Monday, April 19, 2010

Pineapple Sage and the Fish Trees

(Doesn't that sound like a great title for a children's book?)

On Saturday, Caleen took me to the tulip festival at Thanksgiving Point. It was a gorgeous day, and we had a great time taking pictures of flowers, drinking smoothies, and feeding koi. On our way out, we stopped by the greenhouse and she bought me some herbs. We picked out rosemary and thyme, since we use those quite a bit. Then we chose a "chocolate mint" plant, which, yes, smells just like mint with a faint hint of chocolate. Even cooler, though - and we bought it just for the novelty - was the "pineapple sage" plant. It smells like a sage plant that was just watered with pineapple juice. Too fun to pass up!

Another scent oddity grows in our front yard. Several times now I've stepped out of my car and smelled fish. The smell passed quickly as I took a few steps toward the house. I eventually figured out that the off-putting smell was emanating from the blossoms of the lovely flowering trees planted by the street. Go figure!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Easter in Utah

It got up to 70 degrees this week. The weather has really been delightful lately. You can imagine, then, my surprise when mother nature played a little April Fool's joke on us all on Thursday.

Thankfully, the snow melts relatively quickly here and the ground was clear the next day. However, Easter had yet to be celebrated. On Easter morning we woke up to basically the same thing.

It's going to continue to snow for the next few days (it's coming down again as I type, actually). Spring is then scheduled to prevail.

Snow wasn't the only thing that was white and fluffy on Easter Sunday. I know you're all thinking about the Eater Bunny, but I'm referring to my first time making a coconut cake. As I initially looked for recipes on, all I could find were variations on, "Buy a cake mix. Add coconut." I wanted to actually make the cake, so I looked on, and found Alton Brown's recipe, which started with, "Buy a coconut. Drain and reserve the water." Holy smokes! Isn't there something between lazy and insane??? Thankfully, I finally found Paula Dean's coconut cake recipe. :)

I thought it was really a cool recipe. I made a basic cake, but substituted coconut milk for regular milk. Then I made a filling of sorts out of sugar, sour cream, and shredded coconut which seeped into the cake layers overnight. Then I topped it with "7-minute frosting," which I'd never made before, and I think it has the coolest texture - reminiscent of marshmallow cream, only super glossy. Then I carefully pressed shredded coconut into the frosted cake. I have to say, I am very proud of the results.

The cake itself was very mild, but the filling added a moist tang, and the frosting was very sweet. It all balanced out very tastily. :) Thanks Paula!

Of course, the best part of both Saturday and Sunday was General Conference. I took notes during all of the sessions, and I'm trying to begin incorporating some things into my life right away. It seemed to me that the majority of the talks focused around the family and the importance of teaching the gospel to children. Despite the seriousness of his subject, I laughed the hardest during Elder Holland's talk, when he reminded us that we shouldn't even be serving tea. ;) I love the Brethren so much and I'm so grateful for their teachings. <3

Friday, April 2, 2010

Obedience According to Springer

I was asked by my Institute professor to share a thought during class. I took the invitation as an opportunity to solidify ideas that had been simmering in my brain for some months. So, here it is.

My ability to obey is anchored on two main truths. The first one is that 1) God has always asked us to do hard things. Actually, "hard" is quite an understatement. The examples of these requirements are endless! Here are a handful:

  • Long before - years before - there were signs of anything fishy (Hee, hee!), Noah was told to build an ark. An ark! Not a fishing boat, not a long boat, but an ark ginormous enough to hold his family, probably more than that "year's supply" of food we're all supposed to have, and who knows how many animals. And some of those animals were really, really big! And dangerous! And smelly! And to top it off, he alienated his family from all their neighbors, and was mocked by everyone around.
  • Alma and Amulek preached the word of God in the city of Ammonihah, and as a result of their conversions, they were forced to watch all the women and children they'd taught burn to death (along with all their holy books). Just the thought makes me sick. And immediately after that, they were imprisoned and treated cruelly for months.
  • Joseph and Emma and the early saints suffered persecution, slander, theft, starvation, beatings, torture, rape, and death at the hands of the communities around them - sanctioned by the American government.
  • Abraham was saved by an angel from being sacrificed to an idol god by his father. He was promised numberless posterity. He had to wait until Sarah was 99 years old before she conceived and had just one son. Then, Abraham was commanded to take Isaac and sacrifice this one, beloved son, to his God.
  • Which brings me to far and away the hardest thing God has ever asked of any of His children. Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God, fell on His face in agony in Gethsemane. He pled with His Father to remove the bitter cup, if it was at all possible. His pure, sensitive soul suffered so much that he bled from every pore. He who had never done anything wrong endured more agony than any of us ever will approach.

I've always loved how Doctrine and Covenants Section 122 puts this all in perspective for me. The Lord describes to Joseph a huge list of hardships he might endure which culminates with, "if the very jaws of hell gape open the mouth wide after thee"! It's then all put into perspective with verse 8: "The Son of Man hath descended below them all, art thou greater than he?"

So, if I sometimes tremble at the requirements of mortality, I know I am in good company - even the best company.

The second truth on which my ability to obey hinges is 2) I know that this is God's work.

When Adam was asked why he offered sacrifices to the Lord, he replied, "I know not, save the Lord commanded me." If the Savior stood in front of me and said something like, "Springer, I need you to do X now." I would say, "Okay!" and scamper off with confidence. But since He isn't with me physically all the time, He's given me and all his children apostles and prophets who speak on his behalf. Therefore, when these men say in General Conference, "We need to do X now," I really try my best to scamper off, because I know they speak for my Savior.

I am of little faith, but I can say with confidence that I know because of Alma 32:33-35: "And now, behold, because ye have tried the experiment, and planted the seed, and it swelleth and sprouteth, and beginneth to grow, ye must needs know that the seed is good. And now, behold, is your aknowledge bperfect? Yea, your knowledge is perfect in that thing, and your cfaith is dormant; and this because you know, for ye know that the word hath swelled your souls, and ye also know that it hath sprouted up, that your understanding doth begin to be enlightened, and your dmind doth begin to expand. O then, is not this real? I say unto you, Yea, because it is alight; and whatsoever is light, is bgood."

So, God has always asked and will continue to ask His children to do hard things. And though I tremble at the thought of what He may have in store for me, I know that many others have faithfully endured. I know that President Thomas S. Monson is a prophet of God. I love him and his counselors and the twelve apostles with all my heart. I know they speak the words of Christ. I know that the blessings of obedience are infinite and eternal. I know that truly God is love.

Slim Fast Fail

So, we all know that Slim Fast shakes work by having one for breakfast, one for lunch, and then a "sensible" dinner. This is why I couldn't resist taking a picture of how Slim Fast shakes were in reality consumed in one sitting: