The Great 2018 Soup Swap

11 Dec

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I live for soup weather.

I live for soup.

I live for soup weather.

Let’s live as a group!

 

Wow, what a clever opening poem, for this, the first annual Jillian Lorraine soup swap!!

(crowd roars)

(um, is that the wave?)

I was telling someone recently that I’m at the stage in my life where I would enjoy a recipe swap.

I used to mock these things, mock this lifestyle, and yet.

We all turn 30.

Here I am, writing poems, and doing the wave and putting out a recipe swap for the whole gosh darn internet!

(That’s who reads my blog, right?)

I truly do love soup.

When I told Rob about this idea he said, “Soup girl never leaves her soup.” This is nearly as clever as my opening poem.

We are a fun time.

Right now in Los Angeles it’s the best of the soup weather. It’s all fuzzy socks and half finished cups of tea, spiced nuts and soft blankets.

Later this week I’m making this lemon soup right here:

Avgolemeno (Greek Lemon Chicken Soup)

(You see what I did there! I introduced the first recipe for soup swap!)

It takes fifteen minutes. It’s delicious. You can pack it with veggies if you so choose.

Other soups I make regularly over here:

Spicy Thai Curry Soup

We use udon noodles because I always want the best noodles in my soup/life. Also we add bok choy, bell pepper, yellow squash and chicken. 

Black Bean Soup

This one is hardly a soup, more of a very thick…stew? Sauce? We add chicken and put it over a bed of lime/cilantro rice (a la Chipotle).  Mmm.

Lasagna soup!

Double the spicy sausage and the noodles and you’ve got yourself a winner.

 

 

OK, now it’s your turn. Do not let me down. Gimme all your best soups. Or at the very least, the links to your best soups. GO!

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Destiny’s Child And Overdue Library Books

9 Dec

Today I returned 14 overdue books to the library.

In my 31 years of library use this has never happened.

I am a responsible and independent library user!

My mama taught me better than that!

It started with Angela’s Ashes.

Doesn’t everything?

(I joke.)

(I kid.)

(I don’t know.)

Angela’s Ashes was a tough read for me. It was very dark and hopeless feeling.

I told this to a friend and she said, really? I didn’t feel that way. I thought it was so full of life and humor.

Which just means that

  1. Maybe it’s not the time in my life for Angela’s Ashes
  2. Maybe another time would be!
  3. Maybe not!

All valid options.

Angela’s Ashes was hard for me to get through.

And suddenly, “Oh it’s a day overdue” turned into “Oh it’s a week overdue.” And I keep the sort of library schedule where a lot happens in a week.

I keep the sort of life where I can say that phrase and Mean It.

I returned them all today. All 14 of the beautiful, overdue books.

My arm still kind of hurts from lugging that weight six blocks uphill in the rain both ways.

It was a weird defeat.

I thought I could conquer that stack!

I thought if I just read one book every day for 14 days I would be caught up!

But as I mentioned before, I’m on the sort of library schedule where a lot happens in a week.

Imagine what happens in 14 days!

Imagine what it’s like to live in my brain!

There’s meaning to all of this somewhere, I’m sure of it.

It’s just beyond the tip of my tongue.

Something about control or success or a feedback loop.

Something about learning my own limits and saying no and not seeing this as a defeat or a reflection of self.

There’s a lesson in this, and yet I keep coming back to Destiny’s Child.

My mama taught me better than that

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A Memory. Click, Click, Click.

2 Dec

A couple of weeks ago Robert and I bought an internet booster thing.

There’s a real name for this item, and we had real reason to believe it would work, but that stuff is irrelevant to the story.

We had an internet booster thing.

We procrastinated setting it up, and by the time we realized, no, in fact, this was not going to work, it was 8:45pm on the night we needed to return it.

Staples has a strict 14 day return policy.

We had fifteen minutes to return this internet booster thing within the policy window!

!

Rob tossed me the cord while he ran to put on his shoes.

I left the house in weird camera pajamas and Birkenstocks and soon we were sprinting up the road, laughing into the darkness.

“I’m going to throw up!” I yelled.

“I can’t breathe!”

We huffed and puffed and regretted our poutine from dinner.

We huffed and puffed and regretted that we hadn’t taken care of this earlier.

We laughed and huffed and laughed and puffed and when we arrived at the store three blocks later, they said, um this is a receipt for scrapbook paper?

It all worked out with six minutes to spare.

On the way home, Rob took my hand and we walked leisurely, letting our heart rates return to normal.

As it was happening, the sprinting, the camera pajamas, the yells into the void, I had the distinct thought,

This is a memory.

This moment

right now

a memory.

So here I am, writing it down to save it for later.

Click click click.

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A Day At Church

26 Nov

I gave five hours to church on Sunday.

I am not in a leadership position. I am no one exciting. Just a member of the congregation and this is what I gave.

Five hours.

It’s a job. A day’s work.

As a child I used to say I was churched out.

When my family would sit down to read scriptures or when there was yet another youth activity I would sigh. I can’t, I’m churched out.

I am often churched out.

I wonder how many of us feel this way?

I’ve wondered if this means I don’t like it?

Or like, with everything else in life, there’s bad to get to the good?

The first hour I spent at church practicing the organ.

This is actually an improvement for me. When I was first asked to be the ward organist I would come at 7:30AM and use my key to unlock the green gate. I would turn on the lights and for the next 2.5 hours I would stumble through, my feet bumbling the pedals, my heart racing.

It almost doesn’t matter if I practice, I can never perform it how I’d like.

It’s the ultimate test for a perfectionist and I get it every week!

Lucky me.

A podcast I listen to once talked about church as something that most every single time is boring and semi-horrible and then occasionally, BOOM, that great spiritual experience. And we go and we slog through for the BOOMS.

This is true of most anything.

I love to read, and yet most of the books I read are just fine. But then, wow, when you get a great one.

BOOM.

BOOMS.

The second hour of church I spent actually playing the organ for the service.

I played four pieces.

Prelude.

Postlude.

It went about as well as usual, which is to say at least 20% less than I would have hoped.

Recently I listed all the things I have going on in my life.

There’s a lot.

I load myself up with projects and side projects. With relationships and goals and to-do lists and I am on edge a lot of the time because I am nowhere near accomplishing everything I want to.

Rob points out that I have a lot on my plate and I say, “Yes!” But I want it all there!”

Except for church.

The church stuff on that list often feels like an obligation.

One I take on willingly.

But an obligation, nonetheless.

The third hour of church I teach a group of 4-5 year olds about forgiveness.

We read stories and color pictures and sing songs.

(I do this at work all week.

Now I do this on the weekends too.)

I sound negative and I know I can be about church.

I am, after all, someone who is churched out quite often.

But there are so many good things I’m not talking about here.

About some of the best friends and best people I’ve met through church. About the way the community came together and fed my family for a week when my grandpa died. How people I’ve never met have showed up and helped me move my house countless times, simply because I asked. And because we share this thing.

I don’t mean to be negative.

The fourth hour of church I play the piano for all of the primary children (12 and under). I haven’t practiced and don’t know the songs beforehand, but luckily this isn’t the organ.

I debated publishing this piece.

Will it be controversial? Sharing my experience?

Sharing anything when it comes to religion seems to be controversial. Some people only want to listen to the good. To tell me to try harder, have more faith. Others only want to swirl in the bad. To tell me to leave, that it’s all nonsense.

My church experience exists in tones of gray.

In kind people and long meetings.

In purpose and community, in disappointment and heartache.

In slog slog (slog) (slog) (slog) (slog) BOOMS.

The fifth hour of church I stay behind and help a friend pick out a solo for the upcoming Relief Society Christmas dinner.

I’ll be accompanying her on the piano.

She has a lovely voice.

Slog slog slog

(No booms today.)

 

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Always and Forever, Jillian Lorraine

25 Nov

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Well dear me. I’m a bit of a mess.

I just finished Always and Forever, Lara Jean, the final book in the To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before series.

I loved it.

I wish I had more eloquent words to convey the bubbly feeling right above my stomach, like foaming soap bubbles combined with a fizzy 7-up, but I loved it.

I’m bubbling.

Lavender foaming soap bubbles.

Lara Jean would approve.

I tried to read PS I Still Love You a few years ago when it came out. It was all over my Book Twitter, my Book Instagram, my book world. I hadn’t read the first in the series, but people said it didn’t matter.

It did, I guess.

Not for me, I said.

Not for me, I told others.

This is the rare case where the movie started it all for me.

I love the movie.

I would watch the movie every day if I could. Sometimes I think I should. Isn’t that what my whole “let entertainment be entertaining thing” is about?

Isn’t that what I mean when I tell parents it’s great their kid loves Captain Underpants?

The movie is perfect. A perfect high school romance.

And so I gave the books a try again.

This time I started at the beginning.

The books are sweet and simple. Conflict is sweet and simple.

I can see how the second book didn’t do it for me. I wasn’t already in love with Peter Kavinsky, the handsomest of all the handsome boys. I didn’t understand the Covey sisters. The Song sisters.

This series is really a story about a sweet family who loves each other. About sisters.

I know about sisters and about happy families.

But it’s also a book about Lara Jean. A modern day Anne Shirley.

Yes, I’m saying it!

How could I not, when Lara Jean says things like this:

Sunday night I curl my hair. Curling your hair is an intrinsically hopeful act. I like to curl it at night and think about all the things that could happen tomorrow. Also, it generally looks much better slept on and not so poofy.

Can’t you just see Anne saying that?

Or this?

Families shrink and expand. All you can really do is be glad for it, glad for each other, for as long as you have each other.

I see so much of myself in Lara Jean, a homebody who loves to bake and loves her family and is dreamy and romantic about the world around her. A girl who wants the world to be pretty and full of glitter and vintage dresses. A girl who is a good girl, who is uninterested in being anything else.

Oh Lara Jean.

Oh Peter K.

I love a good high school romance, but more than that, I love a good high school romance that is realistic to what I know of high school romance.

So many teen books right now are so intense. The tackle heavy issues. They often do it with great success, with excellent writing.

I often enjoy them.

But that intensity? That wasn’t my experience. My experience was a lot more about small conflicts and secret crushes.

Best friends and family dinners.

Oh dear me.

I just want to put on a pair of flannel pajamas and make some Night Night tea and start it all over again.

Maybe in a foaming lavender bath while drinking an ice-cold 7 UP.

Bubbles everywhere!

Bubbles and glitter, and maybe a vintage dress or two.

All the best things in life.

 

– Always and Forever, Jillian Lorraine

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Thanksgiving 2018

23 Nov

We watched Parks and Rec all of Thanksgiving week.

It wasn’t planned.

In fact, we had just started Homecoming after wrapping up The Haunting of Hill House. We were hitting all the big names!

And then we watched an episode of Parks and Rec and it was just so…nice. So…fun?

I have 38 television shows on my “Shows” note on my phone. These are the shows that I’d like to watch or finish or watch the next season of or or.

And letting go of that list, letting go of an acclaimed show or a recommended show or a new show to just watch something I’ve already seen for the fun of it? It feels like the biggest lesson of 2018.

Why on earth am I making goals around my television shows?

Television is meant to entertain!

I subscribe to 45 podcasts.

That’s a real number too.

I counted after I saw a Millennial Bingo that said “Subscribes to five podcasts” and I was like FIVE? PHEW. MY GRANDMA subscribes to five. Try 45!

And then I realized wow.

I have also turned my podcasts into some sort of goal. Achievement.

I have also lost the entertainment in my entertainment.

Last week I asked people to brag about something they were proud of in 2018. It was the best thing I’ve done in a really long time and I definitely recommend it. Ask the people you love!

Ask yourself.

I am surrounded by the greatest humans.

Humans who start book clubs and change their car brakes on their own. Humans whose movies are now streaming on Amazon, whose books will hit the shelves soon. Who overcame bad relationships or opened themselves up to good ones.

Humans who adopted cats.

(Wait that’s me. I’m a cool person, too!)

But the interesting thing was, after I put that question up, I had many people reach out and tell me that they couldn’t think of anything to say.

One friend told me she hadn’t achieved anything in 2018.

“Hmm,” I said. “The question didn’t ask you what you had achieved, it asked you what you were proud of?”

“Hmm,” she responded.

Hmm.

That was a moment for me too.

Am I only proud of my “achievements?”

What is an achievement anyway?

Isn’t sending a finished book out, one you’ve spent hundreds and hundreds of days working on, something to be proud of, even if it’s not hitting the shelves next year?

Trying something new?

Persevering anyway?

(The answer is yes. But why is it so hard to believe?

Why am I subscribed to 45 podcasts?)

This year I am proud of a tiny Instagram account I started called Mormons in Media. We’ve been talking about it for so long and we finally did it. Almost no one follows, and we did it.

I am proud I publicly wrote about being Mormon.

I am proud I opened my heart to little Dolly.

I am proud I got my flu shot for the first time ever.

I am proud.

This time watching Parks and Rec I’ve realized that I am Leslie Knope.

It’s a strange thing, because I always identify with the Eeyore, the Meredith Grey, the moody moodster.

Leslie is all positivity and energy.

She is also an obsessive overachiever who loves her job, makes binders for her binders, wants to connect to friendships and people so intensely most don’t know how to handle it.

Yes, I am a Leslie.

I am also a moody moodster.

Moody Moodster Leslie, if you will.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, Rob made artichoke dip and we have some Parks and Rec to watch.

Just for fun!

What an idea!

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A Call to Words

15 Nov

My therapist has given me strict instructions that I am to write.

That’s her prescription, that’s my task.

We made a list of everything going on in my life and the areas I’m feeling good about and the areas I’m not and at the end of it all she said, OK, your number one priority is to write.

Want to work on your depression?

Write.

Want to tackle these other things?

Write first.

I remember reading about a woman who had a very busy week. In that busyness she decided to give herself permission not to clean her house that week. She would let her mind focus on other, more important matters.

As the week went on and the mess in her house grew she grew increasingly agitated.

She was failing! She spiraled! She would never get it all done!

(She cleaned her house.)

(She felt better.)

(She got more done.)

In this story writing is my clean house. And I am this woman.

Times, oh, 700 million?

I often put off writing because I am busy.

I am busy! This is true. But putting off writing doesn’t help.

And filling that time, that writing time with other (good!) (great!) things is actually making me feel worse.

Tackling my health may begin with writing for me.

Tackling my relationships or finances or or or

Maybe I begin with a clean house.

Maybe I begin where I know I need to begin.

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Friendship, Pumpkin Cheesecake, and Anne Lamott

21 Oct

IMG_7318 To have a few amazing friends on this side of eternity, this sometimes grotesque amusement park, is the greatest joy. As Saint Bette sang in the bathhouses, “You got to have friends.” We cannot depend solely on spouses to dump on, to share our intimate thoughts with or reveal our deepest truths to. Trust me, they have been through enough just living with us. Our yokes are heavy. Healthy people need to unburden sometimes unpleasant feelings and information, such as hating everything about life and everyone on earth, and hoping the bad people are killed by snakes; or that they just ate all the frosting off a Safeway carrot cake because they were feeling fragile.

Anne Lamott

Almost Everything: Notes on Hope

I’m seeing my best friends this week and we’re going to eat an entire pumpkin cheesecake and share our deepest darkests and maybe, if there’s sufficient time and energy, sing along to Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again.

(There’s never enough time.)

I look forward to our elderly years where we live Golden Girls style, loud, and fully ourselves, but until then.

Pumpkin cheesecakes and declarations of ungenerous thoughts.

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I’m Mormon. Hi! Did you know?

27 Aug

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I keep thinking about an article I read. An article on Mormon women and polygamy.

I’m Mormon. Hi! Did you know?

You probably knew.

I’m from Utah. I have four siblings. I don’t drink alcohol. The signs were all there! And yet, I avoided forever and ever and ever (six years) talking about it on this blog.

I didn’t want to be a Mormon Writer. I didn’t want to be judged. I didn’t want have to defend the Mormon church for things I disagree with it on.

In fact, I already wrote this post! Here it is:

Reasons I’m scared to write about being Mormon on the internet

  • Polygamy
  • Fielding any question at all about polygamy
  • Feeling like I must field religious questions in general
  • Judgment
  • People thinking less of me
  • People suddenly disliking me?
  • People thinking I agree with everything the Mormon church does
  • People wanting me to talk about everything the Mormon church does that I don’t agree with
  • Angry people who hate Mormons
  • Angry people in general
  • Being attacked for something that is so personal and so intricately linked to who I am, who my family is, my history, my culture, my language

Reasons I’m posting a list about being Mormon on the internet:

  • This is my experience
  • This is my story
  • I am Mormon
  • Even if I never talk about it, or write about it, or blog about it…I am already a Mormon writer, a Mormon blogger, a Mormon person

Whew, feels good to put that out there.

Or does it?

I’m wary about opening this part of my life up at all online. The internet can be a dark place. The Mormon church can be a dark place for many people, sometimes for me.

But, as a good friend pointed out to me, I am already a Mormon Writer whether I ever talk about being Mormon.

I am a Mormon. I am a writer. It informs my background, my choices, the words I write.

Whew.

Here I am.

Now, back to the article.

I didn’t think I would reveal my Mormonism by talking about polygamy.

Polygamy is something I would prefer to never talk about. Ever. Remember my list?

(And to clarify. The Mormon Church does not practice polygamy. I only have one mother, thanks for asking.)

But this article.

It’s an interview with Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, a Mormon feminist at Harvard. She actually coined the phrase we see every women’s march, “Well-behaved women seldom make history.” She talks about how the quote has been taken out of context, how she supports the new context too.

It’s an interesting article, should you decide to read it.

You should, probably!

But it’s actually the non-polygamy stuff I keep thinking about. (Surprise! Angst and embarrassment, remember?) It is the stuff she says about religion in general, and our religion specifically that stood out for me.

Recently I was on the sidelines of a conversation about religion and, well, how dumb it is. How it’s all made-up and arbitrary and it’s ridiculous that people believe and worship and follow these made-up, arbitrary rules.

I hear the people in this conversation and what they are saying.

I understand the people in this conversation and what they are saying.

And yet, Laurel said what I wish I had had the words for in that moment. What I wish I had articulated. She said:

My study…doesn’t turn me toward abstract questions about the nature of God so much as it turns me toward deeply meaningful questions about how human beings manage to live together in the world and to make reasonable lives out of inscrutable suffering. Those are such contemporary and profound questions.

“How human beings manage to live together in the world and make reasonable lives out of inscrutable suffering.”

Pow.

Wow.

She goes on to talk about her relationship with the Mormon church. She says:

It gives me many, many grounding values in my life, particularly the values of community, of sharing, of not being invested in being important or wealthy in the world. I don’t always live up to those values, believe me. I try very hard, and they – and I come back to them constantly. And it also – some of the most profound issues have to do with the universal brotherhood and sisterhood of human beings, the sense of fatherhood and motherhood of God that we’re in this together, and we’re in this world to, I think – and this is just such a difficult thing to say – but we’re in this world to make it better.

That to me is a fundamental revelation that Joseph Smith delivered. And believe me, he didn’t always make it better, but the value that he taught and that has been passed on through many generations to those of us who are privileged to have had that faith tradition is, you know – we’re supposed to try to improve things in whatever way we can in the world around us.

Well my golly, my gosh, look at me using Mormon terms here, but pow. Wow. That’s it, isn’t it?

I’m Mormon and I’m trying to be better.

I’m Mormon and I am privileged to have had that faith tradition.

I am Mormon, hey, did you know?

(You probably knew.)

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Happiness And Success

13 Jul

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Oprah recently had a podcast with the author Sarah Ban Breathnach.

Sarah is known for the bestselling self-help book in the 1990s called Simple Abundance where she talked about how gratitude can transform your life.

The book transformed Sarah’s.

It sold over 7 million copies and soon Sarah was buying Manolo Blahnik shoes, employing nine assistants, and renovating the home in the English Countryside that Isaac Newton once owned.

She had it all. Money. Adoring fans. A wildly successful career.

(Newton’s Chapel.)

Years later, Sarah showed up at her sister’s house with only a suitcase. She had no money. Nowhere to live. A deeply broken heart.

Sarah’s story is the age-old story that I know, I KNOW I know, and yet it’s a reminder.

Sarah lost her money through a series of bad investments, a costly (and awful) divorce, and being ill-prepared for fame, wealth and all that comes along with it. She learned the very hard way the thing that we all learn the very hard way. No amount of

money

followers

books sold

can make your husband kind.

No amount of

success

awards

designer shoes

lead to inner peace. Good decisions. Love.

It just doesn’t.

We all know about Princeton’s study on money and happiness by now.

I don’t need to recap it fully, but I do think about it a lot.

Basically, the study found that after a certain point ($75K), no matter how much more money you make, you aren’t any happier.

Of course, money makes a difference when you can’t pay the bills. When you desperately need it.When the lights don’t turn on.

It’s a privilege of mine to not be speaking from that place.

But I never forget about that 75K.

It’s baffling!

Give me a few million dollars and I’ll SHOW YOU how much happier I am!

Gimme the house in Santa Barbara and free me of the student loan anxiety and I’ll TELL YOU in no uncertain terms your study is wrong!

Except.

Big sigh.

Big breath.

I know that it’s right.

Lauren Graham, in her graduation-speech-turned-book In Conclusion Don’t Worry About It said this:

The fun of doing the daily crossword puzzle with my TV children between shots on the set of Parenthood rivaled any awards show I’ve ever attended. The “success” parts of life look good to others, but the best parts are actually the simple, daily experiences. This is true whether you’re an actor or a teacher or a waitress. I know this because I’ve been all three.

It’s always about the looking good to others part isn’t it?

It comes back to wanting to be seen. Wanting to know you’re worthwhile.

The Fault in Our Stars tackles this beautifully.

Augustus is worried about death because he hasn’t done anything “big” in his life. He’s only 16. The world doesn’t know him.

His girlfriend tells him

I don’t care if the New York Times writes an obituary for me. I just want you to write one. You say you’re not special because the world doesn’t know about you, but that’s an insult to me. I know about you.

That’s it, isn’t it?

I know about you.

I do the crossword with you.

I’ll take you in when you have nowhere to go.

It’s the reminder I need fairly often. The reminder when I’m wishing I had more

money

acclaim

books sold (any books sold!)

That that won’t be the answer.

One of my favorite bloggers wrote about living in small-town Idaho while her husband went to grad school. She hated her job, her pet was sick, they had very little money, and she was trying and failing to get pregnant.

She was miserable.

Eventually they left Idaho for New York where she finally had that baby she had so long desired. Her life changed. She was out of it!

And then.

Her husband took a job back at that same University back in that same small-town.

This time she had the baby. They had money to buy groceries. They had no sick pets.

And yet.

She puts it this way

I am here again, mis-er-able, with none of those ingredients in my kitchen, and yet I am STILL baking that miserable cake!? AND YET!???!!

And yet.

I am quite the gourmet baker of miserable cakes with none of the same ingredients.

Open me a bakery, I’ve got this on lock!

I’m so very good at picking something in my life that will finally make me happy and pinning all my hopes and dreams on it!

When my parents moved after I gradudated high school it was their return that would do it.

(They moved back. I’m so glad they did. It didn’t do it.)

For a long time it was about a romantic relationship that was fairly awful. If that was fixed, then I’d be OK!

I now have a kind, wonderful husband. (I’m so glad I do. And it didn’t do it.)

If I quit this job, or move to this place, or or or.

It’s never done it.

I think I’ve learned this lesson and then I realize that I’m doing it all over again.

That I’m doing it now.

Today, on some level, I believe if my writing career were where I want it to be, if I was publishing bestselling, acclaimed novels, if I was known and regarded and loved for my writing…

That would do it!

(It won’t.)

(It never will.)

Interestingly, Sarah Ban Breathnach wrote a follow up book about her experiences post Simple Abundance success.

She called it Peace and Plenty: Finding your path to financial serenity.

On the podcast, Oprah said something like, “Well, it’s not about the money.”

And Sarah kept insisting it was about the money.

They went back and forth a little and I thought wow.

After all this.

Wow.

I think, perhaps, the answer lies in Lauren Graham’s original quote. She says

The “success” parts of life look good to others, but the best parts are actually the simple, daily experiences.

I am conflating success with best. Best with success.

Anyone can have simple, daily experiences. I should be different and special and successful!

Success = best, hello!

 

Except.

Big sigh.

Big breath.

I know that she’s right.

 

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