Thursday, July 25, 2013

My Best Friend


In my life I've been blessed with the best of friends. Each woman had a profound impact on my life and whether we are as close as we once were, there is no doubt that they helped me become who I am. Through thick and thin, a best friend is always there for you. They are the greatest blessing anyone can have in their life and accepts us as who we are yet helps us to become what we should be. There is a quote that I really like and it says, "A good friend knows all your best stories, a best friend has lived them with you."


I remember the countless sleepovers through high school eating pizza and watching bring it on waiting for one of my best friends to fall asleep so em and another best friend could hijack the little sleeper's car only to be pulled over by the police, watching Bring It On so that one of my best friends will fall asleep so that another best friend and I could hijack the little sleeper's car only to be pulled over by the police, watching Cinderella and getting ready for Prom, routing me on in all my endeavors, making fun of arch nemesis-es who stare out windows and hopelessly trying to out bake a roommates cookies, dancing atop kitchen counters, having "talks", going on doubles, being thrown an incredible birthday party complete with goodies and cake, living a real life better than The Office office experience, partying up with the most awesome co-workers in whatever theme was planned for that night, having someone just being there to listen, and countless other memories


Unfortunately it is never quite until a moment has passed that you truly appreciate something wonderful. I wish I had expressed to my best friends how important they were to me, how I looked up to and admired their strengths, gratefulness for the kindness they showed me, and blessing me with their presence in my life. Though I didn't say all that I could have then, I hope that they all know just how important and wonderful they are and that I am so so so grateful to have had them as a best friend.


So I want to say, Thank you! Thank you for the laughs, joys, highs, support during the lows, all you did for me and all that you didn't. With some I wish we had kept better in touch, others I'm so glad that you are in my life making it all the better. I hope that you will know just important and special you are to me. I could go on and on about how each of you are incredible women that I can only hope to one day become. I know that you bless the lives of countless people you touch because you have touched mine. And just in case you missed it along the way, THANK YOU for being my best friend.       


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Just a Glimpse of the Engagements

I am actually an incredibly private person when it comes to personal things. I feel like I'm not alone when I say this. Though at times I can be incredibly vocal, this doesn't mean that I want to discuss every bit of my life. They call it "personal" for a reason. After being able to hoard the beautiful pictures that our photographer Kelli Dee Mortensen took, I decided that I am finally comfortable sharing just a glimpse of the engagements.

It was an old picture of my parents that inspired my "Engagements". They were on the shores of Japan playing in the water and looking absolutely in love. When the time came for me to be taking my engagements, I pictured them and decided that I wanted something similar. This is why we decided to take our pictures along Utah Lake off Provo Center Street.

The shores are definitely not as pristine as one might hope but it honestly didn't matter. When I arrived for the shoot, I was frazzled and stressed. Getting ready had been a challenge and I hated how I looked. However once we got there and started playing in the water, I completely forgot about my frustrations and just had fun.

For anyone that might be uncomfortable posing for pictures, I recommend getting your pictures in a setting where you can play. I can smile just fine for pictures but being in the lake really made the whole experience FUN.

A good majority of my pictures are not Vogue worthy. They don't capture images of a couple oozing with sophistication and elegance. Instead my pictures are relaxed, goofy, happy, loving, and natural.

In my parent's pictures, they were all done in black and white. Its a look that I don't see too often in a couple's engagement pictures. Now a days there are so many different edits you can use on your pictures that make them very unique. Still, I wanted more of a timeless look and asked Kelli if we could get some in black and white.

During our engagement session, we got a good mix between more posed pictures and natural shots.

Of course I like to think that all the pictures were natural and not posed but then what couple is ever standing the ideal distance apart from each other looking in love and looking perfecting into the camera? Pretty much just William and Kate.

The surrounding area near the Utah Lake Marina is incredible. Everywhere you look its green. It was beautiful! We found a grove of trees that were kind of bent at weird angles. I couldn't help but climb one.

If you don't want to commit to a "beachy look" for your engagements, I highly recommend exploring the surrounding areas of the Marina. We were literally what I consider half a block away from Utah Lake State Park (the Marina).

I loved every bit of my Engagements Photo Session. I had a blast playing with Luke in the lake. Kelli was an awesome photographer really making me feel comfortable. I also had my friend Ally there as moral support; she is the best!

For anyone thinking about getting any kind of formal pictures taken I would definitely recommend the Utah Lake State Park and Marina. Even if you don't want to play in the water, the surrounding wildlife is breathtaking. I was amazed at all the beauty found so close to Provo! And for any of you who are wondering, "The Engagement Picture" is not among the bunch. You'll just have to look out for it in the mail!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

A Taste of Greece for Dinner

My first experience with the traditional Greek dish, Pastitsio was back when I was about 14 years old. My aunt, uncle, and cousin had come up to visit and for dinner we went to Aristo's in Salt Lake City. At the time I was much more picky about food which led me ultimately to chose Pastitsio off the menu. While we waited outside surrounded by exceptional smells in the dimming twilight, I saw other customer's plates. Nearby I saw was something that looked like weird lasagna. I secretly hoped that it was what I had ordered.  To my great surprise, the weird lasagna was exactly what I had ordered.

During my junior year of college, I got the incredible opportunity to go on Study Abroad where one of the countries I visited was Greece. There I renewed my love for Mediterranean foods and decided that I would bring a bit of Greece to my dinner table. I got the following recipe from Martha Stewart but changed it a bit to suite my personal taste.


For The Meat Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 white onions, cut into 1/4-inch diced pieces
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 2 cups water
  • For The Bechamel

    • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
    • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
    • 2 teaspoons baking powder
    • 3 cups whole milk
    • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
    • 2 teaspoons coarse salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
    • 1 pinch ground cayenne pepper
  • Pasta

    • Unsalted butter, for baking dish
    • 1 pound Pastitsio noodles
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 

Prepare the Pastitsio noodles according to the directions on the package. If you cant find Pastitsio noodles, you can use any other tubular noodle (I used penne). To save time, I got started on the meat mixture as the water began to boil and cook the noodles. 

In a deep skillet, cook your onions in olive oil until soft. Add ground beef (traditionally lamb is used so you can experiment with what you like) and cook adding spices once meet starts to turn brown.


You can incorporate the cinnamon, course salt, ground pepper, and nutmeg one at a time but I found that while I waited for the meat to cook I could save time by gathering my seasonings together in one container. This also made for a more even dispersion of the seasonings and I felt it contributed to a deeper taste. 

Next add wine until it has almost evaporated. If you are worried about the alcohol content, it often evaporates during the cooking process. However if you feel uncomfortable adding wine into your Pastitsio, I don't see much harm in excluding it since the entire cooking process allows for a flavorful end dish. Around this time, your noodles should be fully cooked. Drain and let sit. Just make sure to try and keep them from clumping together! Oil is definitely your friend here though I would try to limit how much you use.

Now add the tomato paste, bay leaves, and 2 cups of water to your meat mixture. Let this simmer as you begin to work on the Bechamel.

In a large saucepan, melt your butter. Once the butter begins to bubble, add flour and baking powder. Stir it constantly with a wire whisk for one minute. The entire mixture will kind of clump into ball but you want to try and as much air into it as possible. Slowly add milk (I used whole milk but reduced or skim milk would work just as well especially if you don't want to add additional calories) and continue to whisk mixture until smooth. The mixture will eventually bubble and become thick, when this happens remove the pan from heat. Stir in Parmesan, salt, black pepper, nutmeg, and cayenne pepper. 

 In a greased 9-by-13 inch glass pan lay pasta down at the bottom. Since I used penne, I laid them all down in one direction so that it imitated the long Pastitsio noodles I didn't have. If you are going to do the same with your noodles, try to get them arranged as quick as possible so the Bechamel wont lose heat and fluffy-ness. Pour meat mixture after removing the bay leaves on top of the noodles. Then pour Bechamel over the meat mixture and smooth with spatula so that meat is completely covered.

Bake mixture for about 30-40 minutes (I did mine closer to 30 minutes and realized it needed to be longer) so that the top is set and golden brown. The hardest part is waiting since your entire kitchen starts to smell incredible! Contrary to what you might think, the Bechamel mixture does not burn easily so you can leave it in the oven longer than 40 minutes (probably 45-50 minutes) to get that nice golden color on top. 


This is what my Pastitsio ended up looking like. It tasted delicious though if you want REALLY good Pastitsio, I would recommend going to Aristo's (or Greece for that matter) and try it out yourself. Your taste buds will thank you! 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Worm Cupcakes

I guess to really start this story, I need to give some background information. During my final years at Brigham Young University, I worked at the Bookstore as the Marketing Specialist. We worked closely with Creative Services who designed all the ad work we requested of them. To sum up our team it was Hillary and I along with Tyson, Ally, Sadie, and Riley. We were quite the lively bunch creating our own TV show in the process. So one day as Tyson was leaving the office (probably to go to Lunch or something) he says, "Don't hack my Facebook and put me in a relationship or something". No sooner had those words been said that Hillary and I look at each other both knowing what the other had in mind. As soon as Tyson was out of sight we (along with Sadie and Ally I think) created a fake profile for his soon to be girlfriend. A few days before this someone from the Bookstore had given us a green balloon in the shape of a Worm. We would play around with the balloon (it even had a face drawn on) but Tyson hated it! So it was only appropriate that he should be in a relationship with Worm.

Unfortunately for us, as soon as Tyson came back into the office he knew something was up and the prank only lasted about 30 minutes. Fast forward a little in time when after "The Event", Worm Jones mysteriously disappeared. She had last been seen at the first Provo Shore party and missing since. Suspects were questioned and a search party ensued. However, even with all our efforts Worm was still with her abductors. I was dating Luke around this time and he had heard all about Worm and her predicament. One day as I was sleeping under my desk in my office (we had blankets and pillows for an upcoming Bed Bath and Beyond Giveaway) the lights suddenly flicker on and someone else comes into the office! Still in my sleepy stupor I crawl out from under the desk surprising Luke (I was curious as to who came into my office and also unsure how I'd explain myself to the intruder). He was the sweetest and had brought cupcakes for all of us in the office! It was definitely not something I was expecting especially since we had had a disagreement a few days before but I was impressed by his thoughtfulness in wanting to do something nice for not only myself but for also all of my friends at the Bookstore.

We all enjoyed the cupcakes and Worm was returned to us soon after. Life continued to go on in its slightly off normal, normal way. Still it was little things like creating a fake Facebook account for a balloon worm, mutual weirdness among friends, and yummy home made cupcakes that made me grateful for the incredible people in my life. I have the greatest friends that I love and could be weird with. Luke brought green Worm cupcakes and didn't think I was absolutely crazy for sleeping under my desk at work. He is always so thoughtful and doing things for me that it was only natural that I would soon fall in love with him. I think Doctor Seuss said it best when he said, "We are all a little weird and life is a little weird, and when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it love." I am definitely the luckiest to the friendships and relationships that I have!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Getting the Diploma

Flashback to January of 2008, it was my senior year and had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do after high school. College was always the plan but I didn't know what I wanted to do or where to go. I literally couldn't envision a life outside of high school. I was terrified of college imaging hours of studying and struggling at even the "easiest" of schools. For one reason or another I just thought that college was this grueling educational battle and I was not confident that I'd be able to succeed. 

Much of my family had attended BYU (even my own dad did a brief stint there playing football) and the idea sounded nice until I thought about all the "Zoobs" and The Honor Code. I felt I wouldn't last one semester without getting kicked out for wearing flip flops or something dumb like that. As blasphemous as it sounds, I seriously considered going to the UofU (don't judge it was in a rough time of life). Though unsure of what I wanted, I applied to both Utah State University and the University of Utah with my BYU application partially filled. I knew when the deadline was for all the schools and yet didn't try hard enough to ensure that I submitted my BYU before the deadline.

After being accepted into both USU and UofU, I had concluded that I would go on to become an Aggie (they gave me a housing scholarship that sweetened the deal). Then one day as I was checking my email, BYU wrote and told me that though I had applied late that I had been accepted to Winter Semester. My mom (along with other family influences) had pretty much said if BYU accepted me, I'd be a fool to decline. With this in mind, I planned accordingly.

During that summer and following fall semesters I worked hard on my Associates Degree at Weber State. Classes actually weren't hard at all and I got an 3.9 GPA, even with that good grades I attributed to Weber just being one of those "easy" schools. Finally it was January 2009 and my time to attend Brigham Young University. Leaving home was incredibly hard. I had to say goodbye to my then puppy Rudy and family. Back then I wasn't too emotional about things and so I was surprised at how sad I was to leave home. I fought back the tears as the neighbor boy (who also went to BYU was driving me down to my new dorm) was in the car with me and I didn't want him thinking I was a baby. Finding friends (not to mention my way around campus) was hard at first but I surprisingly enough figured everything out pretty quickly.

 My time at BYU was incredible. I met some of the greatest people and had adventures I would never forget. It was not at all what I'd imagined college to be like! I actually had fun and loved every moment of it. Though far from perfect, I cant imagine doing anything different. I think that's why when it was all finally over, I was sad. Once again I had come to the conclusion to yet another incredible chapter of my life but the difference was this time I was ready for change.

What I gained from Brigham Young University was more than just a piece of paper saying I'd graduated, in reality i received so much more. I learned to challenge myself, to balance my time and determine whats most important, I made friendships I know will continue throughout my life, got to see the world thanks to study abroad appreciating different cultures and religions, I had to go outside of my comfort zone so many times that I feel more prepared to face this every changing world, in all I learned that I can conquer anything.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Happy 1 Year

It was on May 6th 2012 that I met the love of my life at a Root beer Float Birthday Party. I didn't know it then but my life was about to change forever and only in the best way! Fast forward to May 6th 2013 when Luke and I celebrated our 1 year anniversary. The day started off like any other, I had some weird dream that swept away my beloved Rudy. Anyway, after waking up and finishing yet another successful day at my job, I come home to find white roses in a milk jar on my night stand along with a gift and letter. I was pleasantly surprised and just finishing Luke's letter to me when I hear a knock at the door. I open it to find yet another surprise!

Here is my love and a puppy named Rodney that he'd reserved from Puppies For Rent. After going to one of their events at a near by duck pond, I fell in love with a puppy named Toby and had begged Luke to rent a puppy for us to play with. This being the case, I was only too happy when Luke showed up at the door with Rodney! We took little Rodney to Kiwanis Park even though there was a light drizzle. Poor little thing  got tired fast not to mention I was a bit chilly so it was time to go back home for a quick nap.

After waking up a rather groggy baby Rodney, we opened Luke's gift. Inside were a pair of Nike's that he'd mentioned he'd wanted ages ago. Though in my mind I feel like he has 12 pairs of Nike's too many, I figure the guy deserved something he actually wanted. We had waited until Rodney was up again to open the gift thinking he'd want to play with the paper, surprisingly enough he didn't and would have been much happier sleeping. However little Rodney was back in action once again when we took him outside to wait for his ride. Too soon it was time to say adieu to our favorite black lab but the memories will not be forgotten!

Then it was off to Texas Roadhouse for dinner. For reasons I cant explain, eating is always my favorite thing to do with Luke. We will be driving and I'll see a restaurant and exclaim we will have to go there for a date! There is hardly ever a time that I will say, "wow we haven't  gone and exercised in a while, lets do that on our next date." Dinner was everything I'd expected and more. I died laughing two times when we talked about my previous cat blog post (I'd accused Luke of not reading it and lying to me; I was laughing so hard because I thought it was cute how hard he was trying to convince me he had when all he was pulling up were vague recollections.) and my description of how Nike had his new shoe box on display (they only had half the box and I'd meant bottom half while he thought only one shoe could fit). The laughing got dangerously out of hand when I choked on my Sprite sputtering it all over the table. Fortunately we had finished eating and Luke didn't get too grossed out. 

I literally couldn't have asked for a better day and it was all thanks to my love Luke. I am so glad to have such an incredible guy in my life that makes each day special. If it wasn't for him falling in love with all my weirdness I'd still be prowling around for my better half!

Monday, April 29, 2013

What I Do At Work

I recently got a new job as an Administrative Assistant. Outside of the rather legit title, it is a rather tame job. I come in around 8am, turn on the lights, reply to emails, put up conference room schedules, et cetera et cetera. The only thing is, after about 3 hours of working I literally have nothing to do. Please don't confuse, this is NOT a problem. I just have to wonder what everyone in the Office thinks I do all day!

So you want to know? I will gladly tell you as oddly enough I feel completely safe in this forum (lets be real, a bunch of computer programmers are not going to take the time to read this blog). I Pinterest (especially reading the humor section), plan my upcoming wedding that my loving fiance and his family are determined to uncarnivalize, look up random words on Wikipedia, peruse my news feed, tweet, pretend to have something to shop for, and excessively plan anything there is to plan.

Today I was especially bored and with that I was more amused than usual. Though the following thread is rather long, I promise there is a good chance you will be cry laughing as hard as I was!

Did you laugh?? Did you cry???? Were you even amused? If so, than you're welcome! I just wanted to share the laughs.