Dec 22, 2010

"Does Not a Child Recognize Her Own Mother?"

Another review for you, in light of the holiday season. This is The Twin's Daughter by Lauren Baratz-Logsted.

For all of you out there that love a good period piece, this is a great one to get into. Taking place in Victorian England, it follows Lucy as she meets her Aunt Helen, the twin sister no one knew her mother had.

Full of intrigue, mystery, and a bit of love, it had me up until 1:30 last night trying to finish it. What I love about this book is that I thought I had it all figured out--I thought I knew the big twist in the story. And I was okay with that, I just wanted to see how it came about. But Baratz-Logsted threw me for a loop when it came to the end!

It is a bit twisted, and is more for older YA readers (in terms of sex and content), but nothing graphic (there is a brief description of a murder scene).

Mostly, all I can saw about this is . . . Wow. I was completely blown away.

Dec 20, 2010

An Electronic Christmas Card

To read the last two years' Christmas letters, click here and here.

Hello family and friends! Merry Christmas! Here is my year-end update.

I started this year as I do most years, by waking up on January 1. I went back to school and enjoyed having my own room for most of Winter semester. I had two amazing roommates who both got engaged then. During that semester I was able to take a Writing for Children and Adolescents class that I really enjoyed. Not only did it spark my love of writing, but it also led me to being a part of a writer's group and to finding a MFA program that I would like to do someday. I have already written over 200 pages in my novel and will be finishing it in the next 100 or so. :)

In that same line, I just had two articles bought from the New Era! If being a professional means that you get paid for your services, I guess that means I'm now a professional writer! I hope that they actually get published.

After that semester ended I decided to celebrate by taking another class during Spring! I just worked and read and studied, all the while getting excited for my trip to California in June which I took with my roommate two weeks before she got married. What a great bachelorette party, huh? Aren't I a great friend? We were able to visit the sis and bro-in-law in Monterey as well as enjoying being outside of Utah (but mostly just Provo) for 5 days. I enjoyed not having to go to work.

The rest of the summer was me working three days a week, with every Friday being a 14 hour day. That was an adventure. I also walked in Commencement and Convocation at the end of the semester! Even though I knew it wasn't "for real" it was a great feeling to get my diploma (cover) and have my family and friend there to support me. The only problem with that was that I had to go back to school for four more months!

I only took two classes this last semester, the last two I needed for my minor and for real graduation. One I wasn't look forward to was my design class, but despite some minor pitfalls I really enjoyed learning about InDesign and creating some really cool things. I finished the semester strong, I believe.

I had spent about a month training my replacement as Front-end Manager at work, but when my last day or work came I was sad to leave. In fact, I was sad to leave BYU and Provo in general. Mostly I think it is because it is comfortable, and known. In January I start off on an unknown. I got an internship with the New Era at LDS Church Magazines in Salt Lake! It is a wonderful opportunity, one that I am very grateful for, but it is also scary and "nervousing." I hope I do a good job!

That was just a quick review of my year. Merry Christmas to you all! Love you!

Dec 19, 2010

Review: Matched

(My mom loves this cover. It is pretty cool.)

I just finished reading Matched by Ally Condie this morning.

Matched is about 17 year-old Cassia and the dystopian society she lives in. This book has been compared to both The Giver, and to The Hunger Games. There are similarities to both which is what makes me think that if you liked those books, you will like this book. However, there are differences.

The Society that Cassia lives in is horrific, but not in the way that Panem is horrific. What I find so horrific about the Society is that no one realizes how awful it really is. They aren't pitting children against each other, instead they have taken away every choice, everything beautiful. The Society says that it is in the citizens own interests, but really it is a way to keep control over them. Imagine not being able to choose who you marry--it's chosen for you in a scientific manner in which the two most genetically compatible people are put together. You can't marry who you love. You can't choose your profession. Everything in your life is predicted for you. There is no running outside, no one is allowed in your home, they can make you forget if they want.

Imagine a world where you can't create anything. There are only 100 poems, 100 pieces of art, 100 lessons in history. Everything else has been destroyed. You don't draw, you don't write, you don't play music. Everything is made so that it is the most useful. You don't even get to choose what you eat--your meals are made for the exact calorie count you need and you don't get anything that tastes good except on the most special of occasions.

Cassia is content with this life--would you be? What would you do if you met someone who showed you that things could be different?

This is the first book in a series, but I thought that the emphasis on freedom of choice was a wonderful. It is there is other books like this, but I felt that it was stronger here. I am interested to see how Cassia's story finishes out. I highly recommend this book.

Dec 16, 2010

. . .

Wow . . .

I'm done.

As of today I'm a college graduate. I have been walking around with a look like that above on my face all week, when I wasn't crying from all the emotions going through me.

Dec 12, 2010

Sunday Special: Be True

As an English major I have read a lot of the classics. It is always amazing to read something that is enlightening and helps you understand a part of life that was previously cloudy before. The example that I want to talk about is from my favorite Shakespeare play, Hamlet.

There is a character in Hamlet called Polonius. This otherwise ridiculous character gives his son Laertes a good piece of advice as Laertes prepares to go off to University in Paris. His speech starts off as a regular and mundane speech, telling Laertes not to party too much, sleep with too many girls, start fights, or be flashy, that kind of thing. But he ends with a rather profound piece of advice considering how stupid Polonius usually is:

This above all: To thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man. (I.iii.78-80)

"To thine own self be true." I wish that I had taken this piece of advice to heart many times throughout my life. There were so many times in my life that I was trying so hard to be what someone else wanted me to be that I lost sight of who I really was. Not only was I being false to everyone else, but I was making myself unhappy.

I think that many fathers want this for their children. Thinking about the scriptures I can think of many times when, essentially, fathers gave their sons this piece of advice. Alma the Elder, Mormon, Lehi; I'm sure Daniel's father told him that, as did David's. They produced strong men in the faith. And then think about the father of all fathers--our Heavenly Father. I like to think that he took each of us aside before he sent us to earth and gave us a speech. Among the things he might have told us, I think one of them was "To thine own self be true." Remember who you are and you, and everyone around you, will see your worth. Unfortunately, we have forgotten about this talk with our father; the veil has obscured it from us. But that is why he has sent prophets, and earthly fathers. To remind us to be true to our selves.

I think I might have rambled a bit, but this is such a profound piece of advice from such a shallow character. In my years in college, I have seen how books can give me a better understanding of the Gospel, which I am grateful for. I am also grateful for parents who have given me pieces of advice, and help through my life. I am also grateful that I have met people who are willing to let me be true to myself. Thank you to everyone who has done this.

Love you all.

Nov 27, 2010

Week of Giving Thanks, pt. 7: Trials

I saved this for last because it is probably what I am least thankful for. Considering this, I do have to show some gratitude for my trials.

Things get hard sometimes. Everyone knows this. But I think that all of us forget that at the end of our hard times we come out stronger, braver, older. Whether we like it or not, our trials help us to grow, and teach us valuable lessons.

When I think of who I was four years ago and compare that to who I am now . . . wow. I mean, I'm basically the same. The framework is there, the foundation intact, but the rest of me has undergone a major renovation. And not all at the same time. Each trial took a little bit of us, tore it up and rebuilt it into something new--bigger and better.

I wanted to end this week with a little thank you to my trials. You suck, but thanks for making a better me.

Nov 26, 2010

Week of Giving Thanks, pt. 6: Music

You know that one song? The one that seems to describe your situation perfectly? You know how you love to listen to that song in your room, or sing aloud with it when no one is home? Or how about that one song that you just belt out in the shower? And those songs that you dance to in your room?

I love music. I have annoyed my family my whole life by singing just about every song I came across. My poor mother had to go through years of badly played piano and a couple years of my complaining how much I hated it. Then after I got over hating it, they all had to listen to me play it.

There is something about music and how it can reach the soul. It can make you happy, it can make you cry. It can make you think, dance, and laugh. Listening to music can make a tedious task slightly more bearable. It can make you feel closer to God and understand Him better.

I'm glad that my mom forced me to continue piano lessons. I'm so happy that she saw my love for singing and paid for my voice lessons. There is something about being able to possess a skill in music. No one can take it away from you. They can take away my piano, but I will always have my voice (though once they hear it they might give me the piano back! ;) ). I will always have the songs I have heard in my head.

Music makes life more interesting. Have you ever watched a movie that had absolutely no background music in it at all? It's boring. It is so hard to have an idea of what is really going on. Life may not have background music . . . well, not the kind of background music that starts up with no source whatsoever and lends dramatic interest to each situation. But, how about that really bad day when you just needed to listen to some Secondhand Serenade because they are just totally tear inducing? Or when there is that one guy and you're sure that you are in love with him and you just can't stop smiling and listening to "your song". Or you just need to scream it out and you put on some Metallica. Or it's a lazy, rainy day so you listen to some folksy music, like Microwave Jenny. We each create our own background music, and while it may not give us clues about life (like if something bad is coming in the future, or that person is "the one"), it does make it more interesting.

I'm very grateful to have music in my life; both in the form of artist's albums, and in my own fingers and voice.

Nov 25, 2010

Week of Giving Thanks, pt. 5: Imagination

Have you ever met anyone who didn't have an imagination? And they give you that really strange look when you tell them about the dragon living in your pipes? Yeah, what's up with them?

Ever since I was little have had an active (sometimes too active) imagination. I was (and sometimes still am . . . what? I didn't say that, that's embarrassing!) constantly involved in my "stories"--a game of make believe where I created a life for myself either as a character I made up, from a book, or just as me living and amazing life. Two of the earliest instances of this were when I made believe I was in the Babysitter's Club, and my little imaginary family: my husband, Thomas Benjamin Franklin, and my three daughters, Meghera, Polly, and Charity. To my knowledge I didn't use my imaginations in the way most kids used them. I didn't talk out loud to them, or blame things on them. I did talk about my little imaginary family, but I never thought of them as real or insisted that they were.

As I grew I would use my "stories" to take my mind off of unpleasant things. I would be Cinderella during our weekly cleaning, for example. They became more and more complex, and there were times when I had several "stories" going on at the same time and then I would pick and choose which was best for the situation. I would revisit certain scenes and change things about them as I learned more about the world (or if I just wanted to change something).

So, why am I letting you all know about something that is actually kind of embarrassing? Because I'm grateful that I have such an active imagination. Sure, sometimes I need to wake up from these stories and face life as it is. But, I think that the stories have given me a good outlet for all of my secret desires, hurts, and needs. I don't like getting mad at people, so instead I will play out a scene in my mind where I do get mad at them. After that, I feel better. It's cathartic. And it is an escape. Sure, I read and watch movies/TV to escape too, but there are times when you just need to put yourself in a complete different situation, one where you are the star.

Also, my imagination has given me a gift: the gift of writing. I know that I'm not the best writer out there and I may never be published, but taking my stories out of my head and putting them on paper (read: little metal complicated pieces belonging to a computer that I have no idea how they work, but they do and for that I am grateful. As long as they don't crash) is such a wonderful feeling. Maybe someday someone will read my writing and it will be an escape for them just as I have used other authors' imaginations to escape.

So, yes, I am very grateful for my imagination. And am very sad for those who don't have one. What do they do?

Nov 24, 2010

Week of Giving Thanks, pt. 4: Work

There is a line in one of my favorite movies that goes: "I'm blessed with work."

Okay, most of the time I don't feel this way at all. I don't enjoy having to get up and go into work, and dealing with customers and problems. As I'm walking through campus my mind is back in my warm, cozy bed (or on the music I'm listening to; or both). But when I get to work and I start doing what I need to do, it's not so bad.

There are times when I have actually liked the fact that I've had to go into work. Work is distracting. Most of the time you have to apply your mind to it and not think about anything else. There are good people to talk to that I work with, and always something to do (whether or not I always do those things are a different matter . . . ;) ).

Work is a blessing. Being able to work and support myself is a tremendous blessing. This is a hard time to try to find work and I am glad that I have a job. I don't want to make a career out of working at a grocery store, but it has put me through college and taught me a lot about leadership and attacking problems that you see. My job has given me some amazing opportunities as I have worked my way up to student manager.

I will lose my job in about three weeks when I graduate. That is a hard thing to deal with. For months my mind has been filled with worries and questions about what I was going to do, how would I find work, where I would find work. Fortunately, I have been blessed with work in the form of an internship. It will only last four months, but will hopefully give me the experience and confidence I will need to get a job that I like. I'm excited to be a professional and gain the independence that my little student job couldn't offer me.

So, yeah, I'm glad that I have the ability, health, and chance to work.

Nov 23, 2010

Week of Giving Thanks, pt. 3: Home

I have been truly blessed in my life.

As I sit in my parent's living room on this cold November evening, I have to reflect on how thankful I am to have a home. A roof over my head, food to eat, a warm bed to sleep in and people who love me.

It isn't just my parent's house either. I have a home with three other girls. My little apartment in Provo is a home to me. A temporary home, but a home none the less.

How blessed am I that I have two homes?

My mom told me when I was fifteen that a home isn't a building, it's where your family is. We were on the brink of moving from the only home I had ever known and I was upset. My memories were there! I had planned on all the most important events of my life taking place within it's walls. How could I leave it behind? I found out that she was right (as she usually is). When we moved to our temporary home in Provo and finally into our new house, I realized that I carry those memories with me. That's is why they are called memories--because they live on in your mind! This new house quickly became my home and it is because I was there with my family.

I'm thankful to be in a position where I have such a comfortable home. A home that is filled with laughter, tears (mostly mine), and memories.

Nov 22, 2010

Big News!

I got my internship!

Week of Giving Thanks, pt. 2: Friends

I have always said that I may not have a great many friends, but the ones I have are great. This is a true statement. I have been blessed throughout my life with just a few friends that have helped me realize the good in me and helped me help myself. They have been my Jerry Maguire.

I wish that I could name them all and say wonderful things about them, but I would certainly leave someone out and then I would offend someone, and then I would be down a friend. That would just be tragic. So, to avoid this, I would just like to thank anyone who has believed in me, trusted me, helped me, and loved me. A big thank you to the friends I've had for years, those I just met, the ones I have worked with, the ones I have had classes with. The friends who have comforted me when I cried, and shared laughs with me. The ones who have read my writing, and came to know my imaginary friends almost as well as I do. And to the friends who have become a part of family.

Thanks.

Nov 21, 2010

A Week of Giving Thanks, pt. 1: Family

Since it is Thanksgiving, and I've been having a bit of a hard time lately, I decided to post everyday this week about something I'm thankful for.

This most important thing in my life that I have to be thankful for is my family. I feel like I post a lot about how much I love them and how amazing they are, but it's just because it is all true. Without the family I have, I wouldn't be the person I am right now.

My parents. Both my parents instilled in me at a young age several basic parts of my being that have made my life beautiful and successful. The first of these is my religion and love of God. If I didn't have the Gospel in my life, I think that I would probably never leave my bed. Knowing that there is so much more out there than just a life that you live until you die is so comforting to me. Knowing that there is a Father in Heaven that wants me to be successful and who loves me keeps me going.

The second basic part is love of education. I am graduating from college next month, and I know that I couldn't have gotten there without my parents. Not only did they let me know how important getting a degree was, but they showed me by their example. Both of my parents have their Master's degrees. And it isn't just education, but learning continually throughout life. How many random things have I learned about on my own just because I wanted to? It's almost impossible to say, but I know it is because I was taught that I can keep learning and that it doesn't have to be restricted to the classroom.

They also taught us all about the importance of family. I count my parents among my best friends, which is really good when I just need someone to talk to about something going on in my life.

My sister. Every girl should have a sister. I was lucky and got a big sister. What is so great is that I can talk to her about things that I am going through that she has had to go through too. Our lives aren't parallels of the others, but there are similar circumstances that we have both had to deal with and it is nice to talk to someone who has already been there. There are just somethings that you don't want to talk to your parents about no matter how good of friends you might be with them. That is where a sister comes in handy.

My brother. Just as every girl should have a sister, every girl should have a brother. He is a protector, and a friend. He is a rock that I can lean against when things get hard in life. A sturdy figure in life. He has problems too and I think it is great that he wants to talk to his dorky little sister about it all. He is an example to me, and I know that he is an example to his companions, the members, and the people he is teaching in the Dominican Republic.

My bro-in-law. I remember a time from my freshman year. I had just gotten my UTA bus pass, but I didn't know how to ride the bus. Frankly, riding public transportation scared me. My bro-in-law was so nice and rode the bus with me. He told me what I needed to know and helped me feel confident about using the UTA system. That's just the kind of guy my bro-in law is.

I love them all, and am so grateful to have them in my life. Thanks for loving me unconditionally and being there for me for now and forever.

Nov 14, 2010

Sunday Special: Feeding the Flamingos


Last summer I was able to go on vacation to California. While there I visited the Monterey Bay Aquarium, where they had a special exhibit of flamingos.

Real flamingos (as opposed to the garden variety) have a beautiful bright pink color (as opposed to pepto-bismol). You might know this, but that bright pink color comes from the food they eat, which contains high amounts of beta carotene. This means that if a flamingo cannot get the brine shrimp that it usually eats, its feathers will become white or gray. Since we relate that bright pink color with flamingos, we might not even realize that that white bird is a flamingo.

So, what does this have to do with anything? Let me tell you what I've been thinking about.

In 2 Nephi 31:20 it reads: "Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father. Ye shall have eternal life."

We are kind of like flamingos. When we are feasting on the scriptures, and the words of the prophets, people can recognize us as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They realize that we are children of God because of our "color." If we stop eating what we are supposed to, not only could it be dangerous for our health, but we start losing our brilliance. People can no longer easily identify us as what we are.

We are children of a Heavenly Father. We should be showing the world our colors! We should be feasting on the word of Christ so that we will have that special "glow" that so many people have associated with us. Just as flamingos can share themselves by their brilliant colors, we should be willing to show the world what we believe.

Be like a flamingo. Don't be afraid of being pink, of being different. Our differences are what make us recognizable.

Nov 11, 2010

Good Can Come from Bad

This week did not start out well.

I came off the weekend nursing a cold. On Monday my cold was almost better, but still there and I had developed a cough. Work was fine, but my class was so . . . can I say boring? Okay, boring. FHE was okay, we made pizza and watched Muppets Treasure Island. Overall, Monday wasn't too bad.

Tuesday was when I started getting down. My afternoon was spent working on a project, spending several hours on a computer doing what I find tedious design work. There is something about sitting in front of a computer for three hours that makes me feel irritated, bothered, and restless. Usually that feeling will go away in an hour or two after I finish, but on Tuesday I had to close at work and my bad mood just followed me. I was short with people and was glad when it ended.

The bad thing about working in the morning is that when you close the night before, you don't really have a break between being and work and going back to work--except sleep, which isn't really a break. So, my bad mood didn't truly go away. I did talk to my cashiers and was pleasant. Class was a work period, so at least I did something, but working with a group on a computer project is difficult and irritating, so I went home not feeling much better.

Once I got home, I immediately changed into my pajamas. This was because of two reasons: 1) It was laundry day and I wanted to wash the pants I was wearing, 2) pajamas are comforting. So I did my laundry, watched Glee and Raising Hope, and relaxed. I made dinner: yummy, warm, creamy hamburger stroganoff. Comfort food. I was feeling slightly better, but still sad and not very happy. Then there was a knock on the door.

It was one of my very best friends! She came by to sing with me because I had just gotten The Scarlet Pimpernel sheet music. I love that girl; the moment I saw her my mood was instantly lighter and as we sang beautiful music together I was genuinely happy. Who would have thought that one person could clear the cloud that had been three days above my head?

This morning something else made me happy. I received a call from the Church Office Building. I got some good news from them! It isn't official, so I'm not going to say anything else right now.

Anyway, sometimes good can come from bad.

PS A very happy birthday to my wonderful Mommy! Love you!

Oct 31, 2010

Halloween






Halloween isn't my favorite holiday. I dread it every year. But this year I was pleasantly surprised by how much fun I had with the holiday.

I had a costume this year. I wore my Dorothy costume from when I was in the play when I was 11. Still fit okay, surprisingly. My roommate, Melissa, was a doll and Hannah was a zombie. We got ready on Friday to go to the ward Halloween party. So much fun! We danced and listened to a band in our ward. By the time the party ended, I was exhausted!

The next day I woke up sore and tired, but there was another day of fun ahead of me. Hannah and I went to WalMart were I bought my second costume. And some hair dye! So I dyed my hair (I love it!). First time I had ever done it on my own.

My second costume was Bella Swan. I bought a t-shirt at WalMart that said "My boyfriend's a pain in the neck," and I changed my name tag at work (because I had to work the closing shift) to read "Bella Swan, Forks, WA." I thought it was clever and so did at least two other people. I saw lots of fun costumes as people came through the Creamery.

So, all in all, this Halloween wasn't so bad.

Oct 28, 2010

Growing Up

The past four or so months I have slowly started to come a realization--I'm growing up. I have realized that I have to put away my teenage way of dressing and approaching life . . . especially since I haven't been a teenager for almost 4 years!

I have made some efforts to start being more grown-up. I got a grown-up purse, and am working on getting a more grown-up watch. And you know what? Being grown-up doesn't mean you have to be boring! You can still be fun!

Today I did something that was very grown-up. I had my first grown-up interview. About a month ago I applied for an internship at the Church magazines. Going to my interview in my grown-up suit, I was very nervous. My hands were cold, and my tummy felt a little sick. But I looked good, and I was going to do this thing. I had prepared, but I could hear some of the questions they were asking the previous candidate and they didn't ask any of the questions I had prepared for! But there wasn't anything else I could do but go in and do my best with what I had.

For the most part, I think I did pretty well. There is one question that looking back on, I realize that I think I misunderstood it. But something great came out of this interview. Janet Thomas, who works with the New Era, said that she loved two of my pieces that I had submitted in my portfolio and would like to publish them! She gave me her e-mail address--not the magazine's, but hers--and asked me to send them to her. So if nothing else comes out of this experience, that is more than I could have asked for.

Sometimes, when I'm being a grown-up, I feel great and so comfortable in the role. But I still have those moments when I feel like a little girl playing dress up.

Oct 22, 2010

Weekend Update

For those of you familiar with SNL, this is kind of like the Weekend Update with Seth Meyers, just not as funny.

Monday:
Went to work, nothing exciting there.
Went to class, nothing exciting there.
Went to the Mac Lab to work on my big project, again. My phone buzzed, telling me that I had two voicemails. Once I listened to them, my whole day was turned around! I had been chosen for an interview for the internship at the Church Magazines! Wow. I'm a little nervous, but pretty excited because I didn't think I would even get to the interview stage.
That night for FHE we tie-dyed t-shirts! That was the first time I'd ever done that. Very fun.

Tuesday:
Had a work meeting, nothing exciting there.
Had class, nothing exciting there.
Had the longest closing shift at work, nothing exciting there.

Wednesday:
Had work, nothing . . . well, you know.
Had class. We had critiques on our designs and my TA liked mine! Maybe I'll get a better score on this project than my last . . . especially with the amount of work I've had to put in.
Made Chicken Noodle Soup for dinner. Mmmmmm.
Won $5200 playing Jeopardy! that night. (Yes, sometimes I keep score)
Stayed up late reading Birth Marked. It was good, you should read it.

Thursday:
Did homework.
Worked on my design project while listening to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.
Went to class.
Wrote in my novel.

Friday:
Went to work.
Thought I was going to have to go work on my project, but my TA sent out an e-mail pushing back the printing date by a week. Yay!
Took a nap.
Watched How to Train Your Dragon.
Wrote in my novel.
Went to bed.

That night I had the creepiest dream that I was living with a homicidal maniac who was trying to kill me and my roommates.

That's it. Nothing too exciting. :)

Oct 17, 2010

Double Feature

I promised in my last post that I would review of fun book; well, here's a treat, TWO fun books!

Book #1:
Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians by Brandon Sanderson. On Alcatraz's 13th birthday, he receives a bag of sand. And that bag of sand leads to an adventure that changes everything he thought of the world. He fights librarians of the worst kind, and gets an awesome pair of glasses.

If you like dry, sarcastic humor, this is the book for you! I loved Alcatraz's narrative. Read it, you'll like it.

Book #2:
The Wide Awake Princess by E.D. Baker. When her family and the rest of the castle falls asleep, Princess Annie stays wide awake. She takes it on herself to find a prince that can break the spell that has taken a hold of her older sister. Meeting all kinds of people on the her way, and being guarded by the handsome Liam, Annie learns that there is more to life than being the younger and less beautiful, princess.

If you like someone taking a twist on a fairy tale, this is a great book. It is fun and inventive. And you might find yourself falling in love with Liam. I did. ;)

Oct 12, 2010

Review: Thirteen Reasons Why

The last book I just read is a book that takes a look into how all of our lives are interconnected with everyone else's. This is Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher.

When Clay Jensen finds a package on his bed after school, he's excited. What he doesn't expect is the package to contain seven audio tapes from Hannah Baker--who killed herself two weeks before.

These are the thirteen reasons why Hannah was driven to do what she did. And Clay is one of them.

This book is an interesting insight to how one action can lead to another completely unknown consequence and how anyone could stop the snowball effect if they tried. I am sad that Hannah felt that this was the only way out, but I also feel sympathetic to some (emphasis on some) of the thirteen people she talks about on her tapes. If someone is pushing you away, if someone won't talk to you, how can you help her? Do you keep pushing, or will that make it worse? Or do you do what you think she wants you to do and just leave? And, when she does do something drastic, can you truly blame yourself in retrospect?

It is a bit depressing, so the next book I'm reading is a fluff book and I'll make sure to review it.

Oct 7, 2010

What's For Dinner?

Garlic Lemon Pasta! Here's how you make it!

Take a pat of butter and melt in a frying pan. Then mince one clove of garlic and add to butter with a pinch dried onion. When the garlic is slightly brown, add a dollop or two of sour cream, a splash of milk and a squeeze of lemon juice. Mix together. Add one generous shake of lemon pepper, and a few shakes of parmesan cheese. A dash of salt and some parsley. Mix together and stir until thick. Put on top of your favorite pasta. Toss and sprinkle with more parmesan cheese and parsley.

This makes a tangy and slightly sour pasta sauce (the cheese lessens the tang and sour just enough). So good!

Enjoy!

Oct 1, 2010

Memories

So I was looking through my highschool yearbooks today and I realized something: it's kind of amazing how looking at highschool yearbooks can make you feel both happy and sad at the same time. Happy to see that people you are still friends with, sad to see the people you've lost.

How bad is it that out of all the people I went to school with for 3 (or 6 or 12) years, I can't even remember half of them that signed my yearbook?

The past is past and I guess I can't dwell on the what-ifs and missed opportunities. Just got to keep going through this life one day at a time.

Banned Book Review: The Giver

I decided that since I promote the reading of a banned book during Banned Books Week, I should myself read a banned/challenged book. For my banned book I read The Giver by Lois Lowry.

The Giver has been on the 100 most challenged/banned books for several years, though it is one of Lowry's most loved books. The reason parents gave to banning it was that they said it promoted infanticide, abortion, and euthanasia.

To which Lowry responds, "They obviously haven't read it . . . it's really a moral book."

And I agree with her. It doesn't promote any of that. True, infanticide and euthanasia do take place in the book, but the main character, Jonas, realizes how horrible it is and wants to change it.

This is what I think of the book. It isn't entertaining--it isn't supposed to be. But it is interesting and moral. It is a book that celebrates our agency, and individuality. The people in the community presented in the book think they are happy, or have emotions, but they don't know because they have never known true happiness, or sadness. As a Mormon, this just intensified what we have learned about needing opposition in all things--that is how we know when we are truly happy and blessed. Life is hard, and it's painful at times, but isn't it worth going through those small moments so we can understand love and happiness?

I think that anyone who has ever read this book will see that Lowry is not promoting euthanasia, but instead, letting us know that not having any memory of the past is going to make our present and future insignificant.

Anyone else read a banned book this week?

Sep 25, 2010

Read a Banned Book!

Sept. 25 through Oct. 2 is Banned Books week. You can read my post from last year's BBW to see how I feel about society induced censorship as well as a list of books you can read. But this year I wanted to share an interesting article I read about the 10 most surprising banned books--included on this list is "Brown Bear, Brown Bear, what do you see."

Check it out and read a banned/challenged book this week!

Sep 21, 2010

The Strange Case of the "Misplaced" Quotes

Yesterday we got a newsletter in the mail from some dentistry office. As an editing minor and someone taking a design class, I had to make fun of it. Here is just a little of what was so great about the newsletter:

We Specialize in Quality, Affordable
and Comfortable Dentistry Right in
Your Neighborhood. You Won't Find a
"Friendlier Staff" Anywhere Else!

Except the words quality, affordable, and comfortable were all underlined as well (Blogger won't let me for some reason).

And, apparently, you can get a "Free" implant consultation as well!

They also ask you to not "be a 'afraid' to ask!"

I read through this and laughed, but also wished that they had at least hired a freelancer designer/editor for this newsletter because I'm pretty sure they want to be taken seriously. Got to love that you don't have to be "afraid" of their "free" help and "friendly staff."

Sep 14, 2010

The Long Awaited Review

Well, I finally read The Hunger Games series. I know some people who I talked to were interested to know of what I thought of it, so here is my review.

To be honest, I don't know if I liked them. That's not to say that I didn't like them--I read them in a week and probably would have gotten done with them faster, but I had to wait five days to get the second and third books--but I can't see myself ever reading them again. Why? Because they present such a horrible world, full of people finding entertainment in children killing each other, and while I am glad that I read them once, reading them again would mean getting back into that world, and I just don't think I want to.

That isn't to say that Collins didn't present and intriguing story, because she definitely did. I read Mockingjay in a day. Here are some of the things I liked about the books, and Collins' writing:
*All my predictions were wrong. I like that. I don't want a story to be easy to guess. Her curve balls were amazing! Never would have guessed.
*She was able to use the present tense very effectively. I don't think it would have been as intriguing to read if we weren't learning and being exposed to everything right along with Katniss.
*That leads me to the next thing I liked--the first person narrator. Katniss was a complex character who had a general distrust of people, but at the same time has a great love for a few select. She is exactly how I think a person growing up in that kind of society, and having gone through those kinds of things would behave. And yet, she was aware of her faults and wanted to be different in some ways. She was able to learn and change.
*The books aren't necessarily dark, but they do deal with some serious issues which I think are handled in a such a way that adolescents will be able to read without getting too disturbed, but they will also come away with a new way of looking at life.

Collins is a great storyteller, which lets me know that she deserves everything that she is getting from the writing of these books. Fame, New York Times bestselling author, and probably quite a bit of money. But, that's not to say that there weren't things I didn't like about the books.

*My biggest thing was the Capitol people. This is kind of a silly little complaint, but every time I was given a description of someone with dyed skin and hair and ridiculous tattoos, I felt like it gave the story a little flippant air. The only time I didn't was in Mockingjay when they meet Tigris, because that was just sad. I understand that it was an exaggeration of shallow, appearance obsessed people who never really grew past adolescence and it was effective in showing how different they were from the rest of the districts. But still, every time I read a description about someone's green skin and purple hair, I just rolled my eyes.
*There wasn't any good place to stop. Just about every chapter ending with a small cliffhanger, making it almost impossible to take a break. That might have been her intent, but chapter breaks are meant to be able to give even a slight break for the reader, even if they intend to go on reading right then. It bothered me that I was feeling manipulated into keep reading, even when it was getting late at night and I just wanted to go to bed.
*Sometimes I didn't understand the characters motivations. The biggest example I can see of this was

***SPOILERS***



in Catching Fire when they were at the Quarter Quell with all the other victors. After the shows of unity that the victors showed during training, their interviews, and after the interviews when they all held hands, I didn't understand how they still were going to fight each other in the arena. I would have thought (and again, this just goes to show that my predictions were always wrong, though it would have been okay if this one were right) that they would have banded together and refused to fight each other. All the victors seemed willing to defy the Capitol, but they still fought each other. I think it would have still made an interesting story of the victors having to deal with the gamekeepers trying to kill them or make them fight each other. It would have been a different story yes, but I would have liked the characters a bit better I guess.
*Speaking of characters, sometimes Katniss did bother me, though I liked her voice. She was defiant, and that was necessary, but she completely refused almost all advice and help given to her. She alienated her family and friends. She seemed almost completely self-centered, never seeing the other persons point of view and struggles if it didn't coincide with how she thought things should be.

Despite my few qualms, I'm glad I read them. I haven't been so intrigued by a book in a long time. Interesting, though horrific, story, and a satisfying but not all "happily ever after" ending. Like I said, I don't think I'll read them again, and they probably won't be on my bookshelf in the near future. I would recommend that people read them, even though my feelings for them are unsure. A good story, a good read, and a good lesson.

Sep 10, 2010

Snippet of a Conversation Between Missionaries

One missionary is standing outside the hall where the bathrooms are located in the Creamery. His companion comes out.

Companion: I almost walked into the girl's bathroom!
Missionary: (laughs) Looks like you made it into the boys.
Companion: Yeah, I thought you were in there so I was talking to you!

. . . In Your Dreams!

Last night I had a dream about going back to London. I was going on another study abroad there and I was so excited to spend the next four months and my last semester in my favorite city!'

By the time I got there, I started having doubts which were crowding out the excitement I felt on the plane (sidenote: planes are always much cooler in my dreams), and seeing a bunch of people that I went to London with before also going to London (because, you know, why wouldn't they be there? A girl I knew in high school was also there--that part was weird.). I started thinking about the fact that I hadn't moved out of my apartment, and therefore would still be paying rent. And then I started worrying about when I would be able to move out of my apartment.

Then I started thinking about the classes I was enrolled in at BYU and how I would complete those. Because I need to complete them to graduate this semester, but how was I going to learn InDesign and Photoshop without anyone showing me about it.

And it didn't help that the London Centre was in a part of town that looked suspiciously like Herriman.

But I wasn't going to let that bother me, because I was in London!

And then these evil skeletal guys showed up and it was all downhill from there.

Sep 9, 2010

I Am a Competent, Single Young Woman!

I have had a few experiences this past week that have helped me become confidant in my soon to be approaching life on my own.

First, I woke up Tuesday morning and walked into the bathroom only to see a big creepy spider in the bathtub! Seriously, it was, like, this big. It took some pep talking myself, but I eventually got a cup and a piece of paper and transported it carefully outside. (I don't know why I didn't just kill it, but what I did was much braver.)

Second. At work we have a basket that we put French bread in, but the price sign is always falling off of it. I got the pliers out and fiddled around some, and fixed it (only temporarily, but it was still fixed!).

See, I can live on my own and take care of myself. No need to worry about graduating now! ;)

Sep 5, 2010

The Day Nothing Happened in Rye


Today is the Day Nothing Happened in Rye! This is the plaque that tells us that nothing happened in Rye on September 5, hence the reason we celebrate.

The rest of my first week back at school went pretty well. I decided to drop a credit that I was taking because it didn't seem like it was actually going to do what I thought it would, so I'm just taking two classes. I am surprisingly enjoying my computer class, and am a little worried about my editing class, but I have made it through four years of college already so I know that I'm going to be able to make it through this one.

On Wednesday at work the fryer blew up. We think there might have been some water or something in there, but it made the morning pretty exciting!

I don't have class on Friday (which is awesome! Why haven't I ever done this before?), but I did have a party to get ready for, so after work I went on the bus to the dollar store. I had ordered some martini glasses to be sent to the Dollar Tree, but I wasn't expecting the box to be so big! I had planned on going to pick them up and then go to the grocery store and then home. Well, with this big box full of breakable glasses, I knew that wasn't going to happen. As I was walking from the bus stop back to my complex, all hot and sweaty and tired, I was just thinking how much I wish I knew someone with a car that I could ask to take me to the store. I was not looking forward to having to carry heavy bags of groceries to the bus stop and back. As I was walking past the far stairs, a wonderful priesthood holder in my ward was coming down the stairs. He talked to me a bit and it came out that I needed a ride to the store. Even though he was on his way to run some errands himself, he very graciously told me he could take me. What a great guy!

I watched Camp Rock 2 that night, which I have been looking forward to all summer (I know, I'm such a child). It was much better than the first one, a lot more seamless and natural.

Saturday I had to get ready for my Day Nothing Happened in Rye party! I had made the mini cheesecakes the night before, but I needed to clean the apartment and the glasses and platters I had bought the day before. Being the efficient person I am, I got it all done with enough time to read some of my book and get ready for my writer's group. After writer's group I made the cucumber sandwiches for the party and then I just had to wait a little bit. I got all dressed up and set out the food.
I was so excited!

Well, 8 o'clock came around. And it was 2 of my roommates and me. So we started drinking our "martinis" and eating the cucumber sandwiches. By 9:15 we decided that we were going to go over to the Cannon center where our lovely ex-roomie was still working. We walked across Helaman halls in our dresses and heels, carrying our drinks and some of the snacks for her. Felt so silly and strange, but it was such fun!

We convinced her to come back with us while she waited for her husband to finish his work on campus.

And today is the real Day Nothing Happened in Rye. So, have a good one everyone.

Aug 31, 2010

Alpha of the Omega

Yesterday was the first day of my last semester at BYU.

It started off with work, which wasn't so different than summer was. Except I got there and my manager wanted me to do all this stuff and I had to train which I don't like doing. But it wasn't too busy and my cashiers are competent, so I didn't have to keep checking on them too much.

On Mondays and Wednesdays I have to leave work 15 minutes early to make it to class on time. My first class of the semester was CHums 230: Computers and Print Publishing. I was not looking forward to this class at all! I'm not very good with computers and design isn't exactly something that I'm uber interested in (though it will be helpful). But it's required for the editing minor so there I was. Another reason I wasn't too excited about was that I was certain that I'd be working with PCs, because my sister had taken a CHums class and she learned on a PC. Imagine my delight when I walked into the computer lab and it was a Mac lab!! Part of my negative feelings toward that class disappeared. More disappeared when I learned something new about Word that day. Something cool will hopefully come from this class.

After class got over I went home. I checked my e-mail and saw that the student journal I wanted to work on doesn't let you work on it unless you sign up for a separate class other than the editing student journals class, which means I have to find another journal to work on. Le Sigh. But my roommate came home and we talked about our days and that night was FHE! We went to Payson and ate pizza and watched Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs--tres funny.

Not too bad of a start to my last semester. One more class today and hopefully my first meeting with a student journal sometime this week.

Aug 23, 2010

Love Jane Austen? A Review

Movie: The Jane Austen Book Club
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (some language, sexual innuendos, and brief drug use)

I just finished watching The Jane Austen Book Club. To tell the honest to goodness truth, I didn't think I was going to like it--in fact it had been far down on my list of movies on Netflix but my "Angel" DVD kept being skipped over so I got to it sooner than expected. I read the book by Karen Fowler two or three years ago and I remember having mixed feelings on it. There were some parts that were kind of icky (as things can get in adult fiction), and it just seemed . . . off somehow.

There are very few movies adapted from books that I can say I like better than the book, but this is one. When it first started off I wasn't too sure, but the more I watched and learned about the characters, the more I liked it. I found myself laughing at Grigg flopping down his Complete Jane Austen Collection and thinking that the books were sequels to each other (actually, Grigg was just kind of funny the whole movie), and crying with the characters as their lives fell apart and came back together again. This is a movie about friendship, family, love, and working for what you want. Life is hard and sometimes things happen, but we can all make it through.

As a Jane Austen lover, I liked this movie. From Prudie the Jane Austen snob, to Grigg the Jane Austen "virgin," I think there is something that every Austen fan will love.

Just as a warning, there is a gay relationship in the movie as well as one use of the f-word. There isn't any explicit sex (that I can remember, so I'm guessing not), but there is some moments of heavy kissing.

Aug 16, 2010

Pictures

My roommate this summer wants to be a photographer, so I graciously volunteered my services as a model . . .

hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha. Sigh

Sorry, just had to let that out. I am so not a model. But she asked and I wanted to support her so I said yes. Some of the pictures ended up okay. Here are a few of my favorites.


A mural on Center Street Provo.
I love train tracks!

I am holding a Vodka bottle that we found on the side of the road.

Aug 11, 2010

A Summer Recipe

Yummy Chicken Salad*

1 large can chicken
1 package bowtie pasta
1 can mandarin oranges
grapes
2 spears celery
2 green onions
almonds
miracle whip
2 capfuls of milk
salt and pepper to taste

Cook the pasta. Mix in with the rest of the ingredients. Chill and enjoy! The perfect summer food!

*adapted from a recipe my mommy gave me

Aug 9, 2010

Conversations with Customers

The scene is the Creamery on Ninth, Saturday night, closing shift. The characters are me, a cashier, and a middle aged woman, blonde and wearing a shirt from a Mexican restaurant.

The woman sets her groceries on the register.

Her: Do you have a boyfriend?

Me: Do I have a boyfriend? No.

Her: Do you want one?

Me: (awkward laugh) uh . . .

Her: What are you studying?

Me: English.

Her: Good, good. How old are you?

Me: 22.

Her: How do you feel about dating men from India?

Me: (awkward laugh) uh . . . .

Her: Because I know this great guy. He has two law degrees and we just need to find him a wife.

Me: . . .

Her: He's actually here right now. (She turns and points to an Indian man in restaurant) That's him there. (She waves him over and turns back to me.) He's a great guy and so funny. I hang out with him all the time, but I'm too old for him.

The guy joins us.

Her: (to the guy) This cute girl is single and is studying English. And she lives right down the street from where you live!

Me: (in my head) Please don't be setting us up right now.

Her: See, I just went right up to her and asked what she was studying and how old she was. This is what you have to do, you just need to talk and flirt so they know you are interested. We need to get you a wife.

Me: (in my head) Oh, maybe she was just using me as an object lesson.

Indian Guy: (mumbles something)

Her: Thank you! It was good to meet you.

Me: You, too. (In my head) I think . . .

Indian Guy: Bye.

They leave and I proceed to chuckle to myself until I can tell someone else and laugh with them.

Jul 31, 2010

Summer

This is an Australian band that I discovered through my music professor (the girl is his niece). Love their music, so mellow and sweet, perfect summer music. Look up Microwave Jenny on YouTube or Facebook!

Jul 28, 2010

Snippets from a Conversation between Old Men

Old Man 1: How long have you been retired?
Old Man 2: 23 years.
Old Man 1: You're 90 years old?
Old Man 2: You're 90, too!
Old Man 1: I'm 85!

And the best part of their conversation:

Old Man 2: Is Gary still alive?

Jul 17, 2010

The Quest

Yesterday at work I embarked on a quest. This was a quest worthy of Captain Ahab; I was chasing after . . . Moby Fly!! Dun dun dunnnnn.

Moby Fly was a sneaky little fly. He would zip around the Creamery, never landing, teasing me by flying into my face and then buzzing off so quickly that I couldn't keep track of him. I instantly took out a vendetta against Moby Fly.

For hours I stalked around the Creamery, fly swatter in hand, intent on getting that illusive fly. There were times when I came close, but that guy was just too fast. I knew that I had to wait him out--as a human, I didn't tire as quickly as that buzzing little fly. So, I sat in wait, knowing I would get that little guy eventually.

Then came the opportunity. It had been four hours since I had first seen Moby Fly. I caught a movement out of the corner of the eye. It was Moby. He buzzed past me, and then . . . finally . . . he came to rest on the wall. I sneaked up, swatter at the ready, determined that this is going to b the time that I best the fly. I raised my swatter and . . .

"YES!"

The only thing on the wall was a splatter of bug guts.

Captain Ahab has nuttin' on me.

Jul 10, 2010

To Everything . . . Turn, Turn, Turn

I missed my brother this morning. I was just thinking about something that had happened yesterday and my plans for the upcoming day and all of a sudden, I started to miss him. I missed that he was one of the few people in Provo that I didn't have to pretend to be something other than what I am--someone I could talk to about all my problems and feelings, and call when I wasn't feeling my best. He has always been able to understand me, and can tell, seemingly unconsciously, when I need a pick-me-up.

But for the next sixteen or so months, he is far away, in a different country, my only access to him a weekly e-mail, a few silly letters, and a phone call two times a year.

It's strange, don't you think, how quickly someone comes into our lives and how, just as quickly, they can leave it? Life is an endless merry-go-round of friends and family, getting on and getting off, with only one thing staying the same--you. Or maybe it is more like gears, how their teeth interconnect, but only for a short while. Life takes us all in new directions, and it's hard when we are separated from someone we have grown to love, depend upon, or are just familiar with. I know that I will sometimes be the one to leave; when I graduate this December, I'm leaving behind something that I feel has just barely become comfortable to me and going out into another new unknown.

I know my brother isn't out of my life for good, he is family after all and you can't really get rid of family (no matter how hard you try ;) ). But things change, fall apart and grow together, like the ebb and flow of the ocean. Or the turning of the gears.

Jul 8, 2010

Flour, Yeast, and Butter: $6.15


Homemade bread fresh out of the oven? Priceless

Jul 2, 2010

These Are Going to Date Me Someday . . .

Here are things that I remember from my childhood, things that someday will show how old I am:

Seeing Vanna White actually turn the letters on Wheel of Fortune, instead of just touching the screen (which she doesn't even need to do).

Watching Mr. Roger's Neighborhood and seeing how crayons are made during the "Picture Picture" segment.

Coloring with markers that would stain clothes, walls, skin, and carpet if they didn't stay on the paper.

Shining Time Station and the little conductor.

Having to leave town and drive for about 30 minutes to go some place to eat.

Going to Arctic Circle for fast food because it was the only fast food place in town.

Playing with homemade playdough and kitchen utensils.

Listening to "Mmmbop" by Hanson on my sister's Walkman/tapedeck.

Wearing cut off shorts and two shirts with the sleeves rolled up so you can see the color of the shirt underneath.

Being born in the 80s and growing up in the 90s--remembering the Y2K scare.

Having a civilization's textbook that said "East and West Germany will never be one again." (Or maybe that's dating my sixth grade textbook and not me.)

Having a television that was incased in wood and had knobs that you turned instead of buttons.

Going to Disneyland for my seventh birthday the year the Indiana Jones ride opened. There was no California Adventure and the 3-D movie starred Michael Jackson (I thought he was a woman, even back then).

Rolling the car windows down by hand.

Our first DVD was A Bug's Life that we got free with our new iMac. We didn't have a DVD player so we had to watch it on the computer.

Listening to Christmas albums on our record player (again, this actually ages my parents more than me).

Oregon Trail was the best computer game ever!

All we needed to be happy on a summer's day was some chalk, a blank driveway, a popsicle, and the sprinklers.

Riding our bikes to the grocery store and getting Shastas for 25 cents.

We only needed 7 channels, and even then we only watched 3.

The Wonderful World of Disney every Sunday.

TGIF on ABC every Friday!

We didn't need toys with batteries, just our imagination.

Speaking of toys: troll dolls, beanie babies, furbies (::shudder::), Barbie before she underwent breast reduction, legos, and care bears.

The first CD I bought myself was 98* Revelation. Man, I loved that CD.

I was just thinking about how different things were when I was little, but it seems to be such a short amount of time. What kinds of things are different from when you all were kids?

Jun 26, 2010

The Best Thing About Summer?

I can do whatever I want. And what I want involves reading books. Here are reviews of some of the books I have read so far.

Wicked by Gregory Maguire
You probably know by now, but it is very, very different from the musical. And to tell you the truth, I liked the storyline of the musical a lot better. For 500 pages, there were only a few parts here and there that I actually liked and that is what kept me reading.

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
This was an interesting novel. A girl dies and has to live the last day of her life over and over again. There was a little bit of sex, and some questionable choices that she made on some of the days, but I loved the end. I loved the choice that she made and why she made it. Worth a look.

The Princess Plot by Kirsten Boie
This book was originally written in German which I think explains why I had a hard time getting into the flow of it. I also had a hard time suspending my disbelief, but for younger readers (middle school students) I think that it is a good story and interestingly executed. Not for everyone, but if you know anyone between 11 and 15, have them read it.

The Magic Thief by Sarah Prineas
This is another one for the younger readers, but I enjoyed it and think other older readers will too. It is a fast read and the narrator has a great voice.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
With a title like this, you know it's going to be good! Definitely the best book I have read all summer. It is told in letters, cables, and telegraphs immediately following the end of the second world war. I have never felt so connected to characters as I did to the ones in this book. I was involved in their lives and laughed when they laughed and cried when they had reason to cry. I was bawling at one point, with my bottom lip quivering uncontrollably--I know that not everyone will have that reaction because not everyone is as much of a crybaby as I am, but you will probably tear up. Read this book! This is an amazing book and beautifully written. Also, one of the few adult books I'll read this summer.

Jun 22, 2010

California Day 5

Today was our last day in Pacific Grove/Monterey.

We decided to just kind of take today slow. We'd been doing so much the past week that we wanted today to be a bit of a lazy day. We started off by taking a bike ride to Lover's Point. We climbed up on the rocks and just sat and listened to the waves crash against the rocks and the seagulls cry to each other. When we had enough of that, we got back on our bikes and rode around Pacific Grove. We ended up at the Natural History museum where we decided to stop and go in. They had animals, birds, and insects that are native to this area of California. (Fact: All the rodents on display were "killed by automobile accidents in Monterey County." Yes, we were looking at roadkill--but you'd never know.)

My aunt had told me about their little movie theatre, so we found it and discovered that it was discount tuesday! We decided to see Toy Story 3 after lunch. The movie was hilarious! I was glad that they had kept true to what made the original so great, and added on to it. I was surprised to learn that Toy Story was made in 1995! I remember seeing it--I'm pretty sure in the theatres--and did not like learning that it was 15 years ago! Where did those fifteen years go? But all the characters were there, with some twists, and we saw some new characters.

After the movie we went back to the house and read for a little bit before the sis came to get us for the Farmer's Market in Monterey. Can I just say, there is a reason California is so great and it is the wonderfulness of the strawberries here. I don't think I have ever had a better tasting strawberry than I had today--my mouth aches for it as I think about it. We got to taste a lot of delicious things: nectarines, pesto, cheese; and the smells were amazing. It got our appetite worked up for dinner.

Maddie and I had decided on the first day here that we wanted to get dressed up and go out for a nice dinner on Tuesday. Well, today was Tuesday, so after the market, we came back and got in some new wrap dresses we had bought at Fisherman's Wharf and did our hair and make-up. We walked down to Cannery Row (a pleasant walk, but a little cold today) and decided that Louie Linguini's was the restaurant we would grace with our presences. I ordered Fettuccine al Pesto, and she had Chicken Parmesan. Ohhh, so good! Even after we were full we just wanted to keep eating! We got to-go boxes and decided to walk along Cannery Row one last time. We went into Ghiradelli's where they gave us chocolate just for going in! Everything was too expensive, so we decided to go get a cookie from the Nestle cafe instead. Mmmmmm, chocolatey goodness.

I'll miss Pacific Grove and it's small town feel, but I'll be glad to get back some place warm too. And to be home.

Jun 21, 2010

California Day 4

Today was the day we spent with the sis.

Since sis has a car, we decided to leave Pacific Grove and Monterey and head out to Carmel. The first place we went is just a little past Carmel called Point Lobos State Park and Reserve. We went to the whaling cabin and museum and learned a little bit about the whaling that went on in the early part of the 20th century. Then we went to China Cove, and climbed on rocks, searched for sea shells, and pretended to be Ariel on a big rock . . . um, I mean, acted really mature and cool. Ahem.

After Point Lobos we headed over to the Carmel Mission. This was the second of like 15 or something Catholic missions along the California coast. It was first built by Junipero Serra in 1770, though he never saw it completed. By the early nineteenth century the mission had fallen into disrepair and squatters occupied the land. Sir Harry Someone-or-other (sorry I'm so bad with last names!) had taken it upon himself to reconstruct the missions, and he did so with the Carmel Mission. It was interesting for me to see the differences between a Catholic mission in the western US to an Anglican church in the UK. Um . . . yeah, I feel like I was headed somewhere with that, but I got nuttin'. It was also funny because we walked into the Basilica and there was holy water! And we saw a confessional! Yeah, never seen one of those before. I also learned what the beads on a rosary are for! I've always wondered.

There is a museum at the mission that details what life was like when the mission was in operation in the 19th century. They had a confessional there that they had built out of shipping crates. When they had things sent to them from the East, they asked for the best shipping crates because they needed the wood to make furniture. There wasn't any wood good enough. Padre Serra slept in a room that had a small desk and a bed that was just a wooden cot, without a mattress or padding. And there he died. I guess that sacrifice is important in being closer to God; I just don't think that he asks us to be uncomfortable our whole lives. While we were there the bells rung noon. The bells are rung by hand every hour.

After the mission we headed into Carmel-by-the-Sea. It's a nice little place with a small town feel. (Fact: high heels are not allowed in the city of Carmel.) No chain stores or restaurants are allowed. We got lunch at Nielson's Market and Deli, then we explored some of the shops. There were clothes shops, toy shops, consignment stores, a Jane Austen shop, garden and decor stores, and a candy shop. Plus tons that we didn't go into because it was chilly and we were getting tired.

Tonight Maddie and I cooked a frozen pizza and watched Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. We always tire ourselves out everyday, so we didn't feel guilty taking a little break. Afterward we rode the bikes down to a little ice cream shoppe where we split a little bowl or strawberry ice cream.

Tomorrow is our last full day in California. And we're going to just take it like it is.

Jun 20, 2010

California Day 3

Since today is Sunday, the day of rest, we did just that--relaxed a bit.

The day started out with a phone call to my daddy, to wish him a happy father's day. Then after we got ready for the day and had breakfast, we walked over to the Arts and Crafts Festival taking place just a few streets over, by the library. They were still setting up when we got there, but there were handmade scarves, paintings, photographs, jewelry, and popcorn. The scarf lady was very . . . enthusiastic.

Then we went back to the house, read a little bit, ate lunch, said goodbye to the cousin and his compadres as they set off for home, and then sis and bro-in-law came to get us for church. The men got a huge thing filled with cookies for Father's Day! Needless to say, we were eyeing them. (Fact: this is the hundredth father's day ever celebrated. It was first celebrated by a small congregation in Washington state June 19, 1910.) After church we went over to sis's house because she was going to make us dinner. We had tandoori chicken, rice, and fruit with cheesecake for dessert. Yum!

Not too bad of a day. Tomorrow it's off to spend the day with sis in Carmel!

California Day 2

On our second day in California, we did so much that we tired ourselves out!

First thing we did was go to the Monterey Bay Aquarium right as it opened, which was at 9. We walked down there (it is about a twenty minute walk from where we are staying) and saw some sea otters out in the bay! We spent about four hours at the aquarium, seeing everything. We saw the sea otters get fed and the creatures in the outerbay tank get fed. There were three hammerhead sharks, a galapagos shark, and some baracuda along with tuna (fact: tuna can get up to 1500 lbs in weight. I did not know that), sardines, rays, and other fishes. We ate there, splitting yet another $9 sandwich.

We walked back to the house, rested up for just a bit, then invited my sister and bro-in-law to go to the Point Pinos lighthouse with us. This is the oldest working lighthouse on the west coast. In the late 1800s, a woman was the sole light keeper of the lighthouse. It was smaller than I though it would be.

After the lighthouse my bro-in-law took us into historic downtown Monterey. We saw the oldest theatre in California, and another house that John Steinbeck lived in. He lived in this one with his second wife while he wrote The Pearl (the only Steinbeck I have ever read). It is now part of the campus of the Monterey Institute of International Studies, which is where my bro-in-law goes to school. We walked down to fisherman's wharf, where we saw some sea lions. We also tasted the best clam chowder on the west coast from several different restaurants.

We eventually went back to the house, ate dinner, relaxed for a bit, then went on a bike ride down to Cannery Row for some ice cream. The ride there was wonderful! but the ride back was all up hill with a head wind. And since neither of us have ridden a bike in who knows how long, we were pretty exhausted when we got back to the house. But it was only 8:30, so we found ways to keep ourselves awake until we could go to bed without feeling like bums. (We went to bed at 10).

Another day is ahead of us!

Jun 18, 2010

California Day 1

Today I got on an airplane with one of my best friends. We had decided to go to California, Monterey area back in February, and so two weeks before her wedding, we were off.

Our plane in Salt Lake was delayed because of an equipment shortage, but we didn't stress even though we just wanted to get started on our trip! This was going to be the first time I have been out of state in two years, and Maddie had never been to California before. We finally made it to Los Angeles, a little airsick, but not too shabby.

According to our bodies we had missed lunch about two hours ago, but we needed to find out where to get our connecting flight before we found food. And finding something to eat was tough. All we both wanted was a sandwich. Well, apparently in LA it is impossible to get a sandwich for less than $9. We went everywhere in the airport. We even got to ride one of those little airport taxi cars (!), which was so exciting that we just kept laughing. We eventually decided to split a sandwich so it was only $5 instead of $10.

Then it was time to go to our gate. Because we were flying directly into Monterey, we had to take a shuttle to our gate where we would get onto a small plane. We were so excited because we were going to be able to walk out to the plane, like in the movies, but we were once again disappointed by the reality that the movies shows us because the walk way was covered and there were no stairs! I swallowed my disappoint and boarded though.

This flight was delayed because of some paperwork that they didn't get sorted out. But then we were off. I looked out the window and watched the ocean dotted with clouds. From up there, 26,000 feet above the earth, I was so struck with the beauty of it that it brought tears to my eyes. God made this earth for us, what a wonderful gift! As we came into Monterey the whole earth was swathed in white--cotton clouds just hanging over the earth. The plane dipped into the clouds and I was surrounded by them. Then came such a beautiful sight that I gasped/laughed at it. Rolling hills, covered with dark green trees.

The airport at Monterey proved that movies do show reality! We got to walk down stairs from the plane and out in the open! When the attendant announced that, I exclaimed "yes!" out loud and Maddie laughed at me.

We arrived at my aunt and uncle's house, had a marvelous soup with good bread and ice cream for dessert. After dinner we decided to take a walk. The house we are staying in is just two houses away from where John Steinbeck lived and wrote. Then we walked along the shore up to Cannery Row. We visited the gift shop at the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company, and I was able to add to my pin collection.

Tomorrow we might just have another fun adventure.

Jun 13, 2010

The Life and Times of a Single Adult: Unfair

You know what is totally unfair? That people who are getting married get all these gifts to help them set up their home and whatever.

Okay, so I understand that getting married deserves presents and they should be helped out a bit by getting plates, sheets, and small appliances. But, it is immensely unfair to all of us single people!

I'm going to be graduating and going out into the real world; hopefully getting my own place sometime in the near future. I will be setting up my home, but do I get any help? Noooo. And you know why? Because I'm not getting married. I have to buy my plates, sheets, and small appliances myself. Why should I miss out on having nice things just because I'm single?

I'm just saying, it's unfair.

Jun 12, 2010

Review: BtVS

So, today I got a DVD in the mail from Netflix (oh, Netflix, you are the joy and the bane of my existence!). It was Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992). Here's a little back story on the movie:

Joss Whedon wrote the script, but he hated what they did with it, so he walked off the set and never came back. See, Whedon wanted the movie to be a bit more serious than the producers were envisioning it. His disappointment led him to create Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997) which remained on TV for seven years.

Here's my review for the movie: it was absolutely ridiculous. The vampires looked stupid; the fight scenes were laughable; the story moved too quickly; and the acting was pretty bad. I saw a review that said it was the 80s movie of the 90s and it basically was. Maybe if I wasn't almost all the way through Buffy the series, I would have liked it better, but I doubt it. It seemed like a pretty low budget movie--especially considering the television series had better effects in it. I mean, the vampires didn't even dust! How boring!

Another complaint I had against it was the length and timing. In a 40 minute episode, Buffy not only saves the world, but is able to make a speech about something or other, go to school, slay a vamp or two (while making clever little quips), and go on a date with whatever guy (undead or no) she might be dating at the time. It took 86 minutes for the movie to do that, but the timing was so off! It took too long for her to learn she was the slayer, and then all the fights were way too short, and the climax came and went almost without me realizing it. So in some ways it was too long and in others it was too short.

I can see how Joss would be disappointed. Everything else I have ever seen done by him has been witty, but serious, with great character development and clever use of cinematography. And I'm glad that he took it upon himself to right that wrong by creating the series because I have been enjoying it immensely.

So, I wouldn't recommend Buffy (1992) to anyone. If you want some serious and fun vampire butt kicking, watch the series instead.

Jun 6, 2010

Dress!

Here are some pictures of the dress that Michael Ann made for me. Sorry the pictures aren't too good, I had to take them myself using my laptop.






Jun 3, 2010

Just a Little Update

As of today, here is an update on my life:

I bought a new swimsuit! Hopefully I will no longer have to fear my swim suit falling off of me while swimming (considering that goes against the whole point of having a suit on).

I received a package, and it was the dress my friend Michael Ann made for me! Excited to wear it to church on Sunday, and take it to California on my vacation!

My roomie had never seen Dirty Dancing before, so I got it from Netflix and we watched it. Yay for dancing movies!

I started a novel for my final project in my writing for children and adolescents class, and today I wrote the 100th page! It's not even halfway done, but for some reason reaching 100 feels like an awesome accomplishment. Now I just have to wait until I reach 200 and I'll know I'm going somewhere!

This week had my parent's wedding anniversary--28 years--and my grandparents 60th anniversary!

Yeah, that's basically it, but it's the little things that make life great!

Quality TV

Okay, so I realize that Buffy the Vampire Slayer isn't, in general, the best television show ever made. But if you never watch it all the way through, there are three episodes that you should definitely watch:

Hush (Season 4, Episode 10)- an amazing non-use of dialogue
The Body (Season 5, Episode 16)- powerful and real, my roomie and I were in tears
Once More, With Feeling (Season 6, Episode 6)- fun use of musical elements

I think you'll enjoy them.

May 31, 2010

And so it begins . . .

Well, it's Memorial Day. I was thinking about this today--can you wish someone a happy memorial day when it's about remembering the dead? Just a thought.

EFY started today! For those of you who don't know what exactly this means for BYU students, let me 'splain. Just picture hundreds of 14-18 year olds. Now, think about those teens having about two hours off everyday and what that means for student employees at places like, say, the Creamery on Ninth. Yeah. It's fun.

So after work today, I decided to come home and watch some Angel and Buffy episodes while eating pizza. Holiday means no class, which means lazy Whitney. Oh yeah!

So, you all have a great holiday!