gave me a computer (it was a modem). The San Ramon reporter was feeling cheesy, including things like "love at first 'byte,'" calling my family and friends in Idaho "kin" (i.e. hicks), a quote from me saying that one of the three things we talked about online was Mickey Mouse (I'm a fan, but really), and a quote from Jamie's mom mentioning Mickey Mouse as one his three interests (eh?). You'd have thought Disney was hurting that year and asked the newspaper to advertise.

It was actually 14 years ago two days ago that we met in person. Happy Meeting Anniversary! I'm sure you would all like to hear Jamie's side of the story now. Jamie?

Interesting to note, the Times News article came out on June 24th, we were married July 1st, the San Ramon Times article came out July 15th, and the New Era article from Famous 1 was in September issue. Quite the big famous summer all around.

Straight from Newsies, "If you're in the papes, you're famous!" Don't worry, it didn't go to my head. I had all that hair back then to stop it. ;)

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

I'm So Famous, Part 1

Those of you that know me personally have probably never realized how famous I actually am. Some of this fame is shared with Jamie and thus deserves it's own special post, so that will be Part 2.

My family always had a computer while we were growing up, thanks to my dad. I remember playing these really cool games on our TRS-80 Radio Shack computer, one of which I still pine for (the one with the 5 or 6 pixel monster coming toward you through the box maze, and each turn different doors would open, and you had to get from point A to point B without the monster getting you. I kid you not, it was intense. Wish I knew the name, but I probably couldn't read back then). We would learn C programming on our Commodore 64, in exchange for equal game time (Pitfall, Montezuma's Revenge, Paper Boy, Boulder Dash - all the goodies), which was very helpful when I was a computer science major. Long story short, we were always up on technology.

I don't remember when it was that I first got set up on e-mail (sophomore/junior year in high school?), but my e-mail address was For some reason I had to set up another one later so then I was smilinsue2.

I had a lot of fun playing in AOL chat groups, pre-online predator times of course, and got involved with an online LDS group (won't drop names of who else was involved, but you would recognize them.) I stayed in the youth area mostly, and got to know a lot of really great kids and met a few in person here and there. At some point I was asked to be the 'president' of the youth group, and we set up a day/time every month when we would all meet online.

At one of these meetings someone suggested we write an article about our group and send it to the New Era. Several of the kids mailed me pictures, I wrote up some great stuff, and mailed it off. A few months down the road I heard from the New Era saying they were going to be publishing our story, September 1995. We were all so excited!

Until the artcile came out. It was all just about ME!

I feel terrible to this day, and wish Emily, Geoff, Dallin, Rusty (racking my brain for more names) could have all shared in the glory. So here's the article, straight from (To prove how back in the day this was, they didn't even know how to write "online.")

Friendship On-Line

Marni Adams has friends all over the United States. Every month, they get together and talk about gospel subjects, ideas for Mutual activities, and what they’ve read in the latest issue of the New Era. No, Marni doesn’t travel a lot, and she doesn’t have a huge phone bill. Every month, Marni and her friends “chat” on their computers
“Our group includes people from all over the country,” says Marni, a student at Ricks College. “Only a few have actually met in person, but even those who haven’t are still great friends with each other.”.

Known as “Smilin’ Sue” on the computer, Marni says that through advanced technology, people who would have never become friends otherwise now really love each other.

“Probably the best thing about making friends on the computer is that appearances and age don’t matter. It’s a lot easier to really get to know people,” says Marni.

So there you have it. That's me in all my big hair, big glasses glory. Bring on the comments. I can take it.

Motor Mouth

So there's this Bill Cosby bit where he's talking about his family. He makes the comment that he and his wife have five kids, then says, "We have five kids because we don't want six." Since we also have five kids in our family, the kids latched right onto that and quote it all the time, thinking they are so very very funny.

Today we were at the library. Carolyn is always looking for new friends, and she attached herself to another little girl and was chatting away with her. They followed the girl's mother while she looked for books in the children's section, Carolyn talking away the whole time. Just as we were gathering to leave I heard her say out of the blue, "We have five kids because we don't want six!" The mom chuckled and to me said, "That's one way to put it!" Of couse I quickly explained how something like that would pop out of my almost 5 year old's mouth.

Later, thinking of my embarrassment, I reminded Carolyn of the situation and tried to explain that we need to be careful about what we tell strangers. "That little girl and her mom were strangers?" "Well kind of, not the bad kind, but..." I knew I was attempting a conversation that would make my brain do cartwheels before she understood, if then. "Oh forget it. They were nice, weren't they?"