Dec 24, 2011

Christmas Eve Recipe

Every Christmas Eve, we have clam chowder for dinner. This year was the first time that I had ever made it, and my dad called it a "sacred undertaking" and warned me not to mess it up. :) I thought I would share this recipe with you all. Merry Christmas!

Bratten's Clam Chowder

1 cup onions, finely chopped
1 cup celery, diced
2 cups potatoes, diced
3/4 cup butter
3/4 flour
1 quart half and half
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 T red wine vinegar (optional)

Drain juice from clams and pour over vegetables in saucepan. Add enough water to barely cover vegetables. In another pan melt butter, add flour and cream, salt and pepper. Cook and stir until smooth and thick. Add undrained vegetables, clams, and vinegar. Heat through.

Dec 13, 2011

Christmas "Letter" 4.0

Dear Family, Friends, and Random Strangers in the Great Abyss of the Interwebs,

Well, another year has passed by! I think the theme this year has been change, and constancy. Which, I know, are two completely different things. But we'll get to that later.

First, I want to mention something that has been on my mind a lot the past few days. This is my first year, in five years, that I have not had to go through finals to get to Christmas. As all of my friends have been stressing and counting down on Facebook, I have been hit with this strange sense of nostalgia. Not that I want to have to take three-hour tests, and study my butt off in between, but there is something about having to take finals to get to Christmas which made Christmas Christmas, ya know? I don't quite feel like it's Christmas as I just go back to work everyday same as any other month. I think it was the semester ending, and finals starting that just let me know Christmas was right around the corner. I also miss ABCFamily's 25 Days 'Til Christmas. I love cheesy made for TV movies, as well as the Harry Potter marathon, and old Christmas favorites.

Now to this past year. It has almost been a year since I graduated from BYU and moved into my parents' basement (I know, such a stereotypical thing to do). I started off the year with a big change in my life--my first internship! This meant working 40 hours a week, in an office building, with my own office. Working at the New Era was such an amazing experience. And now that my articles have started being published, it is like the gift that keeps on giving! After four months there, another change came in my life. After three weeks of waiting, I was offered an internship at Deseret Book! While I only worked part time here, I had a great time. I was reading books, and editing, and learning, and source checking. After 16 weeks that affirmed to me that editing was really what I want to do with my life, I left there and started at my third internship at the Joseph Smith Papers Project.

I'm back to working full time, and really loving it. I like the people I work with and the things I get to do (though they do get tedious sometimes, but what job doesn't?). The great thing about all these experiences is that they built upon each other--each one prepared me for the next. When I took the editing test at Deseret Book, I just got this peaceful feeling that God knows what I need and if I trust in Him, everything will work out. And it has! It is so amazing!

Another wonderful change this year was that my brother got home from his mission in the Dominican Republic! It's so good to have our family all in one country again!

I also took an acting class! That was very interesting, and good for me to do--got me out of my little shell for a little bit.

So, those are all the changes that have occurred in my life this year, so what about the constancy? Well, though I have changed jobs every four months, I have remained in my parents' basement. That's a constant, as is their love and concern for me. God has remained constant, though I have changed (for the better) in regards to Him. Though I am serving in a different capacity at church, the gospel has forever remained constant, and will ever remain constant. It may not seem like much constancy, but these are the things that are really important.

Also, I'm still single. That has been very constant these past few years!

What am I looking forward to this coming year? I'll continue at JSPP until April-ish, and after that . . . who knows? Hopefully I'll get a "real" job, move out of my parents' house, and start another new chapter in my life. It'll be an adventure, I'll tell you that!

Happy Christmas!


Dec 8, 2011

It's the Little Things

Today was a great day! And you know what made it so fantastic? The small things that happened today.

Small Thing #1: Getting European Chocolate
A coworker spent the last week in Rome (was I jealous? Oh, just a lot.) and just came back to work today. Besides being able to hear about wonderful Rome, she brought a Kinder Bueno bar for me and the rest of us! I LOVE Bueno bars!

Small Thing #2: Talking to Cute Little Kids
As I walked off the elevator on my way out the door to go home this afternoon, I saw two little red-headed boys (they looked like twins) standing on the other side of the security gates. As I beeped myself through, I saw them shaking their hands in the air. "We've got magic in our hands," one of them says to me. "Do you?" I reply. "What are you doing with the magic?" One little boy touches the metal of the security gates, "When we touch this, it opens!" The security guard had been playing with them by opening the gates when they touched them! They were so adorable, I just had to smile!

Small Thing #3: Reading the Same Book as Someone Else
While I wait for my second train to come (I have to transfer), I usually sit on a planter, reading and swinging my legs like a little girl. It's the start of me being able to block out the rest of the world and relax from the work day a little bit. I had pulled my hood over my head, my scarf over my nose, and sat hunched up against the cold and curled toward my book. I don't usually pay attention to others around me, just the trains as they go by so I don't miss mine. Today, a woman came up next to me and got a book out of her bag. Then, she leans forward and says, "I thought so! We're reading the same book!" I look up and she shows me her cover. Sure enough, it read The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley. "That doesn't happen often, does it? And it's an older book; my favorite!" Though I didn't say anything, just smiled, and we went back to reading our books, it was kind of like we had this little thing that connected us. It's nice to feel connected to other people. Sometimes.

Small Thing #4: Seeing Your Name in a Multinational Magazine
When I got home to an empty house (everyone else was at the temple), I walked in to find a big white envelope with my name on it from the LDS Church Magazines. Confused, I turn it over, run my finger under the flap and open it up. Inside was a magazine. I thought maybe it was the New Era, because of the three articles I had it in this month. But when I pulled it out, to my surprise it was the Liahona, the Church's multinational magazine. Still confused, but on my way to being excited, I opened up to the contents pages and look frantically for my name. And there it was: Whitney Hinckley!! Two of my articles had made it into the magazine! A magazine that is translated into tons of different languages and shipped all over the world! Full of excitement, I started hopping up and down and saying "Oh! Oh! Oh!" and turning around, looking for someone to share it with! But no one was home, so I raced downstairs, posted it on Facebook and then proceeded to put my energy to good use by have an impromptu dance party while making dinner. This dance party included songs like "Something That I Want" from Tangled, "Under the Sea" from The Little Mermaid, "Suddenly I See" by KT Tunstell, "Down" by Jay Sean, "Get Back" by Demi Lovato, "What Dreams are Made of" from The Lizzie Maguire Movie, and, when I needed some cooling down, "Holiday" by the Kinks. I let my hair down (literally, I took my hair out of the braid I had it in), and may or may not have down some hand banging, jumping up and down, and singing as loud as I can (there was no one else home, remember?). I went crazier than I have in a while and it felt good.

I am so grateful for the little things that make life so great!