Wednesday, November 9, 2016

A Letter to My 5 Year-Old Daughter




I’m writing this after having taken a hot hot shower. It was probably too hot and dried out my skin, but I needed it. You are playing PBS kids beside me and I have not put any makeup on yet. 

This morning I woke up to an unexpectedly sunny November day. You woke up and I immediately proceeded to tend to your needs, feed you, take you to school. Today is an early out day because of parent teacher conferences, where we will meet with your teacher later and talk about your participation in her class. We love your teacher, and we love your school. We love where we live and love the people we are neighbors with. We especially love that you are 5, that you are such a vibrant person, and so enthused to see us every day. That never gets old.

I didn’t have much motivation to get going this morning. Last night Donald Trump won the vote as President. It happened very suddenly, which I was not expecting, but probably should have. I have not really followed an election this closely. Over the past decade, since having you and finishing school, I’ve found a voice in myself that I have mostly never put forth.

I will tell you that I did not see much reason in finding my voice. You see, I am an artist, and at the beginning of my art education, I did not see how art contributed to the world, or if it even could (or how I could make it so). I saw it as a way to make beautiful things and hide behind the canvas. I think I had the beauty part of it right, but I left out the part that meant really inserting myself into my work. Many female artists are drawn to this practice, but I can relate to the fear of sharing things about themselves because it makes them vulnerable to scrutiny and attack. A good example of this is Marina Abramovic. When I was first introduced to her work I thought she was crazy. But as I learned more about what she does, though, I began to see art in a totally different way. She is fascinating. 

Anyways, despite being female and a minority, I was born into incredible privilege. Yet I still gave in to the  persistent notion that even though I had potential, I didn’t have THAT much potential. Here’s where some amazing men and women came in. My mother and father are both artists. They gave me my voice. In high school my art teacher put together my whole art school application and portfolio. Then I went to BYU. Then I married your father. 

By the way, I hope you find someone like him someday. He is in every way, my champion, my first line of defense, my hands and my feet. You helped him yesterday set up a sink trap in my studio. He knows, internally, what my potential as a woman is. I chose him for this, and many other reasons. He continues to be a tremendous source of confidence for me. I am enough of a challenge to get anyone to quit, but he shows no sign of wear. It helps that he realizes what a challenge he can be as well. 

In my journey so far, I’ve seen setbacks and advances; I’ve defeated some things and have been defeated by others. I am typically a thinker first, and a speaker last. Hence why writing this, and most things I put out on the internet, probably come across as hesitant. I had no idea that having a political opinion, or making art, would make me so vulnerable. Yet I have seen no other choice in the matter. When I’m alone, I make art (usually set to music). When I am with friends, I am creative with my interactions with them.  On my mission I used cooking as a channel for creative energy. When your cousin Henry died a few years ago, I turned to painting a nearby mountainside. Last night’s disappointing election has me here, expressing myself by writing to you. And I am posting it at the expense of not thoroughly editing it to make time for other things, for which I apologize. 

What I want to say to you is this: “Never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve your own dreams”. Yes, this quote comes from Hillary’s concession speech today. And yes, I have supported her candidacy publicly, much to the chagrin of my conservative friends and family members. I feel as though my support was both too public and not public enough. This is a struggle that you may face as well (though I hope you don’t). You might have some tell you that it is not becoming for a woman to be outspoken, determined, or even define your own happiness, whilst at the same time telling you to be more outspoken, more determined, and independent. You will likely feel pressure to conform to what others tell you (even us, your parents). What I want for you the most is to be raised with courage and confidence in your ability to grow, and not in fear that you won’t be exactly what we, or others have prescribed. I want you to grow confident that God’s love for you is real, and His love for His children is real. And that that realness does not exclude anybody. That you truly can, pursue and achieve your own dreams, and not another’s. Not even mine. The thing is, just by being alive, you have already achieved my dreams. 

Recently, I went back to BYU. I tried my very best to do what I could with the education it gave me. I protested against unfair honor code policies the day before graduating. I am proud of what I did to encourage BYU to make the appropriate response and change their policy.  I was proud of my school for making an important step toward fairness and decency. This progress gave me hope, but the truth is, I want more from my school as an educational institution, and I want more from my country. 

I am mourning about yesterday’s election results. It is a direct blow to the progress that women have been striving for in this country. No, it’s not about how Trump defeated Hillary, but that Trump was elected in spite of his abuse toward women, and intolerance for marginalized groups of people. Nobody really wanted to believe we are as racist and misogynistic as we are, which is why the election came as such a surprise. 

But I look at you now and see your brightness, and your potential. And my fears dissipate. I have no choice but to think of the future, and am absolutely determined to not let my fears get the best of me. I look around me and see such strong women.  We are surrounded by diversity and contrasting colors. The world is yours and mine, and does not belong to one group of people, no matter how powerful they may be. No demagogue president can take away your fire, your spirit, or your faith. We are movers and shakers. We will continue to progress as a people, even when it scares us. I will continue to be strong for you, and for the rest of the women in my family. 

I will also try not to be an obnoxious democrat. I find great value in both conservative and liberal ideals, which I believe can work together to great effect. Yet what this election has shown me is that a great part of what drives conservative law-making is fear, and I don’t want to be a part of that. The thing is, I am so tired of being afraid. I am tired of putting my voice out of harm's way. It is time to be vulnerable and true. Therefore I post this, and I hope you come back to it and have the courage to assert yourself. I hope you have empathy for others. Don’t doubt your ability to turn the world around. 



I love you,

Mom

Saturday, August 20, 2016

New post, new post!!

Not even going to bother with the apologies; I know I haven't blogged forever. Most of you know by now that we moved to Utah. Micah is Utah Valley hospital's Psych medical director. I graduated from BYU with a BA in visual arts. Pippa graduated preschool, and is starting kindergarten. We are still settling into our new house. The biggest, latest project was the unfinished attic. Thanks to an awesome contractor and some newly found interior design skills, I made my dream rec room/home office a reality. I took some editorial photos of the space to try my hand at interior photography. It is fun, but I have much to learn. Here is what the room looked liked before:



The finishing process started in March. My goal was to create a room that continued the design of the rest of the house, and still reflected our personal style.

Click on the pictures to see the larger image size.









 A ceramics project from school.


 Micah built those speakers and they sound great.


Thanks for viewing! We are loving this finished space. Mostly I have been enjoying the room to play Just Dance and watch movies with friends. Come visit!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Zucchini Bread, anyone?



So I was just in the middle of getting our house ready for moving and I had the very logical thought, "I should post a recipe on the blog".

So for all of you who are lucky enough to garden, and have spare zucchini around, this is absolutely the recipe you want to use for them!! This is the best Zucchini bread recipe ever. From Cooks Illustrated:

ZUCCHINI BREAD

Ingredients:

1 1/2 pounds zucchini, shredded
1 1/4 cups (8 3/4 ounces) packed brown sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups (7 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (2 3/4 ounces) whole-wheat flour
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped (optional)
1 tablespoon granulated sugar

Instructions:

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Grease 8 1/2 by 4 1/2 inch loaf pan.
2. Place zucchini in center of dish towel. Gather ends together and twist tightly to drain as much liquid as possible, discarding liquid (you should have 1/2 to 2/3 cup liquid). Whisk brown sugar, oil, eggs, and vanilla together in medium bowl. Fold in zucchini.
3. Whisk all purpose flour, whole wheat flour, cinnamon, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and nutmeg together in large bowl. Fold in zucchini mixture until just incorporated. Fold in walnuts, if using. Pour batter into prepared pan and sprinkle with granulated sugar.
4. Bake until top bounces back when gently pressed and toothpick inserted in center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, 65 to 75 minutes. Let bread cool in pan on wire rack for 30 minutes. Remove bread from pan and let cool completely or wire rack. Serve.

You can add all sorts of things to this bread!  Chocolate chips, pistachios, orange zest, dried fruit, etc. Go make it!


Monday, June 8, 2015

PIZZA AND STUF


HEYYY

So I’m not going to blab on in this post, cuz my brain is fried from doing stuff like
GETTING A HOUSE!

Mostly. And also finishing residency and stuff. And promoting the dress I designed! Click HERE to buy it!

STUFF!

Anyways our house is in Provo so if you’re out there you’ll let us know, right? We move on June 28th.

I have a bunch of recipes I need to share, but the latest one in our rotation is an overnight pizza dough recipe that makes the very best pizza we’ve ever made at home. Click HERE for the link to the recipe.


Don't worry! I will blog again....

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Winner Winner chicken dinner!!

EVERYONE!

So after a very dramatic past few days, I came to find out this morning that I had won the Shabby Apple design contest! And by dramatic, I mean that I have been sick, plus there was major confusion about the votes through Instagram. (Didn't I mention before that it should not have been determined by a popular vote?) Turns out people can buy (yes, BUY) "likes" on Instagram and Shabby Apple had to figure out which likes were legitimate. They used a third party auditing group. Still, what a mess! I was feeling pretty good on Saturday night when the voting was closed and I had the most votes, but I still wasn't sure what the final tally would be. So I spent Sunday and Monday completely ill at ease. Then I woke up this morning to Micah calling me, telling me to check my instagram.

The winnings of this contest are having my design produced and sold on Shabby Apples' Summer 2015 line, naming the dress, and earning 1% of the royalties.

So what I have for you in thanks for your support is a recipe! Micah made this for dinner on Sunday and it was just what my tensed up soul needed! What is it? It's America's Test Kitchens

CHICKEN TIKKA MASALA!!





America's Test Kitchen - season 8, episode 20, Indian Favorites, Simplified

serves 4 to 6

Ingredients

Chicken

1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp table salt
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 2 tsp)
1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt [you can use low-fat if you don’t have whole]
2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed of fat

Masala Sauce

3 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tsp grated fresh ginger
1 medium onion, diced fine (about 1 1/4 cups)
2 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 2 tsp)
1 fresh serrano chile, ribs and seeds removed, flesh minced [you can keep the seeds for added heat which is what I did or use a jalapeno if you don't have a serrano chile]
1 (28-oz) can crushed tomatoes
1 tbsp garam masala
1 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 tsp table salt
2 tsp sugar
2/3 cup heavy cream [We used a combination of cream and yogurt]
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves

Instructions

1. FOR THE CHICKEN: Combine salt, cayenne, coriander, cumin and in small bowl. Sprinkle both sides of chicken with spice mixture, pressing gently so mixture adheres. Place chicken on plate, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 to 60 minutes. In large bowl, whisk together ginger, garlic, oil, and yogurt; set aside.

2. FOR THE MASALA SAUCE: Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until light golden, 8 to 10 mins. Add ginger, garlic, tomato paste, chile, and garam masala; cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 3 mins. Add salt, sugar, and crushed tomatoes; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 15 mins, stirring occasionally. Stir in cream and return to simmer. Remove pan from heat and cover to keep warm.

3. While sauce simmers, adjust oven rack to upper-middle position (about 6 inches from heating element) and heat broiler. Using tongs, dip chicken into yogurt mixture (chicken should be coated with thick layer of yogurt) and arrange on wire rack set in foil-lined rimmed baking sheet or broiler pan. Discard excess yogurt mixture. Broil chicken until thickest parts register 160 degrees on instant-read thermometer and exterior is lightly charred in spots, 10 to 18 mins, flipping chicken halfway through cooking.

4. Let chicken rest 5 mins, then cut into 1-inch chunks and stir into warm sauce (do not simmer chicken in sauce). Stir in cilantro, adjust seasoning with salt, and serve.

NOTE!

I believe Micah used an immersion blender for the sauce to make it extra smooth. I highly suggest doing this, if you have one.