January 31, 2014

#TheYearWithoutShopping

#TheYearWithoutShopping (image via)

OK, now that it's basically February, I thought I'd write a little about one of my goals for 2014. Some of my goals are more personal so I won't share those, but let me tell you a little about one of my goals for 2014: #TheYearWithoutShopping.

#TheYearWithoutShopping

I took some time last year to analyze my finances, and after a mild panic attack, I've re-worked my budget and decided that my main financial priority (you know, aside from keeping a roof over my head, saving for a rainy day, etc.) is to get out of debt. (Stinkin'... student loans....) I need to lower my debt and start putting more towards long-term savings and other personal financial goals. It sort of makes me wonder whether spending so much on school was a good idea, but it's kind of too late for that, so I'm focusing on how to get out of debt instead.

One way I'm saving $$ this year is by NOT BUYING CLOTHES OR SHOES FOR ALL OF 2014!! (With a few exceptions -- I'm budgeting for a pair of brown boots for next autumn (my old ones are shamefully beat up), and you know, if I'm a bridesmaid or something, I'll obviously buy the outfit. The other exception would be if a STAPLE piece were to break/rip/get ruined. Like... My pair of black work pumps breaks, or... you know. But that probably won't happen.)

SO, in general... no clothes or shoe shopping in 2014! (hence, #TheYearWithoutShopping) It's been reeeeeally hard so far (I really like to shop, and I get a genuine high from scoring good deals!), and I've had to unsubscribe from all my normal shopping sites. And yet I still find myself online browsing? And several times, I've gone into Gap, Anthropologie, Target "just to look" and nearly broken my resolution.

On January 8th, I saw Natalie H. wearing this ADORABLE buffalo check coat, and I IMMEDIATELY bought it! (I justified it, bc I'd had to take back a different coat I'd bought, on account of the pocket lining ripped.) The second I clicked on "purchase," I knew I'd made the wrong decision! I IM'd customer service right away, and they were able to cancel my order. PHEW! Other than that, so far, so good!

I did something similar once while I was on my mission. My goal was to NOT buy any clothes/shoes the whole time, and I actually did it! I had to buy a new white undershirt mid-way through my mission, but other than that, no new clothes or shoes! I survived by borrowing from other sisters, and "shopping" in the sisters' closet at the mission home, sorting through any goodz left over by sisters who'd gone home.

I think in addition to saving me some $$, this challenge will help me be more creative with what I already own (and motivate me to fit into things I haven't fit into in a while? Ha!). Maybe I'll learn to sew so I can alter items I don't wear frequently, bc they don't fit me properly? (You know, in my loads of spare time?) And I definitely see clothing swaps in my future! I don't have a "sisters' closet" this time, but the past few clothing swaps I've participated in have been fun. Let me know if you're interested!

#TheYearWithoutShopping, I am SO going to own you! 1 month down, 11 to go.


January 30, 2014

My Spirit Animal is a Water Fowl

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I think my spirit animal is a duck.

From the outside, I try to look like this:

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Oooh, how about a swan!

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Yeah, a swan! My spirit animal is a swan, not a duck!


But really, I'm usually feelin' like this:

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And guys, I'm afraid of water... So this is not a good feeling!

Does anyone else ever feel like this?


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PS A really good blog post on how to appear like a CALM swimming duck (not a frantically paddling one).




January 28, 2014

Are you watching?

Guys, it's the State of the Union RIGHT NOW! (Tuesday, 9pm EST/6pm PST). Watch it now



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I'll be live-tweeting HERE (@utahgirlami).

Make sure you watch! Whether or not you agree with the President's policy positions, it's important to be educated and informed.

January 23, 2014

A Big Day

Today was a big day at work.


I feel... EXHAUSTED (I only slept 3 hours last night), shaky, void of energy, more ready for bed than I've ever been... But mostly, I feel... proud!


I was asked to speak on a panel (at-a-conference-where-VPOTUS-also-spoke-NDB!) on how to use online tactics to engage minority communities. I felt really proud (also humbled?) to be asked to speak, and I was surprised by how much fun I had presenting! 

It sort of took me back a little to my Visitors' Center days -- especially since we had to use a cordless microphone. I will never use a cordless mic again without remembering my VC Director, Elder Pedersen and how he would tell us over and over to either A- not fidget our hands while holding a mic (it makes the sound all wonky) or B- hold the mic to our chins and leave them there the whole time! Ahhhh, good times. :) 

Hopefully the folks in the workshop had fun, too. :)

with the other panelists (also, #BANGS!)
(photo from Elianne of #LATISM)


(The folks at the conference even SPELLED MY NAME RIGHT!! Accent mark and everything!)




Today, we also saw the fruits of a lot of hard work from our team. To make a long story short, I manage an issue campaign for my organization, for which I've launched a series of Google Hangouts to inform our audience about the Affordable Care Act. Normally, I moderate them, but today my boss did, because our guest for this Hangout was Secretary Sebelius of HHS. I honestly just could not have been prouder of this event and especially, of my team.

I can't stress enough how much I love and appreciate the people with whom I work. Whenever I feel like I'm about to fall apart, I know I won't, because my team has my back. When unexpected crises arise last minute, I know I won't be dealing with them alone. The work we do is often extremely stressful, but as long as we keep looking out for each other, we're always going to be just fine.

I had a surreal moment during the Hangout (I was in the studio during the filming) where I thought, "Holy moly, I can't believe this is actually happening!" The event was successful, and we got good press and social media coverage (we even had celebrities and Members of Congress tweeting about it!), and I really just can't say enough how proud I was of this event and of the work that we do to inform the community. The law is not perfect, but it affects everyone, and we do our very best to make sure we share information that is actually helpful -- and not fluffy. It was nice to see our hard work paying off in a very big way.

getting mic'd and prepped
LIVE!!
my boss is the most adorable pregnant lady :)


And that's all for tonight. Buenas noches! I'm off to bed...

January 20, 2014

Perspective

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I've been working a lot of overtime recently, and it's become all too easy for me to be whiny, complain-y, and just plain negative. I'm embarrassed to admit that I was even stressing out about not having enough time to attend a meeting at the White House... I was annoyed to have to go to the WHITE HOUSE. What is wrong with me?? But I had an experience on Friday that changed my perspective and was exactly the wake-up call I needed.

I read this Spanish article about day laborers in Virginia. Many of them struggle to find work in the winter, when construction projects are fewer, and that, of course, becomes a burden for their families. It about broke my heart to read this! And to think that I whine and complain when I have so much!

I think I've just been so, so stressed lately, that I've lost my proper perspective. I am SO blessed and have SO much for which to be thankful! And you know what? Even when I struggle sometimes to keep up at work, when I feel like I'm not the fastest or most knowledgeable writer, the opportunities I have here are pretty awesome.

Like today... Today, I have the opportunity to attend a breakfast where my boss is being honored; and where VPOTUS is the keynote speaker. And sure, it means being downtown at 7:30am on a national holiday and having to work on Sunday to write remarks, etc., etc, but how cool is it that I get to see the Vice President tomorrow??!

And seriously, I cannot stress enough how blessed I feel to be in DC, to have a job I like, to work with people I respect and admire, and to have such a great role model of a boss. My heart truly feels for the laborers about whom I read on Friday, but I'm grateful for the much-needed perspective their story brought me.

January 07, 2014

Christmas 2013


Christmas was beautiful this year. I loved spending time with loved ones, eating good food, and.... watching my siblings open their Christmas pajamas! (More on that later.)

The reason for the season (also, I scored this Nativity at Deseret Book's after-Christmas sale, and I LOVE it!)

These little stinkers are always one of the best parts about going home:



And they make good little kitchen helpers! Well, at least Chris does. ;)

The spread. Turkey cooked by yours truly (well, by the oven, really), with lots of help from Baby-est Brother.

Per Latin tradition, we eat dinner late at night on the 24th, and we stay up 'til midnight to open presents. As I've gotten older, my favorite part has become watching everyone else open their presents. It's pretty awesome to wrack your brain, picking out just the right gift, and then to see the expression on someone's face -- you know, the one I'm talking about -- the one where you KNOW you done good with that gift. It's pretty much the best.

The best one this year was my mother. She's usually one of the hardest people for me to shop for, because she's so darn picky! Her tastes are very particular, and whenever you ask her what she wants for Christmas, she doesn't give an answer. This year when I asked her, she actually had an answer! And being the clever fox that I am, I hemmed and hawed about how crazy expensive her request was, and then of course, I went out and bought it. Heh heh! I made sure I threw in a few extra "holy moly, how expensive!" comments when I got home, and lo and behold, I fooled my mother! She was shocked and definitely touched when she opened her gift. It was pretty great. :)

normal family photo
awkward family photo (heh heh!)

OK, OK, and now for the BEST moment (drumroll)...

The moment the kids all opened their Christmas pajamas!! I give you my siblings (and my sister's husband) and me, in all our onesied glory! I even made sure to get one for my missionary brother, so he can wear it when he gets home next this year. (Note the creepy cardboard cutout from my sister's wedding.)

Did I not say it was glorious??


Greatest super heroes ever. (Did you see those capes??)

Christmas also involved pups,


more food,

leftover turkey soup
hot beverages... mmmm...
MY UTAH CHICKEN!!



Annnnd making Spencer watch The Nutcracker with me on Netflix!


It really was just lovely. :) I hope your Christmas was, too!

January 06, 2014

Homeless Hypothermia Hotline




The DC area -- and many other parts of the country -- are FRIGID tonight.

This is how I'm staying warm:





Unfortunately, not everyone is so lucky. Washington, DC has over 15,000 homeless people --

15,000 homeless!

And that's JUST in the District! That doesn't include folks in Maryland or Virginia!

In these polar vortex conditions, there's no way anyone will survive outside. So as you go about your goings-on in the District, if you spot a homeless individual outside with no place to go,

call the Homeless Hypothermia Hotline at:

or

Provide them with a description of the person and his/her location, and they'll come pick up the person and take him/her to a shelter. You might have to go a few minutes out of your way, but you could literally save a life!

Click here to find information for resources in Maryland and Virginia.

Thanks, friends, and stay warm!!