Thursday, December 31, 2009

Perhaps the best Yuletide decoration is being wreathed in smiles.

"Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love."

For me, Christmas started when I received a beautiful Christmas swag all the way from Maine Wreaths in early December, from my Grandpa. It smelled so wonderful that I decided to keep it in the house for a couple of days before I hung it, as the sole Christmas decoration we put up this year, on the front door, where it's still hanging. I know Christmas is over, but it's a decoration that is more seasonal for me, as opposed to strictly holiday, and I love seeing it every time I come home. (Picture to come.)

On December 19th, we (SLCA) sang the works of  Rachmaninoff, Respighi, Ramírez, and Rutter to a sold out house in Libby Gardner Hall during our holiday concert. Read the rave review here. SLCA requires a large time commitment with rehearsals, individual study and practice of the music, and extra rehearsals before concerts, but it's always worth it once we're on stage and singing. It really is rewarding and I just love adding all this exceptional choral music to my repertoire. Not to mention, singing with a great director like Dr. Brady Allred, and with such wonderful singers and friends.


The Christmas season would not have felt complete without attending the evening Christmas Carol service with friends or the noon concert with my mom of Benjamin Britten's Ceremony of Carols, both at The Cathedral of the Madeleine. The choristers of the Madeleine Choir School truly fascinate me with their poise and discipline. Great concert atmosphere, great singing, and a great way to celebrate Christmas!


Then off to Dad and Nancy's or as we like to call it, Resort Montrose. I arrived on the 23rd and had a full day with Dad and Nancy to myself! Loved it! We talked, ate Phở, talked, shopped, tried a new frozen yogurt bar down the street, sat by the fire, talked, read, wrapped presents, talked, and talked. It was great! The next day, Christmas Eve, Marina and Shepherd arrived separately (Marina flying in from NYC and Sheppo driving down from San Francisco) in time for a Christmas Eve dinner of tamales (yum!), traditional opening of Christmas pajama pants, and a hilarious showing of Hangover.



Christmas morning brought the unveiling of so many fun gifts (future posts on these). Isn't it fun when you're so excited for everyone else to open the gifts from you, almost as excited about opening your own gifts? That afternoon, we drove over (in Shepherd's new car) to Auntie Vicki and Uncle Hank's for the traditional family Christmas Dinner.


Enjoyed delicious fare including: turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans with carrots and pine nuts, southern pineapple casserole (delish! -- Thanks Amanda!), shrimp cocktail (I could live off this), and a bunch of desserts that I didn't even try.


Saw cousins who have grown a foot since the last time I saw them. Held my newest baby cousin, Henry, born in November. Enjoyed catching up with everyone. We ended the night at home reading. All in all, a great Christmas day.


Since the five of us don't get to see each other often enough, we spent the rest of the weekend just spending time together talking, reading, enjoying new Christmas gifts, listening to music, walking around The Americana at Brand window shopping, seeing Up in the Air, and going out to Min's Kitchen for a delicious Thai dinner.


Sunday, I flew home. And Monday, it was back to work. But like I mentioned in one of my previous posts, I still felt like I was on vacation this week. Work was quiet since so many people were on vacation. I just felt a whole lot more relaxed at work than I have in awhile. It was nice.

A great Christmas season it was for me. And after finals, it really was relaxing and most enjoyable. I hope yours was too!

Photo of The Cathedral of the Madeleine found here.
Photo of the organ at Libby Gardner Hall courtesy of Tom Sparks.
Photo of Southern Pineapple Casserole found on a Google Search.
All other photos courtesy of Nancypants.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Skype-tastic.



Have I ever mentioned my complete and total love for Skype? No? Well, let me begin now.

First off, for those of you who have yet to use it, Skype is communication tool whose features include: instant messaging, video conferencing, and telephone calling (voice only). You can transfer files directly, as well share your computer desktop (meaning you can essentially show the other person via video conferencing, everything that you see on your computer screen.

Computer-to-computer calls are free. Yes, I said free. Instant messaging is free. Video is free. The only cost associated with Skype is if you truly use it as a phone and have a telephone number associated with your account. This allows you to call other land-lines, which would then incur a cost. But for all intents and purposes (my intents and purposes), it's free.

Skype was written by Estonia-based developers and founded by Swede and a Dane. In case you don't know, I come from (as in my ancestors are) Swedes and Danes and more recently, have an adopted place in my heart for Estonians. Plus. Plus. And plus.

Why else should you love it? Well, when I say you can communicate for free, I mean... you can communicate for free. Now we all know that the instant messaging tool is one that can be found and used for free just about anywhere. You have GoogleTalk, Yahoo Instant Messenger, MSN messenger, etc. But it's the video conferencing that gets me excited. With a few hiccups here and there, based on your internet speed, it really is a great way to keep in touch and truly feel like you're just sitting next to the person on the other end.

I have to remind myself more often than not (the me, who forgets that I should be more modest sometimes) that when I click to make a video call, I should probably already be fulled clothed, instead of waiting for the connection and seeing a picture of myself on the screen in my underwear! (The larger part of your screen is the other person on the other end, but you see a very small square of what the other person sees -- you in your underwear.)

Luckily, I use Skype most often to talk with Agnė in Lithuania and Lindsay in Qatar. And they already know my dress code.

So, have you started thinking about all the people you wish you could see more often? You live far away from family and you just want to see them or they want to see you... or see your babies? Just download the software at http://www.skype.com/. It's easy to get started and quite user-friendly once you get going. Just make sure you have a webcam.

Now if all of this hasn't convinced you, let me share with you the concrete reason I believe in Skype.

This face.



Enough said.


Photo of Leoni courtesy of Lindsay and Travis.

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Soon, people. Soon.
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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Waiting for Christmas.

I have lots of things to tell you and Christmas-y stories to share.
A few pictures, even.
Family, friends, and of course, food.
Southern pineapple casserole.
Shrimp with cocktail sauce. Mmm, my favorite.
Fun times with cousins.
New sweet baby boy.
Christmas with Dad in the black hat.
Matching Christmas pajama pants.
Movies.
And presents.

But I'm on vacation.
Well, in my mind I am.
I'm still going to work, but I have no school, no SLCA rehearsals,
and I just don't feel like blogging yet.

But soon...

Soon.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Gingerbread Creations.

"Creativity comes from looking for the unexpected and stepping outside your own experience."
~Masaru Ibuka

My mom and Stephen hosted a Soup Dinner and Gingerbread Party the first weekend in December. An annual tradition of theirs since they got married in 2001, the event brings in relatives and friends, both far and near. Now, this is no ordinary gingerbread house making party; in fact, only a few houses are even made each year. Typically, we see more aircraft carriers, weapons, space stations, lighthouses, and vegetable gardens. (The vegetable garden was my last year's idea gone bad. Don't ask.)

Two years ago, I was quite please with my cityscape, though if given more time, I would have made several more skyscrapers.



But this year, I outdid myself. (Which wasn't hard to do, considering last year's vegetable garden mishap. There are no pictures for a reason.) Really though... I put some thought into this one. So did my eye doctor. "Your eye doctor," you ask? Yes, he and I sat down and discussed the matter that morning because I needed to redeem myself. I needed something that was recognizable. Something interesting. Something unique.

So, in keeping with the tradition of eclectic gingerbread creations, I built a gingerbread outhouse. Yes, an outhouse. Laugh if you must. But at least everyone knew what it was as soon as they saw the crescent moon. You can't deny it's unique. And every gingerbread village needs an outhouse of some kind, right? And those trees? Aren't they fantastic?!



Yes, I'd say I redeemed myself from last year.

Now maybe next year, I'll need to redeem myself from this year and make something a little more... refined. :) Maybe.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Random Photo: One can never have too many Humpty Dumpties.

"Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall;
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the King's horses and all the King's men
Couldn't put Humpty together again!"

~Traditional English Nursery Rhyme

Baby Bella's security item was a soft, flat Humpty Dumpty also known as "Hummy." Afraid that Hummy might get misplaced or left behind at preschool or dropped and lost forever at the grocery store, Nancy made sure Marina had a replacement... or four.

Love this!


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Wish List: This T-shirt.

"I am thankful for laughter, except when milk comes out of my nose."
~Woody Allen


Monday, December 14, 2009

I have Christmas secrets!

"Secrets are made to be found out with time."
~Charles Sanford


And I'm not telling.

Yet.

:)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

My Christmas Haiku. Fun times.

"A poem begins in delight and ends in wisdom."
~Robert Frost

Katie and I are sitting on the couch right now; I'm working on a final paper due tomorrow at 5pm, while she is writing an email to our friend Derrick, who is serving a mission for the LDS Church in France. (She's making more progress in her writing, than I am in mine.) About two minutes ago, she turns to me and says, "Do you want to write a Christmas poem for Derrick?" Now, let's all understand this wasn't really a question. If I couldn't tell by the inflection in her voice, the stare I got in return clearly indicated there was only one correct answer. But, a poem? Seriously? Uh huh, yeah, since I'm so well known for my stellar poetry skills. So of course, sassy as I am, I turn back and say, "No, not particularly." But oblige her, I did, and here's my marvelous creation. A haiku, of course. 5-7-5. Easy enough, right? I hope you like it; it sure provided us with a few good minutes of hearty laughing. And Robert Frost's words above are rather fitting, don't you think? :) Enjoy.

Roads covered in snow
Soon, Santa will bring us gifts
Don't forget Jesus

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Salt Lake Choral Artists present "Laud to the Nativity"

"Blast this Christmas music! It's joyful and triumphant."
~ Grinch (from The Grinch Who Stole Christmas)

Don't miss our holiday concert, "Laud to the Nativity," on Saturday, 19 December 2009 at 7:30pm in Libby Gardner Hall. Tickets can be purchased here.


Sunday, December 06, 2009

My Dilbert Creation.

"The world is but a canvas to the imagination."
~Henry David Thoreau


So once a long time ago (I'm guess something like more than ten years ago) in a computer class, we were assigned to work with this Dilbert cartoon and sort of make our own creation. Coloring and cutting and pasting (it was a very basic Windows class, if I recall). I switched around the clothed Dilbert with the boxer-clad one and wrote in my own text. I must admit that I never read Dilbert and so I had no idea what the characters were like and I don't even remember what the original text to this particular cartoon was. But I've always thought it was funny. So here you are.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Mama's Bank Account.

"You meet one of the nicest families imaginable; a family that should restore or reinforce your faith in human nature, and give you a great many chuckles in the bargain."
~Philadelphia Inquirer

Today, while at home trying to nurse my scratchy, hoarse, bass voice, I finished reading a delightful little book called Mama's Bank Account written by Kathryn Forbes. I picked this book up from a book exchange shelf at the gym. I'm always looking for books worth reading on that shelf, and this one captured my interest as I read the back cover:

There is no mother in fiction more resourceful, uncorruptible, and endearing than the Mama of these charming adventures about an immigrant Norwegian family living in San Francisco. It is Mama who knows how to deal with the doctor's avaricious wife when Papa needs an operation. It is Mama who finds recompense when the roomer leaves without paying the rent. It is Mama who discovers a way to keep her children from growing up afraid, with a mysterious bank account.

Sounded like the perfect light read I needed after finishing the whole Twilight series. (Yes, I finished Eclipse and Breaking Dawn several weeks ago. All before the opening of the movie New Moon. I told you... I got sucked in!) Plus, I'm in the middle of studying for finals and finishing final term papers and projects. I needed an easy, but enjoyable read to distract me every now and then. This was just the book.



Of course, the fact that this family lived in San Francisco and Mama truly loved the City helped capture and keep my interest. I could easily relate when they spoke of the cosmopolitan life they lived.

The story is told as a series of recollections through oldest daughter Katrin's eyes, but focuses on Mama's interactions with the family, friends, and neighbors. Mama is tough, determined, resourceful, proud yet humble, feisty, strong, loyal, loving, optimistic, and happy. She and Papa are good, honest, hard-working people determined to make a good life for themselves and their children in San Francisco in the 1920s. The story focuses on their simple aspirations and dreams, as well as their struggles and sorrows. Mama reminds us of the significance of living of good values and in essence, how your love of family can move you to do things you may have thought impossible. Optimistic even through hard times, Mama ends many of the chapters saying, "Is good. Is good."

The book has such a warm quality, that reminds you of the importance of family and the powerful effect good honest values can have on your life. Plus, Mama loves San Francisco. A woman after my own heart.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Random Photo: A smile does wonders for your appearance.

"I've never seen a smiling face that was not beautiful."
~Author Unknown



So I have to admit that I really love this picture of Robert Pattinson. Not because I'm a die-hard Twilight fan who is Team Edward all the way or anything, but because...

wait for it...

he's smiling.

Robert Pattinson plays Edward in the Twilight movies. He has made Edward into more of a solemn brooding character who rarely smiles (which is not the way it is in the books). So this picture of Edward Robert is refreshing.

And simply put, don't you agree that a smile just makes someone more attractive.

Monday, November 30, 2009

A Turkey-less Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving Day I spent with my mom, Stephen, and their neighbor friends Diane and Larry. Since we had a small crowd, mom had asked me if I would mind if we didn't have a turkey. Not at all. I'm not married to the tradition by any means, and it seemed less work for her, so I was all in. Instead, we feasted on salad with figs and goat cheese, garlic shrimp, butternut squash ravioli, veggies, homemade rolls, and apple tart for dessert. I can't say that I didn't miss the traditional fare at all, but the change was refreshing, I must say. And the shrimp and ravioli were delicious.

I stayed the night at my mom's and Friday morning, Katie (in from Washington, D.C. -- which reminds me... I haven't blogged about my D.C. trip), Sarah, and Andrew came to visit and eat brunch. As always, it was delightful. Andrew and I played with a wooden set of Tangrams. Andrew is in 1st grade, and was pretty good at it. Very fun to see all of them.

Then the rest of the weekend was spent cleaning out my closet, weeding out clothes I don't wear to be sent to DI and reading. Oh and a 2nd Thanksgiving at Katie's mom's house tonight. All in all, a good weekend. Sorry, no pictures to prove it.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thankful that God's Words Never Cease.

"It is the office of a true teacher to show us that God is, not was; that He speaketh, not spake."
~Ralph Waldo Emerson
(in an address delivered before the Senior Class in Harvard Divinity School, Cambridge, Massachusetts, Sunday Evening, July 15, 1838.)




Saturday, November 28, 2009

Thankful for the Bible.

"This Great Book … is the best gift God has given to man. All the good the Saviour gave to the world was communicated through this book. But for it we could not know right from wrong."
~Abraham Lincoln (Speeches and Writings, 1859–1865 [1989], 628)

As a full-time LDS missionary, with my companion Amber, I read the New Testament word for word, cover to cover. Several, we stopped reading aloud, and in awe, looking at each other, we'd marvel at how complete and true the Gospel of Jesus Christ is. We didn't make it through the Old Testament cover to cover, but read several selections. But that experience cemented in my heart a love for Christ and His gospel. The Bible is truly a manifestation of God's love for us. Christ's teachings, along with those of the other apostles are true and simple examples of how we can love and make the world a better place, one interaction at a time. I'm truly thankful for it and for the insight it has brought to my life.




Friday, November 27, 2009

Thankful for Mrs. Terwilliger.

"This is my country. Wherever I go, I will leave it more beautiful than I found it."
~Mrs. Terwilliger


When I was young, I had the opportunity to take many a nature walk with Mrs. Terwilliger. I remember her quite vividly in her large straw hat, with all of us gathered around her examining some treasure she found on the ground. Maybe a seashell, or a piece of driftwood, or a wildflower. Her knowledge astounded me, but her enthusiasm for teaching us about nature and the world around us is what sticks most prominently in my mind. Her spirit was vibrant, curious, lovely, and serene. She seemed genuinely focused on ensuring that we felt good about ourselves, the world we live in and our place in it.

Although I don't remember specifics, I remember her spirit. Mrs. Terwilliger died three years ago today at the age of 97. Her legacy is great, one that has infused in my life and my outlook on the world. I once read that she wanted to teach children to love nature because, "People take care of what they love." I'm thankful for her influence on me, as well as thousands of other children.

Pictures found in Google Search.



Saturday, November 21, 2009

Thankful for Glee. It makes me happy.

"Glee, one of the season's best and most anticipated new series, delivers on both counts - and more. It's a quirky, sweet, humorous, nonpartisan funfest."
~Tim Goodman, San Francisco Chronicle

So you might think it's a little much for me to be "thankful for" the television show Glee, but I love it and it brightens my week. And for that, I'm thankful.

If you haven't tuned in to watch at least an episode or two of Fox television's new show Glee, then you're missing out. Seriously. But don't worry, you can always catch the most recent five episodes on Hulu or on Fox's website. Also, the DVDs of the first half of the season will be released December 29th, I'm told.



So the premise? This high-school Spanish teacher (played by Matthew Morrison) attempts to revive the Glee Club to its former glory. He's optimistic that the eclectic group of performers will make it to Regionals. Of course there are lot of side stories weaved throughout and a lot of singing and dancing in between. Like this...



And this...



Glee club geeks are totally my style. Just watch this teaser from the premiere.



Do you not just want to get up and dance? No? Really? Well, I do. Maybe that's why I sang, acted, and danced my way through high school. What can I say? I'm a total Gleek. :)

Cast photo found here.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Thankful for the Gratitude of Others.

"If you want to turn your life around, try thankfulness. It will change your life mightily."
~Gerald Good

Random people on the streets of New York City share a variety of grateful responses to one simple question: What are you thankful for?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Thankful for Good Health.

"The best six doctors anywhere
And no one can deny it
Are sunshine, water, rest, and air
Exercise and diet.
These six will gladly you attend
If only you are willing
Your mind they'll ease
Your will they'll mend
And charge you not a shilling."

~Nursery rhyme quoted by Wayne Fields, What the River Knows, 1990

I'm thankful for my health. I'm thankful for when my body is free from a sore throat, achy and tired limbs, and a 100.2 degree fever. I'm thankful when my I feel fully rested and rejuvenated. I'm thankful that I feel like this most days.

Sadly, today is not one of those days.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Thankful for Airplanes.

"The aeroplane has unveiled for us the true face of the earth."
~Antoine De Saint-Exupery



Because airplanes mean travel. And I sure do love to travel. I've posted on the subject of travel 31 times (including this post). I've got that wanderlust gene. What can I say? You get on a plane, sleep, read, and get off in a totally different place only hours later. A brand new adventure! I must say, that I've been lucky enough to go on many adventures... just look at the list of airports I've flown in and out of.

I was thinking today about all the knowledge and skill a pilot must have to keep us safe in the air. Smart dudes. Maybe I'll marry a pilot. Know any?

So my last airplane adventure? October to Washington, D.C. for fun with KDJ. Next airplane adventure? Southern California for Christmas with the family. Like I said, I like to travel. And I'm truly thankful for the opportunities I've had to go so many places. Thank you frequent flier miles. Thank you lovely benefactors.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Thankful for Freedom.

"The remembrance of November 9, 1989, not to mention the remembrance of the horrific proceedings of the (Kristallnacht) pogrom on November 9, 1938, unmistakably teaches us: Walls - whether real or in the heads and hearts of people - walls do not solve any problems."

~Archbishop Robert Zollitsch, head of Germany's Bishop's Conference

If you've read my blog for a little while, you know that I had the opportunity to spend about ten days in Berlin this last March. As you can imagine, there has been a lot going on this year in preparation for the 20th anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall. I was humbled as I read story after story of those who attempted to escape, of those who were separated from family, friends, and neighbors, of those who were essentially held prisoner in their own country.

The Berlin Wall fell when I was 11 years old. I remember watching on television, the hordes of people celebrating at the wall. I don't think I'll ever forget the look of sheer joy of new-found freedom on the faces of so many parading across that screen. They may not have endured hunger or ran around in rags, but they lacked freedom and the ability to choose for themselves. Free agency is the ultimate gift, a privilege they were denied for far too long.
Much of the wall is now torn down, being sold in gift shops all over Germany, but two parallel rows of brick sweep through the city, marking the path where the wall once stood. Walking across that brick marker is rather exhilarating and unbelievable to think that twenty years ago, that never would have happened. I never would have just walked over that line freely. There was a wall there. A barrier.
Even though most of the wall is no longer standing, there still are several large sections of the wall that remain. Remnants of an era of war. I suppose I'd like to see them stay forever, as a reminder of a hell that none of us wants to see repeated.

I am so grateful for the opportunity I had to be in Berlin. Thankful to the Jacobsens for their generosity in getting me there. Thankful to see the remains of a an era. To walk the streets. To be there during such a celebratory year as this. Twenty years.

I am so grateful to live in a free country. A country that is fundamentally committed to human rights, democracy, and freedom. Freedom is truly priceless. Today's anniversary is a good reminder, and for that I am thankful.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Thankful for uncharacteristically warm weather in November.

"Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather."
~John Ruskin

Thursday, Friday, and Saturday the weather has been SO pleasant. Apparently, there was a record warm November day here in Utah. I think it was Thursday. Oh it was nice. However, I have to admit that when I walked out of work in my coat, I started getting hot, and thought, "This feels like earthquake weather." Now, I know there is really no scientific proof that the weather and tremors are connected. But I still get that feeling whenever it is warm and dry outside... especially unseasonably warm and dry.

Well, there hasn't been an earthquake, but I sure have enjoyed the pleasant autumn days that we've been afforded.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Thankful for My Senses.

"The sense of smell can be extraordinarily evocative, bringing back pictures as sharp as photographs of scenes that had left the conscious mind."
~Thalassa Cruso, To Everything There is a Season, 1973

You know how smells and sounds have the ability to instantly transport you to a particular time and place? You know, the sound of a seagull calling overhead or the smell of your old boyfriend's cologne or the salty/sunscreeny smell of skin after a day at the beach. I've been thinking about that and how wonderful these memory-invoking experiences are.

A few weeks ago, as I was heading to bed, my windows were open and floating along the breeze was the sound of the distant train. Trains. They remind me of spending the night at my Grandpa and Grandma's house. Particularly Christmas time. My brother and I spent countless (alright, you could probably count them) Christmas vacations at Grandma and Grandpa's, sleeping in the old blue bedroom. Shepherd always slept in the bed against the wall just below a window. Always feeling the air was too stuffy, he'd have the window open, despite my pleas to close it and keep out the cold. To appease me he'd keep the curtains closed, but stick his legs or arms underneath the curtains to catch the cool night air. Although I shivered in my bed at times, the open window allowed the sound of the distant train to filter in my mind all the more easily. Now the sound of trains takes me instantly to the feeling of Christmas at Grandma and Grandpa's, a kind of anticipation of something great just around the corner.

Then just the other day, when the weather started getting really cold (thankfully, it's back to regular Fall weather for a little while now), I walked outside and smelled a smell that instantly took me back to Lithuania. It was instant, I tell you. The smell of wood or coal burning in fireplaces around my neighborhood filled the air. I didn't think people burned coal around here, but somehow the air smelled just like I'd stepped outside my apartment in Lithuania. Oh how I love that smell. I wanted that smell to linger with the same intensity it had when it first hit my nose. That would mean the memories would linger. Lithuania holds so many memories that just make me smile and feel warm.

So yeah. I'm thankful for my senses. I'm thankful that they can transport me instantly to a memory, which otherwise might not flood my mind nearly as often. Even if it's only for a moment.


Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Thankful for the Right to Vote.

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."
~Margaret Mead


I'm thankful that so many women (and men) fought and struggled to attain the right for me to vote. The journey was arduous, and that I fully acknowledge. They paved the way, and I get to casually sail down that walkway to the voting booth. I'm thankful to those who put forth such valiant effort to secure that right for me.

Photo found here.




Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Thankful for My Calling. And a New Blog.

"Gratitude helps you to grow and expand; gratitude brings joy and laughter into your life and into the lives of all those around you."
~Eileen Caddy

In June 2009, I transitioned from a Young Single Adult ward to a traditional ("family") ward. Certain that I'd be called to teach Gospel Doctrine (my favorite calling, despite the fact that I never thought I'd be a teacher) or work with the Single Adults, I was quite surprised when my Bishop asked me if I was ready for a challenge...

He called me to be the Ward Primary Music Leader. Wow. That's not at all what I had in mind. I knew I should be excited, but I admit I was rather hesitant. How would I ever get to know anyone in the ward? I'd be tucked away in Primary and never get to go to Relief Society or Gospel Doctrine, let alone ever teach!

Little did I know...

"The music leader is the gospel doctrine teacher for the Primary."
~President Hinckley
I was called to be Gospel Doctrine teacher!

Not only that, but how many teachers can say, "My students still know the lessons I gave them... word for word!" Nothing beats hearing "my lessons" as I walk down the hallway, or out to my car at the end of the day, or even in the middle of Sacrament Meeting.



And remember how I thought I wouldn't meet anyone in the ward? Well, you might be surprised how well I know adults in the ward, through their children. And on top of that, I have 40 new little friends! Nothing warms the heart quite like the look on a child's face when they see me in Sacrament Meeting, and they turn and poke their mom, pointing and saying, "Mom, look! That's my friend over there."

So in the spirit of preparation, organization, appreciation, and of course sharing of ideas, I have started a new blog to house all my lesson plans and ideas.

ldsprimarysingingandsharing


Can you believe it wasn't taken?! Feel free to check it out and link to it, especially if you, yourself, are working in the Primary at church.

And please, if you have any ideas... share them!

Photo found here.



Monday, November 02, 2009

Thankful for Thankful Day.

"We can only be said to be alive in those moments
when our hearts are conscious of our treasures."

~Thornton Wilder

I have an ancestor named Thankful Day.

It's true.

She came from a strong Puritan background, so the name is fitting.

Her name has made me chuckle at times, but has also made me think about the gratitude her parents must have felt upon her arrival. What a great reminder to be grateful for all you have.

So in honor of Thankful, as well as the month of November, which brings us Thanksgiving, I've decided to try to make a concerted effort to focus on that, for which I am thankful. No matter how big or small. Gratitude changes my outlook on life. Why not make a concerted effort to focus on that which makes us happy?

Today, I'm thankful for good gas mileage.

My car might be getting up there in age, but I will say that I have absolutely no complaints with how it runs. I get a minimum of 30 mpg, and usually it's closer to 33mpg. That's pretty fantastic, if you ask me.

Thankful Day would know nothing about gas mileage, but I'm thankful to her for inspiring me to think about what I'm thankful for.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

New Moon. I did it.

"Option three: Edward loved me. The bond forged between us was not one that could be broken by absence, distance, or time. And no matter how much more special or beautiful or brilliant or perfect than me he might be, he was as irreversibly altered as I was. As I would always belong to him, so would he always be mine."
~Bella Swan, New Moon, Chapter 24, p.527


So, I did it.

I read New Moon.

I know, I know.
I'm getting more and more sucked into this whole Twilight business.

AND I read it before the movie.
Now I'll be annoyed with the movie.
Oh well.
It's done.

But I must say Stephenie Meyer's writing got a little better... or maybe I just got used to her style. I'm not sure which. The first half of the book was a little slow, and I found myself peeking every so often at a random page toward the end of the book, just to see if I could quickly see any words (or names) that would give me an idea of what was going to be happening. I know, I'm awful! I don't normally do that, but I guess I was just anxious for the story.

Normally, I'm a really slow reader, but this time there were several times that I found myself having read an entire page in, like, four seconds. Then, realizing that I missed a few lines here and there between dialogue and being the detailed person that I am, I had to go back and re-read. I think her writing was insignificant enough to me that I was just fueled by knowing the story. When I re-read that which I'd skimmed over, I found that I hadn't missed much. Just a gesture or a thought here and there.

New Moon's obvious parallel to Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet is a little hokey to me. We're just waiting for them to play out history's greatest romantic tragedy. Okay, so a lot of the book is hokey. I mean please. This is all about vampires and werewolfs and their "deep" relationships with humans. But that aside, keeping the Romeo and Juliet theme throughout the book helps Stephenie Meyer build some much needed serious tension for the climax because the reader can see the tragedy just waiting to happen.

Despite any and all hokey-ness, I'm still a girl and I still love Edward! I'm definitely TEAM EDWARD. I just am. He's great. He's 110 years old or something, which means he's had a lot of time to develop into the "perfect" boyfriend for Bella. He does say a lot of things "perfectly" and does a lot of "perfect" things. (sigh) A girl can dream, right? Even if he IS a vampire.

Yes, I did stay up until 1am last night reading.

Yes, I AM going to see the movie.

Yes, I will read the next book in the saga,
but I've GOT to read something else first!

Oh, and Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 30, 2009

A Productive Autumn Day.

"Delicious autumn! My very soul is welded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns."
~George Eliot

I have to say that I am loving the autumn weather. I know it's getting a little chilly, rather quickly. But feeling the crisp air on my cheeks when I walk outside and seeing the leaves blow in the wind is just enough to brighten my day. I'm beginning to feel like I need my gloves, and we've already had our first light dusting of snow, but I must admit, that I still love it much more than the dead heat of summer.

Our first snow was on Tuesday, and rather fortuitously, I had the day off from work. I had an extremely productive day: Skyped with Agne in Lithuania, Skyped with Lindsay in Qatar, cleaned the kitchen, made a large batch of chicken and wild rice soup, then divided it into individual containers for meals for the next week and a half, cleaned my room and bathroom, all the while staying cozy inside with the blustery winds swooshing around outside. That afternoon, I left the house to work out, then later to give blood, grab dinner, and then off to SLCA rehearsal. A very productive, happy Autumn Tuesday.

I love days like that.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Answers to the Bay Area Native Quiz

"San Francisco itself is art, above all literary art. Every block is a short story, every hill a novel. Every home a poem, every dweller within immortal. That is the whole truth."
~William Saroyan

1. San Jose
2. From north to south: Richmond-San Rafael Bridge, Golden Gate Bridge, Bay Bridge, San Mateo Bridge, Dumbarton Bridge Extra extra credit question answer: walk
3. Daly City
4. c - "Hey, Beach Blanket Babylon!"
5. It means she's a dog (if you still don't get it, ask a native to explain it to you.) -- TV20 used to have a little advertisement between shows, where a dog was sitting on an armchair next to a TV on a TV stand. At the end, the dog would look at the TV screen as the TV20 logo was being flashed across it, and bark.
6. c - "Earthquake? We had an earthquake today? I guess I didn't feel it."
7. Bob Wilkins - Creature Feature
Pat McCormick - Dialing for Dollars
Herb Caen - Baghdad-by-the-Bay
Dr. Donald D. Rose - Sacratomato
8. c - Los Angeles? Why do you want to go to Los Angeles?
9. d - 3Com Park
10. b, c, or d - anything BUT a cute little nickname for the city we also know as "San Francisco."
11. The movie rating system in the pink section of the San Francisco Chronicle
12. b - West Bay -- it's called the Peninsula.
13. d - San Jose doesn't have BART.
14. e - all of the above

Scoring
12-14 Correct -- You're a true Bay Area Native. Feel free to look down on Los Angeles with pride. (You probably already do.)

8-11 Correct -- You've probably lived in or near the Bay Area for awhile, but you're not a true native. You may occasionally leave the water running, or throw out your aluminum cans. Keep trying; you'll get better eventually.

4-7 Correct -- You know a couple of things about the Bay Area, but you're far from being a native. Probably some of what you did get right were just lucky guesses. Go back to Los Angeles (even if you're not from there).

0-3 Correct -- Forget it. Don't kid yourself. You're not even a Californian, let alone a Bay Area Native.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

You Know You're From the Bay Area If...

"No city invites the heart to come to life as San Francisco does. Arrival in San Francisco is an experience in living."
~William Saroyan

"San Francisco is a mad city - inhabited for the most part by perfectly insane people whose women are of remarkable beauty."
~Rudyard Kipling

Twelve or thirteen years ago, a friend sent me this "Bay Area Native Quiz." At the time, I was experiencing major culture shock, having moved from San Francisco, where I'd lived my whole life up until that point, to Provo, Utah, conservative capital of the world. I got a kick out of the quiz, and was extremely proud to have gotten them all right.

Have a stab at it. When you're answering, take into consideration that this was written 12 or 13 years ago. Have fun. I'll give you the answers in a couple of days. :)

1. Complete the following phrase: Dublin, Berkeley, San Lorenzo, Cupertino, __________

2. Name the five bridges that cross San Francisco Bay. *Extra credit: put them in order from north to south. **Extra, extra credit: explain how to get across the Golden Gate Bridge during rush hour in less than an hour.

3. Complete the following phrase: 2400 Mission, top of the hill, __________

4. You're at a San Francisco Spiders hockey game at the Cow Palace. (True: a team call "the Spiders" played at a place called "the Cow Palace." Go figure.) A woman comes out to sing the Star Spangled Banner wearing a huge hat with a model of the entire financial district, including the TransAmerica Building, on top of it. Your response is:
a) "Hey, look at that idiot wearing the dorky hat!"
b) "Hey, look at that woman wearing the cool hat!"
c) "Hey, Beach Blanket Babylon!"

5. Explain the following joke: "I don't want to call her ugly, but whenever I say 'TV 20', she turns her head."

6. Which of the following is your typical response to an earthquake?
a) "Earthquake! We're all gonna die!"
b) "Earthquake! Great! Now I don't have to go into work today."
c) "Earthquake? We had an earthquake today? I guess I didn't feel it."

7. Match up the following people with the phrases/shows they're associated with:
a) Bob Wilkins
b) Pat McCormick
c) Herb Caen
d) Dr. Donald D. Rose

1)Baghdad-by-the-Bay
2) Creature Feature
3) Sacratomato
4) Dialing for Dollars

8. If someone asked you how to drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles, what would be your response?
a) Get onto 101 south, and take it all the way.
b) Take 80 east to 580 east to 5 south, then take it all the way.
c) Los Angeles? Why do you want to go to Los Angeles?

9. Which of the following is NOT, repeat NOT, a valid name for a Bay Area sports stadium?
a) Oakland Coliseum
b) San Jose arena
c) Candlestick Park
d) 3Com Park

10. The word "Frisco" is:
a) A cute little nickname for the city we also know as "San Francisco."
b) A really annoying shortening of "San Francisco," no doubt started by Southern Californians who can't say words longer than two syllables.
c) The result of a satanic plot.
d) Beats me. Never heard the word before in my life.

11. The little man is on the edge of the chair, clapping wildly; the little man is sitting in the chair and clapping; the little man is sitting in the chair and leaning forward; the little man is asleep in the chair; and the chair is empty. What did I just describe?

12. In referring to a general region of the Bay Area, which of the following terms is never used? What is that area called instead?
a) Marin
b) West Bay
c) East Bay
d) South Bay

13. BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) is not in fact rapid transit for the entire Bay Area. For instance, it doesn't run to Milpitas (but can you blame them?). Which of the following is another city that BART doesn't currently serve? (Keep in mind this was 1996 or so.)
a) Richmond
b) Fremont
c) Daly City
d) San Jose

14. Which of the following would you be likely to see people wearing at Bay to Breakers?
a) running shorts
b) an Elvis costume
c) a fancy ball gown
d) a fancy ball gown worn by a male
e) all of the above


Photo taken by Mom. August 2007.
Land's End (affectionately dubbed in my family, "Favorite Place").

Monday, October 19, 2009

Happy Birthday Bella!

"What fun is it being cool, if you can't wear a sombrero?"
~Calvin & Hobbes

I couldn't resist. Isn't she cute?! Hopefully, she won't hate me forever. :)

Happy birthday Marina Bella!


Photo courtesy of Nancy. 1989?

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Random Photo: Mamie Pearl.

That's her name. And she came with a birth certificate to prove it.


Photo a la Nancy. Christmas 1985?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Twilight. I got sucked in.

"When you have Twilight in your hands, every long period of time feels like a gift."
~Katie

So, I know that my sidebar says that A Thousand Splendid Suns is currently on my nightstand, and that IS true, but I actually just finished reading Twilight. I know, I know... the hype just "sucked" me in. I couldn't resist. (Catch the double meaning?) I just wanted to be part of the conversation.


I saw the movie a long time ago, but let me tell you a little something about myself... I have a keen ability to forget the details of a movie, so much so, that sometimes I even forget how it ends or that I've seen the movie at all. I know. It's weird. Sometimes, it's really annoying, but other times it comes in handy. I can see a movie for the second time, like it's the first. But best of all, when I want to read the book after I've already seen the movie, the story doesn't completely leave me, but I tend to forget just enough that it makes reading the book a brand new adventure!

I have to admit that in spite of Stephenie Meyer's sub-par writing, the book Twilight definitely kept me intrigued. At first (in the first 150 pages), although I was into it, I couldn't help being distracted by the terribly sub-standard prose. It just felt like I was reading a rough draft by a high school student who was trying so hard to "show not tell," but totally overdoing it at points. Then there were the times that I had to go back and read something over again because she didn't make any sense, and reading it the second time didn't really help. And the over-use of flowery adjectives to describe the Cullens (the vampire family) and their vampirical features was really starting to bug me.

But soon after I began to seriously wonder if she wrote with a thesaurus by her side, choosing words at random, I began to be entrenched in the drama of her story! I'm a girl, what can you expect? Her impractical, yet dreamy story, akin to Romeo & Juliet in the I-want-you-but-I-can't-have-you-but-I-really-want-you-so-we-will-find-a-way feeling, threaded throughout the book, could easily draw in even the mildly romantic reader. And I admit, I was hooked.

And, Edward is (to adopt a word she used to describe him way too many times -- not enough thesaurus use on this one) glorious. Yes, he's wonderful. But I must remind myself that he had about 90 years to perfect his courting style, though he said he hadn't had a romantic interest since he became a vampire... Still, he had a lot of time to observe and learn. And he learned well. His manner made Bella's heart race, and at times (I must admit), mine as well.

So there you have it. I've been converted. To the story, at least, and that's saying a lot, seeing as I don't really like fantasy stuff at all. Her writing better improve with New Moon, though. I'm not trying to be totally down on her. After all, she has become a millionaire because of that writing. She seems like a very nice person, and even modest, stating on her website that she knows that the beginning of the book isn't the strongest part. I'm happy that her dream became a success. Kudos to her!

And now to see New Moon in a month! Most people like to see the movie version AFTER they've read the book, so that the movie characters don't take away from the pictures they can dream up in their heads. I, however, feel the opposite. I often enjoy reading the book after I see the movie because I almost always like the book better, and I want to end with the most satisfying version.

So what do you think I should do? Read first or wait until the Thanksgiving holiday, AFTER I've seen the movie? :)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Another reason to love Volkswagen.

"We believe that the easiest way to change people's behaviour for the better is by making it fun to do. We call it The fun theory."
~Volkswagen


Learn about Volkswagen and "The Fun Theory" here.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Here I Come!

"A vacation is what you take when you can no longer take what you've been taking."
~Earl Wilson

God bless frequent flyer miles.


Photo found on a Google search.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Baby Zuri at Hogle Zoo.

"Nature's great masterpiece, an elephant - the only harmless great thing."
~John Donne

On August 10, 2009 a female African elephant was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, the first born at Hogle Zoo in over 90 years. What a treat! I haven't yet been to see her, and now I'm afraid it's gotten too cold for her to be out. Last Monday the high was 88 degrees. Last Tuesday? Oh, about 58. Wow.

Tonight, I was reminded of Zuri by a friend, and found the blog her keepers are writing about her adventures. This video was too funny to not post. So here you go. Happy Monday! (or Tuesday, by the time most of you see this.)


Check out baby Zuri's blog here.

Oh, and if you really love elephants, live in Salt Lake City, and happen to have a degree in zoology, they're hiring a full-time Elephant Relief Keeper here.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Falling into October.

"October is crisp days and cool nights, a time to curl up around the dancing flames and sink into a good book."
~ John Sinor

Today is an overcast, wet, breezy day with an occasional powerful gust of wind. I love it. Fall is a favorite time of year, along with its partner in fine: Spring. :)

LDS General Conference, this weekend, was everything I expected and hoped for.
Edification.
Feeling loved by God is a feeling hard to explain, but one that is so very real. I hope you too, have felt it. I'm grateful to Jesus Christ for the inspiration to be "good" and for the power to be better.

Here's wishing you a warm and cozy Autumn season,
filled with great books, toasty cups of hot chocolate,
long walks in the crisp Autumn air with the crunching of leaves beneath your feet,
and snuggles under warm blankets on a comfy couch!
May your days open up to allow you some much deserved relaxation and inspiration.

Photo a la moi. Utah. October 2006.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Don't forget! SLCA Season Tickets on Sale NOW!

"I love to hear a choir. I love the humanity to see the faces of real people devoting themselves to a piece of music. I like the teamwork. It makes me feel optimistic about the human race when I see them cooperating like that."
~Paul McCartney

We're ready to start our new concert season, and we're very excited! Season brochures are available. If you haven't yet received one, use this blog post to mark your calendars now! You won't want to miss any part of this season. Let me know if you'd like tickets to a concert, or even better... season tickets! Season tickets can be purchased for $50 before October 10th. Act now! It will be worth it!

October 17: Made in America
Moving past pop and rock and roll, the Salt Lake Choral Artists explore the roots of American music. The choir will sing selections from Carol Barnett's "Bluegrass Mass," along with traditional folk music, African-American spirituals, gospel music, jazz, and music from the American musical theater. Also including sacred and secular music by living American composers, this concert truly represents a melting pot of styles.

December 19: Laud to the Nativity
Featuring soprano Carol Ann Allred, tenor Todd Miller, and mezzo-soprano Laura Garff Lewis, Respighi's "Laud to the Nativity" charmingly and intimately tells the nativity story through the eyes of the shepherds. Dr. Allred will also direct the Salt Lake Choral Artists in Ariel Ramirez' "Navidad Nuestra," which sets the Christmas story against a tapestry of traditional Latin American dance styles and instrumentation. The concert will include the music of Arvo Part, selections from Sergei Rachmaninoff's "All Night Vigil," and familiar favorites by John Rutter.

February 20: Beatlemania
John, Paul, George, and Ringo: those four iconic names that changed the face of pop music forever. Experience the British Invasion all over again as the Salt Lake Choral Artists sing the classic music of Lennon and McCartney as well as music by artists that both influenced and were influenced by the Beatles. With Get Back, a live Beatles cover band, and the award-winning vocal ensemble T minus 5, this is sure to be a night to remember!

May 15: Lux Aeterna - Eternal Light
Light: hope, faith, life, joy. Morten Lauridsen's "Lux Aeterna," a beautiful work for choir and chamber orchestra, fully expresses the idea of light in both its soaring, majestic phrases and its moments of quiet serenity. With texts drawn from a variety of sacred Latin sources, the piece emphasizes heavenly light. The Salt Lake Choral Artists will also premiere "One Light," a newly commissioned work by Ray Shattenkirk that draws its inspiration from religious poems from many faiths.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Boredom: The Springboard of Imagination and Creativity.

"A man who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life."
~ Charles Darwin

Lately, on Facebook, I've seen several status updates from friends saying something to the effect of, "I'm so bored." I'll be frank here: Initially, I get slightly annoyed and frustrated because I begin to think of all the things I could do if I just had more time.

To me, "being bored" means that you can't think of anything worthwhile to occupy your time. So I start to think of all the projects that I have waiting to be completed, like compiling all my mission letters into a book, scanning all my mission photos (since I didn't have a digital camera then), cleaning out and organizing my storage in the basement, denim quilts, a t-shirt quilt made up of all the old t-shirts from camp and other activities I've been involved in over the years, keeping in touch with old friends, simply going grocery shopping, or finishing basic household chores.

I could go on and on. And this person is bored???

Despite my initial irritation with that phrase, I don't believe that boredom should be thought of as a 4-letter word. Out of boredom springs creativity, curiosity, and great amounts of imagination. But if you didn't learn how to entertain yourself as a child, then being bored as an adult will carry with it many burdens.

Creativity, self-reliance, self-direction, problem-solving — all of these skills are the hallmarks of a successful adult. They are also all strengths that children can learn through play and finding their way out of boredom.

So are you reading this, as an adult, and thinking... "Wait a minute, but I DO get bored." Does that mean something's wrong with you? No, but it may mean that you didn't successfully learn how to cope with boredom as a child. And let’s face it — coping with and finding your way out boredom is a life skill that everyone should have. So why not begin to foster it now?

Now, we could certainly have a discussion about OVER-booking our time, or over-stimulating ourselves, or filling our time with "useless" things, but we'll save all that for another day. I'm not encouraging you to over-stimulate yourself or book yourself busy every minute of the day or be plugged into something at all times.

Being alone with your mind can be enough. This is not wasting time. Relaxation and "me time" is vital. We begin to realize that our minds are powerful and can be quite entertaining! God gave them to us to use. So let's really stretch them to their full potential! It's a liberating feeling to discover that you have everything you really need right at your disposal.

Now, if your mind can't entertain or enlighten you, then I would suggest teaching it a few new things. Read. Meditate. Invest in an education. Talk about ideas with others. Get outside and see the world. Stimulate that mind, so that when you and it are alone, you will never feel "bored".

As Dorothy Parker once said, "The cure for boredom is curiosity." Your mind is capable of a lot. Just see what it comes up with and then go for it. Try something new!

Be curious! Cultivate the skill of coping with boredom. It CAN be done. And help your kids to learn it too. They'll thank you as adults.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Random Photo: I'm REALLY tired.

"O bed! O bed! delicious bed!
That heaven upon earth to the weary head."

~Thomas Hood, poet
from Miss Kilmansegg And Her Precious Leg: Her Dream

I just wish I had more time to do this:

Photo courtesy of some family member.
Taken in Denver, CO. September 2004.

Friday, September 18, 2009

On-the-run. Gotta eat. Must plan ahead.

"If we're not willing to settle for junk living, we certainly shouldn't settle for junk food."
~Sally Edwards

School is back in session, (has been for over a month now) which means planning for meals takes even more forethought on my part. Some days I leave the house at 5:20am and don't return until 9:30pm. That means all three meals (and two snacks) are eaten away from my pantry and refrigerator. Packing my own meals has saved me cash and calories!

First things first: Snack size ziploc bags are a must! They allow you just the right amount so you don't eat too much. Also, investing in a good insulated lunch bag is crucial. But of course, neither the snack bags nor the insulated lunch bag will do any good unless you prepare beforehand. As soon as I get home from the grocery store, I separate everything into individual servings. If it's not convenient, I won't take it because I always seem to be in a rush in the morning.

Here are some of my favorite things:

• Hors d'oeuvres. Whole-grain crackers with 3 tablespoons goat cheese; top with halved grape tomatoes and fresh basil. Or spread on spicy hummus and top with sliced black olives.

• Kirkland (Costco brand) Chocolate Weight-loss Shake. It's basically a generic Slim-fast. These shakes (when cold) are a delicious on-the-run breakfast!

• Snack bag of baby carrots and a wedge of Laughing Cow cheese.

• Mini Babybel cheese rounds. They're only .75 ounces and 70 calories. A great little dairy treat. Buy them in bulk at Costco. And who knew? They're made by Laughing Cow also.

• Mediterranean Meal. Open a whole-wheat pita and fill with 1 to 2 tablespoons hummus, fresh spinach leaves, sun dried tomatoes and 1 ounce string cheese or a .75 ounce Babybel mini.

• Small handful of almonds. Dry roasted with NO salt is my favorite. They're hard to find without salt. I buy mine from The Nutty Guys at the Salt Lake Farmer's Market. Maybe Whole Foods would have them, too.

• Tuna Cups. They are marvelous. Now, they're a little more expensive than buying regular tuna in a can in larger sizes, but they are so convenient and the perfect single size. The best part? They don't require draining of water and they're wet enough that you don't need to add mayo. Pop one open into a salad. Have one with some crackers.

• Celery sticks with peanut butter. I never thought I'd say this, but it's really yummy. I tried them once with raisins. You know, the whole ants on a log idea. I didn't love it. Leave the raisins out and I'm good.

• Fruit! Grapes or melon chunks. Dip into 1/2 cup low-fat yogurt (I like vanilla flavored). OR grapes with a Babybel mini or a Laughing Cow wedge. Seriously delish!

• And since I have a sweet tooth... Trail mix snack. I mix my own because store-bought kinds have so much salt in them. I mix roasted unsalted almonds, with raisins, and dark chocolate chips or M&Ms. Just a small amount in a snack bag can really hit the spot!



So there you have it. Do you have any favorite snacks or food ideas for an on-the-run lifestyle?

All photos from a Google search. Trail mix photo a la moi.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Random Photo: Candle Dance.

“There is not enough darkness in all the world to put out the light of even one small candle.”
~ Robert Alden quotes


Photo a la moi. A church in Prague. June 2006.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Random Photo: Once, I was a baby.

"My mother had a great deal of trouble with me, but I think she enjoyed it."
~Mark Twain

For some reason the title of this post now has me singing "Once I Was a Snowman." Maybe it's the Primary Chorister in me. Have I mentioned that I'm the Primary Chorister in my ward? Well, there. I've mentioned it. Maybe that's a topic for another post. :)

As many of you may have seen, I scanned and uploaded several old school pictures to Facebook a few weeks ago. Very fun to reminisce. Don't worry, I have hundreds now. So, you may be seeing an old school Random Photo from time to time. Enjoy.

Here's baby Emmy.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Wanna cupcake? The answer is YES!

“When you look at a cupcake, you've got to smile.”
~Anne Byrn

Last night, I went out to dinner with the work girls (half of whom don't even work with us anymore) to a great little place called Blue Lemon Restaurant in Highland. If you live close by, you should check it out.

I had the Blue Lemon Portobello Burger, which was delicious! With a grilled portobello mushroom, caramelized onions, garlic and herbs, provolone and cheddar cheese, fresh tomatoes, lettuce, citrus pesto aioli and a splash of Blue Lemon vinaigrette on a Tuscan-herbed bun, I was in heaven! And as they promised, I never missed the meat!

But, THE REAL REASON for this post is to tell you of the delectable deliciousness that is a Sweet Tooth Fairy cupcake!
Camille took orders and picked up our treats on her way to dinner. I could hardly wait! I'd been thinking about those cupcakes ALL week long. No lie. The Sweet Tooth Fairy opened up their bakeshop in Provo, in January of this year, and they have been growing exponentially (it seems) ever since. I've heard about their cupcakes and have anxiously been waiting to try them. Thanks to Camille, that little food dream came true!

And let me tell you, those cupcakes did NOT disappoint! In fact, they were much better than I anticipated. That's the truth. Now, you see, it's all in the frosting. In my opinion, frosting makes or breaks a cake ... or a cupcake, as it were. And The Sweet Tooth Fairy knows her frosting! Oh boy. My mouth is salivating as I write. Seriously so delicious!

My selections were a Va-NIE-lla Squared, a Carrot, and a Cookies n' Cream. I've already eaten the first two, and I might have to say that they were honestly the best cupcakes I've ever eaten. I'm saving the Cookies n' Cream one for tonight. After that, it's back to the normal diet. :)

Oh goodness. SO yummy. If you live in or around Provo, beware... you might be tempted to begin making weekly (daily?) cupcake runs, if you ever taste even just one. Seriously, they're that good! Good thing I'm an hour's drive away. Although... I hear that they're expanding, and one might guess that they'd come up closer to Salt Lake. I'd better start building up my will power now. But just look at them... how can you resist?

Be sure to check out both the Blue Lemon website, as well as The Sweet Tooth Fairy website and blog if you haven't already. Photos found on their blog.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Tomatoes, Talk, and Travel.

"It's difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a homegrown tomato."
~Lewis Grizzard

Today, Katie and I took Harley on a walk. Harley is Brittney and Casey's miniature English bulldog, whom we are dog-sitting until Monday, when she will board a plane to Germany to meet up with Britt, Casey, and the girls. Yes, she gets her own flight. Getting her prepared to go overseas is quite an ordeal (legally speaking), but I don't think Casey could live without her. So off she'll go on Monday (thanks to Brittney's careful planning and preparation).

So anyway, back to our walk.
Today is such a beautiful day, with the sun shining and a slight breeze keeping things fairly cool at about 80-85 degrees. We all know that I don't like to be hot. :) So, the purpose of the walk was two-fold: Harley needed to go out and the Stake President's garden is full of tomatoes. :) Don't worry; we were invited to take them.

As a child, I never liked tomatoes much. Yuck. Well, that's not entirely true. I liked them in spaghetti sauce, but, "Ew. Get that tomato OUT of my salad and OFF my sandwich!"

Oh, how we get wiser with age...

So, we filled a bag full of beautiful red tomatoes. I could hardly wait to get home to try them, so I tasted one while still roaming in the garden. Yum. So wonderfully delicious. Homegrown tomatoes far outrank their grocery store counterparts. They are just THAT good.

On the way home, we ran into a man in our ward. They live in a very German style home, almost cottage-like. He told us that returning to the States following a period of several years living in northern Germany, they wanted to build their home to have that European feel.

Over dinner in a restaurant one night, they laid out their ideas, drew a floor plan, and subsequently took it to an architect. A year and a half later they had their home. He said sometimes he wonders if they made a mistake, since the home looks nothing like any in the vicinity, but it's what they wanted. I assured him that I didn't think it was a mistake at all! I love looking at it as I walk or drive by. Helps me keep my traveling dreams fresh in mind.
So, where will it be next? :)

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Hot. Phones.

"What dreadful hot weather we have!
It keeps me in a continual state of inelegance."
~Jane Austen

Today, I was hot. I shot a roll of film on campus and then walked back (uphill -- although Salt Lake knows no hill like San Francisco does ... still, it was uphill) to my car carrying three bags (camera, bookbag, and purse). All were rather heavy, and may I just say it was a tad bit hot today. I don't like sweating unless I'm working out. On purpose.

I suppose it has been much hotter this summer, and I know we don't have the wretched humidity combined with high 90s and triple digits like the east, but today, I just felt hot. It could have had something to do with the fact that, although T-Mobile gives good customer service, they didn't really give me what I want. Well, they did. But... it's been over two weeks since my phone worked properly, and I've spent probably 6 hours on the phone (not mine, because it didn't work...) and in the store trying to solve my BlackBerry 8220 Pearl Flip's behavioral issues.

So yeah. I was hot. The weather was hot. The sun was shining... hot. I really do enjoy living in Salt Lake City. For now. But I'm thinking that I could make a list of places with ideal weather for me... :) Someplace where I don't sweat on a five minute walk to my car.

But, I got a new phone. Let's hope it works this time. I quite like the phone (the large keypad, the flip)... it just happens to be the 7th one of its kind in my possession since February, and that's a little frustrating, not to mention un-BlackBerry-like-ish. But 7 is a lucky number, right? :)

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Fall = Scarves and Sweaters!

Awhile back, I posted this status on Facebook:

eclaires wants to live somewhere where it's perpetually Spring and Fall.

It's true. I just don't like the heat. I love when there is a breeze. I love clouds. I love rainy days.

And.

I love scarves and sweaters!

These new sweaters look fun.






And scarves simply make the outfit. Just take a look!

Clearly, I'm looking forward to the approach of Autumn. The cooler temperatures are right up my alley. Now, let me clarify... cooler temperatures does not mean that I'm excited for snow. That can hold off for awhile.

All the sweaters pictured were found on the Ann Taylor, Ann Taylor Loft, and Lane Bryant websites.

And the scarves... well, they belong to the people wearing them. Thanks Katie and Meera for being my models. (Oh and those other two pictures are of yours truly.)