April 30, 2014

That is SO fetch!

Happy 10-year anniversary, Mean Girls! Here's how we're celebrating at work:

That is SO fetch!
We wear pink on Wednesdays.

I guess it's time to accept that "fetch" really ISN'T going to happen.

April 27, 2014

An Afternoon in the City of Brotherly Love

While Camille and her parents were out at a party their friends threw for them, I stowed away for a few hours to explore the City of Brotherly Love.

My first stop? The Liberty Bell, of course! But first, Independence Hall:

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Now, the Liberty Bell!

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My first attempt at a Liberty Bell selfie failed miserably.
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Nailed it!
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I asked a stranger to help me,  just to be safe. :)

Now for a small tangent: 

The "scarf" I'm wearing in these photos is actually a peştemal I got in Istanbul last summer (remember that time I went to Istanbul and never posted about it? Whoops... I'll get around to it. Really!). My peştemal is my ver most favorite souvenir! It's a special towel used in the Turkish baths (hamams). I learned about them from Mara before I went on my trip, and I was determined to bring one back. I love it! Next time, I'm gonna get one in a darker color, so I can use it as a picnic/beach/park blanket without having to worry about it getting dirty!

Now for another tangent:

After I'd left the Liberty Bell, it occurred to me that... Although I'd taken a gazillion photos (mostly selfies? ha.), I hadn't actually taken time to just admire the bell, to really take it in. Y me da tanta pena! I can take selfies anywhere. I can google pictures of the bell, for crying out loud. But it's not every day I'm in Philadelphia to see it in person. Me da pena que no aproveche el tiempo que estuve allí... And it fits SO perfectly with Ashley's lesson in Relief Society today about things that distract us (in this case, like... social media, selfies, etc.) from what's most important (in this case, being PRESENT). I was so worried about having photos to show off later, I didn't take time to fully enjoy the bell in the moment.

After meandering this part of town for a bit, I wandered off to see some of the other nearby sites.

Like the Second National Bank (which had GORGEOUS columns! and a couple taking engagement photos in front. I kid you not, I saw at least FIVE couples taking wedding or engagement photos in the space of two hours within a just a few blocks.), a frame outline of Benjamin Franklin's former home, and the typical East Coast mix of gorgeous red bricks, cobblestones (which I just don't get, to be honest. it hurst to walk!), and greens and flowers!

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photo 5.JPG Philly in the spring Philly in the springPhilly!

After I took that last photo on the right, I explored the shops for a bit and ended up at a little souvenir shop, where I had the loveliest conversation with Tina, the owner! She thought I was in high school, maybe college, which just made me smile, and she gave me great safety tips for navigating the mean streets of Philly on my own. As we chatted, our conversation turned towards Easter and Church and the fact that I'm Mormon. She said she LOVED Mormons and that we were such nice people and such a nice religion! She asked me what the difference is between our Church and Christian churches.

I explained to her that we ARE Christians, as we believe Jesus Christ is our Savior and the Son of God. That He lived, died, and rose again on the third day.

I also told her about how Christ established a Church when He was here on the earth, and that He has always called prophets to guide His people -- including today. The concept of a prophet was new to her (at first, she thought I meant profit), and when I offered her a mormon.org card, she gave me her business card and told me to email her more info. Since she was Taiwanese, I also told her about my brother, how he's serving a Mandarin-speaking mission in England, and I told her I'd have him write to her also, since I know he'd love the chance to practice writing Mandarin. :) 

Tina was such a sweet lady, and I felt her spirit was special. I'm excited to keep in touch with her via email (we've already corresponded last week!) and to answer any other questions she might have about prophets, the Church, and most importantly, about Jesus Christ. :)

Philly! Philly!

And what trip to Philly would be complete without a visit to Love Park, City Hall, and at least one cheesesteak??

Philly in the spring Love and cheesesteaksLove and cheesesteaks
Love and cheesesteaks Love and cheesesteaks
Pat's king of steaks
peppersteak wit'out, american cheese, please!

I had such a great time exploring the City of Brotherly Love! It definitely made me want to learn more about the city's rich history and the significant and sacred events that happened here so long ago. It was also more fun than I expected to take a break and go touristing on my own. But I think next time, I'll take a friend. :)

Until next time, Philadelphia!

April 21, 2014

Everybody's Hometown (Happy Easter!)

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I spent the weekend with Camille's family this weekend, as they got ready to move away from their home (of 14 years!) in Media, PA. Her parents are Utah-bound this week, and it was fun to visit one last time (after all, I was awarded "honorary Moffat" status!) and to see some of Camille's favorite spots in Media.

Camille introduced me to Rita's:

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We visited Camille's favourite park:

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Then, we asked a nice man to take our picture, but he took 20 seconds of video instead? Ummmm..... The crazy thing is he was young, so we thought he'd know how to use an iPhone? I guess not. It was baffling. I took a screenshot of the video, but it has a ton of black space. Whoops...

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Then we petted a rooster!

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And, of course, it wouldn't really be an outing with Camille without some sort of photo shoot. Alas, she has all those photos, sooooo maybe I'll share a couple if she sends me some (please, CMoney$!)? And/or I'll link to whatevs she posts.

I also watched (half) of my first French movie! We went to bed before it ended. Now I'll never know what happens to Mr. Bob or "the girl who bloomed too young for her age."

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On Easter morning, the Easter bunny came!

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And I matched the daffodils in front of the house!

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We got up early so we could see the Temple site for the Philadelphia temple.

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And then we headed to Church, where, in addition to uplifting talks, awesome lessons, and beautiful music from the ward choir, there were BABIES, and PUPPIES, and hipster elders, and all SORTS of amazingness!! (There were also some really, umm, interesting comments about my name/my heritage/etc/etc? Ha.)

But puppies!!

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We ended the day with a delicious Easter chicken dinner (SO gonna try that recipe soon!), and a happy birthday key lime meringue pie for Mama Moffat.

HBD, Mama Moffat!

I LOVE living on the East coast and having these little getaways just a few hours away. It was a lovely Easter weekend in everybody's hometown. Thanks for letting me visit, Familia Moffat! And safe travels!! :) xoxo

PS I also was privileged to photograph history as Camille took one last dip in the pool -- never mind the 44-degree water! Unfortunately, my iPhone ran out of memory at the end, but check her out here anyway! (Video by me, uploaded to Camille's Vimeo.)

April 17, 2014

The Journey of the Brave Levain Cookie

It was a beautiful spring morning on the Upper West Side, and a young woman smoothed patiently over her hair with the InStyler her daddy had bought her. A little Fresh Prince and an overpriced mango smoothie from Whole Foods were all she needed to make her morning complete. As for her afternoon... that was TBD.

As she lounged about, recovering from a most successful -- but tiring -- Voto Latino Power Summit conference, she pondered what she should do that day that would bring meaning, that would make a difference. As she weighed her options, she paused. She considered. She reflected. And then... She knew exactly what she needed to do.

Her goal in mind, she made her way down Columbus Ave., past fruit stands and second-hand stores, past flower stands and the most darling cafes, as she walked with determination towards 74th Street. A quick turn and a couple of street crossings, and she found herself in front of one of the most glorious places on the Upper West Side -- nay, in New York City!

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As she walked towards the door, ready to walk down the narrow steps that would take her to her destiny, a large family -- complete with strollers and various small humans -- crossed her path and descended the tiny staircase before she could. Alas, her date with destiny was delayed. But no matter! What was a few more minutes when she KNEW that soon -- oh, so soon! -- the deliciousness, the perfection that IS the Levain chocolate-chip cookie would be hers!

She bought two cookies -- one for herself, and one for her partner in crime whose 30th birthday was that day.

Though she could have eaten her cookie right away, she chose to wait, to savor that sweet, sweet cookie when she was back home in DC. It would be like an extension of her trip and a special treat as she transitioned back to the daily work grind.

After a glorious afternoon spent mostly in Central Park -- but also partially dedicated to eating other delicious NYC treats (Gray's Papaya piña colada, anyone?), she found herself on a DC-bound Amtrak train, still clutching the precious paper bag that carried her two Levain cookies.

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The next day at work, Partner-in-Crime -- enjoyed his birthday cookie. As he ate, she kept her little paper sack safe on her desk, knowing that in a few hours, the 3 o'clock slump would hit, and THAT would be the time for the little (not really -- those things are MASSIVE! as big as my hand!) Levain cookie to work its magic!

She had made plans for outdoor yoga with a friend that evening. But Mother Nature had something else in mind. One blustering, sideways rainstorm later, and her evening would now involve a trip to Pinkberry (which is basically like yoga, right? right??).

She ate half of her cookie, and saved the other half for her friend. She wondered if he would recognize (probably not) what a true act of selflessness and love it was for her to share a chocolate-chip cookie (no, but seriously... sharing treats is a big deal for me) --- and a Levain cookie at that! Levain! Second only to Sister Beck cookies in deliciousness! --- with another human being.

But she loved the cookie so much, she wanted to share the joy of the Levain experience with him (it's sort of like sharing the gospel. Once you have it, you want to share it with others, so they can experience the blessings and joy, too!).

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They enjoyed their FroYo that evening (does anyone else thing that term is lame? though not nearly as lame as HoCho. gag...), and she gave him the cookie. ("Hooray!" she thought, "Now he'll know true joy in his life, too!")

But alas, as their conversation carried on, and the FroYo quickly disappeared from their cups, the little paper bag was forgotten. As they made their way back out into the night and onto the cold metro, not a word was spoken regarding the little cookie left behind.

As she got off at her home metro station, she remembered.... The cookie! Had he taken it? Had he already eaten it? Had he loved it as much as she hoped he would?? She texted to make sure he had taken it.

From A Beautiful Mess App

The unthinkable had occurred! The world's greatest cookie had been left behind!! How could this have happened??

Knowing there was not a moment to lose, she ran out of the metro station and dialed the number for Pinkberry. The angelic voice on the end of the line told her exactly what she wanted to hear, "Yes, we see your bag here. Of course we can hold it for you 'til tomorrow. You'll come in the morning? Sounds good!" Bless you, kind Pinkberry employee!!

The next morning, she walked to Pinkberry as SOON as it opened, and behold, the heavens were parted, and upon the counter of the Pinkberry was foundeth an paper sack, wherein lay the blessed remains of exactly one-half Levain cookie. It was a Passover MIRACLE!

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That night, she met up for dinner with a different friend (AND the cutest dog in Congress!). and together, they enjoyed Good Stuff Eatery (first time!) AND We the Pizza. I mean, does it even get any better than that?

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Meet Lily, 2013's Cutest Dog in Congress!

Actually, yes. YES, it can!  HOW?? you ask?

By ending the night with half a Levain cookie, split in two. :)

I captured this moment just for you!
At last, the brave little Levain cookie had reached its destination. :)

April 16, 2014

Behind the Scenes: Voto Latino Power Summit NYC 2014 (Part 1)

We just finished our first Power Summit conference of 2014 in NYC! (If you haven't heard of Power Summit, it's a really great professional development & leadership conference my organizations hosts every year. In 2014, we're taking Power Summit on the road and hosting FOUR events in FOUR cities across the country! NYC was our first stop.)

Here's a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes (and WHO it takes) to put on such an awesome conference.

First off, Power Summit involves boxes. LOTS AND LOTS of boxes...

This is what our office has looked like the past few weeks:

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Secondly, it involves traveling. In this case, ROADTRIP! Half the team drove a van (full of the aforementioned boxes) from DC to NYC. The rest of us got up there via Megabus!

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Once you get on site, it's time to UN-pack all those boxes! (But don't throw them away yet! We'll use them to pack up again at the end of the conference.)

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Then the on-site fun begins! Set-up, meetings, writing speeches and talking points for e'rrybody, working all together in your boss's hotel room at midnight... At Voto Latino, we do it all!

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See those white socks? That's me! :)
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best. graphic designer. EVER!! Seriously. She is the BEST!
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I look like I'm asleep, but I promise I was working.
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Partners in crime!

Then people start arriving, and it's showtime, baby!

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Part 2 coming soon!