Friday, June 29, 2012

Friday Family History: Ancestry's DNA Test

Recently, Ancestry.com launched a new DNA test. It covers the entire genome, and it is equally useful for women as well as men.  One of the very cool features of this test is its ability to accurately tell ethnic background.  Not only does this provide great family history clues, but it can be tremendously helpful for individuals who don't know much about their biological roots.  Regardless of how much information an individual chooses to share with others, it can be unsettling to not know the answer to a question that pops up everywhere:

from the 2010 US Federal Census Questionnaire

Someone I know, who has requested anonymity, but who agreed to share her experience, completed the test.  Once ordered, the test arrived via mail fairly quickly, and just required a small saliva sample.  After mailing it back, the wait began.  The Ancestry website says the results take six to eight weeks, but her results came in just one month. 

Results were fairly accurate and specific.  Not only did she learn which continents her ancestors came from, she now knows percentages and specific regions of the continents.  She previously knew precisely one part of her background, and the test agreed spot-on with that percentage, so she assumes the other results are equally as accurate.  Although a portion of her background came back as "uncertain," that could change as scientists discover more genetic markers. 

Another feature of the results is the AncestryDNA Member Match, which let her know of possible relatives who have also taken the test.  Her results show, with a 95% confidence level, a few individuals who are most likely her 4th cousins.  By comparing family trees, she might be able to discover the connection and learn new information about her ancestors.

Hearing her satisfaction with the test makes me consider ordering one myself.  What about you?  Would you consider taking a DNA test?


 Thanks for amazing technological advances that provide family history break-throughs.


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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Thursday Thoughts: Weight Loss

Years ago, I lost over 40 pounds on Weight Watchers.  (You know where this is going, don't you?) Over the years, I gained it back.  I'm ready to have it gone again, but I'm finding that my progress isn't so rapid this time. 

Why not?  Because my efforts aren't as consistent as they were.  Instead of jumping in with both feet, I'm easing in to re-establishing the habits I need to succeed. 

I've lost weight, but I've plateaued, so it's time to step up the commitment.  My exercise routine has been slipping the past couple of weeks, so I need to make sure to get back into that habit.  I like to walk, particularly with friends.  When I have someone who is expecting me to show up and walk, it's harder to cancel.  My walking partner has been out of town, but is now back, so we will start again.  I have been playing on the Wii a bit while she's been gone, but not nearly as often as I should.   

And then, of course, there is the other half of the equation:  eating.  I know that when I track what I eat, and allot my points wisely, I lose weight.  I just need to remember to do that.  For my health.  Not for swimsuit season.



Thanks for a body--no matter the size, shape, or condition, a body is a remarkable blessing.



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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Tuesday Time to Tackle: Wedding Cake Topper

My son asked me if I would make a topper for the wedding cake.  I envisioned some ceramic figurines, and couldn't imagine how I could possibly accommodate the request.  However, once my son sent me a photo for inspiration, I realized what he was asking wasn't so impossible. 

With wooden pegs and a bit of paint (Sharpie makes paint pens, by the way!), I was able to create a similar-enough replica.  (The glare on the groom's suitcoat is a photography issue.) 


What new projects have you tackled this week?

Thanks for the confidence children have in their parents, and for the courage that gives me. 



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Monday, June 25, 2012

Monday Morning in the Kitchen: Crockpot Bread, Take II

Remember last week's attempt at crockpot bread?  Lesson learned:  don't try to adjust too many things at once.  This week, I stuck with my favorite wheat bread recipe, and merely tried baking it in the crockpot. 



Though I originally found the bread recipe online on the Pleasant Hill Grain website, I no longer see the recipe there.  The original recipe was written for 2, 4, or 6 loaves, made in a Bosch Universal Mixer.  I adapted the recipe to make 1 loaf, and I mixed it in a KitchenAid mixer.

Whole Wheat Bread

To bake in crockpot, first check to make sure your bread pan will fit in your crockpot.  I have a large oval crockpot, and my bread pan just fits.  Crumple up some aluminum foil and place in the bottom of the crockpot.  Place lid on crock, then turn crockpot on high to warm up.  Grease bread pan.

Meanwhile, in mixer, put 1-1/4 c. hot water, 1 T. yeast, 1/8 c. oil, 1/8 c. honey, 1 T. vital wheat gluten, 1/2 T. dough enhancer, 1/2 T. salt, and 3 cups wheat flour. Mix to combine.  An additional 1/2 to 1 cup of flour will probably need to be added.  Add the flour until the dough comes clean off the sides of the mixing bowl.  The dough will naturally start to cling together into a ball.


Continue mixing until the bread becomes smooth and not so sticky, about 4 minutes.  Place dough into prepared bread pan, then place bread pan in crockpot.  Bake on high for 3 hours.
 Thanks for fresh homemade bread.

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Sunday, June 24, 2012

Sunday Musings of the Spirit: July Visiting Teaching

July's visiting teaching message is "Demonstrating Our Discipleship through Love and Service." The lesson lists several different things we can do to become better visiting teachers.  For some reason I thought of the first lines of one of Elizabeth Barrett Browning's poems:  "How do I love thee? Let me count the ways." and decided to put the suggestions on a paper daisy.  Feel free to use it if you find it useful.


FYI, when I printed this up on 4x6 photo paper, the frame did not print, but I think I like it better frameless anyway. 

Thanks for the visiting teaching program, which allows us to build friendships and develop charity.

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Friday, June 22, 2012

Friday Family History: In the Making with Reunions

Are you familiar with John McCutcheon's song, "Water from Another Time"? You can listen to a sample here.  (Actually, just go here and listen to samples from the entire album, if you enjoy folk music.)

Anyway, "Water from Another Time" reminds me of family reunions.  Generations connect in simple, fun routines. For years, the descendants of my great-great-grandpa would gather one weekend in June for a picnic.  Upon arrival, we met Uncle George, who would hand us our name tags and mark our attendance on a big family chart.  One family always brought cherries from their orchard.  Fried chicken, chocolate cake, and soda pop always appeared, too.  Someone sang grace, then we all feasted. Afterwards, the men would throw horseshoes; the women sat and chatted.  Children ran around, reacquainting themselves with distant cousins.  After a while, the accordion came out and the music floated over us all.  The three white-haired women (sisters and sister-in-law) came year after year, even in advanced years.



Sadly, with my grandma's generation disappearing all too rapidly, the reunions have died, too.  The younger generations live in scattered locations, so even those who are willing just might not be able to come.  I think that the family reunion is going to have to reinvent itself on a much smaller scale.  Perhaps my parents, siblings, and all the children. 

Do you have family reunions?  I'd love to hear about them!
Thanks for families, and the "water from another time" that the older generations provide.




Thursday, June 21, 2012

Thursday Thoughts: Lifelong Learning


I've always enjoyed learning.  As a child, I did like school (and took it very seriously!), but now that I'm an adult, learning is even more meaningful.  Besides more "academic" topics, areas such as consumer reports, family history research, child-rearing tips, and vacation planning fall into the category of lifelong learning.  Oh, and let's not forget all the "how-to" information which comes in handy as a homeowner and homemaker.  Learning encompasses an infinite number of topics.

Thanks to technology, a simple click of the mouse allows me to study just about anything.  Each summer, though, I have a chance to return to a classroom setting, when Brigham Young University holds Campus Education Week.  I love stepping back on campus; it feels like going home. 

BYU posted the class schedule today, and I feel like a kid in a candy shop.  How will I possibly choose which classes to take?  (There are over 1,000 offered.)  I know that no matter what I end up taking, I will come away "renewed, refreshed, and recharged."

How about you?  What are your favorite learning opportunities?



Thanks to BYU for offering Education Week.


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Nearly Wordless Wednesday: Summer's Here; Artichoke Season is Over





Thanks for an artichoke plant that produced enough and to spare, then rewarded me with beautiful blossoms!



Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Tuesday Time to Tackle: Tiered Tray Tutorial

After seeing so many pinterest posts about making tiered trays from plates and candlesticks, I decided I would try.  I found some interesting plates at garage sales and thrift stores, and also some glasses (in lieu of candlesticks).  According to directions I had read online, all I needed to do was superglue the glasses to the plates, and voila--a beautiful, one-of-a-kind functional item.

While completing this project, I had flashbacks to junior high.  In seventh grade, we got to choose an elective each semester.  There were only 3 elective choices:  home economics, shop, and art.  I took home ec and shop because I did not want to take art.  I was convinced it would ruin my GPA.  Art frustrated me.  I equated art to drawing, and I knew my drawings didn't look realistic.  (It never dawned on me that maybe I could learn how to be artistic.) 

Over the years, I've somewhat let go of my perfectionist tendencies.
However, while supergluing plates and glasses, I realized that some "easy" projects still can frustrate me.  So, in case anyone else out there is planning on picking up the superglue, let me tell you what I've learned.

The first thing I learned was that glasses do not always have level tops.  Don't attempt to use uneven items for this project, or your cupcakes (or whatever) might just slide off the tray. 

Secondly, the bottom of your plate or tray might have a raised part.  This might prevent a good bond from forming.


See that center ring?  It didn't quite match up to the glass I was using.  It took me a while to figure out why the superglue was failing me.  Luckily, I had other plates.

The third thing I learned was that it isn't always easy to center the plates on the glasses, and vice versa.  (I learned the mark on the back of plates isn't always centered!)





Oh well.  Although my finished products demonstrate a bit of whimsy with their lopsidedness, I think they will do.   John says once the trays are loaded up with cupcakes, no one will notice.

Nice guy.  He always says the right things.

Care to share any of your "this is harder than it looks" stories?


 Thanks for the opportunities in life that give me a chance to learn to laugh at myself.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Blogging Woes

I'm having some blogging troubles.  Apparently my domain name requires the www before it.  Someone has now registered thankfulme.net and my traffic is being sent there.  I'm working on a solution, but in the meantime, please be patient.

If any of you have experience with this issue, please comment!

UPDATE:  All is well.  The problem was a blogger glitch and everything is fixed now.  Whew!  I was pretty worried there for a while.


Thanks for any help!


Monday Morning in the Kitchen: Attempting Crockpot Bread, Part I

I feel guilty when I buy bread at the store.  I know I could make bread for less cost, and I could control the ingredients.  Fresh bread smells wonderful and tastes great.  The major downside to baking bread here in the summer is the heat.  I just don't feel like turning on an oven when it is nearly or already in the triple-digits outside.  Some day I might just invest in a solar oven, but until then, I want to try the next-best thing:  bread in a crock pot!

(Of course, you could always use a bread machine, too.)

The first time I tried to bake bread in the crock pot, the loaf rose up, up, up and cascaded in a waterfall pattern over the side of the bread pan.


Not exactly appetizing.  So, for my second attempt I cut the recipe in half.  The bread stayed nicely in its pan; in fact, it collapsed into itself.



Not exactly the look I was going for. So, now I am on a mission to adapt my tried-and-true recipe so that I can successfully make it in the crockpot. 

What I'm going to attempt next:  Use freshly-ground wheat flour instead of white.  (I almost always use wheat; I was trying to save time today.) Use the vital wheat gluten and dough enhancer the original recipe called for.  (I had left them out in an attempt to not use "unusual" ingredients. What was I thinking by eliminating a "vital" ingredient?!)

Any bakers out there care to comment on other things to try?

I had envisioned this post much differently than it turned out.  Next week I will post "Attempting Crockpot Bread, Part 2", and with any luck, I will have a recipe to accompany the post. 


Thanks for a family heritage of bread-bakers.(And as far as I know, all their loaves were perfect.)

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Sunday Musings of the Spirit: Happy Father's Day!

Though most people say I look like my mom, sometimes I can see the resemblance my dad and I share.


We've enjoyed sharing books and photographs.  (I wish I knew what we were looking at in this photo; I was clearly delighted!)

Dad's done a great job of letting me know he loves me, and I've always adored him, too!


"Father . . . is ever willing to sacrifice his own comfort for that of his children. Daily he toils to provide the necessities of life, never complaining, ever concerned for the well-being of his family. This love for children, this desire to see them well and happy, is a constant in a time of change."--Thomas S. Monson
Thanks to all the wonderful dads in the world!