memorial days

I kind of crashed into my weekend. Friday was a frustrating day full of tedious, time-intensive projects and really bad holiday traffic. The only awesome part of that day was that Josh came up to Portland to meet me for lunch because he had the day off. When I got home Friday night I promptly put on stretchy pants, mixed up chocolate cookie dough, and ate the dough by the spoonful as I watched several episodes of Gilmore Girls.

The rest of my weekend was completely delightful. It was full of things like movies at the theater, exotic food, and finding the perfect orange bicycle.

It was full of things like lemon crinkle cookies with our eight- and nine-year-old Primary kids and crepes with the in-laws and Sunday-night visits with these wonderful people.

It was full of things like cinnamon rolls, reading on the couch, phone calls with the mom and sister, an Office marathon, Mod-Podging, leftover meatball sandwiches, pretty fabric, fun knitting, a wooden tank model, naps, Diet Pepsi, and extra doses of snuggling.

If I had to crash into a weekend, this weekend would certainly be the one.

Now, who seconds my motion for the perpetual long weekend?


I opened a Twitter account

And here's why.

The extra giveaway entries. I couldn't care less about every other Twitter aspect. An extension of Facebook statuses? Pass, and that's what I've been saying for years. But when I come across these blog giveaways for gift certificates, personalized jewelry, catchy wall art, and—yes, I know—Silhouettes, I think, Hey, I'd love to win that. So when these giveaway sponsors say you can have an extra entry for following someone on Twitter or by tweeting (I really hate that term) about a giveaway, now I can enter two more times.

It's all about increasing my chances of winning, people.

And I don't plan on giving out my Twitter information, because frankly, I don't think any of us care about that.

I just want one extra shot at winning that Silhouette.


new resolve

Working in downtown Portland has its pros and cons. Many aspects of downtown I like—Powell's for instance—but sometimes working downtown is hard. And in this post I'm not talking about the commute, the mundane-ness of my job, or even the pervasive cigarette smoke I smell outside. Sometimes working downtown is hard emotionally, even spiritually. Here's why:

{Portland is home to one of the largest homeless populations in the country.}

I see homeless men and women every single day I go to work. I used to ignore them and look the other way, because they made me uncomfortable. In general conference last month, I heard many talks about our duty to help the poor and needy. Then I realized I couldn't keep pretending they didn't exist. Because they do. And maybe it's a good thing they make me uncomfortable. Maybe I need that.

I saw a person last week huddled on the sidewalk as I walked to work in the morning. He (or she—I couldn't see a face) was wrapped tightly in a grubby sleeping bag, with feet in dirty socks peeking out the end. His shoes sat next to his head. That image burned itself in my mind, and my heart suddenly felt raw.

I used to rationalize giving cash to those who begged on the streets, thinking excuses like "They're just going to spend it on drugs and alcohol." And you know, maybe that would happen. Then again who am I to judge another's heart? I know that I am a child of God, and I feel so blessed to really know that. Most of the homeless here probably don't know who they are. But here's the thing: I know who they are. Our Father in Heaven cares just as much for that man sleeping on the sidewalk as He does for me. That is reason enough to care and to give.

I can't change the world, or even Portland. Whether through a smile, a greeting, or a few dollars tucked inside those worn shoes, I might be able to change someone's day or hour or moment. I might be able to help someone know that someone else cares. I know that God cares, that Christ cares. And if for no other reason, that's why I should care.

I don't know these people or what their lives are really like. But Christ does. Christ wasn't discriminatory in his love or service, and I shouldn't be either. Going forward I resolve to be a little more kind, a little more accepting, a little more aware, a little more compassionate.


a life catalogued in notebooks

The weekly planning notebook: Where I figure out my weekly essentials, necessities, and nice-to-dos

The list notebook: Where I write my grocery lists, project supply lists, driving directions, and sewing pattern lists (I keep this in my purse with a pen all the time)

The journal notebook: Where I write personal thoughts, notes, and reflections

And finally, the budget notebook: Where I allocate and track the money we spend (is it archaic that I shy away from computer budgeting software?)

If I had been lucky enough to be taken up in the Rapture and no one would ever hear from me again, anything anyone would want to know about the day-to-day life of this girl could likely be found in one of these notebooks. While my hand-written systems may seem outdated, it works. And I like it.


my day in gerunds

Today I have been

:: Pinning (a firewall fluke? I'll take it)
:: wearing patent leather heels
:: sashaying in a flippy skirt
:: sporting a neutral monochromatic look
:: relishing the sun and warmth
:: taking notes
:: planning meals in my head
:: updating the shopping list
:: counting the minutes until closing time
:: thinking it was Friday—sore disappointment
:: eating Italian leftovers
:: texting a good friend
:: reading this week's Primary lesson
:: wanting to bake something delicious
:: listening to happy music
:: G-chatting
:: itching to sew
:: tracking an Amazon shipment

a midweek temple trip

I feel my Savior's love
in all the world around me.
His spirit warms my soul
through ev'rything I see.

I feel my Savior's love;
its gentleness enfolds me,
and when I kneel to pray,
my heart is filled with peace.

I feel my Savior's love
and know that he will bless me.
I offer him my heart;
my shepherd he will be.

He knows I will follow him,
give all my life to him.
I feel my Savior's love,
the love he freely gives me.

"I Feel My Savior's Love," Children's Songbook #74


lesson learned

This morning before I hurriedly left the apartment, I tried to gauge how much I had left in my book. I had about 100 pages (a thirdish) still to read and inwardly debated on whether or not I should bring my next book with me. (No need to comment on how crazy it is to consider bringing a back-up book when I still had 100 pages to go. I already know.) Anyone who knows me remotely well knows that my go-to choice would be to bring the second one. Just in case. You never know if you're going to be stuck in traffic or waiting in a too-long line or stranded somewhere (anywhere) where you could be bored for who-knows-how-long. You just never know, and my theory has always been a just-in-case-you-never-know-just-bring-another-book theory.

In a moment of uncharacteristic reader recklessness I opted to bring the most recent issue of BYU Magazine instead. I think I'm a little book paranoid, I told myself. Chillax. You still have 100 pages to read.

And here's the thing. I didn't know that I would end up reading during my lunch hour because the TV room would be occupied. I didn't know that finishing my book this afternoon was inevitable. And I didn't know that I would not really be in the mood for BYU Magazine when it became my only reading option.

Lesson learned: You never know. So bring the second book. Just in case.


a friday list

I wore capris today.
And wedge flip-flops.
You see, the sun came out again today.
That's a big deal right now, even though it's in the middle of May.
And it seems like the leaves grew on the trees overnight.

Who couldn't love that?
Right now I'm eating the perfect apple and listening to the Weepies.
So, you know, things are pretty great.
Blogger is green-lighted at work now.
For good, I think.
But they're blocking Pinterest as "streaming media."
I know.
I can't talk about it.
Blogger's freak-out yesterday was unwelcome.
My Wednesday post disappeared.
I hope it comes back.
With all the comments.
It was one of my favorites.
I missed having new posts in Google Reader this morning.
I'm so ready for my weekend.
Are you?
I have some fun plans.
Baby shower.
Fabric Depot.
Maybe even some bread-baking.
I hope your weekend is lovely.
See you on Monday!
Unless, you know, I see you sooner.

12 of 12: may 2011

01. Lots of fog in the morning
02. Reading on the bus
03. Refilling the fancy-shmancy coffee maker at work
04. Feeling happy with some Ingrid Michaelson
05. Sending mail
06. My color combo—I like it
07. Staff meeting minutes
08. Choosing water instead of Coca-Cola to accompany lunch
09. Sunglasses because the sun decided to come out
10. Crucial dinner ingredients
11. Leftovers from dinner
12. Handweights that I decidedly did not use, even though I probably should have

Interested in joining 12of12? Go here for more details.

Note to self: Next time, try to get more color in my pictures. Some of those pictures are gloomily too gray. Yes, I just said gloomily.


my blog voice

I read lots of blogs. Lots. And I love it. I love reading about others' lives and how they live fully, and I love finding inspiration for my own creativity. I feel like, for the most part, I'm edified through the blogs I read. Sometimes, though, the inundation of blog voices makes it hard for me to hear my own.

I'll develop blog crushes and read back through all the archives and go crazy for their blog style. Then subconsciously I'll start incorporating some others' style into my own. Sometimes I want to be a popular creative blogger, one that other bloggers reference and quote and feature. Sometimes I want to be a profound and introspective blogger, one who is constantly inspirational. Sometimes I even want to be a hipster blogger (and really, who am I kidding with that one?). All that wanting to be something else inevitably leads to a blog rut and I don't know where to go. I get so caught up in trying to be what I love that I stop trying to be what I am.

While I like it when other blogs inspire my own, I don't want to forget the purpose I had for my blog when I first started on July 5, 2006. My first post ever included this paragraph:
I love words and minutiae is one of my favorites. It is what I frequently think of as the little bits of life that create a person. That is really what these blogs are right? The chronicling of the little bits of our lives that mold who we are, where we're going, why we do what do, and how we act is how I apply minutiae to my life.
My blog style will inevitably change as I continue writing; I mean, I started blogging almost five years ago, and my style—what I write and how I write it—has developed significantly. And all along the way, my blog has become more and more me, which is exactly how I want it to be. As I've grown up, so has my blog.

What I love most about blogging is that I come to know myself better and become more comfortable being me. I learn that I can love other blogs far different from my own and still love my blog for what it is. I learn more and more all the time that being me is enough, and that's a liberating realization.

Even with 156 million other blog voices out there, my blog voice doesn't have to drown. My blog voice is mine, and it doesn't have to be anything else.


hold the tomatoes, mustard, lettuce, etc.

I'm a picky eater. And I really wish I weren't. I wish that I liked salad and more fruit and more vegetables, because I agree with everyone else when they say that I'm the one missing out here. Don't worry—I know. I know my lame-o taste buds prevent me from fully enjoying food (and from eating more healthy, I'm sure).

I like going to sandwich shops and burger places, because I like the food, but I hate ordering a sandwich. I like my sandwiches more or less dry, preferably with just meat and cheese. When I order a burger it goes something like this: "One cheeseburger with cheese and ketchup only, please." "You want a plain cheeseburger?" "Yes, I want a plain cheeseburger. With the ketchup."

A couple of weeks ago Josh's mom took us to this new sandwich shop she was loving, Jimmy John's. (The Wilsons really like sandwich shops, and so I've learned to swallow my weirdness in sandwich ordering.) I looked through the large menu, a little disheartened at all the options that I would likely ask them to hold. Then I saw this menu category: Slim Sandwiches. These are sandwiches with just meat and cheese. It won't even qualify as a Slim if you add extra stuff.

It's like they know me.

I think I've found a new favorite eatery.


Operation Superhuman Reader: March and April 2011

The Girl Who Played with Fire (Millennium, #2)The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was an okay follow-up to The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. One of the things I really liked about the first book was the subtle mystery and build-up, and The Girl Who Played with Fire lacked that. Also, I like Blomkvist's character markedly more than Salander's, and while the first book seemed more Blomkvist's story, the second definitely belonged to Salander. Honestly, Salander just creeps me out a bit. While her back story is given in this book and that explains much of her personality, her inability to trust can be maddening, especially when it comes to Blomkvist.

I found the events in the last chapter to be highly improbable, but perhaps that improbable drama is what made this book an exciting read. While I'll admit to this book falling short of the expectations Dragon Tattoo established for me, this second installment is compelling. And I already started the third one. Obviously.

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest (Millennium, #3)The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I wasn't impressed with the second Millennium book and didn't have the highest hopes for this third installment. To me Blomkvist has always been the most interesting character, while Salander, though a victim, is very weird and unrelateable. Add that to the fact that Larsson's writing isn't anything incredible (it is, at times, rather cliche and contrived). And yet, despite all my initial misgivings, I actually missed my train stop on the way home from work one day because I was so involved in the book. So really, a lot must be said for the quality of a good story.

Hornet's Nest circles back to the tenor of the first book in its methodical approach to storytelling and mystery solving. I loved the key role Millennium magazine played in this book, and I also enjoyed Berger's subplot at SMP. All of the dramatic loose ends raised in the second book came together nicely in this finale. Salander receives redress for her injustices and is also held more accountable for her own actions. I appreciated the redemption she was given for her bizarre and often maddening personality. I liked how the book let me see the situation from all angles, from the good guys' perspective and the bad guys'.

While I could be elitist and say all I want about Larsson's overuse of the word discreet and his sometimes exhausting descriptions of what computer and phone every character uses, in the end, something good has to be said for a book that makes me miss my train stop.

So Brave, Young and HandsomeSo Brave, Young and Handsome by Leif Enger

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Really, it's a 3 1/2, but to be optimistic I chose to round up to the four-star option. This book isn't as good as Enger's Peace Like a River. The prose was superb, but the story was lackluster. About one-hit-wonder author Monte Beckett and his unlikely friendship with former train robber Glendon Hale, the story reads with a western timber. For a large portion of the book I was frustrated with Beckett's pliable character. He's a one-time bestselling author who tries unsuccessfully to repeat his achievement and who then goes off on a adventure with a former criminal to help him find his abandoned wife. I was often frustrated by Beckett's weakness and seeming inability to change.

I was surprisingly proven wrong in my assumptions about Beckett, however. This whole time I was expecting an outward change in Beckett, a change in his actions and personality. Really, though, this story is more about a man who comes to accept himself for who he already is. So many stories are about dramatic outward change, and I appreciated a story about more subtle, inward acceptance.

Murder on the Orient ExpressMurder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I'd never read an Agatha Christie novel before and didn't know what to expect. Reading this I felt like I was watching a murder mystery dinner. I appreciated the straightforward crime and the frank and logical way of finding the solution. Some of Poirot's conclusions (which were always correct) seemed a bit of a long-shot for a guess, but I suppose that's part of what adds to the delight of down-to-earth mystery novels.

The reader could follow the mystery well, and aside from the impossibly correct guesses Poirot makes, the reader can feel comfortable making her own guesses about the case.

I suspected the ending and was pleasantly surprised at the outcome. This is a solid and straightforward mystery that doesn't manipulate or deceive. I think I'll go back to Christie for a refreshing read now and again.

The Other Side of the BridgeThe Other Side of the Bridge by Mary Lawson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really loved this book. The Other Side of the Bridge combines two coming-of-age stories in a simple yet beautiful tale of love and goodness. (I found it reminiscent of East of Eden, another favorite.) I loved the message that you don't always need to go far to find what you need, that often you can be happy right where you are. That's what this story is: a story about acceptance and happiness and love. I'd recommend this to anyone.


the graveyard shift

I'm up a little late tonight prepping the meat for tomorrow's dinner and mixing up biscuit dough. As I worked in the kitchen wearing stretchy pants, a comfy t-shirt, and an apron, I couldn't help thinking of my mother, who has spent countless nights in the kitchen graveyard shift.

I can't number the times she's spent in the kitchen at eleven at night mixing rolls for the next night's dinner, making chocolate pies for Dad to take to work, or baking a birthday cake. I can't list all the nights she's spent at her sewing machine, working until early morning hours to finish a dress, skirt, or blouse for me or my sisters, or the nights when the clock strikes midnight and she's still at the ironing board, making sure my dad and brother have white shirts for Sunday. Sometimes she's so tired she can hardly keep her eyes open, but so often she presses onward, determined that I have a first-day-of-school outfit or cinnamon rolls to give a teacher or a temple dress for my wedding.

She so frequently takes the graveyard shift not because she procrastinates or is lazy--quite the opposite. She's spent her day chaufferring me and my siblings, going to parent-teacher conferences, meeting with her counselors for her church calling, working to help support her family, caring for her elderly father, making dinner, and attending innumerable dance recitals and music concerts.

When I think of all she is and all she's done, I'm overwhelmed by her selflessness and kindness, her devotion to her husband and children. I hope that when I'm a mom I'll have the strength to take the graveyard shift when I need to, whether it be at the sewing machine, in the bathroom with a sick child, or in the basement wrapping presents for a birthday.

{circa March 2009}

Thank you, Mom, for all those nights you stayed up later than everyone--what a supreme expression of love.



I wore my Easter skirt today because I thought I needed a boost. I've had an interesting week emotionally. I've had waves of feeling overwhelmed and over-emotional* (which hasn't happened a long time) throughout the week, and this morning I had a couple things happen that threatened to push my emotional buttons (not having an umbrella, leaving too late to catch the bus, and not being sure where my iPod was). Remarkably fast, however, all of my concerns resolved themselves (my umbrella ended up being in the car, I barely made the bus, and my iPod was plugged into my work computer). I thought that by wearing my cute, polka-dot skirt, I was remedying a rough week.

In looking back on my week, however, I realized that really, my week wasn't bad at all. I made a point of doing the small things—prayer and scripture study—each day. Even though I may have had rough moments throughout the day, I was always reminded of the wonderful things in my life in the end. I was given an extra measure of love and motivation. So really, the polka-dot mentality adopted me this week, and I wore a happy skirt today not to improve my mood, but instead I wore it because life is so good.

While I've had moments this week of stressing about the wet laundry still in the washer or the stove burners that need a desperate scrubbing, I realized I've also been enjoying froyo, Ingrid Michaelson, free Chipotle lunch, the one day of 70-degree weather this week, Spring Wipeout, giant ric-rac, and, of course, my polka-dot Easter skirt.

*Josh: "I've learned that women typically have many, many emotions. Me? I have about five."


"You are my biggest fan"—name that movie

Thursday night of Women's Conference, Shadow Mountain record label put on a concert that featured some of my favorites: Vocal Point, Hilary Weeks, and my violin idol, Jenny Oaks Baker. I'll be honest, the concert wasn't the best thing ever; the "surprise" opening act was especially awful, plus the concert was a little over two hours long (way too long after a full day of classes). Hilary and Vocal Point were still great, and Jenny was my favorite.

The artists met the audience outside the auditorium after the show, and when I realized that we were standing right where they would be coming, I asked my mom and sister (who were super tired and ready to leave) if we could wait just five minutes to see if Jenny would come.

Emily caught a glimpse of her blue dress in the crowd and shouted, "Jenny Oaks Baker!!" I didn't have any CDs for her to sign, but I did get a picture.

I rue my bear-smile in this photo, but it was the only one I got, so I'm keeping it. I'll attribute the too-gummy smile to my dorky, unbridled excitement over meeting my favorite violinist.

Of course I said dorky fan things like "I've played some of your arrangements!!" and Mom exclaimed, "We have your albums!!" Jenny was sweet and accommodating, even though we had a hard time containing our enthusiasm.

So yeah, the concert was so worth it.


leaving and coming back

This past weekend was my first Women's Conference experience, and at first I was a little caught off guard by the masses and masses of women and the long lines, not to mention the ever uncomfortable Marriott Center seats. The classes, though, were great. I learned more about charity, the power of simple gospel principles, prayer, communication, covenants, and womanhood; and I also learned a lot about myself and what I need to be working on to become who I'm supposed to.

In addition to Women's Conference activities, I had lots of quality time with my mom and sister.

I got Big Swigs with my Number One.

We ate lunch at the MOA cafe while catching up with good friends.

And I even got dinner from Cafe Rio on Friday night.

I met up with old friends and made new ones. I laughed, cried a little, and made the most of my two days in Utah.

Part of me felt so unready to return to real life, but then I realized I was missing the point of everything I'd learned: I have a mission in this life. For me right now, that mission is in Portland, Oregon, and while I may miss my family terribly and wish for more time with them, my mission is happening right here in the Northwest, and it's happening right now. I'll treasure up the time I have with my family and then go out and do the work I'm meant to do. I may not even know what I'm supposed to be doing specifically, but I pray throughout my days I'll do what God needs me to.

So while I may feel unready to say this, I'll say it anyway: Bring it on.


welcome home, honey

I've spent the past few days in Utah with some of my favorite people for BYU Women's Conference. I came home yesterday morning, and I thought that Josh was excited to see me--that is, until he unknowingly yanked my pillow out from under my head as I slept last night.

I guess those three nights of sleeping alone gave him the illusion of complete pillow entitlement.
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