Monday, December 10, 2012

My Choice to Serve

As many of you already know, I have decided to serve a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints! But more importantly, I am serving a mission for my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Missionary work has always been a long-standing tradition in the church, patterned after Jesus's command to the apostles to go forth and teach the world His gospel, two by two. Girls aren't required to serve missions, so I hadn't really decided if I was going to or not, especially since I wouldn't be able to until I turned 21. However, this last October, the Church changed the policy and lowered the missionary age for girls to 19 years old! The age for boys was also changed from 19 to 18. (Here is an excellent article and video about the age change.) Because of this change, I felt the strongest feeling that I needed to take advantage of this opportunity; I felt such a sense of urgency to go and serve. It was an easy decision at first, then it became harder and harder. It's funny how when we decide to do something good that Satan starts to push back even harder. But, I made the decision to submit my papers and go through the interviewing process to receive a call from the Prophet and Twelve Apostles as to where the Lord needs me to serve. I received my call on November 15th to serve in the Adriatic North Mission, beginning March 27th, 2013, for a period of 18 months.
Me with my call before opening it! I had to wait 25 hours to open it because I wanted my parents to be with me.
For those who aren't as familiar with the missionary program of the Church, here is an excellent explanation as to why we believe missionary work is important, and here is another article more about the actual service (with a great video too). My purpose as a missionary is to invite people to come unto Christ, whether through service, teaching, church activities, English lessons, anything. I am called to be a representative of our Savior and help people to be truly happy. It is a daunting task, to be sure, but I know that God qualifies whom he calls. I have been called to serve in the Adriatic North Mission, which includes the countries of Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, and Serbia. (Here is a list of all the almost 350 missions around the world.) I will be learning Croatian, but will most likely learn Serbian and possibly Bosnian as well. To being my mission, I will attend the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah, for about 9 weeks, where I will begin to learn the language and the way of life I am to lead for the next 18 months. I go to the MTC on March 27th, 2013. I know that the gospel of Jesus Christ is the only way we can really be happy. It teaches us: compassion, love, acceptance, forgiveness, the importance of family, our divine nature and potential, our immense worth, sacrifice, self-control, and decision-making skills, among others. I know that we have a Heavenly Father who loves us, and we can pray to Him about anything, at anytime, and He will hear us and answer. I  know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and He lived a perfect life, then died for my sins, so that I can obtain forgiveness for my countless and endless mistakes. I know that the Bible and the Book of Mormon and God's words, and they teach us correct principles. The scriptures are once way that God speaks to us. I know that God has not ceased working miracles on this earth, and He continues to speak to us, even on an individual basis. I know He has called a prophet, Thomas S. Monson, to lead and help us in this difficult world. I am so grateful for these things, and I am so excited to share them with the people of the Adriatic North!

A map of my mission! (It's in the yellow)

Fall semester of my Junior Year

Well, this should come as no surprise... I have no time to blog whilst taking classes and procrastinating homework and papers. So, here is a little photo collage of some of the highlights:

Family reunions, parties, baby blessings, football games, carnivals, choir concerts, General Conference, fun game nights with friends, testing center treats, fudge making, pumpkin carving, and mission calls... a pretty full, fun, and fulfilling semester. Can't wait til finals are over now!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Game Day Dress... with Sleeves!

So this is only a semi-Pinterest project, because I didn't actually get the idea from Pinterest, or the instructions... but it's crafty so I'll group it together I guess. I've been wanting to make a game-day dress ever since coming to BYU. All of the southern college girls seem to have these adorable dresses made out of college tees, and they wear them to football games etc. The only problem is that ALL of the examples and pictures I have see are either strapless or halter. I choose not to wear sleeveless tops, plus the BYU Honor Code doesn't allow it, so I had to come up with another solution. I've had some ideas about it for a while, but I was nervous to start since I wasn't sure my sewing skills were up to par. The nice thing about sewing, though, is that you can always sew, unpick the seam, and try again (you just have to be careful about the cutting part... it's not as forgiving). It's also really great to have a mom who is an AWESOME seamstress, so she could tutor me on the more difficult parts. I ended up not wanting too much help from her, though, because I really wanted this to be my own project where I could make mistakes, fix them, and truly have a product of my own creation. I've tried to put together a little tutorial, but I wasn't so good about taking pictures towards the end... I just wanted to sew and finish it! So, here is my attempt. Disclaimer: There are definitely other, better ways to do this. I know this. Also, I'm writing this tutorial a few weeks after the fact, so I honestly don't remember every single step I took and any tips that would make it easier.

1) Gather materials. To make my dress, I used a BYU shirt that I didn't mind cutting up and a navy jersey maxi skirt. The shirt was a size small, but was super boxy and didn't fit well, so it was perfect for resizing. The skirt was something I found at TJ Maxx last summer when I was shopping for Jerusalem, and it cost less than $10. It was the perfect color and cheaper than buying fabric for the bottom of the dress. I really suggest just using things you already own, instead of going out and buying something you aren't sure about. The other great thing about using the skirt was that I already knew how it fit, and I was able to better visualize what the final product was going to be.

2) Resize the shirt. While researching for this project, I found a lot of different methods for this step, and I tried most of them. The best way that I found, though, was finding a shirt that you already like the fit of and using that as a pattern. I took one of my favorite shirts (a v-neck from Old Navy) and put it right on top of the BYU shirt. I had already cut the sleeves off at the seams and set them aside for later. Turn the shirt inside out, and mark all the way down the side seams with pins. Remember that you need to allow room for a seam allowance, so the pins mark where you sew, not where you cut the fabric. Sew up the side seams, turn it right side out, and try it on! I suggest waiting to cut off the excess fabric until you try it on, in case you need to adjust the seams. 

3) Set in the sleeves. This was definitely the hardest, most frustrating step, but it's very doable. My biggest tip is to make sure the seam allowance on the sleeve part and the shirt part are the same, that way you can just match them up and not worry about it (I cut my fabric without measuring closely enough...). I again used the Old Navy shirt as a template for the sleeves, marking on the shirt body where the openings started and ended. I also tried to use it for the sleeve piece, but for some reason I wasn't able to get that to work as well. I honestly don't know why it didn't, but I just worked around it and tried to get it to match up as closely as possible with the opening. The best way I found to pin the sleeve and shirt together was to have the body of the shirt inside-out, then stuff the right-side-out sleeve inside the opening (like how sometimes the sleeves of you shirt get caught inside from the laundry). Match up the edges and seam allowances, and pin together. Sew that sleeve! I was originally planning on doing a gathered or ruffled sleeve, but I decided that was a little too ambitious for my first sleeve-setting experience. It would be really cute though, if you feel comfortable doing that.

See how my seam allowances are different.... Don't do that. 
4) Create the neckline. After the sleeves (which I amazingly only had to sew once!), I cut out the neckline that I wanted. The existing crew neck wasn't really what I wanted, so I got another v-neck shirt that I had to use as a template. The Old Navy one I used before had a v-neck too, but it was a little lower than I wanted. Just stuff the BYU shirt inside the other and mark where the v is. Unless you want a raw edge on the collar (which I did not), cut about 5/8 inch further from the mark, that way you can fold that inside to reinforce the shape of the v-neck and hem it. I sewed pretty close to the edge of the neckline, but it doesn't really matter too much.

5) Connect the top to the bottom. Since the jersey skirt already fit me, I didn't have any alterations to do except the length (which I'll get to later). It did have this weird waistband though, which made me think maybe it was a dress, but it wasn't quite long enough, so I don't know... that's why it was super cheap haha. Anyways, right under the awkwardly large waistband was a cute gathering around the skirt that I wanted to keep. So I matched up the front, back, and sides of the skirt the skirt with the front, back, and sides of the shirt, right at the ruffle. I had already tried on the top and bottom together to find where the shirt needed to end and the skirt begin. Mine is right at my waist. Once you match up and pin the four points, pin around the rest of the skirt. You might have to kind of stretch the fabrics to match up, but as long as you have the four basic points matched up, it'll be fine. The jersey was interesting to work with since it's so stretchy, but it didn't give me too much trouble. Note: The first time I connected the top and bottom, I tried it on and HATED how it fit. I had tried to do a sort of blouse-y top, but it wasn't working. I decided to just pick out the seam, get rid of the blouse, and try again. So don't get mad if it doesn't work out perfectly the first time-- just try again.

6) Adjust the side seams and the length to finish it off. I thought I had fit the shirt and skirt pretty closely to what I wanted, but of course it fits differently when you have it all put together and tried on. So, my mom showed me a cool little trick. Basically, you just put the dress on inside-out and fit the dress to yourself with pins. I only had to take it in a little bit on the sides because I wanted a more fitted look. (If you don't want it more fitted, or you like the way it turned out, just skip this step.) It's a lot easier if you have someone to help you pin the sides, but you can also do it yourself. The really tricky part is trying to get the dress off without sticking yourself with the pins! If you find a good method... please let me know. Once you do shimmy out of the pins, you just need to sew up the sides where the pins are! The pins mark where the seam goes, not the seam allowance, so just sew right on top. Remember to try it on again and make sure you like it before you cut off the extra fabric inside. Lastly, hem the skirt. My mom has this really fancy standing ruler that measures skirt hems from the floor to make sure it's a straight seam, so that made my life easier. Don't fret if you don't have a little hemming contraption, just try on the dress and mark where you want the hem to be (again, easier if you have someone to help, because the length changes when you bend over to mark it haha).

Here is the finished product! I know it's not a very good picture, but you can kinda see the v-neck and how it's fitted on the sides. I was going to take a picture with it on, but I didn't look very cute, so I didn't want to be in a picture. Also, the proportions between the top and skirt look off, but it really does look cute and normal when it's on. I promise I'll post one when I wear it at BYU's first football game. I can't wait for football season to start!!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

MPPP #3: Canvas Paintings

My third Pinterest project was canvas paintings. I was planning on following this tutorial for canvases with paper underneath paint, showing through on the letters (does that make sense? Just look at the link...). It was really cute, and naturally I wanted to try it with all or my encyclopedia pages. But once I had the canvases in front of me, I wasnt really feeling it. BTW: I got the canvases for super cheap at JoAnn's-- they always have canvases for a low price, but then I got a 40% coupon in the mail AND got a 15% student discount. Booyah. So as I was staring at my two 12x16 canvases, I just kinda decided to go for whatever. That's one awesome thing about creative projects: sometimes it's jsut better to let go of the plans and be creative. As a control freak and perfectionist, this can be hard sometimes, but the only way to truly be creative and create something spectacular is to let go of the fear of failure. There is a quote that I just adore from Oscar Wilde that says "You can never be overdressed or overeducated." How perfect is that? As a total school nerd and dress-up addict, I feel like this quote describes my life. The second canvas is a chevron-- a classic pattern that you can never go wrong with. I'm not sure where in the apartment I'll hang them, but we'll see. I'll take a pic of them hanging when I figure it out.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

MPPP #2: Bownanza

I love bows. Any kind of bow, really. It's such a quintessential Southern trademark, and I love all things Southern. I used to wear bows in my ponytails all the time, but then I cut my hair, and thus my bow-wearing habits. Now that my hair is longer, though, I've been wanting to wear them again. Pinterest has had a lot of really great bow-inspiration, so I gathered all my little ribbon scraps at home and got to work. I did a combination of bow-tie bows and game-day bows, depending on the look I was going for. I even did both styles in certain ribbons, just for the versatility. Here is the tutorial I used for the game-day bow. I followed the game-day bow tutorial pretty closely, and it was really helpful. The only modifications I made were 1) not attaching a barrette, and 2)making a bow with three loops instead of just two (you just wrap it around the card one more time). Since I didn't want to go out and buy hair clips or anything, I just made sure that when I glued the middle ribbon around, I left a spot to put a bobby pin through the back. The bow-tie bow was more of a trial-and-error venture, then I based it off of the game-day bow. Basically, I ended up just making a large loop with the ribbon, doing a running-stitch down the middle, pulling the thread to bunch it, then wrapping the thread around the middle (just like the game-day). The only difference, really is the loop at the beginning. I made about 10 bows pretty quickly; it didn't take too long to get the hang of it and start doing my own variations. I used a variety of ribbon widths and styles, so each one turned out kinda different, but I like them.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

My Personal Pinterest Project : Paper Flower Wreath

(BTW: 4 point alliteration) Pinterest is getting worse than Facebook in the grand scheme of my time-wasting. Especially when DIY crafts are involved. It's amazing how far reaching multi-media is: not only does it waste my time when I'm online, but then it extends to when I'm offline, trying out all the things I saw online. Nice. Luckily for me, though, I have plenty of time to waste this summer while in Texas. So, I took it upon myself to finally try out some of the crafts that I'd pinned (you can see them and some of my other Pinterest boards here). First on the craft to-do list: a paper rose wreath. I hit the jackpot when I got home and found some old encyclopedias and books of the year that my mom was wanting to get rid of. Why get rid of them when you craft with them?!? So that's exactly what I did. I made little paper flowers out of the book pages, and I have to admit, they turned out pretty cute. They look a little more like ranunculus than roses, which I like better anyways. They took FOREVER though. The tutorial warned that the flower-making took a while, but I figured it couldn't be that bad. It was. It was definitely that bad. I got so sick of rolling paper into little flowers. In the end, it took me about two sittings to make enough flowers to cover the wreath (for my own sanity, I didn't pay attention to how long each of the sittings was, but they were most likely over three hours each. Granted, I was also really distracted by movies and TiVo).
My first little flower. The magic of it quickly dissipated after about the first hour. 
Thanks to some coupon circulars from Michael's, I got an 18 inch wreath form for about $3, which ended up being the only thing I had to pay for (score for poor college student budget!). I was so excited to finally start glueing the flowers on the wreath. First, I modge-podged some paper strips onto the wreath form, that way the hot glue wouldn't melt the styrofoam and any gaps would be camouflaged. The tutorial I followed had a really uniform look with all of the flowers basically the same size, but I wanted a more organic look. I'm not really sure if I decided this before or after I realized how hard it was for me to make the flowers all the same size, but no matter. I ended up having a nice range of flower sizes, with a few larger ones that could act as the focal point, then have a gradient down to smaller flowers. In the end, I absolutely love how it turned out. I can't wait to see it on our apartment door! What do you think?

Back with a blogging vengeance.

I guess everyone has those times when certain things (ahem, blogging) just don't get done. And I'm okay with that. But now I'm back-- meaning it's summer and I'm home and I have nothing else to do, so I'll catch up on blogging! Well, "catching up" might very well be impossible, but I'll include some highlights:

My 20th Birthday! I had a wonderful party at my apartment in April, right in time to kick off finals week. I had so may dear friends come, and some new ones too! It was so fun to host a party and get food and decorations and pinatas and cake. Costco definitely came in handy. It was a really fun night, and Whitney and I decided we really like throwing parties. And being 20 isn't too bad either.


Spring Term. If you thought school was over after finals in April, think again! I decided to also take classes during Spring term, which was from the end of April to middle of June. I took a Spanish class and a Linguistics class, which both solidified my decision to become a Linguistics major and Spanish minor... surprise! I haven't officially made the switch yet, but I'm really excited about it.

Nolan Paul Dickson! My new nephew was born on June 6th at 6:06 pm... yes, it's 6:06 on 6/6/12. That is too perfect, right? He is so cute and such a little bundle of joy! I am such a haappy auntie to have both a niece and a nephew now, and both too cute to boot. He is such a sweet baby.

4th of July. Happy Independence Day! Today was really fun, mostly because I got to see THE BEACH BOYS LIVE IN CONCERT!! I went to Stadium of Fire with Cortney and Paul, and it was awesome. First, Scotty McCreery sang, then the Beach Boys took the stage. I can't believe that I got to see such an iconic band play live! Yes, I realize that they are pretty old school and getting up there in years, but they still sounded exactly the same, meaning they sounded awesome. I loved singing along to every song in celebration of our blessed and wonderful country. God bless America!

Summertime living. Basically summer has been pretty relaxed. I was working for a bit until July and taking classes, but once those were over, I wasn't really doing anything. I honestly don't think I will ever have another summer like this in my entire life, just not doing anything. So, I decided to go home to Texas for a bit. It was only going to be about a week's long trip, but through a few changes and rearrangings, it's turned into about a month-long trip! And I couldn't be more happy about being home in the Lone Star State :)

If you want to try to catch up on my other summer happenings, follow me on Instagram!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

"Keep smiling!"

This is what I got in the library today :) I had kind of a stressful day today. You know how it gets just a few weeks from the end of the semester: big research papers due, work piling up, concerts and rehearsals for Women's Chorus, lots of tests (right before finals... seriously professors?!). It's crazy. So I was working on my research paper in the library today, and I decided to go to the Periodicals section. This was weird for me. For some reason, I tend to study in the maps and science sections on the second floor. Don't ask why. I think it might because there is usually an available computer, and my phone doesn't get as good reception, so I'm less tempted to text (doesn't stop me completely though). Anyways, today I decided to have a little change in scenery and move to another section. As I was working, someone came and sat at my table. Naturally, I look up to see who it is, and I just give them a smile. I figured no one would want to sit diagonally across a table from someone who was grumpy. We didn't talk or anything, just silently worked on our individual assignments. He eventually got packed up to leave again, and as he was walking away, he slid a little sheet of paper towards me. And this was the note that I got! I was so caught off guard! What's especially funny about this is all the hype BYU got from the last anonymous note-giving in the HBLL. If you didn't hear about it, apparently a boy was offended by a girl's dress (he thought it didn't keep with the honor code) and wrote her a note about it on Valentine's day. But I couldn't have been happier with the note that I received today. Little did this boy know that he truly made my day so much better. So thank you anonymous BYU boy in Periodicals. Keep smiling :)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Looking smart...

I broke my left contact. Most people would just brush this aside, saying, "Oh sweetie, that's fine. Just use the one for tomorrow and it'll even out eventually.".... I wear hard contacts guys. Meaning I only have one contact per eye. One. Until my prescription changes, I don't get new ones. So since I broke my left contact while cleaning it Sunday morning, I am forced to either be one-eyed blind (which just makes you dizzy... I know from experience) or wear my glasses. Glasses win! I love my glasses, but I just never wear them out very much. Reason: I think they are actually men's glasses, which is why they are awesome, but the frames are a little bit big. Whenever I tip my head down slightly, they slip down the brim of my nose. I can ignore this for a while, but eventually they either just slip all the way off or I look up to talk to someone, and I look like a nerdy librarian bitty with glasses at the end of her nose. So cute, no? Luckily my mom is going to order a new contact down in Texas, but it takes about a week and a half to get them, plus the mail up here to Provo. So if you see me over the next few weeks with glasses at the very end of my nose, please still be my friend. Kindly give me two seconds to push them back up the bridge of my nose, then think, "Oh those are smart little glasses!" Ok so I guess that second part is a personal choice, but it's my prerogative to supply possible ideas of what you can think of me.

Luck o' the Irish

Remember that Disney channel original movie? The one about the high school basketball star who turned into a leprechaun? Not gonna lie, it was always one of my favorites. Happy St. Patrick's day! I feel like my blog is turning into a hoopla for random and overlooked holidays: new years, President's day, Valentines, Pi day, St. Patrick's Day... what's next? Maybe April Fools' Day? Anyways, focusing on the present. Whit and I celebrated green day early by going to our friend Michael Sean's party. He's a friend from Jerusalem, so we knew we would have a blast see everyone again. He also hosted it with his cousins, so there were plenty of people that we didn't know too! Yay for making new friends! It was a really fun party with lots of  Irish decor, green clothes, a potato peeling contest, and even a Blarney Stone to kiss! I also tried out a new dessert--rice krispie treats, but instead of rice krispies, you use Lucky Charms. Whit had the idea, so I did it. They turned out ok; since the cereal already had frosting/sugar on it, the mallow coated it kinda funny. But they still tasted good, so I guess that's what counts! I at least get extra points for holiday spirit and appropriateness.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

3.14 Happy Pi Day!

So even though I am no longer a math major (yes, I was one for two whole semesters... still wanna be friends?), I am still a huge fan of pi day! I'm obsessed with numbers and any cool patterns that they form. For instance, my birthday is April 16th, 4/16. First of all, 4 is the square root of 16, so that's already awesome because my birthday is a perfect square. And my favorite number is 8, which is the double of 4 and the half of 16. And my golden birthday was my sweet sixteen--how much better can that get, right? And the year of my birth is also divisible by 4, so my whole birthday can divide down. And my Grandma told me that I'm distantly related to Abraham Lincoln, and guess which number of US President he was?....16! I'm obsessed with numbers. I memorize addresses, telephone numbers, scripture references, and ID numbers by forming patterns and equations. Maybe two sequential numbers add up to the value of the third number, or the sequence is almost the Fibonacci series. Whatever it is, I look for something that will help me remember it. I don't even do it consciously--I just look at numbers and automatically start making connections and patterns. I think it all started in elementary school when my math teacher Mrs. Anderson would put a series of numbers on the board, and we had to use any type of mathematical operation between the numbers to make two equal sides of the equation. Here's an example:
3  0  5  1  2  7  4

One solution is this:
3 x 0 + 5 x 1 = 2 + 7 - 4

See, both sides now equal 5! This is a really simple solution, not very sophisticated math, but I thought it was pretty good for not having the number planned out or anything. But I digress. I think it is now obvious that I like numbers and math, even though it's no longer my major. So naturally I celebrated Pi Day. Since Whit and I didn't have any pie at our apartment, we decided to get the next best thing: pie shakes at Sammy's. Sammy's is a Provo gem: it's this tiny hole in the wall restaurant that is fun, artsy, and serves the best sweet potato fries and shakes. They are especially famous for their pie shakes and cupcake shakes, and yes, they actually put a piece of pie or cupcake into the shake and blend it up. How much better could it get? Once we got there, though, it seemed like half of Provo also had the same idea as we did... but don't worry we still got out shakes. Whit and I also dragged our friend Carter along with us, so we got three different flavors: banana cream pie (Carter), peach cobbler (me), and raspberry cheesecake (Whit). They were all really good, but I'm not going to lie, I really really just liked mine a whole lot. I didn't really want to share. Luckily we're all friends so I could just be honest about it, but I did still let Carter and Whit have a few bites of mine while I stole a few bites of theirs. Divine. And the best part was that we did this all at the spur of the moment around 11 pm. I definitely think Sammy's pie shakes is a Pi Day holiday tradition that I wouldn't mind keeping for years to come. 

Whit and Carter with their shakes
Happy 3.14!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Little Love Notes

There are few things I love more than receiving little love notes. Whether they be emails, cards, or on a napkin, I save every single one. Honestly, I do. The fact that someone would take time to write down something meaningful or kind is so sweet to me. So while I might not (ok, I definitely don't) get love notes that often, sometimes I pretend that when I find quotes that I really enjoy or find inspiring, it's like getting a little love note :) Here are some quotes that I found on Valentine's Day, and I meant to post them earlier, but why not just spread the holiday love out a little longer?

"True love is not so much a matter of romance as it is a matter of anxious concern for the well being of ones companion."
Gordon B. Hinckley 

"Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care."
Fred Babbel 

"It's never a mistake to care for someone. That's always a good thing..."

"Never underestimate the power of true love, for it knows no barriers."
John H. Groberg - 2004 Oct. Gen. Conf

"You may give without loving, but you cannot love without giving."
Glen Wheeler

"Our joy now and forever is inextricably tied to our capacity to love."
John H. Groberg

"Love is never wasted, for its value does not rest upon reciprocity."
Neal A. Maxwell 

"One word frees us of all weight and pain in this life. That word is love."

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Los Padres Pelton! Ayayay

This past weekend was President's Day and a visit from los Padres Pelton! They pretty much come up to Provo and visit for a weekend or so every month, and I love it. There is nothing like a visit from Mom and Dad to lift your spirits, fill your tummy, and ease your stress. (Not to mention, the long weekend was very much appreciated.) On Thursday, I had dinner at Zupas with my mom, Sister Bell, and a bunch of girls from the Southlake Ward! It was so good to catch up with my hometown girls and reconnect. I miss them, and it's so lovely to see their beautiful faces :) Friday night I went to the BYU Singer's concert with Ben, which was spectacular. I am always so impressed by the talent here at BYU... incredible. On Saturday, I had to face the necessary evil of the Testing Center and take an Econ test. No comment on how that went. Luckily, though, I was able to recover with some delicious Mexican food and a family game night! Bacon-wrapped, cheese-smothered shrimp fajitas and a few rounds of Farkle were just what the doctor ordered. Especially the shrimp fajitas. Sunday night we had our family dinner, and my mom made shrimp creole (again, the shrimp!!!). It was amazingly delicious and filled my tummy enough to get me ready the next day for... SKIING. I love to ski, and I love even more to ski with my family. Only my dad, Chelsea, Paul, and I were able to go, but it was still really fun. It was the first real good snow of the season and a beautiful, sunny day. Granted, Sundance was teeming with pre-teens and families alike,  trying to take advantage of the free day of good snow, but it was still fun once you got past the crowds. I  made a goal to go skiing more this semester, and I've gone about 4 times already, which I feel is pretty good! Could be better, but still good. After skiing, we parted ways, and I tried to be productive and do homework (which was silly to think that I'd do that after a day of skiing, but at least I'm optimistic). We then had dinner at Macaroni Grill, one of my favorites. The highlight of my night was probably when Cortney was asked Caitlin where Auntie Cassie was, and Caitlin pointed right at me and smiled! My heart melted, I was so happy. It was so fun to spend time with mis padres and mi familia! Can't wait until next month's visit ;)
Me, Daddy, and Chelsea at Sundance

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Heart Day!

Happy Valentine's day, singles awareness day, heart day, love day, Cupid's day, bows and arrows day, yadda yadda yadda. Basically, I hope that today you focused on the things and people that you love :) A lot of people think that Valentine's Day shouldn't be a real holiday, but I heartily disagree. Yes, I fully understand that sense of dread for the day when overly affectionate couples will embrace on campus and girls will be carrying around bouquets of flowers for everyone to see (really guys, really? you couldn't just give them to her later?). But let's try to look past that. I view Valentine's Day as simply a celebration of love, a day to remind us to love a little bit harder. It doesn't have to be romantic love; in fact, I almost think it's better if it's not romantic. I love my family, my cats, my roommates, my friends, my classmates, my ward members, my cookies, my shoes, my dinner group, my blog readers... so many things! So on Valentine's Day, I honor all the things that I love. Cheers to a life full of love, whether it be romantic, platonic, deep, eternal, fleeting, reciprocated, or one-way... it's all peachy!

Me and my Valentine's Day cookies!

Nothing says "love" like a heart-shaped frosted sugar cookie.

In other news, I also cooked for my dinner group tonight. Whitney and I joined a group of 12 other students in our apartment and we take turns cooking for each other Monday-Thursday. So, we only have to cook dinner like once every 3 weeks... it's great. Tonight I cooked my mom's delicious chicken enchiladas! They turned out pretty good, if I say so myself. I'm always a little nervous to cook my mom's food because I feel like it will just never taste the way I know it should. But, I think I may have done it this time! They were cheesy and creamy and yummy. Hopefully everyone in my dinner group enjoyed them and the little Valentine's surprise I made them! (...the sugar cookies... not that exciting.)

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Easy as Pie

Nothing better than an apple-raspberry pie on a Sunday night! Many thanks to Ben for letting me help him make it :)

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Love is in the air

This past Sunday, Whitney wanted to get all crafty and make Valentine's Day decorations. So, naturally, we did. We both love to be creative and make things, so this was the perfect project for us to do on a quiet Sunday evening. Whit focused on creating cute paper heart bunting, and I taught myself how to make a tissue paper pom-pom garland. It turned out pretty cute if I say so myself. We also have a "Love is..." wall that is covered with hearts that complete the phrase. My personal favorite is "Love is... Zac Efron." Just saying...

Garland and twinkle lights for Valentine's Day
Here is the tutorial I used to make the garland. It was pretty simple, even though it was my first time to make it.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Dancing Queen

...Young and sweet, only seventeeeeen Ohooohohohohohohohoooooohhh! Just admit it: you sang along as you read the title. Whit and I have just been dancing our socks off recently. Every Wednesday night, the Provo community center has Country dancing, and it is so fun! Whitney is taking a country-western dance class, so she's been wanting to strut her stuff on the dance floor, and, naturally, I wanted to come along and watch. It also helped that I got a new pair of cowgirl boots for Christmas, so I needed to break them in with a few line dances. We went dancing with two other girls from the JC, Andie and Marianne, and we all had the best time! I was a little worried that there wouldn't be very many guys for us to dance with, but there was a surprising number of available young (and older...) men that were willing to push us around the dance floor. I'm not a super talented dancer, and I don't know a lot of fun country moves, but I got pretty good at following the guys! I did a few turns, a few dips, some cool twisty arms things, and even a back flip. This is serious stuff at the Center. Most of the guys are really nice, but every so often you get an older man who is a little bit on the creepy side and puts his face way to close to yours. I guess it's just the price you have to be willing to pay to go dancing as a single lady haha. Overall, though, Country Dancing Wednesday will probably become a beloved tradition.

Our second dancing occasion this week was the Girls' Choice Winter Ball. I am pretty proud of myself actually, because I have never asked a boy to a Girls' Choice dance before, but I did this time! My whole apartment decided to ask some boys in our ward, so it wasn't as scary or awkward as I imagined it being. I think we all had a fun time! It was a semi-formal/formal dance, so it was a good excuse to dress up and get all fancy :) (Except I completely forgot to take pictures, which almost defeats the point of dressing up, but oh well.) We first cooked dinner for our dates and made them Chicken Alfredo. My roommate Emily also made these awesome little desserts too- mini cheesecakes with a cookie crust and cherry topping. Um, delicious. Then, we were off to the dance! There was a pretty good turnout, and we all just had fun dancing and being goofy. We even got to meet up with some JC friends- Robin, Jeff, Amy, and Eliza. It was so fun to hang out with them. It ended up being a really fun night full of food, good company, and lots of dancing.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Oh Jerusalem, If I Forget You...

So, I've been putting this post off for about a month. This is my final wrap-up of the most amazing semester of my life- my semester abroad at BYU Jerusalem. I haven't been wanting to write this final post because then it would feel like the experience is actually over. But it is. At least, the actual experience is over, but the memories, friends, and influence that the experience had on my life will always remain. As I've said in many other posts, it's impossible to try to recount all of the things I did in Jerusalem and all of the amazing things I saw; so as my final post, I'd like to just write about what I'll take away from the Holy Land. On one of the last nights, I write a pretty long entry in my journal, and I think it just about sums up how I feel. Here are some parts of it:
This past week I've been pretty homesick, but now that we leave this Thursday, I'm really sad to be letting this go. Never again will I be surrounded by such amazing children of God that have the same goals and focuses, where we are all learning about ourselves and our Savior, in the very place that the Bible took place. I know it will never be like this again. But, I can carry this feeling with me, along with all that I have learned and my strengthened testimony... When Elder Holland visited here last April, he said something that I heard a few times, and it's really stuck with me. It was to the effect of: "Shame on you if you are not changed by this experience forever and go right back to the way you were before." That just really struck me, and it has bee the motivating force behind my actions here, that I will be a changed, improved servant of my Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, my Lord and King. I am determined to be changed. I am resolved to keep progressing and learning and becoming each and everyday a better disciple and true follower of Christ. When He comes again, I will know Him because I will be like Him. I have, over this semester, come to know Jesus as my friend, truly my elder brother and protector, my Savior and comfort. I know that He was born just a few miles away in Bethlehem, in a humble manger, to a young and pure virgin Mary. I know He taught in the temple, raised the dead, fed the multitudes, calmed the storm, and walked on water. I know He entered the Garden of Gethsemane, just on the Mount of Olives, and pleaded with the Father, bled from every pore, suffered all my pains, felt all my loneliness and trial, was comforted by an angel, then submitted His entire will to the Father. I know He then was arrested, falsely accused, mocked, burdened with a cross, and crucified. I know He died for me, and most of all, I know He rose on the third day and now lives for me. I couldn't be more grateful for anything else. I truly stand all amazed at His love, and it is so wonderful and joyous to me. I am so blessed to have had this opportunity to study in Jerusalem and come to know my Savior as a person and friend... I am so richly blesses, I really don't deserve it. But, that just places a responsibility on my shoulders to fully internalize this and incorporate it into my life, so much so that my testimony and light are apparent to all I come in contact with. I want it to be obvious that I am a true believer and follower of Christ. 
 The final two weeks in Jerusalem were probably my favorite. Classes were basically over, all the finals were done, and we just went on field trips and talked about Christ all the time. What could be better, honestly? I loved walking through the last week of Jesus' life and spending time in the Old City and West Jerusalem for the last few times. On my last day, I had a few places that I was determined to visit, and I got to do just what I wanted :) We started off by going to the Church of St. Mary Magdalene (wasn't on my list, but that's ok), then I went to the Garden Tomb. This was the main place I wanted to go. We got there at the perfect time too--usually it is full of tour groups, but for some reason, it was perfectly peaceful and calm. It was just the way I wanted to remember it as my last time. After having lunch back at the JC, we went to the Garden of Gethsemane. I was feeling a little stressed about packing and cleaning and leaving and sticking to a schedule, but as soon as I sat down in the private garden, I felt at peace. My worry melted away, and all I had to think about was Christ. My experience there was definitely one of the highlights of my entire semester.

Leaving the JC was very surreal. I didn't cry, I didn't really say a lot of goodbyes, I didn't really feel like we were leaving at all. Even the plane ride home was calm for me. In fact, I still don't think it's truly hit me, and it's a month after the fact. Maybe because the whole experience just seems like a dream. I mean, I just lived in Jerusalem for three and a half months... Who does that??? The first time it really and truly sunk in was when we had our first JC reunion in Provo and I realized how much I truly missed living on top of everyone and talking about the amazing experiences we had. It's crazy how influential something so short can be on your entire life. But it happens, and it definitely happened to me. And I couldn't be happier about it :)