'Tis the Season to Be Bearded

So, after reading both Clint's and Matt's posts showing off their winter break beards, I had to post one of Vernon. He could only grow his in because he had several weeks off from being a temple worker and started the day after his last shift. :) The best thing about his beard is that it is a completely different color from his hair. Hair, brown. Beard, RED!! Meet Vernon, aka Red Beard the Pirate! Ye scurvy dogs!

I have found my struan

About one week after I checked out Peter Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads book from the library, I decided to start my own wild yeast whole grain sourdough starter. I figured this was some easy business since people have been using wild yeast starters since the beginning of time. Oh, not so, my friends. My first try failed. I am going to point my finger at the vinegar bottle as the culprit. You see, I was trying to follow the 'Pineapple Juice Method' but I didn't have any unsweetened pineapple juice (or sweetened for that matter). The reason for adding the juice in the first place is to raise the acidity level of the mixture so the leuconostoc bacteria won't take over before the lactobacillus and wild yeast get a good start. I figured one acid was as good as the next and substituted a diluted acetic acid solution for the citric acid solution. After 10 days, all I had was a funny smelling slimy goop. I decided to start over. This time I used diluted lemon juice instead. After about 6 days I had definitely captured some wild yeast.

Book Club Rant (or "Edward is NOT the devil!")

Okay, so you'll just have to bear with me today. I went to my Relief Society book club meeting last night and came home so frustrated that I still can't shake the need to rant. So in the interest of sparing my sweet husband my incoherent rantings, I'm putting them out on the web. :)

Last night at book club, we were discussing my new favorite book obsession, Twilight (aka, the vampire books). Now granted, these are not classic literature or anything, but I thought we could at least talk about how the book deals with questions of agency, overcoming our carnal natures, the feeling of falling in love -- any number of fun discussion topics. Instead, the conversation took a frustrating turn.


It's a Christmas Miracle!

Okay, well it's not quite miraculous, but we've had a rare thing these past few days: SNOW!! I was on the phone with my sister-in-law, Rachel, on Christmas morning, when out the window I saw a swarm of white flakes pouring onto the ground. Seriously, one minute there was nothing, next minute we had a blizzard. It even stuck to the ground for about 3 hours or so! I know all you Utah residents will think I'm nuts to get excited about that little snow, but it's such a rarity here that we couldn't help feeling even more Christmas-y than we already did.

Celebs on the Street

This is an idea that has been percolating in my head for a while now, but spending the past few days in front of the TV while recuperating from the stomach flu has confirmed it. Has anyone else noticed that there are more and more celebrity spots on Sesame Street?

When I was growing up (yikes, we're getting old), I remember seeing the occasional celebrity cameo on the Street, mostly great singers, dancers, and musicians. I remember seeing Yo-Yo Ma, tap dancer Savion Glover, James Taylor, and the Tokyo String Quartet.

Your Christmas gift dilemmas solved!

I found Dave Barry's annual holiday gift-giving guide on the Deseret News website and had to share. Go check it out at Dave Barry's Holiday Gift Guide and thank me for turning you on to all these great gift ideas! I mean, who doesn't need watermelon-flavored, Freud-head lollipops....

Festival of the Trees

It's official: December is here, and the Christmas season has begun at the Mauery house! When I was a kid, one of our traditions that kicked off the holiday season was going to the Festival of the Trees. Recently, I discovered that Portland also has a Festival of the Trees and was very excited to take my kids there, thus starting our own new holiday tradition.

We decided to hit the festival on Friday afternoon, so I piled the kids in the car and we ventured to the Oregon Convention Center on the east side of the Willamette. I always get nervous driving across town by myself -- crossing bridges at 50 mph can be a harrowing experience -- but we arrived just fine and went looking inside for the fabled festival. This took a while, because the convention center is HUGE! Enormous! Gigantic!! We seriously had to walk for 10 minutes to get there, which sounds easy enough, but when you're pulling two kids with you, it seems a LOT longer. But we finally made it -- whew!

I Am Glad for Many Things

Inspired by other friends' blogs, I wanted to put together a list of things I'm thankful for. In no particular order, let the blessing-counting begin!

1. My husband. I knew I loved Vernon when I married him, but I didn't know how much I could love him. Every year is better!

2. My kids. We have our days when we don't get along, but the cliche is true: mothering is the hardest and the best thing you can do! I laugh more with my kids than I do with anyone else.

3. Baby wipes. Totally indispensable!

4. The internet. Using my computer, I can keep up with friends and family from one coast (shout out to James & Rachel) to the other (yay for all us west-coasters!).

5. Blocks. Wood blocks, Legos, big, small, doesn't matter. We love building tall towers.

6. Good friends, past and present.

7. Kleenex. We just finished a month-long round of colds, and I learned a new appreciation for this humble product.

8. Cute shoes. I need some new ones, by the way. Christmas present, anyone? :)

Turkey Day

Thanksgiving Day. One of my favorite holidays. One of last holidays not completely given over to commercialism but so hard to keep focused on with all the pre-Christmas stuff already going on. (What IS Santa going to bring to my kids this year?)

But I digress. I do love Thanksgiving. The turkey, the stuffing -- especially the stuffing -- the pie, the family time.... It just doesn't get much better than that. We had a great day today. The kids drew pictures of what they are thankful for (is it a coincidence that they both said, "Dad" first when asked what they wanted to draw?)

Preschool Pilgrims

Nicole's preschool class put on a Thanksgiving feast this week. The kids made the centerpieces and wore costumes. Nicole's class were pilgrims and wore paper hats and wide collars. I think they're pretty darn cute. Nicole, however, was too enamored with her "feast" to give her mother a smile for the camera. :) Grapes, popcorn, and corn muffins are apparently completely enthralling to my four year old. Hope our real feast is as fun as this!

Best darn 100% whole wheat bread ever

I think the title says it all. After having read The Bread Baker's Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread, by Peter Reinhart, I really started making some tasty breads. I have tried the Pain a l'Anciene, the amazing Pizza Napoletana, Foccacia, Pugliese, Anadama bread, and Multi-grain Bread Extraordinaire. They were all very wonderful (and I plan on continuing to make them) but I was left feeling somewhat unfulfilled. For several reasons: I want to eat healthy, and too much white bread is not good for the body; I have more whole grains on hand than white flour and it would be nice to know how to make tastier breads with just the whole grains; people before G.A. Bockler survived without white flour, why can't I?

I found my answer when bumbling around on Amazon, looking for things to round out my wishlist. I was rating items so Amazon could give me better suggestions of things I might like (which it does a fairly poor job at), when I came across Peter Reinharts's Whole Grain Breads: New Techniques, Extraordinary Flavor. Wow! Does he ever deliver.

Becoming computer savvy

OK guys, I've been trying to better my computer skills and I think it's paying off. I totally updated the Haeberle's photos. I added like a boat load of pictures and organized it. So, go ahead and take a peek. You won't be sorry.

Mauerys in Pacific City (Cape Kiwanda)

This year was supposed to be the year of the mini reunions, but as far as I can tell only one has happened to date (and that was just this last weekend). I am here to report that the Seattle Mauerys and the Portland Mauerys had a successful mini reunion in Pacific City. We had been talking for months about planning a get-away weekend vacation on the coast together, and we finally managed to get all the details worked out. One of the members in our ward owns a beach house in Pacific City that we rented for 3 days/2 nights. Timothy was excited about the trip until I sent him directions and the address of the house. Then he responded saying, "Pacific City is Cape Kiwanda. This is like one of my favorite-est places in the whole world. Cannon Beach sounded like fun, but I think this will be even better. Now I'm super excited!"

Book Review: Making Time

What a read! Put aside your impressions of Cheaper by the Dozen and read about the real Lillian Moller Gilbreth. For a biography, I found this book to be quite engaging and easy to read. The author does a great job of presenting her research in a fluid and readable way. I really enjoyed it.
Lillian Moller Gilbreth did do it all.

Book Review: A Whole New Mind

This is another one of those books that Dan bought from his builder's show book list that I read and gave him the review. It isn't my normal cup of tea, but at the same time, I kept wanting to read more. He talks about how certain fields of industry are suffering because computers can do their work faster, or it can be outsourced to Asia for cheaper. So, he gives a practical guide for making sure that doesn't happen to you, and hints on how to get ahead in your field with his six "abilities." Which are: design, story, symphony, empathy, play, and meaning. At the end of each chapter he has a little "portfolio" of books to read, excersizes to do (like certain museums to attend), and websites to visit to strengthen those areas in your life. I think having a background in psychology made this even more interesting, but it's a book that everyone would get something out of. I hope Timothy and Vernon read it and let me know what they think.

Richard Bushman on Mitt Romney

When things are slow, occasionally I will peruse the "Mormon blogs." Sometimes it's drivel (as with most blogs), but sometimes it can be enlightening. One entry referenced a discussion on Mormon theology and politics, with emphasis on Mitt Romney's campaign. It featured Richard Bushman as the LDS viewpoint with various other journalists as participants.

It's pretty long, but Dr. Bushman does a very good job as the "Mormon Apologist" on the panel.

Mormonism and Democratic Politics
(From the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life)

Book Review: The Paradox of Choice

This isn't the typical book I would pick up for easy reading, but it was on Dan's desk and I was bored, so I opened it up. It proved to be more interesting than I thought, and I finished it in two days.

Book Review: Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story

I found this to be one of the most inspiring books I have read in a long time. His life story is not only unbelievable, but miraculous. He is a very religious humble man and it was refreshing to read of all his amazing stories with him giving God all of the credit. It is a very easy and interesting read that I found hard to put down.

I hope this makes the front page!

I have no idea how to post things where I want them on this website (the words "I'm sweating and my neck hurts" keep running through my head)but my email address has changed and I wanted you all to know about it! My cableone address is no longer valid and now I can be reached at sarahfoutz [at] msn (dot) com. I don't know if this is permanent or not, but let's hope so! I lost all of my address book in the process, so by and by as the emails go around I will collect them again. Or you could just email me yourself, I would love to hear from you. I guess it's been awhile since I've been at the site because I have a lot of reading to do! The reviews look great and I've been hungry for a book since my life has settled down. I think. Love to you all, Sarah