Thursday, January 31, 2008

Nothing Like a Little Retail Therapy

To Help Cheer you up! Tonight, I was in somewhat of a bad mood, mostly stemming from the STUPID airlines and their ever changing prices. We bought a ticket last night for William to go and spend President's Day weekend with his parents and grandparents in Phoenix and I waited a day to make sure it was ok with a friend if I stayed with her an extra day to visit with her. When I checked today, THE VERY SAME FLIGHT had increased in price $50!!!!! I was so ticked- they really are just horrible- they truly don't care about "customer service" or anything. I couldn't believe that 1 day later, the price had gone up. This is after I had spent 3 hours searching to see if I could possibly use frequent flier miles (which they place all of these insane stipulations on) and most of the airlines to find the best deal that worked with our schedule. And then, to have it go up one day later. I was so frustrated. And for some unknown reason, there wasn't a new episode of Project Runway this week so I couldn't watch it on YouTube. Thus, I needed to get out of the house as most of the day had been in front of my computer coding newspaper articles for my dissertation and couldn't bear to look at it after this latest airline fiasco.

So, I went and spent 2 hours of good, quality RETAIL THERAPY. I went to 5 different stores, all running errands: Game Stop, Trader Joes, Target, Baskin Robbins, and Safeway. I want to say that I used gift certificates at 2 stores (Target and Baskin Robbins- THANK-YOU EVERYONE for being so generous for our wedding!) and a bunch was food items trying to have a better food storage so I don't feel too bad about it. And I feel 100% better!!!! In the end, the groceries ended up costing more than the ticket difference, but they will last us for quite awhile. I also got some books to READ FOR FUN as that will help to give me a little break from the intense dissertation work. And I think these purchases are worth it to maintain my emotional sanity! William can handle it because I rarely use retail therapy and he likes having me be in a better mood as well.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

We Thank Thee O God for a Prophet

My sister Cynthia was the first to let me know that our beloved prophet since 1995, Gordon B. Hinckley, had passed away. Following that, both of William's brothers then called to see if we had heard the news. I tried to look it up on Google news just then, but it wasn't fast enough and hadn't picked up KSL's story. However, the next day, the New York Times had two stories about him- I thought this one was good tribute (especially with the corrections at the end). While I am saddened by his death, I am overjoyed that he is reunited with his beloved eternal companion, Marjorie. Her death was hard on him, yet, he continued to do the work he was called to do. Pres. Hinckley is such an incredible example to me of someone who truly lived his entire life building up the kingdom of God on the earth. He worked for the church professionally and then as a calling for most of his life, and truly accomplished so much. It seems so timely that a week before his death, William and I were asked to speak about "Our Living Prophets" in Sacrament meeting. Preparing for that talk gave me an opportunity to reflect upon all of the amazing things Pres. Hinckley had done throughout his ministry as prophet: 100 temples before the end of the year 2000, The Proclamation on the Family, The Living Christ, having the church world wide read the Book of Mormon before the end of the year, and visiting countless nations throughout the world. He always told us to "Be a Little Better" and to make sure that we truly are giving our best. For FHE, William and I listened to his last major general conference address in Oct 2007 which is so fitting for Pres. Hinckley in so many ways. It was the first talk he every repeated- and joked about it. I'm so amazed he only repeated 1 since he gave talks in over 200 general conferences. That's a lot of material to come up with! But, the most fitting aspect, is that he testified of the Prophet Joseph Smith and the foundation of the Church, but more importantly, the Lord's work is progressing forward and continuing to fill the earth like the stone cut out from the mountain. And, while we are saddened by the loss of this great brother, the work will continue to go forward. How grateful I am that the Lord loves his people so much that He has not left us alone, but has given us a prophet to provide guidance and direction for our day. This photo is how I will always remember Pres. Hinckley- for his incredible sense of humor, for I think God is like this too :-) I loved seeing him swing his cane around, and especially to "knight" Pres. Eyring to his new post.

Chinese New Year Spectacular!

So, last Thursday night, I went to the Chinese New Year Spectacular, a show in downtown San Francisco. I waited too long to get the tickets though because when I checked, there was only one $38 seat left and William really didn't want to pay $60 each to go so he was kind and just let me go. He spent the evening doing coding and got home even after I did. Traffic is seriously such a gamble! You never know what it is going to be like. When we went to the SF Symphony on a Monday night in Dec., we got there smooth sailing- no problems at all. So, I left at 6:45 for the 8 pm show and traffic was totally stop and go and I'm so lucky that I finally found a parking spot at 7:45. But, I still had to run to the theater- and of course, they were late, which is fine since I had only just arrived.

I purchased my tickets online through this Chinese Television Station and so I picked up my ticket and I had thought that I was in the balcony, but I found out that they had given me a MUCH better seat in the first section of the orchestra, on the left side, for no extra charge! I had an awesome view- thanks so much! The show itself was incredible. They had a combination of dancing with musical numbers and both were top quality. The performing group is called the Divine Performing Arts and they are based in New York City and their primary purpose is to continue the legacy of traditional Chinese performing arts. They took this show on tour to Boston and a few other cities, including San Francisco, but they will be doing 15 shows in NYC. Since I come from a family with 2 sisters with careers in the performing arts, I have to say that I have pretty high standards for these types of events. My two big complaints about this performance was more about the background, than the actual performance. They had this big white screen behind the dancers that would show computer generated backdrops that looked really fake and didn't really relate to the dances. Or, it was super cheesy and had a certain performer swoop in on the screen and then appear in person and vice versa. I thought that this was a totally unnecessary addition that really detracted from the beauty of the dancing. The other problem was the MC's- they had a guy and a girl who would alternate announcing the numbers and giving some historical background and context (which I loved) in both English and Chinese (which is great) but the two MC's was just horribly super cheesy and over actors with the dumbest jokes. Again, I just think it detracted from a beautiful performance.

The costuming was INCREDIBLE- everything was perfectly designed to have maximum effect, such as the skirts having sequins that glittered when they moved their bodies. The singers had AMAZING voices- they were great opera voices- clear and powerful (I personally hate when there is too much vibrato). The orchestra was a great combination of "Western" instruments like the violin and trumpet, as well as traditional Chinese ones. The music was composed specifically for the performance and sometimes in traditional form. And then the dancing. The dancing is a combination of some typical ballet moves (but no pointe) but with some modifications and twists to give them a distinctive flair. It was so smooth and clean- just really beautiful to watch. They did a number where they danced with multiple cups stacked inside one another on their head, and removed the throughout the dance to prove they weren't taped on. Several involved dancing while beating drums, a swirling ribbon dance, twirling round cloths on top of both of their hands, chopstick dances, and then some more martial arts numbers from the men. One piece surprised me in that it was truly political. They directly stated that under the current dictatorship in China, they are not allowed to perform shows like this and they are silences, which makes what they are so motivated to share their culture with the rest of the world.

I really enjoyed it and can't WAIT to hear more about what my sister Sarah learns on her dance study-abroad this summer in China! I am sad though, that I won't be around for the San Francisco Chinese New Year Parade coming up in Feb- we'll be out of town . .. so it will have to wait until next year

As Requested by Anniina

I normally do not complete these, but since I had a special request from one of my dear friends on her blog, Anniina, all the way from Finland, this is for her :-)

10 years ago:

I was 17 and lived in Salt Lake City with my family

Five things on my to-do list today:
1. Go on a walk
2. Shower
3. Work on coding for dissertation
4. Blog
5. Scriptures

I Enjoy:
having all kinds of cultural adventures, especially broadway musicals, ballet, symphony, and the Red Sox (I'm so sad I'm clear across the country), traveling, reading, eating ice cream, going out to eat, spending time with my husband, family, and friends, teaching Sunday School with my husband

What would I do if I were suddenly a billionaire:
Pay off the business school debt (Harvard ain't cheap), TRAVEL!!!!!! And then travel some more. Live in LONDON

Three of my bad habits:
1. Not patient
2. Can find other things to do BESIDES my dissertation
3. Eating Sweets

Five places I have lived:
1. Salt Lake City, UT
2. Madrid, Spain
3. London, England
4. Boston MA
5. San Francisco Bay Area, CA

Five jobs that I have had:
1. Baby-sitter
2. Teaching Assistant (multiple times)
3. Research Assistant (multiple times)
4. Instructor of own course (Once)
5. Doctoral Candidate (I got paid to go to school and ta)

Five things people don't know about me:
1. My biggest pet peeve is the unattended shopping carts left in the parking lot- it really only takes 10 additional seconds to take it to the little cart holder.
2. I HATE canned green beans- I had a bad experience when I was a kid and the smell/taste still get to me. But, I do like fresh ones.
3. I love school- this is the first time since kindergarten that I haven't been "back to school"
4. I love to watch sports- football, basketball, baseball (Red Sox of course)
5. This is the most sleep per night I have ever gotten in my life since I don't have to get up super early for school! And, I have been sick for the past month.

I hope you enjoyed getting to know a few more random facts about me

Saturday, January 26, 2008

The Cliff House: San Francisco Dine About Town

In Boston, they call it "restaurant week"; in Salt Lake, they called it "Dine O'Round"; and here in San Francisco, they call it "Dine About Town". Whatever name you call it, it is the same idea. Many of the fanciest restaurants in town for a 2 week period offer a price-fix menu of 3 courses for $32. This is SUCH a steal because at many of these restaurants, the main courses are that price. William took me to Boston restaurant week for our 2nd date to Vox Populli and wooed me with their food. Last year, we went with my dear friend Riva to Lumiere, this AMAZING French inspired restaurant where we experienced the PANNA COTTA- this dessert that is from HEAVEN. William and I still talk about just how incredible it was and how much we crave it.

This year, we decided to go for food, AND a great view. I made my reservation back in December to make sure I got it. In part, my choice was based upon how many $$$$ they had, because it meant that we were not likely to go there on our own, so the CLIFF HOUSE won me over.
The Cliff House used to be a swimming bath house back in the old days as it is literally on the Pacific Ocean. As such, it has STUNNING views that we were even able to appreciate in the dark.
Here's a photo of the area where we would be dining.
And I had a FABULOUS dinner. Butternut squash soup to begin, the moistest, tenderest, flakiest SALMON I have ever had- it was just so succulent, this Andalucian sausage polenta (not a fan), and then CREME BRULEE that was just as good as the one I had at Bambara. William got similar things- butternut squash soup, barbeque flank steak and mashed potatoes, and creme brulee. They had these cookies paired with it that I didn't care for so William ate mine because he thought it went well together. I just wanted to not taint any bite of this smooth and creamy creme brulee. I learned back at Lumiere that I order what I want and not try to "maximize our tastes". We did that at Lumiere and William got the panna cotta and I got mango sorbet so that we could try both and in the end, I wished that I would have gotten the panna cotta. I learned my lesson to just get what you want. It was way good food. And such a great view too.

That's a pretty big GIANT CAMERA- random relic from the old swimming days

And look at lights lining the coast.
Thanks William for yet another magical evening!!!!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Jelly Belly Factory

For awhile now, I have wanted to go on the JELLY BELLY FACTORY TOUR, but not just on any day, but the days when they are open and operating so that I could experience the full magic of the jelly belly process. The factory doesn't operate on weekends or some holidays, but fortunately, I found out that they were open on Martin Luther King Day! I invited several couples from our ward and had 2 excited replies from the Falk's and the Murdock's. Sadly, the morning of the outing, William woke up with a horrible ear infection and so he was in no mood to drive 3 hours round trip so he stayed behind and got medicine from the doctor. While he was greatly missed, it was nice to be able to be in one car because I heard some of the most entertaining stories ever. Everything from car wrecks and strange towing, to traffic court, warrants for an individual who will remain nameless arrest, a guy falling of Mount Sinai, mission experiences, the mafia- to name just a few of the "highlights". It was great times in the car . . . and even better when we arrived at the factory!

And they even had a "welcome wagon" out to greet us.
Since it was a holiday, it was fairly crowded but we only waited in line for about 15 minutes. After we left, the line was super long, so go in the morning! Here was the view as we waited in line of hanging jelly bellies. And we even got a free sample of strawberry cheesecake from an amazing scooper that administered 1 jelly belly per person.

They had a jelly belly mosaic on display- they told us later on the tour that one this size contains about 10,000 jelly bellies and 6 months to make. There's a sign at the bottom that warns against not eating the art, and I definitely wouldn't after finding out that they are dipped in a special glue to hold it together. I think if they put that on the sign, most people wouldn't eat it.

It was mandatory for us to wear their signature paper hat on the tour- I definitely think that it is much more flattering on Alecia
Here's a side profile view of the hats with the jelly belly logo on them.
Even the CARPET was covered in jelly bellies.

Unfortunately, photographs were not allowed on the tour- major bummer. But, I will describe some of what I experienced. I'm so glad that I went on a working day because it was so crazy to see the sheer number of the jelly bellies being processed. Every day, they use 53,000 lbs of sugar and it takes 7-10 days to make an actual jelly belly that you get from the store. I had no idea it was such a complex process. They first make the jelly part which is 1/3rd smaller than what you get from the store. They use real fruit and other flavors as their base. (On a disgusting note, they told us what flavors they put into their "vomit" jelly belly- pepperoni pizza, Parmesan cheese (for just the right chunkiness) and citric acid). I'm happy to say that I have NEVER had one and NEVER will have one- some experiences I definitely do not need to "recreate" in a jelly bean. Then, the beans "cure" for a few days just sitting. They are then taken to the giant kettles where they receive their coating of alternating scoops of white sugar and corn syrup. After this, they are then placed on drying racks for another 3 days before they are polished in the same fashion as stones, being placed inside a rolling bin. There are quality control people who check through out the process to make sure the taste of each batch is right and that they have the right "look". The ones that are stuck together or badly mishapped are called "Belly Flops" and you can buy them for a reduced rate. I'm impressed that they have a machine that writes the little jelly belly logo on them. They produce 35,000 jelly bellies DAILY. As one of our group members said, here's the way to fight world hunger!

What I particularly liked was that they gave you a FREE bag of jelly bellies as a THANK-YOU for going on the tour! And, in the gift shop, you could try whatever kinds you wanted, such as their smoothie mix or jalepeno, black pepper, or their "new" flavor- BABY WIPE. NASTY. Needless to say, I only sampled the smoothie mix. I was proud of myself for only buying 1/4 pound of my own custom blend in addition to my free bag. What is even more amazing, is that I still have some of both bags left!

We were the only group that we saw on the tour without children, but we went with no shame because it was so cool! I definitely recommend it, but I think it would be kind of a let down without the machines working, so find out before you call.

But, our day wouldn't have been complete with out a THANK-YOU to Dr. Martin Luther King for giving us this holiday and what better tribute can you have than a Jelly Belly Mosaic of you.

Out With the Old, and In With The New

I have said goodbye to some of my old, longtime favorites in exchange for some newer, trendier ones.

A few years ago, on a trip to Disneyland with my sisters, I found this adorable Eeyore wallet. Look- its when he was a baby and was actually smiling and happy! I just thought it was super cute so I bought it and actually used it as my primary wallet for awhile. My friend Brooke always laughed at me because here I am, getting my PhD, and I have an Eeyore wallet. It was starting to fall apart (look at the wear and tear along the edges) so I decided to upgrade to . . . .

this sassy red one! I had in mind the exact wallet that I wanted and so while William and I were at the Gilroy Outlets, we went into many stores searching for the perfect wallet- and I FOUND it!!! And yes, it is a Kenneth Cole leather wallet, but I got it at a closeout sale for a great price, which makes it even better.

And the inside even has room for my plethora of cards. And, I'm also sporting a new CA drivers license (I actually never got an MA one, since I was still in school, you don't need to become a resident)

But, I ended up saying adios to one of my long time items- my old glasses. I have had these glasses since before high school, which has been over 12 years. Let me preface this by saying that I HATE glasses. I have had glasses ever since I was in kindergarten- yeah, my eyes literally are that bad. And since they are so bad, I was limited in the frames that I could get so I always ended up getting the giant, ugly ones. I got contacts at the end of 6th grade and literally only wear my glasses for a short time right before I go to bed and right when I get up. Immediately when I wake up, I go straight into the bathroom and put in my contacts. Since I would only wear glasses for such a short period of time, I thought that it wasn't worth the money to change them so only the inner circle of my closest friends and roommates have seen me in my glasses. Its amazing because William did happen to see me in a few times and I am proud to say that he still married me despite them. That's sign of true love right there! And we were married for 7 months before he suggested that I get some new glasses for Christmas for which I agreed that it was finally time for a change.

Here are the old ones- yeah, they are really huge from the front

And especially the side- they seriously are COKE BOTTLE glasses! If you didn't know, this now gives evidence as to just how bad my eyes are.

I was kind of dreading going to look for new glasses because previously, it was always such a painful experience. I would try on tons of glasses and would finally find one that looked ok on me, only to find out that I couldn't get them because it wouldn't support my prescription. Then, it was onto the huge, bigger, uglier glasses and it took awhile to decide which was the lesser evil. We went to this place near our house, just because it was close, and it has a clever name "Site for Sore Eyes". And I have to admit, I am really impressed with them. We went in and one of their workers came up to me and asked me if I needed help. I said I did and told her some of the styles I was interested in and she went and picked out several pairs in that genre. I showed her my prescription and she said "Whoa! That's a high prescription!" And I chuckled and said yes, I know, I REALLY need some form of eyewear. It did limit some of my choices (like the really light, nearly invisible ones I still can't have), but they have come a LONG way in getting glasses with some style in them for us "heavy hitters". She brought me probably 5 different pairs and the first couple frames were too dark for my complexion and one of the lighter ones I didn't like, and then I FOUND it! My perfect pair of glasses- super cute and they actually look ok on me! (Here's the link to a photo of me in them from my previous posts- I still don't really like to have photos of me with my glasses on due to habit so just enjoy this one :-) And William even thought they were great too- a huge improvement over the other ones.

And here is the best part- they aren't coke bottles! The lens does come out a little from the frame but it is really slight. They are sooo much nicer and lighter. A GREAT improvement over the previous ones.

I tried on one or two other frames after that but I knew that I had found the perfect pair. The same thing happened with my wedding dress. On my trip to UT, I went into 1 store and found my dress on the 5th try. It is so rare that I find something that I REALLY love that when I do, I know that it is futile and just a waste of time to try to compare with other places because I won't find anything I like as much.

I'm so happy with these items that I don't even miss the old ones (so sorry guys) and I look forward to using both of them for an even longer period of time

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

On a Happier Note-

I'm sure that last post left you feeling o-so-sorry for us, but, things are still good because there is a COLD STONE a five minute drive from our house! And, probably the one time I will ever thank Comcast, they gave us a buy one get one FREE to go quart from The Stone!!!! I went in last Saturday night and all they had was the gross flavors (aka. chocolate overload, zenellia, and coffee) and I wanted the CAKE BATTER BATTER. William and I went tonight and they had 2 containers of it!!!! It is so good- it is cake batter ice cream with cookie dough pieces AND brownie pieces. I usually just get cookie dough, but with the brownie its super good as well. So, at least our caloric needs are taken care of for the end of the week (considering we already polished off half a quart tonight). Thus, there is a bright, shining light through the stormy clouds :-)


of the loss of my new favorite Chinese restaurant here in Mountain View. As you may remember, after the car jumping incident, we decided to go to Pick Up Stix and I fell in love with the place. That, and they gave us free entree coupons. Last night, William said that we should go there, so I tried to call the number listed online and it said it had been disconnected! I was in such disbelief that I drove to the store to see that it actually was closed! With no explanation why and a sign on the door saying there are no other Pick Up Stix's in Northern California. I FINALLY find a good Chinese place, and it closes. Now, I'm back to just P.F. Chang's because I'm scared to try other places since we have had some bad ones in Mtn. View (particularly on Castro St). The only restaurant there we like is Shabu Way (written about earlier) and the desserts at Xahn. What a TOTAL BUMMER! And I have no idea why it closed- it was super packed the night we went. We still have yet to find a place equivalent to Not Your Average Joe's in Watertown. We literally ate here once or twice a week- they have the best bread and cheesy oil (which we do recreate ourselves but its not quite as good) and then the Steak and Cheese Pizza is to die for. The quest continues for the CA replacement, especially to the loss of Pick Up Stix. And here is something that is THE ULTIMATE DEVASTATION. So, I went to NYAJ's website to see if, by some miracle of a chance, they opened a restaurant in CA. No such luck- and even worse, THERE IS NO MORE STEAK AND CHEESE PIZZA! Its a good thing we left because the week that we went and found that out would have pushed us over the edge. I think they got rid of it because we weren't eating it on a weekly basis. I guess we don't even have that to dream about any more.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

I Have a Dream: The Power of Words

I'm not sure that we quite realize the amazing power of words. Words have the power to inspire, lift and strengthen another, express love, but they also have the power to destroy, condemn, discourage. I feel that this weekend and today being Martin Luther King Jr. Day has caused me to reflect upon his life and mission, and what our current mission is.

On Saturday night, we watched the movies called "Amazing Grace" which is a powerful tale about William Wilberforce, and earlier form of Martin Luther King in Britain who in the late 18th century, as a member of the House of Parliament, helped to end the slave trade in Britain. However, this was no easy task- it took YEARS of his campaigning (probably close to 15) and some major changes in public attitude before he finally achieved his dream. It was interesting how he achieved it in that they passed a bill outlawing neutral freight ships to fly the American Flag. Many of these ships were their enemies, the French, but then many of these ships were also British slave ships. By helping to slow this process, he helped to change the attitudes so that 2 years later, the Anti-Slavery Bill could be passed. It is amazing the power that his words and the words of his supporters- and opposition- had on the effect. I also learned something interesting about the lyrics to the song, "Amazing Grace". They were penned by John Newton, a sailor on a slave ship who experienced a conversion after witnessing the cruelty and death of nearly 20,000 slaves. He later became a minister and wrote these lyrics based upon his experience.

And then on Sunday, I went to the annual community and interfaith celebration in Palo Alto honoring the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The title of this celebration was "Continuing Dr. King's Dream of Truth, Peace and Justice." I learned that Dr. King was born on January 15, 1929 and I finally realized why they have the holiday in January- it seems so simple, yet I never knew. I also found out that Jan. 15th was also the birthday of Joan of Arc, a woman who also fought for her people.

Early in the program, a number was performed that really touched me- the title was "What Do You Do When You've Done All You Can- You Just Stand." What an appropriate song to commemorate the life of Dr. King, a man who did all that he could do and despite persecution, continued to STAND for what he believed in. This is such a great example for how we should all be in our lives- that we need to do all that we can and then STAND for that truth. It reminds me about the book for Pres. Hinckley- Standing for Something. Its that same idea.

The main speaker was Reverend Robert Olmstead who actually marched several times with Dr. King. It was amazing to listen to his stories about marching with Dr. King in Alabama, and how he, being a white man and a reverend, wore his collar and stood on the edges to help separate the mob from the rest of the peaceful protesters. While the mob was taunting them, the protesters sang "We Shall Overcome." Rev. Olmstead told of how Dr. King's grandmother read the Bible to him everyday- what an amazing woman of faith and the legacy and inspiration that she gave to this boy. When Dr. King was 5 years old, he said "When I grow up, I want to master big words". I have to say that he DEFINITELY did this, as he was a doctor of theology and wrote some of the most powerful words that have continued on to today with "I have a dream." Rev. Olmstead then said that he wanted to tell the story of another Reverend no one had ever heard of- Vemon Jones- preacher of the congregation before Dr. King. He too tried to rally his congregation to grow gardens to boycott the racist vendors and force them to look at the equality issue, he held protests, etc. but yet, he was arrested and his congregation decided to replace him with Dr. King. Rev. Olmstead told this story to illustrate that there are countless individuals who help to prepare and pave the way for this process to happen. Their labors are not in vain, but necessary for the great ones to come forward. How true this is of all aspects of life, that we truly are all in this together, and the efforts that we have may not seem to be making a difference, but in the long term, we are helping to pave the way for those great ones who will be following. Or maybe, we are the great ones. Either way, we are all interconnected with one another.

Rev. Olmstead quoted Henry David Thoreau who saidDo not worry if you have built your castles in the air. They are where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.” How true is that! I feel that sometimes, I tend to not set my goals or dreams too high because I feel that I could not reach them, but in reality, we should not settle or degrade our dreams- we should just work and build the foundations to support and achieve them.

Rev. Olmstead that Dr. King wasn't just a hero for African Americans, but that he is truly a WORLD hero and that we should look at him as seeking equality and justice for all. It was interesting because at the end of his talk, he asked the question "What way would be best for us to continue the legacy of Dr. King?" And his answer surprised and touched me. He said that he could talk about equality in health care, or ending the war in Iraq, or a whole number of other issues, but the one that is most important is THE POWER OF WORDS. Our most important thing right now is to teach the children and each other about the power of words. We need to spend more time reading to children, helping out at schools, tutoring, and truly teach them of the beauty and power of words. But, we need to be careful to make sure that these are words that "shape the soul and build the dreams of others" and we shouldn't leave it to someone else because we need to build the foundation. I love his advice because it is truly in helping those around us that we can make changes, one person at a time, and these can help to make a true difference in the world. I just found it such an inspiring meeting as to how I can continue to live the dream of Dr. King. I'm glad that there is such a holiday to remember the cause of standing for our dreams.

One year ago today . . . .

William and I were getting engaged. Yes, on January 20, 2007, William asked me to marry him, and obviously, I said yes. Let's take a little reminiscing trip down memory lane . . . . So, I somewhat "knew" that it was coming- as he had taken me to look at rings and had asked my father's permission before we left Utah to come back to Boston. And I especially got suspicious when he during the middle of the week, said "Hey, let's go to the Symphony on Saturday night." Ok, for anyone else, this might not have been out of the ordinary, but generally I am always the one wanted to go to the symphony and the ballet and William very willingly accompanies me. So for him to bring it up, I was a little suspicious. I was even more suspicious when he wouldn't tell me where we were going for dinner. I had the car and so I was driving and thus, I needed to know where to go and look for a parking space so he said "Its in the area by Prudential." Well, that's a pretty big area and so he said that it was inside the building and that parking inside the garage was a good idea. As he led me into the lobby to take me up to Top of the Hub, a restaurant on the 50th floor of the Prudential Center which has gorgeous views of Boston. We got a table in the prime spot and so we were able to see the city in the daylight and then change to night. We got the chef's special 5 course meal and it was so good- it was the best scallop I've ever had (normally, I don't like them)- except for one course, which was a beet. Yes, I tried to choke down two bites but it was really gross and making me gag so William chivalrously ate it for me. I actually told the waiter at the end that I loved everything and that it was super good, except the beet, and William still laughs at me for that because its kind of insulting to the chef. But they needed to know that it was gross- even William didn't think it was very good. Anyways, the whole dinner was so romantic- it truly was just such an amazing atmosphere. Here are a few photos of us from that evening

At sunset
At night
At our table

In the lobby

And I have to say that William was wearing my favorite outfit of his and that I was wearing the purple shirt he gave me for Christmas- aren't we the epitome of a couple going to get engaged :-)
However, he didn't ask me to marry him at dinner. I thought, maybe he'll do it at the symphony. We had front row seats which was a really neat experience to be so up close to the performers. At intermission, we were walking around and saw our stake president, who also happened to be William's current professor at HBS! We chatted with him for a moment and it was only slightly awkward. The performance was great, but again, nothing happened. Then, I started to get a bit worried and thought that this was only a really nice out. We decided to walk back to the Prudential Center which is just "next door" after a long walk through the Christian Science Plaza. That was seriously the coldest I have ever been in my whole life. I do not remember a colder nor windier day in Boston- it was so horribly painful to walk the deceivingly short distance. We should have sucked it up and paid for the $1.25 T ride- it definitely would have been well worth the pain.

We went back to the car and I started to drive towards home and yet, nothing had happened. And then, William says, "Let's drive around downtown a bit before going back" and I got so excited because I knew it was coming. I drove in the direction of the Boston Commons and he said "Let's park here and walk around the Public Gardens." And of course, I did. You know that it was freezing but I didn't care because this is my favorite place in Boston- I have repeatedly told some of my good friends that I would want to get engaged here, but I had never told William this. This place is very special to us because it is where we went on our second date and spent several hours talking by this tree with a branch you could sit down on, and it was there that we really began to become serious about one another. I was so glad that it meant so much to him too. And he proposed and got down on one knee right there in front of that tree and my eyes teared up and I said YES!!!! It truly didn't feel as cold as earlier because I was so happy. I do have to say that it was such a blessing that it was that cold because there was NO ONE in the garden. This never happens here and so it was nice to have that special moment together. It was funny because as we were leaving, we saw a security guard and he looked at us like we were totally crazy for being out here. Check out these cold, happy faces after returning to the warmth of the car!

Of course, afterwards, I called my parents and my best friend to tell them the good news and then my roommates. But, this is the funny thing. All William did was he took a picture of my hand with the ring on it, and EMAILED it to his family. That was it- no text, no phone call, no nothing- just that image. There's a guy for you :-)

Oh- and let me just tell you that this is the PERFECT ring- I gave him examples of what I wanted but he did the choosing- and an INCREDIBLE job- I absolutely love it.

It was a PERFECT evening and PERFECT proposal with the PERFECT GUY- truly better than anything in my dreams. And I have to say that this year has been better than my dreams as well.

Thursday, January 17, 2008


Any guesses what this is the fear of? CLOWNS. Yes, that's right. For many years now, I have thought that clowns are scary. I am even a huge fan of Cirque du Solei, yet even their more upscale clowns I find somewhat creepy. It seems like such a silly fear though, for something that is supposed to make us laugh. Yet, I am happy to know that not only am I not alone in this fear, but there is now a STUDY that backs it up. In this study done by the University of Sheffield found that when they surveyed several hundred children in hospitals, all of them age 4 to 16 (250 total) disliked clowns and many older ones thought that they were scary. In the "authoritative" Wikipedia entry on coulrophobia, some individuals attribute this fear of clowns initiating from Stephen King's IT but I've never read that so I have no idea where mine came from. Also, the article cites other tv shows/movies/etc that have featured people who are afraid of clowns. What's your take on them?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Belated Birthday Celebration!

Several of us from the Los Altos ward went out to dinner at Chili's to celebrate the belated birthday's of beloved Rachel McPhie and Becky Bundy! Their birthdays were actually last month but my motto is better late than never! Many thanks to Celeste for organizing and coordinating everything.

Before the dinner though, Rachel and I had an adventure to finish. For our big thanksgiving day dinner, we had borrowed a long table from the church. Yeah, its taken this long to get it back- but again, better late than never! Anyways, it wasn't big enough to fully fit in my car- there was a slight bit hanging out. Thus, the trunk didn't close fully. Scott was kind enough to bungee the table inside my car so that it wouldn't fall out and then Rachel drove behind me while I had my hazards on. Our apartment complex has these nasty speed bumps and that was the worst part of the entire trip. On the very first speed bump, my trunk flies open and stays stuck! At least it was still in the parking lot so I could go out and fix it. Then, things were fine up until turning onto El Camino. The light was red and there was a protected left turn and so I thought it was ok to go and we barely made it before the oncoming traffic. The only problem is that with my hazards on, the turn signals don't work. So Rachel was so smart and she would change lanes first so that I could go in front of her and make it in the left lane to turn to go to the church. It was quite an adventure, but we did it without any major mishaps. Many thanks to Rachel for helping me get the table back before her birthday party. Sorry to have made you a bit late!

Anyways, it was a great evening of conversation. Rachel tried to have everyone go around and say their name and something interesting about them, but we really only got through her because she had the best story. She gave us the complete run down of how she was on the Price is Right and WON the showcase showdown! And she even got to kiss the way-too-heavily made up Bob Barker (hey, I would have too if I won a MUSTANG convertible!) And this is the best inspirational story- she eventually sold the mustang to have enough money to serve a mission in Greece! Way to set the example Rach! And here is our Mormon-Ad poster child! (and beautiful birthday girl!)

And here is the other beautiful birthday girl, Becky.
Here is the rest of our party- I apologize for my horrible picture taking skills in that there were a few people who didn't quite make it in the photo (well, we can at least see the eyes of Nicole- she really has a whole face and trust me, it is model gorgeous)

Another interesting dinner conversation was had by Amy, who had to leave early. She said that her husband, who is an MD now in his residency, is actually BUILDING their house. Yes, he is the general contractor. And this is the best part- they actually own a back hoe and dump truck! In his break in between med school and residency, he actually dug out the entire foundation of the house! I think that this man never sleeps! I have to applaud Amy for being the most patient woman in the world. Her response was that she has gotten to design the house exactly how she wants it- with two laundry rooms even ;-)

I think though that the overall theme of this dinner was that we need to do more of them! And possibly a girly movie night. Oh, and we now need to for sure get together again with Rach to see the Price of Right episode she was in- especially to see her facial expressions. And can I just tell you that I would go out to eat ANYTIME with these ladies because it is only of the few times I can remember when EVERYONE paid their fair share! Normally with big groups, you end up short and everyone has to give money, or one person ends up paying much more, but not with these savvy women. I think that we need to start planning our next adventure together . . . .

Sunday, January 13, 2008

My Best Friend's Wedding

Besides your own wedding day, it is a day you always dream about- your best friend's wedding. We have talked and dreamed about our big days for years- 9 years in fact, since Sept 1998 when we were college roommates. I've written about Leslie elsewhere so this post is dedicated to the week of events leading up to her wedding. I had the incredible honor of being her maid-of-honor, something that I was so touched to have.

The maid of honor traditionally gives a bridal shower for the bride. Leslie told me that she wanted it to be very small with just a few of her dearest friends from freshman year who were in town and available to come. It was me, Leslie, and darling Sarah Loose and the three of us had a FABULOUS time for 3 hours at Macaroni Grill. Fortunately, it was not crowded at all for lunchtime and so we didn't feel bad about being there so long. I still did a few bridal shower games- on a smaller scale. We did Romantic Movie Quotes where we match the movie with the quote and then I emailed the list of "questions" for Ben to answer and then have Leslie guess what he responded. It was super fun, but mostly to be all together again and catch up about our current lives. Here's a pic of us taken by the waitress.
Leslie had bridal portraits done on Wed. and she wanted her bridesmaids to be there to get some formal shots. I got to have my hair done all fancy- this was even fancier than at my own wedding! This one girl was amazing and did everyone's hair- so 8 of us total (including Leslie). What patience this girl has!

The bridal portraits began in the lobby of Hotel Monaco and Leslie got some stunning shots! (I'll talk later about her dress when I show the photos from the actual wedding day). However, the photographer wanted Leslie and us to have some "outdoors" shots. So, we caravaned over to the Salt Lake Temple Grounds by the pedestal. IT WAS FREEZING! Both Leslie and the Bridesmaids only had short sleeves and so it was FRIGID due to the blowing wind. I think it was a painful experience for everyone and I just kept thinking how glad I was to have gotten married in May! Fortunately for everyone, there were only a few photos outside and then we moved inside the Joseph Smith Memorial Building to finish the photos.

On Friday morning was Leslie's endowment and it was so neat to be with her and her family and friends at the Jordan River Temple. Our friend was slightly late and I saw her in the changing room and they asked if anyone was missing and I raised my hand and said that she was. They went down to the chapel and got her- I felt like it was getting the 1 lost lamb and bringing her back to the fold. The session was packed and it was incredible to see so many people receiving their own endowment for the first time.

Later that evening, it was the rehearsal dinner at the Joseph Smith Memorial Building. It was a lovely evening to honor the couple.

Here are the centerpieces
And the delicious main course- there was even shrimp on top!
I sat at a table with Sarah Loose, William, my parents, family friends of Ben, and then Mike and Melanie, Leslie's brother and sister-in-law and their baby Brooke. Here's Sarah and I
My dad and mom
Other guests.
Leslie's sweet younger brother Adam played the piano for them
However, the highlight of the evening for me was when Ben's father got up and welcomed everyone to "Ben and Lindsay's" Wedding Dinner. Ben was quick to yell "its Leslie" :-) Hey, at least Ben knows her name and that's the most important.

The Girls!
The happy couple- Leslie and Ben. Ben is one of the few men who can truly pull off an orange shirt.
Now. . . . .onto the moment you have all been waiting for . . . THE WEDDING DAY! I went early on Sat. morning Dec. 29th to get my hair done by the same girl, who did a great job again, and then went to the temple to watch my best friends be sealed for time and all eternity in the temple. I admit, tears were in my eyes as I watched her get married and then especially as I hugged her afterwards. But, I have to admit, I cried less than she did, which is quite a feat for me :-) I was proud of myself for holding it somewhat together. It is truly amazing the power of revelation as I felt that the counsel given to Ben and Leslie was perfect and directly relevant for them, but it also taught me ways that I can also improve my marriage.

It always takes a long time to come out of the temple- mostly due to us women who have to change into our elaborate dresses with corset backs and have to re-fix our hair and make-up, but I have to say that it was definitely worth the wait.

Leslie looked STUNNING! Like a true Princess- everything was PERFECTLY Leslie- from the stunning/elaborate dress, to the hair, to her shoes, and to the bling-bling jewelry (on a side note- I kept having people asking me if they (the jewelry) were real- nope, just great fake ones ( rhinestones!))

Here come Mr. and Mrs. Evans out from the temple! Look how radiant Leslie is- it makes me happier than anything to see her so happy.

Best Friends Forever

Check out Leslie's BEAUTIFUL veil- I just love it so much (mostly because it was mine :-) I thought it was the perfect "borrowed" item.
Doesn't Ben look stylish in Leslie's cape?

I have to admit that I am a huge personal fan of the cape- that would be the only reason I would ever have gotten married in winter is to wear a great cape like that. And the gloves truly complete the outfit. I still can't get over just how awesome the cape is!

Yes, this is my husband demonstrating just how cold it was. It wasn't quite as bad as the bridals, but it was still cold, especially being outside for prolonged periods of time. I have no idea how Leslie and Ben did it cuz they still had to take couples shots after this. And this coming from the Arizona girl who freshman year turned the heat up in our room to 90 degrees and still would have sweats on and be under a down comforter! Way to have toughened up Les!

Here's Leslie's family- I just love them so much. They are all super great. It was so fun to be able to spend some time with them over the week.
William captured this at the PERFECT moment!
Then, it was the reception that evening at Ben's parents house. They have a place up on the benches of Sandy that has a stunning view of the valley- what a great location for a reception.

Here I am holding one of Ben's nephews. I love the little pink tie.

All of the bridesmaids. I felt so bad for poor little Sarah- earlier in the day, she had fallen and broken her arm. She did get a pretty matching pink-and-black cast though- she knows the importance of color coordination.
I got such a cute bridal bouquet- too bad they don't last more than about a day. But, here's a photo of it to last forever.
The wedding cake
The guest table

The father-daughter dance. Leslie followed my advice and stuck to the basic priesthood shuffle, which was smart because her dress was even fuller than mine and William and I made that slightly embarrassing mistake that the dress impedes any fancy work.
They had an incredible spread of desserts- the chocolate decadence was my personal favorite. These desserts besides feeding the guest, played a dual role in being some of the materials for decorating Ben's car.

And now, for one of the best moments of the night. The cake ceremony. Ever since I can remember, Leslie said how much she HATED people shoving the cake in each other's faces. Well, Ben obviously didn't get that memo as here he is shoving it in her face!
Leslie wiping it off and both her and Ben laughing hysterically.

Leslie got him back really good though- unfortunately, William's photo came out blurry, but you get the picture.

Hehehe- it took him awhile to clean up his face.

Aw- nothing better than the Kiss and Make-up part- especially with some tasty cake.

The best part is that I was talking with Leslie about the cake incident after it happened and she asked Ben why he did it because "We're a fun couple and that is totally something a fun couple would do." I love this guy- he is so perfect for her since she has a crazy, fun-loving side to her.

So, the last part of the night was spent downstairs by the yummy desserts (and the home theater with real movie seats, the amazing toy room, and the jazz game (a necessary for Ben)) and we were talking with some very dear friends- Sarah, and the Sjobloms (Brekke, Matt, and Audrey) when all of a sudden, I looked around and everyone was gone! I ran upstairs only to see everyone already holding lit sparklers. We missed them. Leslie's Aunt Joan was so cute and told me she got them on her camera- well, the back of them as she wasn't quite fast enough. Kind of a bummer not to say good bye, but not that big of a deal. Here's a few of the remaining sparklers.

Then, came a moment that will live on forever in infamy. I continued talking with everyone when not 5 minutes later, I look over and shout "LESLIE!" They were back! I could not stop laughing- it was so funny. Ben's friends had paid him back for all of the many times that he had decorated their cars, and they got him good. Cakes, PEANUT BUTTER, marshmellows- I have to say that I love Ben in that, in true boy style, picked off a giant marshmellow from the car and ate it!
I have to say that I am so grateful for the car decoration because it gave me the opportunity to help Leslie emerge from the dress and talk with her about her feelings from the day and to express my love and well-wishes. The best part though is that in the end, they didn't end up taking Ben's car since it was so gross- they took his parents! I'm just glad they made this decision AFTER Leslie came back and got changed. All in all, everything turned out perfectly Leslie and words cannot even begin to express my complete and utter joy for her and Ben as they begin their new life together.

BFF's 4 EV-ER!