Sunday, November 20, 2011


My beautiful mother turned 50 this year on 11.11.11. She wanted to have a big party to celebrate based on the magical date. I decided I was going to help make this happen since I'm the only one with so much free time, and my mother doesn't ask for much. She definitely deserved this party. She is such an amazing woman. The theme was 'Make a Wish on 11.11.11' since you're supposed to make a wish when the time is 11:11. This is going to be a lengthy post, but it was a pretty awesome party and thus warrants lots of pictures, all done by my wonderful sister Brianne. See more of her awesome work here!

I frayed the black streamers, which I felt gave them more of a punch and less 'eh', an idea I got from Oh Happy Day although I did it a tad different, and then hung gold and silver stars we cut out from sparkly paper. My hope of putting them together was to make it look like a night sky, to go along with the make a wish part of the theme, you all know the Disney song, "When you Wish Upon a Star".

This was my secret project. I got a number of relatives to send me memories of and notes to Vauna and then went through all of our pictures and picked out my favorites of my mom, made them black and white for consistency, and then hung them all on ribbon with mini paperclips. There was a station for people to write notes to add to it. There is subtle theme-ing here...I hung them in 11.11.11 fashion. I'm pretty sure I'm the only one who noticed or cared, sometimes I get a little carried away. It was so neat to see what people had to say about my mom, and to see the pictures of her over the years. I hope to age as well as my mom has!

Now for the food! The chocolate cake above was my dad's project, a recipe based off of Magleby's chocolate cake, which is my mom's favorite, and was the only non-vegan food at the party. Can you tell he's excited? (When he saw the picture he was upset with what ever he's doing with his jaw, I had to tell him he actually makes this face from time to time, and dubbed it a 'Mike Davis face' I think it's one he makes when he's excited).

Surrounded by four different types of chips and crackers is the best Hummus recipe I've ever had. Seriously so good. I believe it's roasted red pepper. I'll post the links to those I found online, this is one you should definitely try if you're a fan of this chickpea treat.

Olive Tepenade and Bruschetta, we slathered this on toasty slices of baguette. We took a shortcut and bought the bruschetta pre-made from Costco. Not bad but I felt there was kind of a bite to it that took some of the enjoyment out of it for me.

These Pinwheels were sooo good! We used Tofutti cream cheese, which I think is pretty dang good personally.

Cucumber Slices with Chickpea Puree and Thyme. I got the recipe from the Whole Living website. These were pretty good, although the puree wasn't quite as smooth as I would've liked, and I needed to add more salt. I enjoyed them, especially the cucumber, but not my favorite thing at the party.

Seriously the best ginger cookies I've ever had in my life. Soft and chewy, sweet and the perfect amount of ginger. Delicious. We made the dough ahead of time, refrigerated it and then cooked them the day of.
Coconut Pumpkin Bread. I could just eat and eat and eat this. These are two of my most favorite flavors, together. It's a union to celebrate.

Herb Roasted Mixed Nuts. Quite tasty.

Some pretty good punch from Paula Deen. I tried making a batch and then adding a second, but I didn't prepare the second batch of boiled sugar water, so I was just adding in extra water to not make it so strong. Super good recipe though. Next to it you can see the peanut butter balls, they aren't a really sweet treat, but make a great snack.

Guest took home "Eleven Goodies" choosing from a delicious selection to put in their goodie bag with closure stickers (address labels :) with 11.11.11 printed on it. We had way too much candy left over, which my mother, as health conscious as she is, has hidden...and now can't remember where she has hidden it. You KNOW this is driving me crazy. All that goodness laying around feeling unwanted!

The party ended with a 'Wish Release.' Throughout the evening people wrote their wishes on these sky lanterns (we had eleven total, surprised?) that we lit and released at 11:11 pm. It was absolutely beautiful. Most people had to leave before it got that late, but it was really something to see them all float up into the sky. I ordered them online from this site (looks like they have a deal right now too), and I was pleased with them! I chose all white in three different shapes. I think they were really cool, and an awesome idea that my dad had (I had been planning on releasing a bunch of balloons that people attached their wishes onto, he made the astute observation that at night we would only see them 5 feet up into the air.) This was so much better.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Hungry for What?

Yes, after re-reading the Hunger Games series last week and watching the new trailer about ten times yesterday, I decided to dig through all media attached to this awesome series, because my appetite was not satiated. And now, I'm officially a citizen of Panem, District 5...we're in charge of the country's power...They are now holding elections for each districts Mayor. I decided against running after considering if I could put that on my resume. I decided it probably wouldn't help, and would more likely be detrimental.

Obviously what I'm really hungry for is something more productive to do with my time. My testimony for work has grown exponentially. While I was crazy busy during my college years with a full course load and always working a part-time job, I dreamed of having down time to pursue some nice hobbies. Now I have all the down time I can dream of and dream of classes, having a job to get up for in the morning, meeting new people, using my brain cells. Apparently what my parents always told me is true, having a break after working hard and getting 'the job done' is much more satisfying then just playing whenever. Work is satisfying, it stretches me, shows me what I'm capable of. I like working hard. I like knowing that I can do hard things. I like achieving. I feel this is true with all of us. We are creative beings who gain fulfillment out of creating/building/doing. It is important to our well-being.

I've found that when my schedule is wide open I get much less done then when it's packed full, if that makes sense. So I made a schedule for myself that I stuck to for about a week...then I got side-tracked. So, I am taking suggestions/comments/ideas on how to make a day feel fulfilling when you aren't getting graded or paid for your performance. Hopefully I will soon get back being paid, but there will always be free time, and I want to do a better job at doing purposeful things!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

This is it

( It took this picture in California. Everything is going to be a-okay!)

This past year would have been considered unfathomable to my prior self. Call off my own wedding? There is no way I would ever get myself into a situation where I was about to marry someone I was miserable with while trying to convince myself that I was happy. I'm way to smart, level-headed, and in-tune for that to happen. Falsity #1. And heaven forbid I end up living at home for months, unemployed and single with absolutely no direction of where to go (except out!). No way, I'm way too ambitious, driven, independent, and again smart, for that. I kicked trash in college, keeping my scholarship, while working, and having a TON of fun with all my awesome roommates and from time to time, guys I was dating, not to mention the internships I did to give me an extra umpf. Believing that I was above this horror is big Falsity #2.

However, going through the first fearful situation has helped me handle my second feared situation. What really stirred my desire to write this post was stumbling across I read the entire thing after finding it, and honestly, it has filled me with hope and joy and a desire to be even better and happier. So many of the things they have to say are things I've learned this past year and are truths I want to hold onto forever.

After my fiancee and I called off our wedding I fell pretty hard. While I tried to use healthy coping habits like exercise, prayer, moving out of my parents, going to social activities, etc, the truth was I was not happy. I felt dead. I lost all ambition and drive. Things that normally get me excited, like travel, weren't even cutting it. I even had a break from food, and we usually are super close. I would come home from work and lie in bed until the tears ran out. But the worst was when I let myself doubt my testimony of the gospel. I still remember that moment. Parked outside the temple, I purposefully decided to let myself doubt it all. It was suddenly like I had been sucked into a vacuum. Everything I had known vanished from my life. My relationships were meaningless. There was no purpose. I imagined doing all those things I denied myself, alcohol, partying, promiscuity; things that tempted me (don't tell me they aren't temptations). You know what. I didn't like it. I felt disgusting and worthless. So I decided that I couldn't live a life without the gospel, it is truly the one source of happiness in my life, and although somehow my testimony was much much weaker than I thought, I was going to build it back up.

So I started with square one. What do I know? I know my Heavenly Father loves me. I repeated it over and over to myself. From there I built up. If he loves me what does that mean? It means he's not going to leave me hanging, it means this is not going to last forever, it means I will find good out of this experience. It means he sent me a Savior who suffered through this same pain just for me, who made it possible for me to come back from mistakes, and possible to be reunited with my loving Heavenly Father and my family. It means he has sent me prophets and scriptures, and leaders, and incredible parents, siblings and friends that will help me get through this and onto the better things. And it was all true.

So, when feared situation #2 came along (unemployment and eventually basement dwelling), I thought no sweat! If I got through THAT, I can get through this. Of course now that it's dragged on for an incredible four months, and I've been at my parents for more than half of that, I've started to sweat. Why haven't I figured it all out yet? Haven't I learned my lesson? I've tried to practice patience, and what I believe is one of the most important things we can learn on Earth-being happy even when your situation sucks. This is where Mara and Danny's blog comes in. They have both seemed to conquer this life changing skill through their own share of adversities and crap. I want that. That is what I've sought after through these past four months, even though I do not understand why I still don't have a plan. Or why things I wanted before don't seem right anymore, even though I can't fully let go, and I can't fully replace it with anything else either. It is frustrating, but I have fought to not become frustrated. Surprisingly, the hardest part about doing this is fearing what others will think if I am happy while being in this situation. I feel like have to show frustration for fear they will think I enjoy being unemployed and living at home. But this is just another anxiety that is holding me back from finding true joy.

I've come to feel incredibly grateful for the strength given me to call off my wedding, and I've started to even appreciate having to go through all of that pain. I hope that what I've learned will help me become a better wife when that time comes, and until then just a better and stronger person. I hope sharing this brings you a little bit of hope too.