December 30, 2012

Other Christmas-y Things in DC

*Re-posting of a previously error-laden post

A few other Christmas-y snapshots (well, mostly Christmas-y) from DC:

Church Christmas party. The theme was "It's a Wonderful Life!"
Morning run and visit to the Capitol Christmas Tree with Mel
Post-run visit to Eastern Market. The Christmas trees smelled soooo good! Also, I discovered a type of apple I actually like! (Pink Lady)
Christmas caroling/tree-decorating with friends. Mags/Becky/Sunni/Caitlin had the loveliest tree!
Expanding our horizons (aka G-town U. Christmas Posada & Ballet Folklorico with Mel and G$
Christmas tree in the lobby at work.
Pink Christmas decorations at my house. (Sorry, roomies. I don't own anything else... yet!)
That one time we celebrated Steph's new job and mass-Skyped Rachael (ie- the blurry face on the laptop screen).
Volunteering with Liz at Ford's Theatre so we could see A Christmas Carol for free! Also, let me just say that the actor who played young Marley A- had a lovely singing voice and B- was not unattractive. :)
Campaign reunion/holiday party!
Remembering the innocent victims of the shooting in Newtown, CT. I'm still shaken over this... :'(
What would the holidays be without grad school stress, amiright? But how does one truly know joy unless one knows the feeling of being finished with a semester, amialsoright? :D

That time Camille & I bypassed Restoration Hardware & made our own smittens. ;)

Failure to Update + Festival of Lights

*Re-posting of a previously error-laden post

I sort of took an unintentional break from blogging. You know, just school and life and being home for the holidays and being too busy rolling around in the snow and such. When I started blogging earlier this year, I wanted to use this space as a sort of journal and record of the things going on in my life. I've not always been good at keeping up in a physical journal, and I thought maybe recording snippets of my life here would motivate me to actually update, but well, it looks like I've hit a bit of a slump. But you know what? It's OK. I feel OK about not updating my online life, because I've been too busy living it in real life. :) My online life is just a tiny snapshot of my real-live life, and it's OK to devote more time to other aspects of my big picture world.

One of the reasons journaling has been hard for me in the past is that once I fall behind, I feel obligated to catch up on every last detail of every day I've missed, and then I get overwhelmed and stressed, and keep postponing an update, and then three years later, I finally decided that shooot, I should just start writing from where I am and leave it at that. So... I may post some older pictures, I may decide to just keep going. (But probably, I'll do a little of both, because I love taking photos, and it's fun to have a place to share them. :D)

I DO want to record my Christmas 2012 season, because it really has been lovely. :) I've been blessed to spend time with family and friends, to enjoy beautiful things, and eat delicious foods, and shoot, I was even blessed to be stressed about school. I say "blessed to be stressed," because even when I'm running on almost no sleep and am mentally worn out, I know that I am blessed to be able to pursue higher education. I am keenly aware that not everyone, my parents included, has/will have/has had that opportunity, and I feel blessed that I get to stress out about final projects and such. (I also feel blessed when the breaks from semesters come, but who doesn't? :) Right?)

Anywho (as my brother Jason would say), here are a few photos from my visits to the DC Temple/Visitors' Center's Festival of Lights this year. I LOOOOOVE seeing the Christmas lights at the Visitors' Center! Seeing the lights reminds me of my mission, of being exhausted (in a good way) from working hard, of having my cheeks hurt from smiling so much, of carrying the hope and prayer in my heart that I could help others to feel the love of Christ, and of bearing constant testimony of my Savior, Jesus Christ, who is, after all, the reason we celebrate CHRISTmas. These tiny lights remind me of His light, His life, and His love. I hope you've felt a little bit of that this Christmas, and if you haven't, I sure hope you'll feel it now. Mucho amor para todos desde aqui en Utah!


Seriously breath-taking!
Jenny Oaks Baker concert
El Salvador + USA flags
The Christus is my favorite VC presentation! Seriously the most powerful 94 seconds in the whole place.
With my GSPM friend Melissa :)
Free Handbell Choir concert

December 13, 2012

Black Friday, NYC-Style

On Black Friday morning, we slept in (we deserved it!). None of this waking up at the crack of dawn business like I usually do! It was glorious! When we finally got up and ready, we tried to get Broadway tickets at the TKTS box office in Brooklyn. Unfortunately, there was nothin' left (those darn earlybirds got all the cheap tickets!), so we decided we'd try our luck at one of the lotteries in the evening.

The next and most crucial/time-sensitive thing I had to do that morning was to go to the LDS Distribution Center near Columbus Circle. I'd rather not publicly disclose the reason this was such a necessary and urgent errand, but trust me, it was! I'm just so grateful there WAS a distribution center where I was traveling!

The distribution center is in the same building as the Manhattan temple!
Next, I traveled one subway station up, on my way to Levain Bakery, home of NYC's most AMAZING chocolate-chip cookies! (It's six ounces!!! 6!!)

I passed the famous Gray's Papaya on the way. And no, I did not partake. I was saving up for my cookie!
Levain! Per the recommendation of Nat the Fat Rat.
Aaaaa-MAY-zing! I got one choc-chip walnut and one dark chocolate/PB chip (to split both with Lee)

My  next stop was Central Park. For some reason, I thought the zoo was free (it was not), and I enjoyed a nice autumn walk through the park.

I got to see a New York police officer training his dog.
Central Park sure had some interesting sights, but none so bizarre as Elmo. Actually, TWO Elmos. Weird!
Oh, I'd love to ride a carriage through Central Park someday!
Stinkin' expensive zoo...

I don't know if you know this buuuut Central Park is HUGE! My little feets were soooo tired by this point, that I decided to hop on a bus and ride down 5th Avenue towards the MoMA. This. was. BRILLIANT! A- I got to rest, and B- I got to see the decorated holiday windows in the shops on 5th Ave WITHOUT being cold and WITHOUT getting trampled or caught in the masses!

*And Now, a Tangent to Impart Some Words of Wisdom*

If you're going to NYC for anywhere between 2-7 days and you know you're going to be on public transit a lot, it is well worth your while to buy the unlimited one-week pass ($30, which isn't bad at ALL.) I hadn't known before this trip, but if you buy the unlimited 1-week pass, it's good on the subway AND on the buses! Unlimited bus and train rides for $30/week!! Shoot, I wish WMATA could catch up to MTA! Sure, MTA is grosser (is that a word?) and dirtier and smellier, buuuut it's CHEAPER, it runs more often, it never closes (natural disasters excepted), and did I mention it's CHEAPER??! In conclusion, buy the unlimited pass, and don't be afraid to ride the buses, dangitt!

And be smart and ride the bus down 5th Avenue so you stay warm and still see the sights! :D

Soooo crowded!
Pretty windows.
This one wasn't taken from the bus like the four above.
I hopped off at Harry Winston and walked the rest of the way to the MoMA (Museum of Modern Art).

*Another Tip*
Here is another tip for you. On Fridays, at 4pm, you can get into the MoMA for FREE!! Don't be afraid of the crazy long line that snakes around the block a million times; it actually moves quickly, and surprisingly, you all get in! I got there right at 4 (on a holiday weekend, no less), and I was fine, but if you don't want to deal with a super long line, maybe show up a little before 4.

Since I got there just as the sun was setting, I decided to see the Sculpture Garden first before it got TOO dark. Here are a few of my favorite sculptures. (Also, I bet this courtyard is really pretty during the day, too!)

And then, I went inside.

Now unfortunately for me, I don't actually know anything  much about modern art. Please don't be offended artist or art-knowledgeable friends, but I just don't understand this!

or this, for that matter:
But see? I took a picture here, because I WANT to understand, I do!

Thankfully, there were some pieces even someone as non-knowledgeable about art as myself could appreciate. Here are a few:

My outfit matched Marilyn :)
Art on the ceiling
It says "self," not "Jeff ":)

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to explore as much as I wanted (I didn't even get to see the floor with Van Gogh's and Picasso's works! Starry Night for another night...), because Lee and I had plans to meet up for the Wicked lottery. I will definitely be back for more art-learning and admiring!

So, yes, the Wicked  lottery. LeAnna has actually won this lottery TWICE, but alas, we weren't able to get our lucky third that night. We decided to try the lottery for Peter and the Starcatcher (since it takes place AFTER the Wicked lottery), but our poor luck continued. :( BUT! They offer a "lottery loser" price of $40, so we still got to see it! Lee paid for half my ticket as a birthday gift, and I have to say that I definitely enjoyed it!

*Your Third Free Tip*
I did NOT know before this trip buuuut all the peeps that dress up as cartoon characters on Times Square? Yeah, you have to PAY them if you want a picture with them. Whoops! Sorry, Shrek and Fiona! They were "nice" and didn't make me delete this photo. But really, the nice thing would be to let people know before they TAKE the photo. Hmmmph!

*Tip #4*

Leave enough time to eat before your show, or you'll be STARRRVING. We decided Shake Shack was our best bet (wait times were hecka crazy that night!), and we stuffed our little faces 'til our smiles could get no bigger. :)

While I'm at it, here is...

*Tip #5: Navigating the Cheap Ticket/Lottery System*

If you want to see a show but don't care which one you see, why not try your hand at a lottery? Be sure you look up details ahead of time, so you know what time and where each one is held. (That's how we knew that we'd have time to get to the Peter  lottery, even if we lost the one for Wicked.) Remember to carry enough CA$H to pay for your tickets and any processing fees if when you win!

If you're set on seeing a particular show, you can try getting cheap tickets via one of the following ways:

1- Asking my friend David for his tips (that's what I always do- ha!). In fact, David is the one who recommended Peter and the Starcatcher to me in the first place!
2- Going with a friend who is a student and milking his/her student discount! (Some shows will have 
3- Going to one of the TKTS booths (I know there's one at Times Square and one in Brooklyn) first thing in the morning to see what discount seats they have available.
4- Try for a matinee or an off-peak time (The evening of Black Friday was definitely NOT off-peak(.

Our seats were right behind the sound guys, and it was sooo cool to see how the sound effects being created right in front of me coordinated with the acting on the stage below. The cast members were extremely talented and friggin' hilarious! Their timing and one-liners were dead-on, creativity was well, creative, and the acting was superb. I'd definitely recommend this show, if you're thinking of seeing it. But do it soon, because the last performance is January 20, 2013!

Then we spent a little time walking around Times Square, because why not?

This, of course, led to us spending probably two hours at the most amazing and HUGE Forever 21 I've ever seen! So, I guess technically we DID indulge in a little Black Friday shopping.

Needless to say, we were EXHAUSTED when we made it back to Lee's house in Brooklyn! But the exhaustion was worth it! Thanks for a pretty awesome Black Friday, NYC!