Chili con pollo con frijoles negros with beans

I’m spending today cooking chili. I’m not exactly sure how I got to the point where I spend one of my precious days off from work cooking chili, but we’ll see through the course of this post if I can trace it.

A few weeks ago, Gin and I made a batch of chili. This may sound unusual to some of you, and it is kind of unusual, since neither of us are known to cook. We used my grandma Naoma’s old chili recipe, which I had always wanted to try to make. A mitigating circumstance to our actual cooking of chili from scratch is that we had a nice new pot to cook it in and all the ingredients (my super-generous mom gave them to us at a recipe shower before our marriage. It should be noted that my mom herself has never prepared this dish, so the immensity of cooking chili from scratch spans the generations, at least for my part.) The chili turned out pretty good, and the recipe made a HUGE batch. Our shiny new pot could barely contain it all. This single evening of chili-making provided us with meal after satisfying meal, as I divided the substance into numerous containers which we froze and then reheated in the days/weeks following. It was an actual cooking success on our part. Maybe it wasn’t an unqualified success since no one else ever actually tasted it, but we thought it was good and since we were the ones eating it I guess that is what’s important.

Naturally, as our frozen chili portions disappeared, the thought occurred to us that we should try again. I also had this thought that it might be interesting to use chicken instead of ground beef, and black beans instead of red beans. And then, some sort of weird process went into mechanization. One morning earlier this week I found myself wandering around a grocery store looking for things to cook at home, since I was going to be at home alone a lot instead of in Salt Lake City at work (I’ve had all of this past week off from work). I went by the meat section. I saw ground beef and I saw chicken, and I thought of the chili. I bought a big package of raw chicken, and then a bag of black beans. And as a result of these rash decisions, I am currently spending my Friday morning (and afternoon, apparently) preparing a giant batch of highly experimental chicken and black bean chili. I had to do it because the meat was going to go bad if I didn’t do it today.

And now I’m in a bizarre situation where, although I am cooking food and have been cooking food for several hours, it is now past lunch time and I can’t yet eat this food. Am I forced to prepare something else, while I am still cooking the chili? Do I leave the chili simmering and actually go out somewhere and buy some fast food? Preposterous! The other thing that gets me about this whole business is that it might not even taste good when it gets done. It’s still a mystery. But it’s my mystery, and my day off. And I am in the kitchen, cooking chili. And typing about cooking chili. Now that does seem more like something I would do on my day off.

p.s. I’m even wearing an apron. This is a first for me, and I always thought aprons were stupid, but the last two times I’ve tried cooking stuff I had splatters all over my clothes. I’ve learned my lesson. It is just a regular apron, though, not a flirty apron.

State of the Froz-T-Freez Address

Here follows a bunch of random comments I wanted to make concerning this fine establishment, all compiled and relegated into one (hopefully concise) post.

  • Updates to the sidebar! I have added links to blogs of family and friends that I read. Dear reader, if you are a family or friend and you have a blog that I don’t know about, please let me know about it! Thank you. I won’t list it if you don’t want me to, but I still want to read it. Other recent additions to the sidebar: a tag cloud for this blog, a link to my flickr photos, a “recently listened” widget and “album quilt” from my recent obsession, and a widget of books I have recently read courtesy of LibraryThing. Boy, are these exciting times here at the Freez, or what?
  • A note about the feed for this blog: From time to time, I revise posts after they have posted. I revise posts seconds, minutes, days, weeks, even months after they were first posted, in some cases. Sometimes I completely remove posts, and other times I post something that hasn’t shown up before at a date or time in the past. What I’ve discovered is that this has led to a great disparity between the feed for the blog and the blog proper. The bottom line is, you’re just not getting the completely renovated Froz-T-Freez experience if you are reading this through a feed. You are missing stuff. So stop on by once in a while. I have all these exciting new sidebar widgets, after all.
  • Catch-Up: I’m not very good at posting about current events (and by these I mean personal life events) in a timely manner. I have some pictures/things I still need to post concerning things that have long since passed. So, if you think it is weird that I am suddenly putting up posts about going to Boise in May, or pictures of people visiting Salt Lake in June, or springtime empty tree pictures when it is now July, this is the reason.

I think that is everything. If I’ve forgotten something, I guess I’ll just come back in and revise it. Have a good evening.

Ranges Through the Whole World, Anxious to Bless

And now the rest of it falls into place. You’re never supposed to be just for yourself. I should have recognized that.

In 1840 the Prophet Joseph sent an epistle to the Twelve wherein he taught that “love is one of the chief characteristics of Deity, and ought to be manifested by those who aspire to be the sons of God. A man filled with the love of God, is not content with blessing his family alone, but ranges through the whole world, anxious to bless the whole human race.” (History of the Church, 5: 227)

. . .

Love is the beginning, the middle, and the end of the pathway of discipleship. It comforts, counsels, cures, and consoles. It leads us through valleys of darkness and through the veil of death. In the end love leads us to the glory and grandeur of eternal life.

(Wirthlin, “The Great Commandment,” October 2007 General Conference)

This blog is getting a little churchy lately, I guess. I hope that’s not a problem. Just so you know, I have no plans to turn this into the General Conference quote of the day blog or something of that nature. The secular content will continue.

More Power Than You May Now Recognize

Re: My Scripture Study Quandaries

I stumbled upon this today, and although it isn’t exactly the whole answer, it is a start for me.

There is another thing you can do. You can study the word of God, not for yourself alone but to be an emissary of the Lord Jesus Christ to all the world. When you increase your power to teach the gospel, you are qualifying to help Heavenly Father in gathering His children. As you do that, another blessing will come. Should the need ever come in family life in this world, or in the world to come, to draw back lost sheep, you will have received more power than you may now recognize.

The Lord describes that wonderful blessing in Alma 13:6: “And thus being called by this holy calling, and ordained unto the high priesthood of the holy order of God, to teach his commandments unto the children of men, that they also might enter into his rest.”

(Eyring,“Faith and the Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood,” April 2008 General Conference)


On Sunday I gave a talk in church. I didn’t know I would be giving a talk until Wednesday (I guess the original person canceled). I spent a big chunk of Friday and Saturday studying for it, but of course wasn’t able to pull everything together until I was abut to run out the door at 10:20 A.M., Sunday.

While I was studying I felt like a total mess and I wasn’t sure what I should focus on (which is why I kept studying), but once I had given the talk I felt pretty good about it. I realized that a big part of my feeling good has to do with the fact that I really burrowed into the scriptures and learned some new things as I studied my topic out of desperation. I haven’t been good at studying the scriptures lately (well, okay, for quite a long time). I guess it is much easier for me to be motivated in scripture study when I have a specific topic and a specific need to share or teach, rather than just studying out of a generic duty or curiosity or in the hope of getting some sort of abstract positive feeling just from words on a page. It turns out that the scriptures aren’t often very useful when not applied or shared, which is why I don’t get all fired up about them except when in my extremity.

So how can I change this? Can I motivate myself to stockpile knowledge and insights for some eventual teaching/sharing need? Can I fake the feeling? Am I intuiting that I am soon to be called to teach Sunday School or something of this nature as a motivation to study the scriptures? Maybe I need to have more faith that the scriptures can apply to my life and my situations right now. Maybe I need to learn what to study. Maybe I need to be putting myself in more situations and thinking and speaking more of the gospel in my life. Anyway, any thoughts? If anyone out there in bloggie land has any suggestions for scripture study motivators/methods, feel free to chime in. It would be much appreciated. Thanks for reading.

Gratuitous Gratitude

Thank You

One of the weird things that you don’t anticipate about marriage is the immediately impending and seemingly insurmountable task of sending out thank you notes to everyone who gave you a wedding gift of some kind. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am extremely thankful for all gifts that were given to us, some from people we don’t even really know. We were blessed in a multitude of ways by kind people in ways we never anticipated or expected. But the ridiculous scope of the thank you note project is in all soberness somewhat of a burden, and, as a newly conscientious wedding gift-giver has made me think twice. In my post-nuptial consciousness, I recently gave $20 to a friend as a wedding gift, now thinking that, rather than giving them help in starting a new household or some money to do something fun, it would cover at least a small portion of the couple’s soon-to-be-incurred cost of buying thank you notes and the stamps to mail them. Unfortunately, there is no way to compensate them for the time they will spend creating these thank you notes, other than to ghostwrite for them, and that is something I’m not willing to do.

We started on the process about a month ago (already a belated effort, I’m sure many would say) and we cranked out a fair number, but never came close to finishing all of them. And then we kept putting it off. It has been weighing on me, though, and last night we picked it up again. To our dismay, upon opening our materials we discovered several notes to dear friends and relatives (you are probably reading this right now, actually) that I thought I had sent off a month ago, sitting in their envelopes not yet addressed or stamped. AAARRGGGH! People I have seen since then, and assumed they had received my wonderful and precious thank you note. Oh well. And then as we started, I pulled out a card and wrote a heartfelt note to a relative, addressed and stamped it, only to discover upon consulting our check-off list that I apparently had already sent them a thank you note…or had I? Is it worse to send someone two thank you notes, or risk the chance that you never actually sent them a thank you note at all? The whole thing starts to seem incredibly silly and ritualistic and you wonder whether it’s even worth bothering, especially when you pull out a gift card that was signed by twenty different people in your parents’ old ward and you realize that this portends twenty separate handwritten thank you notes and twenty stamps. And it takes me a long time to write these notes, because if I’m going to bother to write it I’m going to try to say something sincere and decent. Which is also why there are those ones I keep skipping.

I’ve never been much of a gift giver for weddings up to this point, and I’m not a visiting teacher, so I’ve only received a couple of thank you notes that I can think of in my life. I mean, they were nice to receive, I guess, but I was heedless of the toil and sorrow that may have gone into their creation. I have to wonder what kind of goofy person sits around waiting to receive thank you notes from people. Do they have a little Excel spreadsheet of gifts given and the date? These people are out there. Gin actually got an email from one such person, checking to make sure that we had, in fact, received the wedding gift she had sent to us. Bizarre. These are the people that rightfully should be skipped. On the other hand, one couple wrote in their card that we shouldn’t worry about sending them a thank you note, and for that thoughtfulness and common sensefulness I feel like they deserve a personalized thank you more than pretty much anyone else. The fact is that the people you really want to thank probably aren’t the ones expecting to be thanked. Such a tangle of propriety, friendship, sincerity and insincerity, expected reciprocity, logic games, and laziness. Is this really what our loved ones wanted? It’s certainly not what I would wish on any one

Maybe I sound like an ingrate and like I’m making too big a deal of this, and maybe I am. But it’s not like we got married so as to participate in some ritual in which people give us a bunch of stuff. Far from it. When going over who I wanted to invite and who I should invite, I was always hesitant that an invitation would be seen as a solicitation. It was entirely calculated that we did not give any indication on our invitations that we were registered anywhere. We only after the fact succumbed and registered under duress because people started hounding us about it incessantly. Propriety demanded the big reception and the myriad invites and the registration and got us the possibly begrudged gifts in the first place, and propriety yet propels the process forward with begrudged gratitude. If someone interpreted our invitation as a call for presents rather than a call for their presence at our wedding, I guess that’s their problem. And if right now they are sitting at home looking at an empty cell on their spreadsheet, I don’t know that receiving my thank you note is truly going to give them what they need. And yet, I am still impelled to push forward.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some cards to write. And, no, in the time it’s taken me to write this, I could not have come anywhere close to finishing the notes.

The Blessing and the Burden