Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Tuesday Tried It - Less Than < > More Than

Less Than <. More Than >. Did those symbols confuse you as much as they did me when they were first introduced to you? It took me several weeks to get the hang of them. I recognized =, but could not get the hang of  < and > to save my soul.  Is 5 + 17 < or > 28 – 5? Those equations took me forever to compute.

Most computations determining "less than" and "more than" are absolute; but to add to the confusion, there are some exceptions. Sometimes less than is more and more than is less. Calvin calls it the “Law of Diminishing Returns.” He first explained it to me the summer I got the Strawberry Pretzel Salad recipe. I was just getting good at making it, and didn’t have to look at the recipe anymore, when he said, “This salad was really good the first twenty times you made it, but I’m kind of tired of it now. It’s called the ‘Law of Diminishing Returns’ . . . the more you eat, the less it satisfies.” It didn’t matter that I still had so many plans and variations for that recipe.  It has been thirty years since I got that recipe, and now when I make it (once a year at best) Calvin still says, "Please tell me you only made enough for one day.”

I've discovered the “Law of Diminishing Returns” applies in every facet of life, not just the kitchen. Living in a producing and affluent society makes attaining “more” easier. Often times “less” wisdom is practiced when we have more.  I saw it as a young parent:  The more monetary things we gave our children the less parent and child interaction we had — more lessons, more activities, more clothing, more treats, more video/computer programs equaled less parent and child interaction, less parental supervision, and less parental teaching and influence. H. David Burton pegged it when he said, “The struggle to set limits, make do with less, and avoid the pitfalls of ‘more, more, more’ has never been more difficult. It is hard to say no to more when you can afford to say yes.” (Ensign, Nov. 2004, 98) Qualities such as sharing, working hard, making do, inventing, and building patience are not developed when a constant menu of “more” is served.  

I see it in my life today:  get a little more done, fill all the empty spaces = ponder on important things  little less.

Then again, sometimes more is better. More virtues = better lives. Who can argue that an increase of patience, integrity, kindness, gratitude, service, humility, courage, and faith also increases our happiness? Albert Einstein said, “Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.” Taking us right back to where we started. Sometimes less is more and sometimes more is less.  Life and math are confusing sometimes.

But, there is one thing that is the greatest -- more than -- anything else.  Jesus taught exactly what that was just a few days before He was crucified.  He said the Greatest Commandment is to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength.  He said nothing is greater.  Everything else is less than.

He then said that the second greatest commandment was to love our neighbors as ourselves.  He said there was no greater commandment than these.  (Mark 12:30-31)

Seeing more than and less than through the Savior's eyes makes everything clearer.  Heaven help me to remember it and live that unchanging truth.

(And just in case you have never tasted The Law of Diminishing Returns Strawberry Pretzel Salad here is the recipe.  It's a great Easter salad because of the fresh strawberries.

3 Tbsp sugar
¾ cup melted butter
2 cups broken pretzels
1 large package strawberry Jell-O
1 ½ cups boiling water
1 lb fresh strawberries, sliced
1 8 oz. container of whipped topping
1 8 oz. package of creamed cheese
1 cup sugar

Mix 3 Tbsp sugar, melted butter, and pretzels. Press into 9” x 13” pan. Bake at 400 degrees for 8 minutes. Cool.

Mix Jell-O and boiling water until Jell-O is dissolved. Refrigerate until partially set and then add strawberries.  

While Jell-O is setting, whip creamed cheese and 1 cup of sugar until well blended. Fold in cool whip. Spread on cooled pretzel crust (spreading the mixture to the edges and sealing it so the jello won't seep down into the pretzels) and then top with partially set Jell-O.

Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving.


raspberry Jell-O with raspberries
cranberry Jell-O with whole cranberry sauce
blackberry Jell-0 with blackberries)

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