Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Mere Christianity

Lydia and I went and visited St. Bartholomew's Parish Church next door, today. Although we've been here for two months, we've never actually been to it, which is really kind of funny, because every town we've visited thus far Avram and I searched out the local church and saw it, but we hadn't even walked the twenty feet to the church next door.

I accidentally interrupted their Wednesday morning service, but thankfully they were almost done; it was peopled with about 10-15 older women (and one man), and then the vicar himself, who was an energetic younger man named Andrew. They all loved Lydia, and Andrew was very welcoming to us. As the women talked to each other and to us after the service, and then as they discussed upcoming social/church events, I suddenly felt a great urge to become Anglican. Don't worry, I didn't get baptized; although I love the social aspects of a church in ones neighborhood, and the traditional buildings of the Anglicans, the doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints keeps me firmly.

But wouldn't it be nice to have a Christmas Eve Midnight Mass? Even if we are Mormon? And I think that lay priesthood is great, but wouldn't it be cool if our bishop wore robes every Sunday? Sometimes I wish we didn't save all of the the pomp and circumstance and cool clothing for the Temple, but spread it out to the rest of our meetings as well. Of course, I know the cassock and alb are remnants of Roman Secular Dress, and don't necessarily represent religious needs and ideas, still, they look cool. If our church ever does take up wearing the cassock, alb, surplice and tunicle, Avram will be ready to be called as a bishop; I've already made him a very historically accurate set of priestly clothing, although it was out of blue silk, and blue isn't one of the traditional liturgical colors.

Regardless, St. Bartholomew's captured my heart for the moment, between the building itself, the sense of community, and the sheer close location to my domicile. The building dates from the thirteenth century, with additions up through the seventeenth century, when the Spencer family built a separate chapel chock full of dead family members and the associate requisite statues and effigies. The pews and stained glass windows are 'modern,' coming from the early 1800s. Also there I learned that our cottage, which used to be the vicar's cottage until 20 years ago, dates from the mid-1600s. I had no idea I was living in quarters (granted, ours would have been the servant's quarters if he had any) dating that old. I think the oldest house I've lived in up to this point has been far under a hundred years old.

There's a firm history for the blending of the Anglican and Mormon churches, though. After all, C.S. Lewis, as we all know, although a technical member of the Anglican church, was actually secretly Mormon, and the sheer number of quotes from him in conference and other church meetings testify. So maybe I can be like that from the other direction; become socially Anglican, while doctrinally still Mormon...Mmm, I'm not sure I could get that one passed the bishop.

Speaking of church dealings, on Saturday we went down to Oxford for a festival of lighting the Christmas lights. While there we were approached by a young women with a thick accent, who introduced herself as from Hungary, and a nun looking for charitable donations. Well, Avram and I were feeling charitable, it being Christmas and all, gave her two pounds for the cause of nunnery. Then she gave us a complimentary book...on Yoga...from the Hare Krishna. I didn't even know they had nuns. Is everyone considered a nun? Regardless, we felt kind of put upon, because nothing against the Hare Krishna per se, but we were under the impression we were donating to a Catholic nun, for the cause of Catholicism, which we much more agree with.

So now we have this yoga book, which Lydia upon seeing all the nice colored pictures of Krishna, plus the book is small, so it's just her size, decided belonged to her. So our daughter now carries around with her a nice yoga book, and thumbs through it while talking to herself. I hope this doesn't make her grow up to become Hare Krishna.

Monday, November 26, 2007


As Thanksgiving approached this year, we knew we wanted to celebrate it, and after all, we had brought canned pumpkin and cranberry sauce for this express purpose. However, we knew we didn't have the money to put on an entire dinner ourselves, and at the same time didn't want to do a potluck thing, because telling someone from Germany, for example, do bring sweet potatoes for Thanksgiving might not bring the right sort of sweet, Thanksgiving-like sweet potatoes, and that wouldn't do at all. Thankfully, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving (ie, the night before, but we always knew that we couldn't celebrate Thanksgiving on the actual day, because we're given no holiday, and so there wouldn't be any time that day) Daniel, another American in the program motivated us to still plan a Thanksgiving, and than night sent out an email to everyone in the program, inviting them to a dinner on Sunday, to which they were also invited to RSVP, and pay a few pounds.

So come Sunday afternoon, Avram and I rushed home from church, popped a turkey in the oven, and began preparations, along with Daniel, for the Thanksgiving feast. I had actually made the pumpkin pies the day before, which part to me is the hardest part; I always stress out about pie crust, although mine always turns out okay, it still is a difficult thing to make, because despite what all the cookbooks say, when I add the right amount of water, it never turns into a dough, but just looks like shortbread cookie crumbs. Regardless, I muddled through the process this year, and turned out three pies; two from the canned pumpkin, and then one very large one from homemade pumpkin. The latter turned out well, although I didn't blend the pumpkin, because we don't have a blender, and so had to content myself with mixing it, and it did have small bits and strings of pumpkin in it. Ironically, it was easier in England to buy a cooking pumpkin, because in America they have so many others that aren't actually pumpkins, but blends of squash and here they only had the cooking pumpkins.

It only took the three of us four hours, with an hour off in the middle, to make Thanksgiving dinner. Writing that, it sounds like a long time, but really cooking for an afternoon isn't long at all. This was the first time I'd ever been in charge of a Thanksgiving, either for planning, but also for all of the food, but everything turned out well. The turkey didn't look like it was going to cook for awhile, or at least, not cook in an appropriate amount of time, but at the last stretch it browned up, and even remained tender, so we were happy all around. Granted, we did eat an hour later than planned, but honestly what Thanksgiving meal isn't a little later than the organized time?

We had thirteen people at our Thanksgiving, plus Lydia, and people from Hungary, Germany, Poland, Australia, Denmark, Canada, and then of course America, and they all liked our American food. In fact, the sweet potatoes didn't even survive to seconds, a first for any Thanksgiving I've been to (I tried a new recipe that didn't involve either canned yams or marshmallows). And the pumpkin pie was a hit, although people were a little nervous about it beforehand, most never having had pumpkin at all. And many never knew that cranberries were a new world food, so it was also an educational night.

I think that this is my favorite social thing we've done thus far in England; we really had good conversations, good food, and best of all, I didn't have to do any of the cleaning up, because I had done the cooking. Best of all, since the party was in our house (not in our apartment, but in the "common" kitchen and living room on the main floor) and we cooked, we also got all the leftovers, so today for dinner we had pumpkin pie, which in the words of Avram's father was calorically equivalent to a dinner.

Over all I had a very good Thanksgiving, although a few days late. It was fun being an emissary of American culture, and we inspired the two Polish girls to have a party this Friday for St. Andrew's day, where you try to find out who you're going to marry (Married girls can still come, though, I guess I get to see how Avram's measuring up), and I love celebrating as many holidays as possible, so I'm all for others in the program having parties as well.

As we ate, I had everyone tell in order something they were grateful for; I started us off, by saying I was grateful for my Family; Avram, Lydia, and then the new baby I'm expecting (they didn't know I was pregnant, so it was a fun way of announcing it, but also, I am truly grateful for all three). As well, I'm grateful even thousands of miles from home we were still able to celebrate Thanksgiving with the three main essentials; Food, Family/friends, and thankfulness to God.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Glitch in our plans

There's been a wrench in our plans for applications, at least at UPENN. Yesterday Avram emailed a professor at UPENN, and heard back from him this morning, and he's retiring this next year. So until they hire another biblicist, the program won't offer the right courses. The professor told Avram out right not to apply there. While we're grateful that he just saved us over $70 in application fee, it means that once more we're searching for another school to apply to, this time in the top tier. UPENN is in the Ivy League, and of the other Ivy Leagues, only Harvard really has a program with good biblicists (now a days it's very popular to do Dead Sea Scrolls, or Second Temple Judaism, which is passed the biblical period, so it can be hard to find people actually studying the bible itself in this field). Also, Yale does have a good program, but we're already applying there.

Berkeley is also top tier, so currently it looks like it's between Berkeley and Harvard, although Avram doesn't want to go to Harvard, so it's probably Berkeley. We don't want to live in Berkeley; for one thing, there we would definitely homeschool our children, because of what they teach in the public schools in the area around San Francisco. Although Avram should be getting his doctorate when Lydia is in second or third grade, so it's not like it's very long in homeschooling. But Berkeley is a very good school.

I should probably be worried that someone from Harvard will see that he doesn't want to go there, if he does apply, from this blog, but frankly I've tried looking my blog up on the Internet, to see how "famous" I am, and I can't even find my blog, and I know everything about it. When you type in Yarnton Manor on Google, Avram's blog comes up pretty quickly, and mine doesn't at all, although I've updated since we've been here, and mention it all the time, and he doesn't update his blog at all. Life just isn't fair.

Which brings me back to this college application thing. Anyway, this has certainly shown to me the usefulness of writing the professors ahead of time. Avram heard back from the Professor at Duke as well, and she wrote a very friendly letter, and even congratulated Avram on having the chance to study at Oxford. So we feel good about Duke, not that we didn't already; it's Avram's top choice, currently. They only let 4% in, according to her, because they cut back admissions, so that now they only let enough people in that they can fully fund. Good for those who get in, hard for everyone else.

He's writing the rest of the professors today, because we hadn't realized that Thanksgiving break starts tomorrow; we had forgotten until a couple of days ago that it was Thanksgiving this week at all, so he's trying to reach them all before the break.

Sarah - if it looks like we're stalking all of the places that you're applying to, well, we probably are.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Feeling Two foot small

Alas, a whole week since my last update; we've spent the last week looking at many schools, and generally beginning the glorious process all over again of applying to graduate schools. Having a year break between applications is a good reason to me for a two year master's degree, instead of only a one year one, but alas and alack, it was not to be for us.

Currently we're applying to: Yale(Connecticut), UPENN (Philadelphia), Duke (N.C.), Johns Hopkins (Baltimore), and Wisc-Madison (Wisconsin). We're looking for another school to add to this list, because we need another "safety" school, ie, a school that doesn't have a 4% acceptance rate for the department we're applying to (Duke) or even a 7% rate (Yale). We like Wisconsin's stats a lot more (58%). Partly it's more, though, because they don't have nearly as good of financial packages as the first four schools, which basically guarantee complete tuition payment, plus a stipend and health care (but for Avram only; I can dream), which means they can only let a very limited amount of people in.

Currently I just changed the music I'm listening to to "You've Got to Hide Your Love," by the Beatles, because the sentiment "feeling two foot small" aptly applies to the feelings of graduate school applications, although it could also be expressed as two inches small as well.

I must clarify here, that I'm actually not applying to get a doctoral degree at all; only Avram is. But I'm so wrapped up in it, and certainly my future is so affected by it, that I feel like it's "we" that's applying. Just like in a way, I usually tell people that 'we're having a baby.' Because Avram and I work differently, it's helpful to have both of us involved in the application process; I thoroughly read ever website for all of the small, yet vitally important information on applying, the program, etc, while Avram gets to fill out all of the forms. Also, he gets to write to the professors he's potentially interested in working with, and say inane things like; "gee, I like you. I think you'll like me. Please let me in?" Okay, so it's a good thing Avram has to write these emails and not me. They're important because in the application you're supposed to say who you want to work with in the department, and of course it helps if you've found out from that respective professor if they hate your interests, or are terminally ill, etc, etc.

Luckily, all of our applications are online, so we don't have to worry about the vagaries of international mail.

I'm sure all of my dear readers will be hearing a lot more of this subject over the next while; most applications are due the beginning of January, so we're not out of the grisly application jungle yet. And then comes the interminable waiting.... I just tell myself that by the time our baby's born, we'll know for sure where we're going to school. Then it doesn't seem so long. And somebody has to let us in, right? Actually, no. I know someone who did classics, and was very impressive as an undergrad, and he went through two rounds of applications to grad school, and didn't get into anywhere, and then he changed his tack, and applied for law school, and got a full scholarship at a prestigious place. I can't decide if this depressing story has a happy ending, or not.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Our Expedition

We did walk down to the appointment (sorry Jessica, I didn't see your comment until afterwards). Partly, we didn't really understand the bus system enough at that point to know what buses went where, and we'd have to switch buses too. At the hospital, though, they had these great pamphlets that had the actual bus routes drawn out in them, and we took one with us, so we finally have a handle on how to take the buses here. Online they don't have that (at least not that we could find), and so although we could see the names of the bus routes, the names didn't really mean anything to us. So we could never figure out what buses to take, or where they went.

We even got to our appointment ten minutes early, after walking for two hours. It's funny, because walking for two hours can seem like a lot, but then you think of the pioneers, and they walked all day long; after two hours of walking, that seems like an awful lot of walking. Or even when Avram and I were dating, we once went for a four hour walk that went all over Provo, even into parts I've still never seen since (up behind DI, on the way to Walmart, kind of, but still in Provo).

Anyway, the baby is fine, and breathing, okay, its heart is beating, I guess it's not actually breathing. I held my hands over my eyes, until the ultrasound specialist told me the baby was alive, because I didn't want the experience I had last time, when they discovered a missed miscarriage by ultrasound. But it was all good, and my ultra-technical due date is...May 8th. Which is what I had figured out on my own anyway. Hurrah for modern medicine.

Our specialist found out that we walked to the app. from Yarnton, which she was very impressed at, because she didn't know that Americans walked places. Of course, Americans don't walk places, as a general rule, which we did tell her. Also, that it was as much sheer stupidity and determinism that made us walk as much as admirable qualities. Be that as it may, she came out and told the receptionist about our walking there, and they decided they're going to use us as examples to people who come late or miss their appointment, especially if they live nearby, because no, we didn't miss our appointment, and it was at nine am, even though we started walking at 6:45 to get there, etc, etc. Also, they told us what buses went where that we needed, so that was good too.

We took a bus into the city centre after that, and meant to immediately take the minibus home, but then we passed Pizza Hut, and Avram suggested eating at their lunch buffet, which I was game for, because A. it's American, and B. I wanted to celebrate that our baby was alive, because I'd been very worried about that until now. So we did, and it was great. American pizza, Salad, Mmm, I was very happy. Although, of course they didn't have Rootbeer, which was sad, but expected.

So overall today I had a very good day; and all that walking really worked up an appetite for the pizza, plus with the money we saved from not taking a bus down we paid for at least one of our meals. Thus, everything is good.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Wimin Folk Musings

Lydia and I are sitting here, listening to Bob Dylan sing 'Blowin' in the Wind,' waiting for our caramel popcorn baking in the oven to be stirred again, and just generally doing well.

Avram left us tonight for a Stake Priesthood meeting, but seeing as our stake center is an hour away, and how rides work, etc, etc, he had to take the 3:15 pm mini bus to Oxford, and won't be home until 11:00 pm (he is studying for a couple of hours in Oxford before he actually leaves for the meeting), so it's us wimin folk here holding the home fort down.

I love caramel popcorn, and I never got to eat very much from the party (also, it didn't properly caramelize, and so was more like fancy sugared popcorn; everyone loved it, but it disappointed me, who loves real caramel popcorn), and as Lydia and I were hanging out after our not very exciting baked potato dinner, I decided that although it was only us, why not make yummy food. Besides, Avram doesn't even like caramel popcorn.

So we did. Well, Lydia stood on her chair next to the stove, and played with items from the rack, while I did the actually cooking part. But she did taste test the caramel, and thoroughly approved. I can already tell that the sugar properly caramelized, so overall in my life I am very happy.

This is a good thing, because today in the mail I finally received my ultrasound appointment, and it's for Friday at nine am. And then I found out the the hospital is actually six and a half miles away. And except for taking a taxi, which would be eighty American dollars round trip, the other method to get there is walking. Avram wants me to call the relief society for a ride, but I already know that everyone who lives up by us works during the day, and also I hate being a burden on the church, and we already get rides every Sunday for church, as well as any church activities (see, but there they're already going to church, so it's not totally out of their way). So we're going to walk. Avram's coming with me, which is very nice. Overall it won't be that bad; a whole two miles less than the church walk was, although we do have to do a round trip.

Also, for two days in a row my mom has done a conference call with me and sisters of mine in America; today with Mary and Halley (who had a baby girl two days ago), and yesterday with Tali. So I feel very connected to my family right now, which is a very nice feeling to have. I miss living near my family; I always wanted to be one of those families that lived close together, and the cousins grew up almost more like extended siblings. To be honest, like the Steed family in the Work and the Glory; yes, I sure do like that imaginary family. A lot of my family does live in Salt Lake City, so it is a true dream, just not for me.

I still hold out the hope of moving back to Utah after Avram finishes his Ph.d., and having him work at BYU. Of course, we can't be sure about the future, especially future jobs, but I would love it if that happened. And I know it's "happy valley" that everyone makes fun of, but I loved living in Provo, and would love to do it permanently. I've even picked out my possible houses that I want to buy in the tree streets, which is where I want to live, because then we'll be close enough to BYU for Avram to walk to work, and I like them. Even the students that live there.

And then I would own a house, which I dream of doing. Then I could have things like a real Chrismas tree, full size even. And paint the rooms, because I love coloured walls. And have a flower garden, although based on this summer's garden it would be a fairly pathetic one. But it would be mine, and that's the important part in my imaginings. There are positive aspects to my stage of life, too. After all, if we did own a house, coming to England would have been nigh impossible.

Well, my caramel popcorn is almost done, so I'll end these musings.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Corned Beef

Yet another post about food. Do I ever stop talking about this subject? Upon reflection, no, I don't think I will. First off; a note. The party actually went really well; there were two rooms, and so the people who wanted to dance around in the dark and drink wine were in one room, and the people who wanted to sit sedately in chairs and talk in another room (guess where we were). The food went over very well, and I took pictures of it, but now I don't know where our camera is, so until I find it this post will be pictureless, but you should keep checking until pictures arrive, because they're very important to everything here. Especially the main topic, of which I took pictures of to document.

On to the post; Corned Beef. Lately, being pregnant, and so able to develop sudden irrepressible cravings for food I like, I decided that I needed to eat Corned Beef. I love corned beef, although I never had it until I married Avram, I have fallen fast in love with it ever since. It's so yummy with the potatoes and cabbage cooked in the corned beef water, and with homemade wholewheat soda bread on the side. Mmm, I love corned beef. People in America are always saying that Corned beef isn't really an Irish meal, although people eat it on March 17 a lot to celebrate St. Patrick's Day (which is hardly an Irish holiday either, so I guess it works out fine). And yet on the other hand, I've also always known that the British eat corned beef. After all, in the very British book Indian in the Cupboard, the boy brings his living Indian toy some corned beef.

It turns out both are true. The British do eat corned beef, sort of. It's all canned. Even the deli stuff looks like you dumped it out of a can and sliced it. So we got to the store, and had to buy canned corned beef to replace our lovely brisket I had been dreaming of. I made sure we bought the premium corned beef, so that it was made out of real beef and everything. (side note here; according to Wikipedia, the Irish when they came to the US started eating corned beef, because they couldn't find/afford Irish bacon (which if it's anything like British bacon is actually ham) and so found this cheaper alternative. Hence, it is an Irish food, just an exclusively American Irish dish).

We bought two cans, which together weren't that cheap, and brought them home with the best of hopes, and the worst of fears. A key is included on the side of the can, but we couldn't figure out how this was supposed to open the can. I looked on the internet, and found people who complained about how hard it is to open corned beef cans (they're odd shaped, kind of like a trapezoidal cylindar), but no one who actually shared the secret of how it's supposed to work, so we just pretended on our own. After fiddling with it for a long time, Avram finally succeeded in hopelessly breaking the key off, after opening one centimeter of can. So then we turned to a traditional can opener, which did the job just fine.

But then we realized our mistake; we had accidentally bought dog food, instead of actual corned beef. At least, it looked and smelled like dog food. Avram named it Rover's Royal Repast, but still we (I; Avram never had any faith in the beginning in this venture) held out our hope that it would at least taste right, even if it had the texture of expensive dog food.

I felt better remembering a story that Avram's maternal grandfather, Papa Juju, had shared with me. When he was a kid, during the great depression, and was staying with his uncle, a friend/salesman of his uncle dropped off a can for him to try. So his uncle opened it up, and to them it looked like scrapple (a pennsylvania regional dish of nasty pork parts mixed with cornmeal, molded, sliced, and then fried), so they fried it up, and ate it for breakfast. Juju said it wasn't great, but wasn't too bad. A while later, the friend came by, and asked what they thought of the dog food he had given them to try on their dog.

If Papa Juju could eat real dog food, and live to tell the tale, I could at least eat canned corned beef.

Avram sliced the corned beef, and started frying it, but it soon fell apart into all of its nasty bits. Being the good, kind and caring parents that we are, we let Lydia have it first. Lo and Behold, she loved it, and made yum, yum noises throughout eating it. At one point she even in her excitement dumped a piece of it into a bowl of milk that remained on the table from breakfast, and then fished it back out again and ate it. Avram and I, even making sandwiches with swiss, and mine with a lot of mayo, his with a lot of mustard, barely choked it down. Avram mused on this sort of reason being why England had developed such a strong mustard tradition, because in a seafaring nation, where the sailors would often had yucky food to eat (here I presume he meant the corned beef) they needed something to mask the flavour, and so developed biting mustards.

After our best efforts, there's still about a third of a can's worth left in the fridge, waiting to be used by us, not to mention an unopened can. I wonder if they have food banks we could donate to here....

I still crave corned beef, though. Yesterday I had Avram boil me some cabbage in water, but it just wasn't the same without the corned beef. I looked up ways to corn our own beef, but it takes seven days, and a lot of kosher salt and fridge space, and frankly is rather overwhelming. All of this searching did turn up Salt Beef, which is a preserved beef they have here. It doesn't have any of the same spices as corned beef, but Avram's mom is going to buy corned beef in America, take out the spice packet, and then send it to us, and we're going to combine it with this said Salt Beef, and see if we can't turn up something more edible than our last experiment.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Halloween misgivings

Tomorrow there is a Halloween party here at the Manor for the students here. It's being planned by students, and I'm doing all the food. We're a little nervous, though, because the two who are planning it are straight out of undergraduate, are both English, and both went to Oxford for an undergraduate. And one of them in Avram's class yesterday made a statement about how Halloween isn't a very pleasant holiday, and that people all get drunk and throw up, and how she was out partying, and saw a girl lying in her own vomit, and her friends calling and ambulance for her. So this would be a good sign for our party, right? That it'll be really tame. Except it's a bring your own bottle party, which they all are here, and the email for it says to come with an open mind.

I'm worried. For one thing, we're bringing a toddler to this party. Earlier in the term a married girl from Denmark had a party when her husband was visiting, and it was a byob party. But it was really very pleasant; there were some snacks, and I had water to drink, and we all just sat and talked about everything from the historical significance of the higab (the head covering in Islam for women) to the A&E version of Pride and Prejudice (which apparently is a worldwide phenomenon; girls from Poland to Germany to America were all swooning in that room over Mr. Darcy). It was the one of the first times I had really been around people drinking alcohol, but they were all so nice and adult about it; everyone who had brought alcohol had their drinks, but they drank slowly, and responsibly like, and no one was drunk at all, and overall I was very happy with it. For one thing, no one had any hard liquor, so it's a lot harder to get drunk.

But although this girl despises the over drinking on Halloween, she said she's tired of the first thing anyone thinks of when they think of Halloween is throwing up. To me this says a lot about the kind of company she keeps, because I've never thought of throwing up and Halloween in the same thought at all. I know I'm not an average American, but I've enjoyed many Halloweens and Halloween parties alcohol free, and had a great time. In England, though, the holiday is newly imported from America, and it seems they've only imported a couple of aspects; trick or treating and annoying partying by teenagers and early twenties. In America it's part of the culture at all levels.

This is why I'm worried; that having such a narrow view of the holiday, both personally and culturally, they'll plan a party that isn't at all the sort that I want to attend. But we have to go, because as I said earlier I'm doing all the food. This started because I had originally planned to throw my own Halloween party, and I had come up with a menu and everything, and then another movement began for a party (I hadn't discussed mine with anyone), and so I volunteered to help with that one instead, and these two girls had already volunteered, so I got the food, and they got everything else.

Really, the food is my favorite part of planning a party, and anyone knows who attended my parties back in Provo that food is really the main planned thing anyway, because I don't like party games, and my friends and I like to talk enough that that's a good party activity. The program gave us forty pounds for the party; I got 20 for food, and they got 20 for everything else. It had better be some pretty exciting decorations.

We've bought all the food, and I must say, I am excited about that. It's all American food, but this is an unapologetically American holiday, and I'm an American, so it's what they get. We're going to have Caramel Popcorn (homemade; everything is homemade in this list), Tortilla chips with a 'spiderweb' dip, ie like a mini seven layer dip, except the top layer is sour cream, that's piped out to look like a spiderweb. Also served with that will be mashed monster brains (guacamole). Then veggies and dip, which I don't have any cute names for. Then graveyard cake, which is like dirt cake, ie it has pudding mixed with whipped cream, and then layered with oreo crumbs and the crumbs on top look like dirt. We didn't buy gummy worms here, but we do have gummy snakes, and then I'll stick some butter cookies shaped like tombstones in the top, and voila, a graveyard. I wanted to get gummy skeletons and put them under each grave, but they are very short on Halloween candy here. Very, very short. Finally we'll also have butter cookies, which Avram likes more than sugar cookies, that will be hand cut out into Halloween shapes, because they don't have any Halloween cookie cutters here, with real buttercream icing (made with butter and cream, instead of nasty shortening and milk) colored to match the shapes.

I know this is like a laundry list, but it's what I've been spending my time on lately. For one thing, it's hard to find food that works here, for all of this. You're supposed to actually use cool whip instead of whipped cream for the graveyard cake, but they don't have that here. That's not really a loss, because whipped cream tastes better anyway, but then I don't have a mixer here, so unless something magically turns up, tomorrow I'm going to be whipping cream by hand. Our ancestors did it, so I know it's possible. And pudding here means a cake type thing, and so I didn't buy chocolate pudding, I bought a chocolate dessert mix you mix with milk, and I hope desperately turns into pudding.

I'll let y'all know how it turns out; hopefully well.