July 31, 2013

Happy Birthday, Harry!

I'd now like to interrupt your daily activities/my regularly scheduled studying to remind you that... It's Harry Potter's birthday today!! He would be 33. :) It's also J.K. Rowling's birthday. (She's 48.)


Also, for your reading pleasure, "33Things We Love About Harry Potter:" 

http://popwatch.ew.com/2013/07/31/harry-potter-birthday/

And now back to your regularly scheduled activities. :)

July 27, 2013

There's Always a Bright Side (Right??)

How I've felt this week. (via)

This week. Oy, this week.... has been the MOTHER of all weeks. (No, seriously... And just when I thought that nothing else could possibly go wrong, I just got a speeding ticket... My first ticket since my teens! And yes, I cried... but only as the officer left.) The purpose of this post is mostly for me to remember that there always IS a bright side. (Even during THE. worst. week. of all of graduate school. EVER. I wish that were hyperbolic...) So, yes... Here are some good things that happened this week along with all the other crap:

I got to sit on a lot of babies (which = $$), including this little cutie (and her twin brother!) who let me braid her hair!

Clearly, I'm new to this braiding thing. But isn't she still adorable??

I got to play with this sweet dog. His name is Jack.


I found out James Franco is going to be in Season 2 of The Mindy Project! This show just keeps getting better and better!


Photo from here (But I first saw this one on Mindy's instagram.)
Kate and Wills had their baby!!!

In case you've been living under a rock, this is Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge. :) (This photo and many other good ones from Buzzfeed.)
Also, these look-alikes are HILARIOUS!

And this was my favorite meme:



Google Maps now has a BIKE FEATURE!!

This is the address to the old Georgetown J.Crew (which is thankfully just up the road from the new one),
where I resisted temptation and didn't spend a dime! How's that for a triumph??

The weather this week was PERFECT, and the world continued to be beautiful, despite the dreariness in my soul...

Canal Road and I have a love/hate relationship. But this beauty at least made the hassle a little more bearable.
Riding my bike across the bridge in Woodley Park.

I'm going to a National Symphony Orchestra concert tomorrow night at Wolf Trap. 

My scripture study this week has been very powerful, meaningful, and personal. (Nothing like trials to bring us closer to our God, eh?)

And my conversations today with April and Caitlin meant the world to me. (Love you both so much!)

See? It hasn't ALL been bad. YZ over and out...

July 24, 2013

Turning the Ordinary to Extraordinary

I had two Visitors' Center Directors while I was on my mission: Elder Pedersen (for most of my mission) and Elder Smith (for the last three months). Elder Pedersen is a successful businessman (check out his mega-successful company Del Sol! I have their color-changing nail polish -- it's amaaazing! -- and my Del Sol bear has a permanent spot in the middle of my mass of bed pillows), and he enjoyed spicing up our weekly Visitors' Center trainings with his sage business wisdom and general peppy good spirits.

On one occasion, he gifted all of us sisters with our very own Zipit purses. The lesson that day was about turning the ORDINARY into the EXTRAORDINARY. Like how the ordinary zipper was turned into something extraoridnary (ie- a purse!). I can't remember the exact application of the lesson to us as VC sisters (possibly about making each tour extra special, because while for us, it may have been the 10,000th tour of the day, for our guests, it was a special experience?), but I think of that lesson often in my life.

And last night, I took something I needed to do, something ordinary (ie- STUDYING) and took it up several notches and turned it into the EXTRAORDINARY (by studying at the Lincoln Memorial!). I just figured if I needed to read/write, why not do it somewhere beautiful? And it was SUCH a gorgeous night, too! I got there around midnight, and there were still quite a few tourists there. BUT! Tourists generally stick around the front of the memorial, while I... went around to the BACK! There was a couple makin' out back there (apparently, they had the same brilliant idea I did about going to the back), and yep, I totally killed their mood. 

On a semi-related note, I think it would be a *brilliant* date idea to come here with a movie and a laptop! (amiright??) Blanket and cuddling not optional. :)

I will NEVER get tired of taking monument photos!
President Lincoln makes a good stud buddy.
Ahhh! I love this view and want to have it for always!
what I looked like after two hours of reading...
I emailed this one to my missionary brother and his comment was, "Wow, nice hair." Umm, thanks? Ha.


Lesson reaffirmed: when you're stuck in a rut or faced with something "ordinary," go to the Lincoln Memorial! get creative and find a way to turn it into something "extraordinary!" (Bonus points if you get homework done, while you're at it. Which I did, btw!) Thanks, Elder Pedersen! :)

July 19, 2013

Goodbye, Clarissa

Na na na na naaaa! Na na na na na NA! (are you singing it in your head, too?) (via)

I've decided to give up any and all Hulu/Amazon Prime/etc.-type "TV" watching from now until I finish my Master's degree. It's become way too easy being home all day to just sneak in "one" episode of something here and there, and all of a sudden, my brain is rotting and my work is undone. 

I haven't watched TV consistently for over a decade, and for some reason over the past year, I've felt the "need" to keep up with certain popular shows. (All the cool kids are doing it.) It's summer, and there ARE no new shows (trust me, this would be much harder if "The Mindy Project" was on right now), but there's the tasty allure of OLD shows (or of doing anything besides what you really NEED to do?). Like... did you know that "Clarissa Explains It All" is available FOR FREE on Amazon Prime?? I know. I'm ridiculous. I squealed out loud when I saw that one. And for when you finish that, all seven seasons of "Sabrina the Teenage Witch" are also on there. (And yes, I'm aware of how ridiculous this all makes me sound. But honestly, the peak of Melissa Joan Hart's career was probably the last time I was a big TV watcher, so I guess I'm just picking up where I left off, question mark?) Oh, and lest you think I'm a 12-year old girl stuck in the '90's, I DID recently finish the first three seasons of "Arrested Development." (I don't have Netflix -- or time -- so Season 4 will have to wait.)

Between my general procrastination and the sickness of this week, I've partaken of waaayyy too much TV-ing this week, and with so much to do to wrap up four classes in a very, very limited number of weeks, I've gotta get rid of unnecessary junk. So even though I JUST discovered Clarissa last night (tear), it'll be autumn at least before I get to relive my Nickelodeon chidlhood. Peace out, Hulu. See ya later, Amazon Prime. And hello, work!

Wheat Bran White Bread

It's been an off week 'round these parts (mostly because I've slept through about half of it?). I caught some sort of stomach bug (or possibly food poisoning) over the weekend, so I spent the first few days of the week throwing up (no more "vomit-free since 2003." I suppose that supports Stephanie's typecasting of me as Ted Mosby. Ha.) and sleeeeeeeeping. So since there's not much to update on this week, here's a tasty little recipe I whipped up recently.

so good!
I had a hankering for some PBJ recently, but sadly had no bread to make it with. I decided to bake a loaf while I did homework. Now usually, I prefer to eat whole wheat bread. But since I don't currently have any wheat flour (and since I have a Costco-sized 25-lb. bag of  all-purpose flour...), I used white flour instead. I still wanted to be at least a little bit on the healthy side, so I looked up several bread recipes (including two I've used before), made some adjustments, and came up with this. And actually, that's my favorite part about this recipe; I put it together! This is a BIG deal for a non-baker like me!! (*pats self on back*)

The result was a beautiful loaf of soft, delicious homemade bread! (I'm still in shock.)

Wheat Bran White Bread
recipe by ME!

INGREDIENTS

2 t yeast
1 ¼ c. warm milk
¼ c honey/agave
¼ c olive oil
2 ¼ c flour
½ c wheat bran
1 t sea salt/kosher salt

DIRECTIONS
  1. Dissolve yeast in warm milk. Add honey and oil. Let rest 5-10 minutes (or until foamy).
  2. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, wheat bran, and salt. 
  3. Add the flour mixture to the yeast mixture and mix until everything is combined and your dough forms. Mix well (use your hands) and knead for 5-10 minutes.
  4. Form dough into a ball and place in an oiled bowl. Cover the bowl and let it rise in a warm place for 1 hour.
  5. Punch down the dough and need for another 5-10 minutes. Form into a loaf and place into a greased loaf pan. Cover and let rise 1 hour or until doubled in size.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes! The bread should be a light golden brown. Feel free to adjust the time, per the quirks of your oven. (The recipes I looked at said to leave the bread in for 30 minutes, but our oven is overeager and the bread was ready after 21 minutes or so.)
  7. *IMPORTANT* Carefully remove the loaf from the pan (so the outside of the bread won't continue to cook. Also, don't burn yo'self!) and let the loaf COOL completely (so the inside of the bread DOES continue to cook; that's the important part!) before slicing.
  8. Enjoy! :)
Tastes even better with Amish apple butter!

July 12, 2013

An Accurate Portrayal

image by Violet May via Design Mom

I went on a walk with Caitlin Tuesday morning, and we caught up on life, school, her trip to NYC, etc. It was so great! In the course of our conversation, we talked a little about my blog. She commented on how fun my summer looks, how lovely the photos are, etc. etc. And I was like, gurrrl, please! (or, please, girl! as my roommate Whitney might say.)

*a brief sidenote*

I started writing this blog as an alternative to keeping a journal (and again, I don't blog publicly about my deepest, innermost private things, but I DO tend to share a lot of things here. (Which I still find strange, btw. But I've always felt surprisingly OK about leaving this space public, sooo I'm just gonna keep rolling with that feeling for now.). I've been reading a lot lately on LDS.org about Family History, and in the list of "things we can do" for our genealogy, they ask the question: "What are you doing now to preserve your personal history?" And I thought, hey! My blog = my personal history! (or at least a part of it.) I don't hard copy journal as much as I'd like to, and I often forget things if I don't take photos of them. My friend Jeffie G. mocks me because I take SO many photos, but that's honestly another reason I do it; if I don't photograph something, I'll probably forget it! It's sad, but true. Case in point: every Sunday night when I go to e-mail my brother, I have to scroll through my iPhone photos to remember what I did that week. But that's not what this post is about.

*end of sidenote *

So, yes, "Gurrrl, please!" And I thought of all the things that have filled up my summer. The things that aren't on this blog. The things that live in my heart and in my head, and the things that are maybe too boring/mundane or stressful/personal to photograph/share? But if I am to preserve my personal history or even to show my real self (is that what I'm trying to do? A saber...) via this blog, I suppose I should provide a more accurate portrayal.

With that in mind, let me share a little about my two biggest anxiety-inducers this summer:

A- Finding a job.

B- Finishing my graduate degree.

Don't get me wrong; I worry about plenty of other things, too (making time to exercise, how to balance my time in general, how to put myself "out there" with regards to dating, when I'm going to finally make time to paint the rest of my dining table/chairs (oh, and how to figure out what size screws the table needs? the top of my dining table is currently perched precariously on top of the base... but that hasn't stopped us from eating/playing games on it!), family stuff, how to find cheap couches and a new area rug because I really really hate the ones we currently have, thinking about selling some clothes/shoes I never wear because my room is too cluttered but WHEN the heck do I have time for that and WHERE would I sell them?, looking for ways to share the gospel on a daily basis, fretting about how the humidity will affect my hair, what I'm going to wear? (ha.), etc., etc.).

But my biggest priorities are the two mentioned above. Blogging about being jobless, about networking, about e-mailing resumes isn't very exciting. The process of looking for a job is often very overwhelming . I described it to my bishop's wife on Sunday as somewhat akin to dating (I also compared my search for the "perfect" pair of nude wedges to dating, but that's neither here nor there.) in that you have to put yourself "out there," make a good first impression, connect with the right people, keep an open mind, make yourself vulnerable to potential rejection, walk that fine line between expressing enough interest and acting desperate, etc. Both are no crazy sometimes, but I hear that both are worth it? In the meantime, they are both stressful. And time-consuming (at least the job searching is).

And graduate school... Ah, graduate school... I walked at the Commencement Ceremonies in May, but I'm wrapping up my last few classes. That includes two classes this summer, finishing a course from LAST summer, testing out of a class I don't really want to take, and a trip to Turkey in August (for which I've yet to buy a plane ticket on account of the whole not having a job thing...). And it's SOOOO much harder to focus on school when everyone around me is playing and having all sorts of summer fun! My case of #FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) is perpetuated to the Nth degree when I'm in grad school during the summer. Add to that my very short attention span, and well... it's hard. The school part will be over in about six weeks, but it's daunting to think of all that needs to happen BEFORE that in order to GET to "the end."

But to tie everything together, let it be known that I feel very grateful for the opportunities I've had (currently have) in my life, and I'm grateful that my "problems" are such blessings. I mean, seriously. Do you know how many people in the world would LOVE to get an education and can't? My own parents didn't get to go to college, for crying out loud! Heck, my grandmother never even learned how to read, and here I get to go to graduate school at a world-class university, studying a field I love! Such a blessing! :) And as I'm job searching, I feel very grateful for the help of so many friends and colleagues who give me advice, critique my resume, share opportunities with me, and recommend me to others. I feel hopeful and grateful, and I know things could be much worse.

When I look back at this time of my life, at this summer, I want to feel that my time was well-spent, that my choices were well-made, and that my direction and my attitude were correct. Most of all, I want to make sure that I'm always (not just now) accomplishing good things. Maintaining this blog will provide me (and others, I suppose) a way to look back quite literally, and I want to remember that there was more happening beneath the surface of the parties, picnics, and playtime. Because it's during those "other" times -- the times that we often feel are too mundane or drab to blog about -- that real personal growth occurs. And boy, am I growing! :)

July 11, 2013

My Favorite Metro Seat

I would like to interrupt your very important day to share with you something quite earth-shattering (slight over-exaggeration may have just occurred):

my faaaavorite seat on the metro is, BY FAR, this one:

It's even MORE amazing when you get on an empty metro car and have it ALL to yourself!


You've seen it; it's the one at the VERY back of the car, behind the "opaque wall of privacy," with NO ONE behind you/across from you/next to you. It's the best!

I mean, seriously! There's even a LEDGE where you can prop your legs up without A- flashing anyone, B- getting the seats dirty/getting dirty looks from other passengers.


It's seriously the best! :)

*interruption over*

July 10, 2013

On Bodies

**DISCLAIMER: I wrote this post back in March but never posted. I've since acquired a bike (hurray for craigslist!) and am enjoying biking around DC this summer in place of my beloved running. I'm posting this anyway, because I felt the rest of the thoughts were worth sharing.**

via


If you know me, you know that I have not a single athletic bone in my body. You might also know that this is WHY I love running. Because if I stink at running, I don't let my whole team down, like you do with other sports. And if I rock at it, it's ALL me, baby. I started running for fun with an old college boyfriend and was surprised to find out... I actually enjoyed it! We ran on treadmills at the Field House (And then we'd practice our layups after. Or rather, he'd put up with my lame attempts to mimick Lebron's latest moves.), we ran on the streets in the Avenues. We ran through sun, sleet, and even snow. (Oh, how I loved running in the snow! It was, weirdly, my favorite!) The summer before I left on my mission, I struggled to find work after I moved home from college, and I ran six days a week, sometimes for an hour or more. It was glorious! (But maybe that's because northern Utah in such a beautiful place.)

If you know me, you may also know that I... can't run right now (on account of my back acts like it's 80-years old these days, and it really sucks. Yep, I just said sucks. Because it does.) For a while, I just couldn't run very far or for very long, but right now, I can't run, period.

If you know me, you probably know that I really, really hate this.

As I've dealt with what feels to me like a ridiculous, frustrating, and pointless health issue (I mean, it's not even worthy to be called a "health issue." I know it's very minor compared to real health issues that other people face), I've developed a love-hate relationship with my body. My body and I, we were mostly all right while I was growing up. I remember hating my skinny ankles and not-as-skinny thighs (I thought my legs looked like chicken legs), and sometimes, we had our down days (don't we all?), but we were mostly OK, my body and I.

We had some ups and downs in college. I wasn't quite... done (for lack of a better word) developing when I left for college, and it was bizarre to be an "adult" and still have my body going through changes. I went up a pants size freshman year, not because of weight gain, but because of womanly curve gain. But whatevs. We dealt with these changes, my body and I. We fluctuated some, here and there. One time, we fluctuated a lot... But then we fluctuated back... especially after I started running. I could eat whatever I wanted, and it didn't really matter, because I was running so much. I remember my clothes were falling off of me when I left on my mission, and it was so surprising, because I hadn't been trying to lose weight. I was just running, because I liked it, and I had nothing else to do that summer. But I remember thinking that if I hadn't been spending so much $$ on a mission wardrobe, I would've actually needed a new normal person wardrobe, because I didn't even have to unzip my cargo pants (Ha! Cargo pants...) anymore to pull them on and off. When I came home from my mission, even with all the delicious Latin dinners, I somehow returned smaller than when I left.

Four years later, it's a different story.

It's frustrating when your clothes don't fit the same way because you can't do the one thing you enjoy doing to keep your body healthy. It's frustrating when your proportions change, and not for the better (imo, at least). It's frustrating to want to do something about it but have the only options be options you hate. (I can't express strongly enough how much I loathe gyms. Loathe! Sweat everywhere, smelly people, public showers, half (or fully) naked people in locker rooms... Pass!) It's frustrating to look at someone else's body and think... I want to look like her (especially because I recognize how unproductive these kinds of thoughts are). Mostly, I find it frustrating to NOT be in control.


This year, I'm really trying to focus on improving my relationship with my body.

On being grateful for the health I do have and trying to regain what I don't.

On being grateful to have two legs, two arms, and two hands that work, instead of thinking of the things that don't work about my body... Like how blind I feel without my glasses or how I can't wait to be done with Invisalign (Seriously... all those awkward moments with braces/glasses that y'all had a decade ago? Yeah, I'm living them now...)

On cherishing the milestones and successes my body and I experience together, instead of focusing my attention on what other people look like and what their bodies can do.

On taking care of my body and helping it be healthy -- not skinny, or tight, or thin, or tiny. Just healthy.

It's hard sometimes, especially when I compare myself to others. But I'm doing my best. And my body is doing its best. That's all anyone can ask for, right?

July 09, 2013

Exploring Brooklyn

*A continuation of my adventures in NYC last Thanksgiving. (See also Posts 12, 3, and 4.)

Remember my crazy long posts about my NYC trip over Thanksgiving (that I STILL haven't finished !? I found this post sitting in my drafts, annnd it's not the last one...) Here is my next installment! (My last post was about our experience with Mormon Helping Hands.)

Saturday morning, we joined with other Mormon Helping Hands volunteers to help families in the Rockaways, and then I stayed the next two nights still in Brooklyn with my friends Dustin and Susan (and their little girl, Fiona). Dustin and I met in the residence halls at the U my first year as an RA. The following year, Dustin was also an RA in my same building, and he was our graphic designer when I managed a student government campaign that spring. Most importantly, Dustin and Susan were my angels when I was transitioning between my internship and starting my life in DC. When I was homeless, they let me stay with them, and I will forever be grateful for their help!

So, yes, Brooklyn. Dustin and Susan live in Bushwick. On the way back from the Rockaways, Dustin and I ran a few errands and explored a bit. I got to see a neighborhood where there were many Orthodox Jewish families (sometimes known as Hasidic Jews), and we even went to the Barclays Center (new basketball arena where the newly relocated Brooklyn Nets -- formerly the New Jersey Nets -- play) and to Target so Dustin could buy animal cookies and chocolate milk (his favorite treat of all time!).

Go, Nets!
I loved catching up with D, S, & F and being included in their family rituals (like praying and studying scriptures ad singing songs to Fiona together). Oh, that Fiona! How I left without taking a photo with the three of them is just beyond me!

Sunday morning, I had some time before church (I met up with Lee again to attend the YSA branch in Park Slope), so I visited the Brooklyn Bridge! I was hoping to grab some Grimaldi's for lunch, BUT it wasn't open yet when I was there. :( Here's what I saw:

I think I captured a special moment for these men... They bowed their heads for a few quiet moments, and then they each tossed a beautiful, full bouquet of roses into the river. I wondered who they were for...
At this point, I was still working on my mom's blanket withersoever I went.
Such a cute little carousel! And I learned it's on the registry of national historical landmarks.
Manhattan in the distance.
The ferry.
No ice cream, and no pizza.:

It was beautiful and peaceful and relaxing to get to explore on my own, but I'll DEFINITELY need to come back for some Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory ice cream and some Grimaldi's pizza! (Or maybe some Patsy's? Ha!)

July 08, 2013

4th of July!

Independence Day is my 3rd favorite holiday (after my birthday and Christmas, of course!), and there's just nothing quite like celebrating it in our nation's capital. My 4th started off pretty low-key. My roommate Amanda and I made pancakes and invited two other friends over to eat with us, then I tried to be productive (keyword: tried), got ready, etc.

Coconut/flaxseed/chocolate-chip pancakes -- from scratch! (I swear they were healthy!)
you know... just a "what i wore" shot. i'm mocking myself right now.

In the afternoon, we had a BBQ with other members of our congregation, and some new friends of mine came! (More about them in a future blog post.)

new friends!
I wish every day that Kelli had an Instagram.

Then, we joined the MASSES on the metro to make our way to the Jefferson Memorial (where we watched the fireworks).

Steffie + me + Niffie (Ha ha! Steffie & Niffie!)
Even Bart Simpson made the journey with us. Also, Andrea's face in the back! Ha ha ha! Furthermore, I am short...


While we waited for the show to start, we played games, chatted with friends, and entertained ourselves by taking photos (naturally). :)

view of the Washington Monument from the steps of the Jefferson Memorial
staking out a spot is serious business!
Love this girl so much!
with C & C
I'm mad this photo came out so blurry! Grrrr....
Seriously, how are any of us single?? (Uhhhhh....)


And then it got dark, and the REAL FUN started!

compare this to the photo above, and you'll see how the crowd MULTIPLIED.
The fireworks this year included fun shapes like... SMILEY FACES! (and bunnies? and "U-S-A") So cool!


It was a great day! I'm grateful to live in a nation of opportunity and freedom, and I was so happy to celebrate the 4th here in DC. I hope your 4th was just as lovely! :)