Thursday, November 17, 2011

"Happiness is that state of consciousness which proceeds from the achievement of one's values"

For one of my English classes we read Hyrum W. Smith's Your Governing Values are the Foundation of Personal Fulfillment.  It was a really interesting piece and, as good literature is designed to, it made me reflect on my own personal governing values.  Turns out the following assignment was to write our your top twenty governing values and define them.  Perfect.

In no particular order, my top twenty:

1.  I love the Lord and will do his will
     I've seen the work of the Lord's hand in my life and know that he knows and loves me.  I trust him to guide me in the right direction and not lead me astray, and consequently I follow his commandments.  I love him and tell him often.  I serve him in whatever way I can.

2.  I love my family
     I love the family I have been blessed with and I love my future family, even though I don't know them yet.  They are the driving force behind so much that I do.  I want to be more kind and more loving to those that I am eternally bound to.

3.  I am desirous to be a good wife and mother
     Despite not being married or having children yet, I know that being with them is one of my main goals in life.  I hope to be everything I have the capacity to be.  I look forward to teaching and loving my children, helping them weather the trials of life.  I look forward to sharing a life with a loving husband.  I want to be by his side through thick and thin, as someone to lean on and someone to love and hold.

4.  I care about those around me
     When people I care about hurt, it hurts me.  I look after the well being of those I interact with.  I find joy in being considerate and helping those in need.

5.  I find work fulfilling
     I gain a feeling of self accomplishment when I'm doing work that I know is done well.  This feeling motivates me to do my best in all the work I perform.  There is no satisfaction in doing something that I won't be proud of.

6.  I am ambitious
     I dream big.  I want to make something amazing out of my life.  I have goals and I will do what it takes to attain them.

7.  I am intellectual
     I enjoy enlightening conversation.  I find that when something stimulates the mind to grow and think, it's worthwhile.  I take pride in being able to hold intelligent conversation.

8.  I enjoy performing service
     Even the little things, like holding the door open for someone, make my day brighter.  It's satisfying to help my fellow man out.

9.  I am a peacemaker
     I avoid contention whenever I am able to.  I'd rather talk things out than get in an argument.  When people are upset, I try to calm them down.  I try my best not to participate in gossip, but I could always use improvement with that.

10.  I am a leader
       Whether or not I like it, I was born with leading qualities.  I don't have a problem with taking charge, even if cruising in the background sounds appealing.  In the future I see myself in a lot of leadership roles, whether it's in the church, school, or work.

11.  I am mature
       I might have  immature moments, but for the most part I'm mature.  I know how to act like an adult.  I've had a lot of experiences that have caused me to grow up in ways I don't think I anticipated when I was younger.  I feel more prepared for the things that lay ahead.

12.  I respect myself and know what I deserve
       I deserve to be treated well and to be loved.  I won't settle for anything that is below me.  I am a daughter of God and should be treated like one.

13.  I love to love
       Almost nothing brings me as much joy as expressing love does.  I love to be in love, I love to tell my family I love them.  I love to leave love notes for roommates or friends.  I love to snuggle and love cats.  I love to love God.  I love to love.

14.  I am healthy
      I exercise regularly.  I eat well.  I have studied food and know better ways of preparing things.

15.  I am motivated
      I'm a go-getter.  I like getting things done, I like being involved.  I am reliable and present.  I have a positive attitude.

16.  I have passion
       I am passionate about food.  I love to cook, I love to satisfy people by making something that looks and taste delicious.

17.  I have a sunny disposition
       I'm an optimist.  If I'm having a downer day, I chose to surround myself by people are uplifting and then regain my happiness.  I find that life is more enjoyable when you're actually enjoying it.  Smiling is contagious, I like to do it often.

18.  I devour knowledge and education
       If I could just read books for the rest of my life, I'd give up facebook, texting, and everything else.  But I have to go to school and stuff, so it's okay to tie those other things in.  I love learning.  My mind is open to new possibilities and fascinated by things of the past.  I strive to be a better student and make the most out of my learning.

19.  I am financially capable
       I paid my way through culinary school without taking out a loan.  I live within my means and know what it means to be frugal.  I thing really hard about big purchases and save up for them.  I know how to compare prices and find out the real value of something.  I know how to pay my taxes.

20.  I am a good friend
      I am someone people can turn to for advice.  I like listening and lending a comforting word or two.  I enjoy the company of others.  I can keep a secret.

There you have it, my top twenty governing values.  These are things that guide me throughout my life, helping me determine what decisions to make and what direction to go.  These are the things that make me me.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

“Home, the spot of earth supremely blest, A dearer, sweeter spot than all the rest”

Dear Husband,

We are going to build a fortress.   Together we will transform wherever we reside into a safe house where we can take refuge from the storm.  There will be pictures of you and me and our children littering the walls, displaying captured moments of our life together.  Our home is going to be a place of happiness and joy where we may live and love and learn together.  
Our children will feel refreshed and calm when they return from school, you will have a place to kick off your shoes and read to them after work.  I'll bake pies often.  We'll listen to fabulous music and dance barefoot in the living room.  On Sunday evenings we'll drink hot chocolate and read books in bed together.  We'll build a tree house.
We'll have family prayer daily and tell our children often than we love them.  I'll let you get a dog if you want.  I'm going to cook a big dinner every Christmas, but you have to put up the lights on the house.  We'll go on a road trip and see the nation. 
I'm so excited for our future.  I can't wait to create a home with you.

All my love,

This started off as a post about my future home and how it's going to be, how it's going to feel.  Somehow it developed into this letter.  I find that I am filled with hope and am giddy with excitement to get started on this life, even if the idea of marriage scares me.

Maybe I just want a tree house.

Friday, November 11, 2011

"Cooking is at once one of the simplest and most gratifying of the arts, but to cook well one must love and respect food."

Last night I did a test run with the religieuses.  It was a pretty basic test run, mostly to make sure I have a good solid recipe for pâte à choux.  I had some trouble mixing the eggs into the paste, but a little help from an electric mixer and I was good to go.  Instead of using a pastry bag (all of mine are in California) I used parchment paper.  It worked pretty well, but the downside to using parchment is it's hard to refill it, so you end up using more than one bag.  Piping the dough out resulted in slightly odd shaped puffs, so I think when it comes time to make the actual religieuses, I'm going to forego the piping and just spoon the dough onto some parchment.  I think that will help them maintain a better shape for filling them.

I had all the intentions of making pastry cream for this test run, but I ended up making whipped cream instead.  The cream puffs turned out delicious and relatively easy.  They weren't as filled as I would have liked them to be, as a result of the odd shape, but that's what test runs are for.  Ideally, I'd like to use manufacturers cream for the filling since it's heavier than the cream you can get at the grocery store, but I haven't the slightest idea of where to get that out here.  

Sometime I think my roommates and I are going to make a ton of cream puffs together and freeze them.  Then we can have those delightful treats all throughout the winter without the process of making them (which is a relatively easy process, but we're lazy college students.)  

Overall, the test run was a success.  I realized that for the larger portions I'll have to have a longer baking time; the ones I made last night fell as they were cooling due to being undercooked.  The taste of the dough is light, but eggy, just like I hoped.  I like the taste of pretty sweet cream in the center to offset the savory flavor of the dough.  

I think sometime soon I'll try my hand at some swans.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

"“He who knows others is wise. He who knows himself is enlightened.”

Times come and go, bringing in happiness and sadness and all those other silly emotions.  Every moment should be cherished, held dear, woven into what you are.  Be it good or bad, pleasant or disturbing.  We are made up of a series of little moments strung together, comprising who we are.  Who am I to say that won't be a part of me when clearly it is?  It's things like that that will shape you and mold you into what kind of person you will be.  It's those kinds of things that help you move forward down the path of life.

I don't know what I'm getting at.  I'm rambling with my writing.  I've got a lot on my mind tonight.

The things we experience have purpose.  I look at where I am now and I can see how things have affected me and how I handle situations.  I can see the development in my character.  Some of the changes I accept willingly, some of them I'm struggling with.  Overall, however, I feel good.  I feel wiser, better prepared for the challenges that lay ahead.  I'm on my way to becoming my most perfect self.  

I knew this year would be my year.  Looks like I was right.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

“Whenever I feel blue, I start breathing again”

I just finished my 25th journal.  It took me nearly a year to fill it and now that it's done I feel almost relieved.  A lot happened in this past year.  Now I literally don't have to carry it around with me.  I was listening to Anberlin's album New Surrender and the song Breathe stuck out to me.  I feel like that song describes how I feel right now.
It's long overdue, but I've finally closed that chapter of my life.  Sam isn't someone I need to waste any more time on.  I don't need to dwell on what happened. I'm free.


This is surrender
To a war-torn life I've lived.
Scars and stripes forever
In need of change I can't resist.

No need to hide anything anymore.
Can't return to who I was before.

I can finally breathe.
Suddenly alive.
I can finally move.
The world feels revived.

This long of a struggle
Finally opened up my eyes.
Revolution's not easy
With a Civil War on the inside.

No need to hide anything anymore.
Can't return to who I was before.

I can finally breathe.
Suddenly alive.
I can finally move.
'Cause I realize.

I can finally breathe.
Suddenly alive.
I can finally move.
The world feels revived.

I can finally breathe.
Suddenly alive.
I can finally move.
'Cause I realize.

I can finally breathe.
Suddenly alive.
I can finally move.
The world feels revived.

I can finally breathe.
I can finally move.
The world feels revived.

Hurray for beginning again!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

"Life is uncertain. Eat dessert first"

Today in my brit lit class we somehow got onto the topic of nun hats and their shape.  My professor went off on a tangent about these pastries he had in France called religieuses which means nun's hat in French, that was the connection between Hopkins and this delectable French pastry.  He jumped on google images, showed us a picture, then took a good portion of time telling a detailed story about how one goes about eating a religieuse.  Brother Bruggar's stories are so fun.  The tangents make that class so worth it.  I guess the literature is pretty good, too.  I discovered this week that I really like Christina Rossetti.

Anyway, earlier in the semester we were told we would get extra credit if we used British recipes and brought in British desserts, such as figgy pudding and other delightful treats.  Unfortunately, the idea of making a religieuse is much more appealing than whipping up some mediocre pudding.  It wouldn't really be that hard, it's just pastry cream and  pâte à choux.  Essentially, it's a giant cream puff with a smaller cream puff on top.

See?  Not that hard.  I've got experience with  pâte à choux and I've watched a pro make it. We had a guest chef (from France!!  I wish I remembered his name) come and teach us the proper method for making it.  It's a slightly difficult dough to work with, but it's not the hardest thing to do.  I haven't made it since culinary school, but my professor told me he'd give me extra credit if I made religieuses for the class.  He also said he'd pay for the ingredients.  Awesome?  Awesome.

I'm going to do a test run this weekend, just to make sure the method I've come up with is going to be appropriate for making my own religieuse.  I've never had one, so I'm being daring and making them my way. I'm really excited.  This is the kind of thing I live for.  If I could just drop out of school and experiment and create desserts, I would.  But then I would get fat.  And be uneducated.  I don't want either of those.

Hurray for religieuses!