Monday, July 18, 2011

The End ... ?

Well! It's my first time blogging since the new blogspot interface was implemented. It's very different since they changed it, for those of you who don't know what it's like on the other side of this publication process, and it may or may not have been a factor in my absence for the last few weeks. I honestly don't know.

This is somewhat of a scary time for me because I'm not sure if I will be blogging again after this. Lots of things have been going on in my head regarding the purpose of my blog and how it's not the same as it used to be, as well as my stage in life at the current moment. A fellow blogger friend and I have been briefly discussing our similar periods of writer's block. Her theory is that she's in a transitional chapter of her life right now, whereas it may be, for me, that the last 14 months or so that I've kept this public internet journal made up a chapter of my life by itself, and it's time to move on from that.

You might not understand why I've put so much effort into figuring out what went wrong and caused me to lose the desire to write, but for ways that take a long time to explain, this blog has been very important to me as a young adult, especially throughout the 19th year of my life. Perhaps, because of the timing, it has something to do with the fact that I'm in a new-ish relationship right now - maybe if I didn't have someone to talk to about life, I'd still be going on about insignificant nothings in my usual less-than-poetic form. Writing to explore a viewpoint or critique a product was always fun; however, for those diary-like purposes of the blog, it has come to my attention that my interest in recording the details of fun experiences like I used to has suddenly waned tremendously. I no longer go about my days thinking of what cleverly devised descriptions I will use when I write about them later. Unless this is a phase, I may be undergoing some developmental changes and realizations about myself that are making me into the woman I ... am ... becoming ...

Just then my train of thought ended up in a neverending circle. Anyway. To explain a little better: Reflecting upon my last two years of college, I realize that they were both filled with growth and learning about myself. However, I feel that for the majority of the time that I was riding high with this project of mine, it was because my mindset was all about doing things and making memories. That would explain all the lists of things I wanted to do, and things that I was proud I had done. Now for some reason I don't care about the records as much, and while I'm sad about not sharing the memories of this summer, I don't want it to seem like nothing extraordinary has happened. In my heart, I know the joy I felt for life when I could express it through words was always there, even during the times I couldn't (and still can't) bring myself to write about it. A lot of spiritual things have been happening inside me this year, which may also contribute - as I've always said, this anthology is not for the deep. Intellectually, sometimes it was, but where my soul is concerned, that stuff stays inside.

So if this year of blogging is coming to an end because I'm drawing closer to my Savior in ways that provide richer satisfaction than a well-written post, then I will gladly accept that the time is up. There is still a part of me that believes the small ounce of creativity I have that kept me going this long will stay with me forever, and after some time I won't be able to stay away. Not that I'm trying! Afterall, if I'm going to stick with this accounting degree (and lifestyle?), I may HAVE to have an outlet for creative expression after dealing with numbers and data 24/7. Plus, being able to get these thoughts down somewhat cohesively just now reminded me of how rewarding it is when I actually CAN do it.

Apologies for the vagueness, but this may or may not be Goodbye. For the sake of consistency, it would be difficult to come back here after letting so much time go by without posting a darn useful thing. So we'll see what the future holds. There is a sadness in my heart for what I'm not sure is exactly happening right now, but I have hope for the future. God bless you all, and perhaps I'll see you on another screen sometime.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

My Favorite Summer Trends

Current Fashion Trend: Feather hair extensions!! Spunky celebrities like Steven Tyler, Ke$ha, Nicole Richie, and plenty more have been seen with them lately. Two friends and I went on a mission last weekend to find a salon where we could get some, and I can proudly say I'm currently sporting some bright yellow and blue feathers in my hair as we speak. It's been a few days and I've learned to be gentle when washing and combing my hair, but they're pretty easy to work with as long as you don't forget they're there and accidentally tear them out. My personality is typically one that must have everything matching, so in a roundabout way these extensions are good at forcing me not to care so much about my appearance, when 90% of the things I wear don't match them at all. My attitude now is like "Eh, whatever. They still look cool and I can wear cute things at the same time but it's not a big deal if the coordination is off."

Current Date Trend: Going to the park. This timeless idea will probably always be around, because there is nothing more romantic than a leisurely spent afternoon outside with your significant other, spent frolicking around blissfully under the protection of towering shady tree branches. Bring a ball to play catch with, have a Taco Bell picnic (or not...), push each other on the swings, and then spend some time resting on the ground in good conversation with the head of one person lying sweetly on the lap of another. Just like in the movies. (Cliches exist for a reason.)

Current Food Trend (for me anyway): After 20 years of living, I've finally come around to the flavors of mayonnaise and ketchup mixed together. Yes, people. I've been a Utahn all my life and just now I'm falling in love with fry sauce.

Current Music Trend: Songs with a positive self esteem message. This has been carried over since the beginning of the year, so it's not just a summer trend. But anyway! Examples: "Who Says" by Selena Gomez, "Perfect" by P!nk, and "Just the Way You Are" by Bruno Mars. In a world where people are always pressured to be better and look prettier (even way back in the Bible days - just read the book of Esther), it's nice to hear every once in a while that change isn't necessary and we are beautiful just as we are. If you can think of any other songs that fit this description, let me know, because I feel like starting a playlist!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Weekly Update on Independence Day

I still cannot seem to put thoughts occurring in my head about life into some coherent structural form of written language. Small ideas keep popping up, things that are fun and interesting to converse about, like the difference between happiness based on living in the moment, and happiness based on creating memories you will be able to look back on, like a collection of trophies. But for some reason I don't want to write about these things anymore!

This time last year I was celebrating some sort of holiday in the month of July with fireworks and friends. Today I did the same thing - Independence Day! - but with friends I didn't even know last year, specifically one very special person I can't imagine life without right now. It's strange how much things can change in a year, how fast a year will go by, and how fast 5 weeks will go by and seem like they never happened. 

But let's not go the personal route of my life as a growing young adult learning about relationships and what-not. Instead, here's a brief list that sums up my day:

Things I Learned on the Fourth of July, 2011

- Clearfield does a good firework show
- There is a reason some flip flops only cost $2
- 4th of July weather isn't always hot and sunny and pleasant like you expect
- Rumbi Island Grill has really good chicken bowls
- Sometimes an afternoon spent doing nothing with a person you really like can be a really great afternoon
- Chinese Oreos have flavored frosting (mango orange!) and could give American Oreos a run for their money

That is all for now. I'm doing my best here, blog, and future Shannon (I know you will re-read this again sometime). The words may be scarce, but can I get an A for effort?

Happy Birthday, America.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Inspirational Sandwiches

Do you ever feel like a pregnant lady, given the amount of times you crave some new food you've recently fallen in love with? That's what I feel like now. For some reason I'm completely fancied - twitterpated - enamored -  by sandwiches with bean sprouts and avocado in them. Particularly when they also have turkey and tomatoes and yummy fresh bread. I think this fascination started when I had my first Jimmy John's sandwich a couple months ago, and ever since I keep looking for other things with those ingredients to indulge in. But nothing else matches the flavor my tongue so longingly desires!

For only the second time so far in my life, I returned to Jimmy John's tonight. By myself. With Bible study homework on the side. BLISS. I found the sandwich again - #12, no cucumbers - and was instantly in Heaven. My ravenous state at the time only contributed to how fast I devoured that thing, and shamefully, too. I was fully aware at all times that the speed at which the Beach Club entered my digestive system was unnatural, all the while thinking "Those employees who have nothing to do behind that counter besides watch me eat probably think I'm a beast right now." But my self-conscious thoughts could not trample the joy received from my satisfying meal. 

Keep in mind, people, that the Beach Club is not on the 8" Sub Sandwich menu. It's on the Giant Club Sandwiches Menu, which basically means I came about 1.5 inches short of eating a foot long sandwich all by myself, because that's how much I got down before my willpower kicked in and said stop eating or you'll be carrying an uncomfortable food baby later on. I'm actually surprised that I didn't have one anyway, because the amount of food I DID eat was quite a lot. But it was just hitting the spot, you know?? Currently I'm giving myself a mental pat on the back for even stopping at all. If I'm being completely honest, I don't know for sure if it was a foot long sandwich, but it had to have been at least 10 inches. 

This may be the most boring post ever, because who reads one paragraph about my love affair with bean sprouts and avocados in sandwiches, and decides they'll continue pursuing such intellectually stimulating material? If you got to the end of this, congratulations. I never expected my sad period of writer's block to be broken by a sandwich, but what can I say? I was just that inspired. For the duration of my meal I was wishing I could share my joy with somebody, and then I remembered that's what my blog is for, so here I am again! Back on the job. Of ... journaling about sandwiches ... 

Thank you, Jimmy John's for making my day.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Useless Post

Neglect. Abuse. Mistreatment.

I'm afraid I am guilty of committing each of these acts towards my blog in failing to write for over two weeks. I am ashamed and deeply sorry. To whom, I do not know. My inner self, mostly.

How could I not have blogged right away upon getting home from family vacation on Monday? The funny thing about long trips is that when you have too MUCH to talk about, you don't have anything to talk about. That, and I got lazy. And busy. Because work is kicking my butt.

I don't even want to be blogging right now, actually. Although I've had a good week. The major events that stand out are: numerous hours coffee-making, a BBQ with IV down in Salt Lake (where I spent most of the time inside sitting on the floor or the couch to avoid the heat), counting down the days till July 3rd, and wasting nine dollars on The Hangover Part II just a few hours ago. I still have yet to learn that no matter how curious I am if a raunchy movie like that is funny or not, I should go with my instinct and trust that I'll end up being more grossed out than entertained.

I sincerely hope I can get back into the writing mood, because I actually have things to talk about. It's just that stupid writer's block thing, you know? Except a different variety, one where I simply don't feel like writing even though I do have ideas. LAME. The weird thing is that I've checked up on my blog's stats a few times and I still get a few random people reading everyday, even though my last post was June 9th. Or at least they open the site, if not also allow their eyes to scan upon the page and soak in a few words.

This is pretty dumb but there's seriously nothing left for me to say. Click here to find out the song stuck in my head right now (such a good one!). It's about all I can do to let the world glimpse any part of what's going on in my mind at this time, since my words don't seem to be working. Bagigglefleh...

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Love Languages

I should be packing right now. Considering I have a limited amount of time to be spent at home in the next 33 hours (working so much!! yaaaaaaah!!) to do so. At least today I planned all my outfits for the cruise, and it comes down to this: 10 shirts, 7 pairs of shorts, 2 skirts, 4 dresses, 1 sweater, 1 bathing suit, 4 pairs of flip flops, and 4 pairs of other shoes. So far. And that's pretty much for 7 days. This is where 100% of the male species scoffs at my ridiculousness, some unknown portion of my fellow females do the same or don't react, and I happily say Man, am I glad to be a girl. Just refer to my past posts about shopping if you need a better grasp on why I love clothes so much. Anyway - vacation time soon. I'm pretty excited.

But the main subject of the post: I'm almost done reading The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman. It's essentially a book written to help married couples be happier and avoid the common plagues of, well, unhappy marriages, all through learning how spouses communicate love differently. Sometimes we don't realize it, but people prefer certain expressions of appreciation over others, and it's critical to be aware of that in relationships if you want them to thrive. Based on the stories in the book, it's clear that most marriage problems usually boil down to one person neglecting to express love in the way the other person receives/understands it, because they are unaware that they speak different love languages. This book talks about the theory of the 5 basic love languages, devoting much attention to how you can better show love according to your spouse's preference.

For as long as I planned on reading the book, I didn't know how much it completely focused on marriages. I thought the topic would be spoken about more generally, so that I could apply the principles to all sorts of relationships. It's not that easy. There are different versions of the book (singles, teenagers, etc.), but I actually think it would be a different thing altogether to compare communicating love in a committed romantic relationship to communicating love in platonic and familial relationships. However, I've still found the book pretty interesting, and I'll be sure to keep the wisdom for when I actually do get married.

The whole time I've been reading, I've been trying to figure out what MY primary love language is, out of

Words of Affirmation
Acts of Service
Giving Gifts
Physical Touch, and 
Quality Time. 

There's a quiz at the end if you really can't tell after reading about each one and following the clues Chapman talks about, but I haven't gotten to it yet. For some people, what they might've suspected at the beginning is completely opposite of what they truly are. In my case, the one thing I was originally sure of ruling out was Giving Gifts, but I'm starting to think maybe that's actually one of my biggest ones. This is because a good indicator of the way you prefer to receive love may be the biggest way you GIVE it, and one of my favorite pleasures in life is giving gifts and surprising people. In every close relationship and friendship I've had, I can think of many instances I planned and planned to come up with the perfect creative gift, whether it was for a special occasion or not, and I get so excited about seeing their reaction. Another reason I say I might be a Gift person is because I have been noticing about myself how much I appreciate those small things, like flowers on the first month anniversary, or the way I was asked to senior prom with a teddy bear (even though I don't really like teddy bears), or the time my dad pulled me out of school to go have lunch just because. Sometimes the forms of expression overlap - the lunch date was a combination of gift giving and quality time - but overall the thing they have in common is that they all showed that I was thought of, and that means a lot to me.

Before I started reading this book, I talked about it with a friend who had just finished it, and my first question for her was how can you only have one love language? Her response, which I'm finding true from the book, is that you don't. Everyone operates within some degree of all 5 love languages, but there is always one or two that you strongly prefer over the others. On a ranking system, those that get higher marks, a 15/20 for example, are more important than the ones getting 6s and 4s. And today my coworker put it in a great new perspective for me: The 5 love languages are all things you need to pay attention to in your marriage to keep each other happy and feeling loved. It would be silly to zero in on the one or two chapters of the book you think apply to your relationship, because all of them include good advice.

Again, so far I've found it slightly difficult to apply to myself, simply because I'm NOT married, and I haven't been in such a serious and longlasting relationship yet. It's hard for me to even figure out what my primary love is, because it's all in romantic terms, and frankly, I'm still a youngin' when it comes to that stuff. I hope in the future I can check out the Singles version and see how it differs, and if I can gain any more insight from comparing the two. But in any case, I will now always be on the lookout to see how my closest loved ones react to different forms of love expression. All in all, whether you place a name on the theory or not, the basic idea behind this strategy and many others is you should pay attention to how people like to be loved, and strive to love them in those ways so they feel the most appreciated. Agree? Ok. Now go read the book and let's have a discussion about it.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Wedding Dreams

Dear Future Husband,

You are either reading this now because the year is something like 2018 and we are engaged and I've directed you to this page (still on the internet after all these years!), or I don't yet know you are my future husband but you're thinking about popping the question and you want to know what you're getting yourself into. Well here it is - I love weddings. Sometimes all I do for an afternoon is look through random couples' engagement photos, plan my entire bridal party's attire on a website, or watch episode after episode of shows like Say Yes to the Dress. That last one is mostly because my mom usually has it turned on first, but I do enjoy it. Some of my favorite chick flicks revolved around weddings - Runaway Bride, 27 Dresses, and I Love You, Man (ok, not a chick flick, but still gives you the warm fuzzies). Plus, if I ever open a wedding catalogue in the store, you can bet I'll have to plop down on those dirty linoleum floors by the candy bar rack and stare at every page in amazement until my eyes dry up and fall out of their sockets. An estimated half an hour or so at least.

So as you can gather from that first paragraph and the general view our society has from the female gender as a whole, weddings are one of the most fun things for a girl to daydream about. For a long time now I've even been pretty set on the location I want to GET married. I had an actual dream dream where my wedding was being planned, with a date and floral arrangements and everything, but then at the end I realized I didn't have a fiance yet. Haha. So really, all I need to focus on for the next 8 years or so is finding the right person to spend the rest of my life with. Besides college and a career, of course. Because the rest of the details will be cake.

But I digress. The point of this post is that my current obsession on this topic is the idea of having my wedding pictures taken at an amusement park!! I'm always going to be a kid at heart, and never will I stop loving how every part of an amusement park is there to make you smile and melt away your worries about the rest of the world so you can have fun for a day. I'm a fan of classy tradition and all that, but the more appealing themes to me are always the unique ones with bright colors and a cute idea that just oozes energy and happiness. Here are some photos I've found online at various blogs and websites, none of which I take any credit for. They are here because they inspire me, and I hope my wedding pictures can turn out similar, with our own flair. So take note, future husband, because if you're not up for this kind of fun, we might as well not be getting married at all. Except if you're this far already, you probably know me well enough that this doesn't surprise you at all, which is how it should be. And to the rest of the world: Feast your eyes, and be jealous - but don't steal my idea if we know each other personally and you happen to get married before I do.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

#11: Iron & Wine

What a fun birthday present! YB and I gave each other tickets to the Iron & Wine concert in Salt Lake for our birthdays, which are within the same 4 weeks. It was a pleasant evening of soulful, live indie music, one where we strategically found a spot to stand on the steps that gave us perfect viewing of the bands on stage. It wasn't super close, but in the small venue that it was, anywhere was close enough (unless you happened to be all the way back by the bathrooms). For once in my life I was able to overcome my shortness and NOT have heads in the way! Amazing!

Iron & Wine is well-known as an indie-alternative band. Their opening act was The Head and the Heart, from the same genre, but not as well-known. In a few years, though, that might change - their music rocks and the audience loved them. Comprised of 4 guys and a girl who all switched off instruments and sang as well, The Head and the Heart created dynamic songs using all sorts of sounds with varying tempos and rhythms. Their fine-tuned voices all meshed very well and allowed them to portray a wide array of emotions, from melancholy to excited. I really felt a sense of teamwork from the band; not one person was made to stand out more than anyone else. What made the performance even more enjoyable was that they simply looked like they were just having a blast, as if it didn't matter if the venue was full of people or if their audience was only 10. The impression I got was they enjoy what they do because they do it for themselves, not to please other people, but having that appreciation was simply a perk. 

Then Iron & Wine came on and delivered an equally entertaining show, with major rearrangements and switch ups of the songs people know from their albums. I only knew a couple of their songs to begin with, but it didn't matter because I was just enjoying the well-done live music. Sam Beam is the main man in charge here, with the softest voice to accompany his soothing acoustics. I'm thinking maybe his power comes from his righteous beard, which makes him look like Abraham Lincoln and Zach Galifianakis combined, but the band wouldn't be complete without his large company of wingmen. I counted 5 guys in a semicircle behind Sam, 3 on the side playing woodwinds and brass instruments, and 2 backup singers. That's a lot of people. Like The Head and the Heart, they all traded around instruments frequently to create a medley of sounds that could either put you to sleep like a lullaby, or get you up and dancing to their groovy rhythms. I didn't know Iron & Wine could be so funky - I wasn't expecting to be foot tapping or head-bobbing, but it happened. And I liked it.

Overall the night was a success. There weren't any sound problems, except for in the beginning when they were quickly fixed as per instruction from the band members. No fancy lights, projections, or even background posters were made to distract from the music. Some concerts in other genres are made to be half comedy shows with jokes thrown about here and there, but the talk at this concert was minimal and the pleasant sounds were abundant. 'Twas a true indie concert, and simultaneously a rad hipster convention, where the atmosphere was simply "chill" and the thing to look at when your eyes wandered was the whimsical fashions of the guys and girls who dared to be different. Except if everyone's a hipster, then no one's a hipster,  right? I wonder how they felt when they looked around and saw people wearing outfits that were even cuter than theirs. Good thing all I cared about was being comfy, cause that I was. Anyway. Enough said. Picture time:

Monday, May 30, 2011

First Time Tanning!

My mom is going to think I'm crazy for blogging about tanning first thing right when I get home. This is because it was a new experience for me, and I have all these details in my head that I'm going to forget if I put it off. Have you ever been tanning? It's kinda weird. If you've read my blog for a while, you'll know that last summer I burned a TON in order to get tan (it wasn't always intentional, though), and by September I was probably the darkest I've ever been. Mom and I are trying to prepare for vacation by tanning a few times in the less than two weeks we have left, but personally I had already wanted to go tanning just to have my skin dark because I like it better that way. But of course neither of us knew what the heck we were doing - whenever tanning comes to mind I just think of the scene in Final Destination 3 where those girls get trapped in the booths and something random falls over, turning up the temperature so high that they pretty much boil. And die. It's kind of gory. But anyway, thankfully the pretty sunkissed girls who worked at the salon were blessed with a good amount of patience as they walked us through all the explanation and helped us figure out what package to get. It took about 15 minutes just to get all figured out. So kudos to them!

The actual tanning part was kinda weird. I didn't know there were so many different beds that give you different amounts/kinds of UV rays. They put me on the "Turbo" bed, which only uses UVB rays I think ... for 5 minutes, since it was my first time and I have Type 1 skin, which is the whitest and easiest to burn. If it were up to me, I would've stayed in at least another 5 minutes; who knows if I would've gotten burned or not. My skin looks exactly the same as it did before, so maybe next time I'll do 6 or 7 minutes if they don't think that's too dangerous. Immediately upon turning on the bed I sensed that familiar feeling of stuff going into your skin. It brings back happy memories of lounging out on the boat directly under the hot sun, knowing for certain that my skin was changing by the minute because the absorption feeling was so intense. I had always wondered if the tanning beds were actually hot like the sun is, and my observation was that it probably would've been a little toasty if not for the fans - good thing they have those.

Final Destination: This chick dies, but I won't.

For all my five minutes in the bed I basically just stared at the "ceiling" in an almost stupor, as I was a little freaked out by the whole thing. Looking through the goggles was similar to having your vision limited to a tiny round window in a submarine. I didn't bother turning my head because there was nothing to look at. It was silent except for the loud fans, because I knew 5 minutes on my ipod would've only given me one song. I really hope the next few times we go, I can stay in for longer and gradually build up to the 20 minutes, which would mean about 5 songs. I'm still bummed that nothing happened today, but I read in a pamphlet that you need to be patient, and I guess it is safer to go a lot more for shorter times than damage my skin from being in too long just once. I really hope this works.

The other thing I'm hoping is not a bunch of bologna is their tanning lotion, which we did buy - one of the cheaper bottles, for $25. They said it helps your skin absorb the rays better. I don't know if that's true or not, but if you're gonna put it all over your body each time you go, that stuff is going to run out fast. I think it kinda smells good, but they said you end up stinking a little bit after you tan. Maybe that's why I thought I smelled something funny when I walked in the house, unable to identify what it was. My brothers didn't smell it though, so then I thought, "Oh yeah, maybe it's just me." Does this mean people who go tanning usually just go home afterwards? Because I wouldn't want to be walking around in public places if I smelled funny.

I did appreciate the tasty candy they put on my towel, the privacy of each room, and the helpfulness of the girl at the desk who answered our butt load of questions. The facility was nice, too, so I'll be happy to go back again the day after tomorrow. I'm crossing my fingers this tanning thing actually works on my ivory skin, and I'll give ya'll an update in the next few weeks, because I know you're all dying to know how it turns out. Actually I bet the only people I know who would care probably don't read my blog, so whatever. I write for me most of the time. And that's it for today. See ya!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Love Poems

I have a secret obsession with love poems. Occasionally I'll get on a kick that sends me searching far and wide across the great span of the internet, reading anything and everything till I find delicious words to drink in that quench my thirst for that certain beauty of the written language. Sometimes I fancy old-fashioned poems that bend the rules of meaning and syntax, and sometimes I fancy not-too complicated modern poems that really just make me happy inside. Here is an example of one I found on a cool site called Daily Love, submitted by a brave high-schooler:

Good Morning
By Rachel Rubinstein

The lazy midmorning sun
has barely kissed the waiting sky
when he reaches his fingertips of pink light
into our window.
Silently we sleep,
bodies intertwined and souls
sharing secrets in the faint,
vivid world that is dreamland.
The day summons me, and I awaken
next to your perfect form.
I run my fingertips over the soft skin
that covers your entire body.
I move closer to you and we become one,
two lovers, two friends, together.
Your eyes drift open and your hand finds mine.
We do not speak, words have no place.
I understand you and gazing into your eyes
I transfer my love with
a kiss.
The sun sits proudly now on his throne
in the sky.
Reluctantly, you rise from bed to start the day.
You smile at me,
lift me out of bed,
and carry me away.
Time melts into nothingness,
all that distracts my senses is you.
Countless, mindless moments
Coming back down from our elation
you whisper to me,
“good morning, beautiful.”

See what I mean?

I actually surprised myself and wrote a poem for the first time in many years, just this evening. Rarely do I feel like the words in my brain will turn out right in poetry form, and even more rarely do I even attempt to use the genre for serious thoughts. Back when I was a young whippersnapper I could toss together comical rhymes on a whim, but the few times the poems actually had emotion ... they didn't come out so good. I even erased them from my memory. Tonight, though, my fingers went a'typing and now I have a one page document I would almost say I'm proud of, that will remain on my hard drive. Because honestly, it's a little too personal for the blog, and kind of cheesy and dramatic in the way that all love stories are. But I had to say it. I had to at least acknowledge to my internet journal that it happened, and when I want to read back that piece to myself or anyone I feel like sharing it with, I will know where to find it.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Puffy Dutch Baby Pancakes

No, these are not what you get when you step on a baby with a wooden shoe, they're a really yummy, magical cross between a pancake and a crepe. They're simple (no syrup), huge, and fun to look at while they rise and get bubbly in the oven. Oh yeah, and pretty tasty. This recipe comes from an old breakfast issue of Relish Magazine, and I've made it numerous times since.

2      tablespoons butter
1/2   cup 2% reduced fat milk
1/2   cup all-purpose flour
1/4   cup sugar
2      eggs
1      tablespoon bugger, softened
       Pinch nutmeg
       Lemon wedges
       Powdered sugar
       Fresh berries

1. Preheat oven to 425° F.

2. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in 10-inch ovenproof skillet over medium heat, tilting to coat bottom and sides of pan.

3. Whisk together milk, flour, sugar, eggs, softened butter, and nutmeg in bowl. Pour into skillet. Cook 1 minute.

4. Place pan in oven and bake 12 - 15 minutes, until puffed and golden. Squeeze lemon over top and sprinkle with powdered sugar and fresh berries. Cut pancakes in pan and serve with a spatula. Serve immediately. Serves 4.

Recipe notes: "Be sure to use an ovenproof skillet, and remember the handle will be very hot! Let the eggs sit at room temperature 10 minutes before making the pancake and have plenty of lemons on hand."

MY notes:
- Good berries to use are blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries. Usually I go with two to three different kinds, and it's ok to use frozen berries as long as they are thawed out. Fresh are always better, though.
- Cinnamon sugar is also good on top, according to my little brother, if the pancakes are too plain for your liking.
- The first few times you make this, it's easier to whisk the ingredients together first, so you're not hurrying to get it done before the butter in the pan turns brown.
- 2 tablespoons of butter for the pan may be a little too much. Use whatever amount coats the pan well.
- The recipe says it serves four, but I can usually eat anywhere from one half to one whole pancake, depending on how hungry I am. So take that into account when you're making these.

(Prime puffiness, pre-powdered sugar & berries)

Friday, May 20, 2011

Another Random Survey

Questions chosen at random from a myspace survey website:

Did anything brighten up your day today?
A: Yes. 'Twas a good day in general, starting with receiving flowers from an amazing boy in honor of our one month anniversary. Some people might think it's silly to celebrate such a short amount of time, but I disagree, I think it's special.

What are you freakishly obsessed with?
A: This one's hard. I am mildly obsessed with a lot of things, but I suppose the worst might be always having to match my outfits perfectly, and that largely includes shoes and jewelry. Jeans and a t-shirt would seem like the easiest way to go, but if that t-shirt is not in color coordination with my earrings/rings and sneakers, then we have a dilemma. And yeah, I don't always just wear plain t-shirts, so sometimes this causes me great havoc in the morning. 

What is the last thing you did before bed last night?
A: Prayed. A lot. And before that, I had just gotten home from seeing Thor for the second time!

Do you ever wonder if the person standing next to you is a virgin or not?
A: What a random question! I might have wondered that once or twice, but not about strangers. Only if I was thinking about what I know about their life and relationships and was curious as to their extent/depth.

Do you believe that if you want something bad enough, you'll get it?
A: No. I think that's a rather naive outlook. To use the most extreme example, I could say I really want to inherit a million dollars, or I really want to meet Taylor Lautner (not really, this is just hypothetical), but there's no guarantee either of those things will happen. Even if you try hard enough, events of this world still operate partially on chance/luck, and sometimes things just don't work out the ideal way, regardless of all the steps you may take to succeed.

Do you have someone of the opposite sex you can tell everything to?
A: Pretty close. I think that among the few closest men in my life, there is never no one that I can't tell something to. Of course I speak about different things with the different people, so each one can cover their own ground, in a way. And with some of them, maybe I would be hesitant to share something personal at first, but if I really had no one else to talk to, I could probably just take a leap and hope they receive it in the best way possible. And considering the character of the people I have in mind, it would probably work out well.

Are you currently looking forward to anything?
A: Yes! After a meeting today, I'm looking forward to the next semester of events at Intervarsity, and the planning process that's going to start this summer. Also our family's first cruise is coming up soon (less than a month! yikes. I need a tan.) so I'm stoked for that. And I really just can't wait till summer is full-blown and this stupid monsoon season is over. 

Where do you go when you need to just get away?
A: I'm still figuring this out. Last time that feeling came over me (blogged about it!), I really did just want to get as physically away as possible from my life, and I ended up in Evanston, Wyoming. Other times when it's not so bad I'll go for a shorter drive, or hide away in my room and listen to music. 

Would you prefer being locked in a room with your ex or your worst enemy?
A: What if my ex is my worst enemy, huh? Just kidding. I don't think I have any enemies, but if I did, I would prefer to be locked in a room with them instead, so we could hash out whatever crap is keeping us from getting along. If I were asked this a year ago, I might've answered with the ex, as if unresolved feelings could be worked out in that setting, yet in my logical mind now I hardly think that a few hours in solitary confinement with noted person would be enough to heal what only time does (did). 

What's something that can always make you feel better?
A: After thinking about this a lot, I've decided the answer would change depending on what was making me feel bad in the first place. My first response was going to be that I'll always feel better from hearing words of confirmation or thanks from my friends or family. Just a random text or something that reminds me I'm loved and appreciated. Then I realized that answer was tied to the unhappy memory of feeling lonely a lot in the past, whereas now I'm a lot less lonely and I could think of other things that would make me unhappy and require a different sort of ... "treatment." So yeah. Donuts are nice and all when I'm having a bad day, but they'd probably make me feel worse later on because they'd only be contributing to the collection of lard on my thighs. Maybe flowers, though. Yeah ... flowers are nice. :)

See how that just went full circle? Started and ended with receiving flowers. We'll just pretend that was an intentional literary device used to enhance my rhetoric. Or something ...

And that's a wrap! Peace out. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Vision Improvements & Disney Architecture

Today I got my glasses in from Costco. First time I've ever had glasses in my life! It seems like everybody has problems seeing these days - I used to pride myself on the fact that I was one of the few who could say I don't wear contacts or use any other visual aide. But right now I'm pretty stoked about them, because I hadn't realized how much I was missing out on till now!

I wore them while driving to and from places today, and I'm continually astonished by the change in the blurriness of far-distanced things. I expected I would be able to read signs better, of course, but I didn't think about being able to see the actual details of things other than text. It came as a surprise to me when I placed the lenses on my head and immediately the first thing I saw was the criss-crossing in the chain-link fence more than a hundred feet away. Without glasses, things like that are just blurry to me; I never knew that it wasn't normal, that I could have the ability to make out details like the individual branches and leaves on the trees down the road. Even on the way home tonight, I could easily glance into the windows of people's homes I was passing and I felt like a creeper because every thing inside was distinguishable, as if I were spying on the inhabitants through binoculars.

Until I get used to them, these glasses might actually hinder more than help my driving, since I'm so amazed at how different my vision is that I keep taking them on and off, comparing the two, and all I want to do in the canyon is stare at the side of the mountains because they are so much prettier now that the fog is lifted from my eyes. It's hard to look at the road when there are so many cool things to admire everywhere else!

I also think the frames on my face are kinda cute. Well, naturally I was going to pick a style that I liked, but I'm sort of digging that librarian look on myself, if that's not too vain.

And the second thing I learned from this experience (besides how much I couldn't see before) is that my face is really short. They had to bend the ear hook things pretty close to the lenses themselves, so that they stick out far enough that when folded, they don't fit in the glasses case I was provided. We may have to do something about that.

The other noteworthy event from my day is that I finished my 3D Cinderella's Castle puzzle, which Scott helped me start on Monday. Towards the end it was a frustrating process, one in which the loony side of me started to emerge as I began talking to the puzzle itself, coaxing/threatening the pieces into staying right where they were instead of inching out of position, leading to possible destabilization of the whole thing. But overall it was really fun and rewarding. It had been a long time since I'd done an activity like that, where you get a sense of accomplishment after completing something difficult by yourself. Plus it gave me lots of quiet-time, which is kinda rare in this day and age, since it seems like there is always some sort of background noise going on. So yeah. Mission accomplished, and thanks to my boyfriend for helping me start it and actually enjoying that as a hangout activity! Here's the finished product (but for some reason it won't upload in the correct orientation, so you'll have to turn your head:

Monday, May 16, 2011

My Favorite New Things

I realize that it has been one week since I last posted. I seriously intended on writing but I never felt like it, and I hate forcing myself to write because it never comes out as good. Lots of cool stuff happened over the past 7 days, including my 90's themed 20th birthday party, actually turning 20!, a bonfire party, an awesome benefit concert, and spending good ol' time with the people I care a lot about. My summer is almost a month over, and for a summation of its progress so far, I've created a list of my new favorite things that have shown up during all this downtime without the hassle of school or a job.

* The Cooking Channel. More specifically, the show called Eat Street, which features food trucks based in major cities all across the country. Sadly Utah hasn't caught onto the trend yet, but I SOOO can't wait for the day that we do, because we are seriously missing out of on all this unique, gourmet food that's made in cute, traveling automobiles.

* The Sacred Romance, by Brent Curtis and John Eldridge. This is a book I'm reading about the romance God calls us to and the things that block our path of following it, such as the Arrows that pierce our heart starting at a young age, the doubt that creeps into everyone's mind about the reality of such a higher being, and the issues we sometimes have trusting that God has our best interests in mind. I can't say enough good things about this book. Besides the compelling subject that gets you thinking deeply every time you sit down with it, the book is very well written. Each chapter is dense with imagery and explanations, and the sentences are so deliciously constructed, it's as if they were dripping with sweet honey. Maybe that's just me admiring great literature written for the intelligent mind, but I sure do get a kick out of it.
Sometimes I have to reread paragraphs and sections just to soak up every last part of the message.

* Making my bed. I've been putting more effort into keeping my room consistently clean, and it just makes me feel a whole lot more civilized. That mainly entails making my bed and keeping my window seat as uncluttered as possible (normally it would be topped with piles of clothes). While these things don't happen every single day, I'm on a roll and I like it.

* Working out. I hate to say the complete opposite of the opinion I've kept all my life, but I really do like exercising. My routine now consists of walking/running on the treadmill and doing strength-building exercises afterwards, plus a good amount of stretching. I still have the hardest time forcing myself to start, but once my heart rate gets up and those endorphins start spilling out, all I want to do is keep going and going! Thankfully I know some exercises from dancing back in the day, but I may have to look up some new ones because I like branching out and I want to target difference muscles. So if you have any in mind ... you know where to find me.

* "Thor." It was the last movie I saw in theaters, and I can confidently say I was entertained throughout. Quality-wise, it wasn't the best, but I was pleased with its slightly comedic tone, and impressed by how well they integrated the fantasy world of the Norwegian gods and goddesses with the real world you and I live in. I expected the transitions between the two to be awkward, but I never noticed feeling that way when I was watching it. My family also appreciated pointing out the various subtle references to other superheros of the Marvel franchise, such as Ironman, his dad (Mr. Stark), the Hulk, and even a future Avengers character that I wasn't yet aware of, named Hawkeye.

* "Train Conductor" for the Iphone. I downloaded this game for free and immediately became addicted. It's one of those where you become obsessed with continually trying to beat your old score and get as many points as you can. In the game, train tracks line across the screen parallel to each other with numbers on both ends, and trains emerge randomly with the number of the track they need to end up on. Your task is to click and drag the trains to make new tracks that appear only to get them to their destinations, without letting any trains crash. It sounds pretty simple, but past the first few levels it gets really chaotic and fun, and you won't be able to help crying out in frustration when two trains crash and it's completely not your fault. (Although it will be, but it seems unfair that the game would put you in such a sticky position. This makes it challenging and oh-so-fun.)

Monday, May 9, 2011

I Can Ryde Motercyklez

Finally! After two years of wanting this, I made it happen. I took the basic rider motorcycle training course in my local area over the span of a Wednesday night, a Saturday, and a Sunday morning. And guess what? I passed! I now can go to the DMV and trade in my special certification card for a legitimate license! Here's a little bit about the experience:

Riding motorcycles is scary if you've never done it before. I didn't even know the basic parts of a motorcycle, or how they work, and I certainly haven't driven a manual car before, so the whole clutch and shift thing was new to me. Good thing we started out super basic and took tiny steps so it wasn't terribly hard to warm up to. While I was probably the only one there with absolutely no experience whatsoever, I was still embarrassed that for the first few crawls across the parking lot it was hard to even balance. You'd think it's just like riding a bike, but your posture is different and you have a lot more weight to keep track of, distributed in different areas. And then you have to figure out exactly how smoothly you need to roll on and off the throttle so you don't have jerking motions, and it's also surprisingly easy to stall the engine by letting out the clutch too fast. Or at least on my bike it was.

At the end of the first day I was doing pretty well, since I felt relatively comfortable turning and shifting, and my teacher said I was kicking butt. Some of the exercises on the second day were fun, too, but I started forgetting some of the basic rules (ease off the throttle while you try to shift) and things were a little shakier than I would've liked at times. The test came and went so fast, I didn't feel like we were adequately prepared during the extra practice time, but everyone ended up passing. The whole course was all executed in a parking lot, so I like to think I learned the skills required to operate a motorcycle, but definitely not ride one like I know how to drive a car. I still have to get up to speeds past 20 mph and handle sharper turns and bumpy roads, not to mention adding in traffic and having to signal for turns and stop at lights and stuff. Hopefully I can get a small motorcycle of my own soon and begin to practice - a lot - with people that know what they're doing. Because there's no way I'll be able to ride a motorcycle in town with confidence unless I spend a ton of time at least on some faster country roads, and just generally getting a better feel for riding.

Already I feel like I need to get back on a bike! The total time I spent riding was probably no more than 6 hours, and if I don't practice again soon I'm afraid I'll forget what I learned. But boy was it fun! I went into the class hoping, but not expecting, that I would like riding motorcycles. And for the first hour or two I wasn't sure if I did or not, but that all changed once I got the hang of it and started to feel like I was in control. It reminded me a lot of learning how to longboard. The process is a little iffy at first, but as soon as you feel like you're catching on and you can hold your own, you're just hooked. I still miss longboarding, and I wish I could start practicing again because I wanted to keep getting better and better. But this might just be a little more fun. Plus it's a better mode of transportation. I can't exactly longboard from my house to school (or anywhere, really).

A version of the bike I was riding

So yeah, that's all I have to say about that right now. If I had had time to write during the hours after I first rode on Saturday I would have had a lot more words, but already so many other things have happened and it's starting to fade in my memory.

And if one major 20s List item wasn't enough for one day, I also got to knock off "Bake a cake from scratch," when I expertly made a Devil's Food Cake with Chocolate Butter Frosting for Mother's Day/my birthday. For some reason, this was one of the easiest things on the list that I could've done at any point in the last year, but I had to wait till the very last minute to get it done. But I'm glad I finally did, and I think it turned out pretty well. Perhaps the recipe shall be posted later. But that's it for now! In the near future I shall be providing details about the 90s themed birthday party coming up tomorrow which I am very excited for. I will be 20 years old in less than an hour! OMG!! Goodbye, teens. We had a good time. 

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Dear Mom

In honor of Mother's Day, this post is dedicated to my wonderful mom, Terri, whose love and protection for her family is one of the top strongest forces of this world, right up there on the list with such things as gravity, peer pressure, and the spell Wingardium Leviosa. Which, if you don't pay attention closely to Harry Potter, is the one that levitates things (pretty cool). 

An editorial I read in the local newspaper this week explained what moms truly desire as a gift on this special day - confirmation that they've done their job well. It's hard to imagine, but there is no handbook for raising children, or at least not for every single obstacle that comes up in each family's journey. I forget this fact sometimes because I've been raised by such good parents. Every piece of advice I've received from either of them has been delivered with confidence and optimism, regardless of whether or not they knew it was the right thing to say. Turns out my mom is pretty wise and I can't remember an instance where I didn't trust her words, so thank you, mom. 

Thank you for raising me with a strong moral foundation. Thank you for "sheltering" me, and putting me through private school, and taking us to church even though it wasn't customary for us until I entered fourth grade. Thank you for being the best example of a compassionate, nurturing, and forgiving human being. Not all lessons are learned through speaking and listening, some are just learned by watching. Ever since I can remember, whenever I was asked who my role model was for a school project or something, I couldn't think of anybody but my mom. I wanted to look up to a famous celebrity like the other kids, but I had something way better - a person whom I interacted with daily, who loved me and was my friend and teacher and disciplinarian all at the same time.

And the best part? Everyone knows the older you get, the more you realize your parents aren't perfect. It's a misconception we have as kids, and while I still continue to hold high opinions of both of them, I can now be aware of the struggles they go through in life. Nobody is fully matured by the time they start baby-making; seeing my parents handle conflict, make decisions they don't want to, and explore new beliefs and raw emotions that come with aging (not getting old!) - this is the process I enjoy at the current point in my life that shows me, again, by example, how to deal with the tough stuff. They still might be learning how to make and maintain friendships, or realizing which ones to let go of. They are still learning which financial decisions work best, and finding new hobbies or passions to enrich their lives. Many experiences I am going through right now are even shared by my mom - we're both back to searching for jobs, after working together at the same place for the past winter! And on top of all of that, parents are just kids grown up, who are now having to deal with scary things like taking care of their OWN moms and dads when health problems start to arise. 

Through all of these things and more, I've been noticing how much nobody ever knows the right thing to do in any situation, no matter how old or experienced. I want to thank my mom (and dad) for all the correct things I've been shown how to do, but also for letting me be a witness to their continuing life experiments and lessons learned. As my brothers and I become adults, I hope we can share in your joys, trials, and tribulations, and be YOUR shoulder to lean on whenever things get tough. Mom, you and I are already great friends, so I don't see this as being very difficult in the future. Thank you for everything you've done - especially birthing me in the first place, which I know wasn't the most pleasant thing, and without which I wouldn't even be here. 

1 Corinthians 13:13 says "And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love."

When God created you, he gave you one of the biggest hearts I've seen, from which love pours forth on this family every day. I am blessed to be one of the recipients, and I can only pray with thanks that I inherited a small portion of your compassionate spirit. I love you, Mom, and hope you know how much you are appreciated on this day and everyday. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Eye Need Help Reading

Praise the Lord that I can read this screen right now! I had an eye appointment today. For the first time ever my eyes were dilated, leaving me with the inability to focus on things closer than arm's distance, which was ever so annoying when I had to stop texting during the breaks of the appointment and wasn't able to play sudoku or do anything useful while waiting for the doctor to come back. I just stared at the wall in terror for 20 minutes. You know, since they always disappear and then you're left wondering if they forgot about you because they're taking so long. Except this time I was more like "Please come back because my eyes are freaking out and I really want you to just give me the exam and fix me so they go back to normal!" I knew the sunlight would kill me, but nobody informed me of the side effect of losing all focus on things close to you, so when I looked at the contraption to my right and couldn't see the numbers on the dial at all that were right in front of my face, I was instantly a little weirded out.

But the eye doctor was really nice and friendly. My dad recommended him, and I'm glad he did. I set up the appointment because it finally dawned on me after months of squinting in class, failing to read the numbers on the board, that I might need glasses. I had this same revelation a few years ago back in high school, where I DID have an eye exam but apparently I did well enough for them not to dilate my eyes, and send me home without a prescription. It must have gotten worse, though (maybe I don't get enough Vitamin A) because this time I did get the go-ahead, and I'm actually kind of excited to go pick out some glasses, and finally be able to read things that are far away. The doctor also said they'll help for driving at night, which is something I didn't think of, but I'm sure he's right and I'll be happy to benefit in that area as well.

I'm a little nervous to show up at the first round of my motorcycle course tonight with entirely black eyes. I'm definitely thankful I can read close-distance again, thus giving me the ability to take notes and such, but if anybody looks me in the eye they might run away in fear. My little brother is freaked out already, and I'll be honest, it does look a little demonish to me, too. Oh hey, did I mention I got blinded during the appointment today? The second time I had to put my face up to that thing where he shines light in your eyes real close, he must've turned on the brights, because I asked him, "How do people not get blinded by this?" He replied, "They do. Temporarily."

Ha. Ha. Thanks doc, that eased my nerves a whole bunch!

And has anyone else experienced the gross yellow liquid they put in your eyes first, that stings and makes your mascara run and your eyelids feel really sticky? My dabbing tissue ended up looking like it was used by both a greasy mechanic and an easter egg decorater, due to the yellow and black spots all over. But of course, none of that compares to the assault on my eyeballs from the sun when I walked outside, even with glasses on.  I know this is not new to many people, but I can't blog about my first dilation experience and not comment on those violent attacks that left me wanting to curl up in my car with a blanket over every window. And seriously, it HAD to be on the sunniest and most pleasant day of the season so far. Sheesh.

But it'll all be better tomorrow, right? And I'll get some cute frames and finally be able to understand the problems my professors are going over in class. Huzzah for eye appointments! Glad this time I actually got a good diagnosis.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Summer is ... Here Again!

Summer is ... Sleeping in everyday, waking to the sounds of chirping birds outside your window at 7 and rolling over to catch more z's.

Summer is ... Cruising along in your car and listening to happy pop country music, like Lady Antebellum's "Perfect Day."

Summer is ... Eating dinner at the normal time, with the sun still up and shining for a few more hours.

Summer is ... Going on adventures, like renting kayaks, exploring a beautiful and quiet lake, and then trying to pile them back on top of your car the same way the rec center people did.

Summer is ... Making fresh strawberries disappear by eating them all in one sitting, straight out of the carton.

Summer is ... NOT spending hours hanging out in a mall because why would you stay inside for that long when the weather is so nice?

Summer is ... Snowcones. :)

Summer is ... hiking along the Wasatch Front, stopping to eat fresh plums and make sandwiches on your favorite rock while looking at your entire hometown.

Summer is ... Getting into your car and feeling like you entered an oven by mistake, then blasting the AC to cool down while you get where you're going.

Summer is ... Making plans with friends completely last minute because you're all bored with nothing to do, but suddenly have an awesome idea, and nothing can get in the way.

Summer is ... Going to see the next Harry Potter movie at the midnight premiere.

Summer is ... Absorbing the sun's rays into your make-up free skin, and still feeling beautiful without mascara on.

Summer is ... Reading for hours outside on the deck, because you have time, and because - again - why would you want to be inside all day??

And finally, Summer is all of these things that appeared in picture form on my blog last year, around the same time, when I was in the similar transition phase of seeing the first signs of summer during spring and instantly being reminded of everything I love about my favorite season and look forward to in the months ahead:

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Itunes Library: Sorted

Everyone has their own preferential way of organizing things. Whether it be that their room is a mess yet they know exactly where everything is, or everything is physically separated, labeled, categorized, and orderly. When it comes to organizing music, people have their preferences, too. The Itunes library is cool because it lets you basically organize by whatever standards you want - Artist, Album, Genre, and Year are some popular ones. To some, the details of Play Count and Date Added are very important to keep track of. Personally, I might fall apart if I couldn't always list and view my music by Date Added, knowing the relative time sequence of when I purchased a song or album. I can look back chronologically, pick out a group of 20 or so songs clumped together because of their near-each-other acquisition dates, and recall exactly what time of year it was and my thoughts when listening to that music for the first time.

I thought it'd be interesting to see the top songs of my library under different categorizations. For starters, one that I'm now paying attention to slightly is the play count. It's not at all accurate, based on the fact that I doubt my phone and ipod and laptop all coordinate with each other, not to mention I still listen to CD's a lot, and those times don't get recorded. But just for kicks, at this point in time, we begin with my "Most Listened To" songs: (and some of these surprise me)

(Song) - (Artist)
Follow You Home - Nickelback (31 plays)
Shadows - RED                                                    
Start Again - RED                                                
Confession (What's Inside My Head) - RED          
Stay - Safetysuit                                                  
Into the Night - Santana ft. Chad Kroeger          
You're Going Down - Sick Puppies                    
Breath - Breaking Benjamin                                
The Downfall of Us All - A Day to Remember    
Tiny Heart - Flyleaf
Animals - Nickelback
Shakin Hands - Nickelback
Ordinary World - RED
Santa Monica - Theory of a Deadman
Rip Tide - Sick Puppies (21 plays)

Date Added, aka "Most Recently Acquired By Various Methods"

(Song) - (Artist)
Come On, Come On - After Midnight Project
Scream For You - After Midnight Project
"Tron" Soundtrack - Daft Punk
Invaders Must Die - The Prodigy (and more of their songs)
Polyamorous - Breaking Benjamin
The Red - Chevelle
Get Thru This - Art of Dying
Rolling in the Deep - Adele
What Ya Gonna Do - Hinder
Blow - Ke$ha
Born This Way - Lady Gaga
Loser Like Me - Glee Cast
I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow - The Soggy Bottom Boys
Manifesto - The City Harmonic
Symphonies - Dan Black

Largest Time, aka "Longest Songs, by Minutes"

(Song) - (Artist)
Rime of the Ancient Mariner - Iron Maiden (13:38)
10,000 Days (Wings, Part 2) - Tool
Roseta Stoned - Tool
Reflection - Tool
Save Me - Avenged Sevenfold
Concerto No. 1 in E Major "Spring" - Antonio Vivaldi
Part 1 Sunlight - Kevin Kendle
Lullaby - Sia
Soldiers of the Wasteland - Dragonforce
Deadwing - Porcupine Tree
Lateralus - Tool
Parabola - Tool
November Rain - Guns 'N Roses
Farewell/End Title - John Barry
Triad - Tool (8:47)

Alphabetically by Artist, aka "The Top "A" Bands"

(Artist) - (Song/s)
a-ha - Take On Me
A*Teens - Under the Sea
A.F.I. - Beautiful Thieves & Prelude 12/21
A.R. Rahman - Jai Ho
Aaron Copland - Hoe Down
Aaron Lewis - Country Boy
Abel - Saints
AC/DC - two albums + two songs
The Academy Is ... - Attention
Ace Young - Father Figure
Adele - one album +  three songs
Adelitas Way - one album + one song
Aerosmith - Dream On
After Midnight Project - three songs
Ak'sent feat. Beanie Man - Zingy

Alphabetically by Album, aka "The Top "A" Albums"

(Album) - (Artist)
AB III - Alterbridge
Across the Universe Soundtrack - various artists
Adelitas Way - Adelitas Way
Advisory Committee - Mirah
After the Chaos II - Royal Bliss
Aftermath - Hillsong United
Against the Grain - The Veer Union
The Age of Plastic - The Buggles
Aim and Ignite - fun.
Aladdin Soundtrack - various artists
The All-American Rejects - The All-American Rejects
All About the Scrillions - Super Mash Bros.
All-American Nightmare - Hinder
All Day - Girl Talk
All For You - Janet Jackson

Alphabetically by Song Name, aka "The Ones that Come Even Before the "A"s"

(Song) - (Artist)
99 Red Balloons - Goldfinger
90's Baby - Karina
80's Joint - Kelis
8 AM - Summer Obsession
7 Things - Miley Cyrus
5:15 - The Who
4ever - The Veronicas
45 - Shinedown
42 - Coldplay
4 Minutes - Madonna feat. Justin Timberlake
4 AM - Kaskade
369 - Cupid feat. B.O.B.
3 Weeks, She Sleeps - Blue October
3 AM - Matchbox Twenty
3 - Britney Spears

and finally...

Last Played, aka "The Last Songs I've Listened to For Whatever Reason"

(Song) - (Artist)
What Hurts the Most - Rascal Flatts
Concerto in D Minor - Antonio Vivaldi
Rolling in the Deep - Adele
Someone Else's Arms - Mae
Manifesto - The City Harmonic
My Never - Blue October
Cannonball - The Breeders
I'm Not Who I Was - Brandon Heath
In the Air Tonight - Phil Collins
Through Glass - Stone Sour
Who Says - Selena Gomez
Undo It - Carrie Underwood
Friends in Low Places - Garth Brooks
Savannah - Relient K
E-Pro - Beck

Well, that was a little eye opening. Personally I feel like I performed a science experiment just now; if I had known those answers would come up I might not have written a post about it. The alphabetical lists were especially boring, eh? My conclusion is that when you have as many as 3754 songs in your library, taking the top 15 of anything will definitely not give a good representation of the variety of your music. Not even taking the top 15 seven different ways will do it! But that was still fun. Go ahead and judge, but know that this is just the tip of the iceburg.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter Sunday = Best Seafood in Utah

Yesterday was Easter. It was weird in my house because neither of my parents were home, and I didn't know what to do with my brothers. When mom is absent, I usually feel responsible for keeping the family together and taking care of things, but I wasn't about to go cooking a nice dinner when I know all they wanted to do was make a pizza and play video games like every other day. I went to church in the morning with Captain J, at a place I haven't been before, and it was pretty awesome. I could've pretended this year like I didn't care about the religious aspect of this holiday our culture has turned into an excuse for more candy and presents, but the truth is it matters a lot to me. I'm more aware of the significance than I ever have been, not because I didn't understand it before, but because my heart hadn't been touched by it yet. The IV worship service on Saturday night also got me really pumped up, and generally the weekend has been a good one in my relationship with God.

Another relationship has been budding too, and it brought me to Scott's house for the first time yesterday when his family invited me to dinner somewhat last-minute. I got to meet his mom, and get to know both her and his dad a little more. Thankfully I already know and feel comfortable around his brother, so it wasn't a full-on stranger fest. The whole experience was really fun, and although I was naturally nervous at first about making a good impression, I felt comfortable by the end of the night. They were even so welcoming as to let me watch their hilarious and cheesy home videos with them, which they created last summer and obviously had a blast doing. 

But for those of you reading who don't care about my personal life as much as you care about other things like food, you can start paying attention now. For dinner we went to this amazing place called Market Street Grill, one of the fanciest restaurants I've ever been to. The chain has 4 main locations, boasts numerous statewide awards, and is known all around as the best seafood place in Utah. Scott's brother's girlfriend was serving us, and I can honestly say if the rest of the staff is as skilled and professional as she is, they have a great team on their hands. So, top points for the superb service, and the atmosphere was perfect as well for its theme. I felt like I could've been on the East coast, due to the simple but elegant decor, and the freshness of the food. 

I love seafood but I'm a pasta girl first, so I had to get the Dungeness Crab Ravioli that came in a creamy tomato sauce. There is nothing bad I can say about this dish, it was absolutely perfect. I would have it again and again. And would you believe that I had never tried clam chowder before in my life? The family lamented for me, as I will no longer be able to have clam chowder anywhere else, because it was the best you will find in a 200 mile radius, at least - all other chowders will pale in comparison. And even the sourdough bread was top-notch, described by the ever-eloquent Scott as "sour and doughy." Don't let his misleading words fool you, that just meant it perfectly fulfilled its role as a good bread. 

As for the rest of the food, I had a bite of Scott's super soft stuffed halibut (a specialty item not on the menu!), some of his homemade flavored lemonade, and then we all got different desserts and passed around each one to try. Maybe it's just because I'm not a good food critic, but I wasn't let down with anything I put in my mouth. I will now be looking for all kinds of occasions to use as excuses to go to the Market Street Grill again. Of course it's in a lot higher price range than most of us can afford, but you must try it at least once. If my excellent descriptive powers haven't persuaded you yet, just read this excerpt from the website's press release, which gives a much more fine-tuned summary than I:

"Literally, from soup to nuts, from fresh-baked to fresh-from-the-sea, 
the Market Street Grill restaurants offer not only exceptional value-priced 
dining, but a sumptuous selection of menu choices that will satisfy even the most 
discriminating of clientele. Recipients of numerous dining awards (Best Business 
Lunch, Best Seafood, Best Desserts), the Market Street restaurants are acknowledged as “Salt Lake’s Most Popular restaurants.”  The Zagat Guide to American’s Top Restaurants says “nobody does it better when it comes to fish…dishing menus that consistently excel in all locations – and the legendary clam chowder is second to none."

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Fast Approaching 20

My birthday is coming up, and that means I have less than 3 weeks to come as close as I can to completing everything on my List of 20 Things to Do Before I Turn 20. Plans are in the works for many things to come in the future - eating oysters, getting my motorcycle license, etc. Basically for the last school year I had so much going on that I didn't even care about the list. And anyway, it fulfilled its purpose - getting me to do fun and exciting things to make my life extra exciting. Plenty of that has been happening that I didn't even intend on, so I'm pleased. 

I won't be able to finish the whole list, but I'll come close, that's for sure. For a recap, here's where I'm at right now: (straight from the List of Lists page)

20 Things to Do Before I Turn 20

Get motorcycle license
Go on a road trip sans-parents   X
Eat oysters
Ride the Catapult at Lagoon   X
Read a piece of educated literature   X
Attempt to donate plasma again   X
Try snowboarding   X
Ride the bus   X
Bake a cake from scratch
Ice skate with a boy I like   X
Attend 8 concerts   X
Watch a documentary   X
Go clubbing
Keep driving record clean
Take a vow of silence for a day
Move out!
Attend adoration
Tie dye something   X
Go to the lady's gym   X
Keep up with my blog (at least once a week)

If you've been keeping track, you'll notice the things I checked off most recently are "Attempt to donate plasma again" and "Ice skate with a boy I like." The first mission failed - they would not let me give plasma because my veins are too small. And many people felt up my arm that day during my appointment, trying to determine if even the most expert of the phlebotomists could handle it. But it was too risky. So I was denied.

And just now a splendid afternoon date ended that involved ice skating, cooking pizza, and watching the cheesy 80s movie "Teen Wolf." The fantasy I always had of ice skating with a boy I like was perfectly fulfilled. It was a lot of sweet and innocent fun, and neither of us fell once, although he almost made me a couple times during our attempted professional figure skating maneuvers. This boy is something else! I didn't expect to have this "goal" accomplished, so I was caught off guard when it actually became plausible. After all, I hadn't thought about it all year, and then here comes this person who was not only willing to help me knock off one of my list points, but whom I love spending time with as well. It wouldn't have been as awesome with just any guy. 

Still ahead I have to tackle a day of vowed silence, baking a cake from scratch, attending adoration, and going clubbing, if possible. I know I won't get to move out yet, but that's totally fine; it will happen when the time is right. Part of me almost doesn't care about finishing the list, because right now I could easily say I'm delightfully happy and it's been a great year. But the go-getter inside of me wants to see how far I can get, so 
look out for more updates to come in the next few weeks!

Proof of the experience