Choosing to smile

I've really been digging the positive vibe on blogs lately. Sure there are always posts on DIY projects, neat vacations, and the like, but there seems to have been an uptick on focusing on the good and positive aspects of life, about being optimistic. I've been thinking a lot about this topic too. To tell you the truth, I'm always kind of thinking about it.

My mom was one of the happiest people I knew. I wouldn't say that she was "bubbly" but she was positive and she was forever the optimist. As a child, I asked her about it one day. "Ashley," she responded, "when I was about your age I made a conscience decision to wake up each morning with a smile on my face." At the time, being happy was very easy for me. My childhood was idyllic, my world a very happy and secure place, so when my mom mentioned this it seemed like basic common sense. However, as I got older, her wise words took on a whole new truth. My world was still very happy, but things were happening that weren't always easy to deal with and getting the things I wanted did not happen as often as I would have hoped. Basically, life happened, right? I learned that I couldn't be 10 years old and playing tackle football in the backyard with my two younger siblings or chatting out on the porch for the rest of my life.

That's when putting a smile on my face each morning took on more meaning. It became the single action that represented how to live life controlling my reaction to circumstances rather than allowing circumstances to control me. It was determining to focus on attitude, something my mother and father said was the difference between trial and adventure. Focusing on this very thing didn't make life easy, but it made it better. Trying situations still continued to happen but while they happened I felt like I could handle them.

What my mom shared with me that day was something a lot deeper than just smiling. She was telling me to choose to smile. She was teaching me a life lesson. She was really giving me the key to success. And every time I have to struggle with something that is hard for me, I realize this truth again and even more so.


bp's science: mirrors (v.1)

Mirrors are made by silvering, or spraying one side of a piece of glass with a silver or aluminum backing. These shiny metals are extremely good at efficiently reflecting light which enables us to see an image of ourselves. This kind of reflection is called specular reflection and, in short, it means that when a light ray hits the silver or aluminum backing of a mirror it bounces off of it at the same angle as it came in. Thus, we see an almost perfect image of ourselves. This kind of reflection is different than diffuse reflection, where light comes in and bounces off a surface at all different angles, for instance, when light hits white marble. If you look at the world around you, you can see specular and diffuse reflection all over the place. What about your wedding ring? Matte finish photos? Glossy finish? Many things possess both specular and diffuse reflection.

Take a look at the links within this post. They make for some great reading and they're where I glean my info.


February always seems to be baking month for me

Usually it's cold and blistery during February, so while we're usually stuck inside, I get busy baking (and warming up the house with the oven). Even though this February has been unseasonably warm, my body seems to sense that it is still February and so, I've been baking. I tried to go off of sugar for the month of February (barring Valentine's Day), but that was a joke considering my need to stir, swirl, knead, and melt. And now I know why people have bakeries. They enjoy baking so much they can't possibly eat everything they make. I have got to start giving things away or else when it does get cold we'll be so insulated with frosting and sugar, we won't need to turn on the oven to stay warm.

clockwise from heart: apple and oat scone :: strawberry cake :: decadent brownie :: focaccia bread


bp's science: octopuses are smart (v.1)

According to what I read while visiting the National Aquarium in DC (located in the basement of the Department of Commerce building), octopuses are thought to be the most intelligent of all invertebrates. This aquarium put toys in the octopus' tank and hid food in the toys to keep the eight-legged sea creature sharp.

< the octopus at the aquarium


He did it again folks

This past weekend was the Lantern Festival in our neck of the woods. As always, it was full of good conversation, great food, and excellent entertainment. As always, there was a Lion Dance. I didn't think it was going to happen this year, but some of the young men from the branch wanted to do it and so, Jess brought them together for a quick practice and the performance was impressive. And as always, they were one young man short, so Jess ended up standing in. This time, he was the back of the white lion and hoisted the young man performing the head onto his shoulders for the finale. The red lion young men did the same. It was superb!

This is something I enjoy every year.


Vintage Sesame Street

Oliver received this vintage 70s Sesame Street Club House from a dear friend of ours. He can't get enough of it (he calls it an elevator station). This friend knows Oliver well and knew this would be just the thing he'd love.


bp's science: attraction (v.1)

First, Happy Valentine's Day! I hope your day is full of lots of love for and from the people you love. Last night I made a stop at the grocery store. It was uncommonly busy for a Monday evening. People were buying all sorts of things and it was fun to think about all the ingredients that were about to make scrumptious breakfasts, dinners, and desserts for loved ones.

Valentine's Day scone

Second, I'm going to talk about attraction for today's post. I'll keep it short, and I'm sure many of you know this already, but I'm sharing it anyway. Elements are attracted to each other because they each carry a specific charge (the most stable and least reactive being the noble gases). So, let's talk hydrogen and oxygen for example. Hydrogen can exist as a gas made up of two atoms (H2), this molecule is uncharged. Oxygen can exist as a gas made up of two atoms (O2), this molecule is uncharged. Now, if you took hydrogen gas and oxygen gas and mixed them together, water would not be created. However, if you took these gases and broke them apart so they stand alone and have a charge (H has a positive charge of +1 and O has a negative charge of -2), they are strongly attracted to one another. And how is it that you break their gaseous bonds and get them to bond to one another? Add a little energy into the mix: a spark, and it's done.

2H2 + O2 arrow 2H2O

And that's why we talk about couples having that "spark". Opposites may attract, but you need a spark to bring them together. Haha, there's my cheesy/nerdy Valentine's Day fact. Man, I know it's pretty bad, yep, but I am publishing the post.


bp's science: don't worry about cooking vegetables (v.1)

If you're like me, you've heard that cooking vegetables deteriorates their vitamin and mineral amounts. However, just recently, I've read a couple of articles stating that when you cook vegetables, the loss of these vitamins and minerals is smaller than I thought (I was under the impression that over 50% of the vitamins and minerals were lost, but this is not the case). And the rule of thumb is: the less water and time you use, the less loss. Therefore, steaming seems to be the best go-to cooking method mentioned in these articles. What's more, cooking some vegetables increases the amount of antioxidants in the dish, and antioxidants, as you know, are good for your body. Still, different vegetables act different when cooked, and keeping it straight can be, well, time consuming. I guess the point is, eat your vegetables however you like them, but just be sure to eat them!



This afternoon when I went to get Oliver from his nap, he was sitting upright with a sock in each hand and his feet bare. With that he exclaimed, "I've got toes!"

on a beautiful January day in DC, 2012