Wednesday, December 24, 2008

troll the ancient yule tide carol

{spreading cheer}

to celebrate the eve of christmas eve, we put together a little group and went caroling around my neighborhood. at first mention, caroling always seems like an embarassing, cold and generally bad idea, but in practice it is just the opposite. actually, still embarassing and cold, but it always turns out to be a good idea, and definitely a good way to celebrate the season. as elliott said, it's not really christmas-time until you've sung some carols.

our adorable neighbors were delightfully surprised to hear us singing on their doorsteps. we heard the exclamation, "i thought this only happened in the movies!" more than once. the darling hispanic grandmother across the street sent us off with the blessings of God, in spanish. only one man turned us away, claiming he couldn't listen to us sing because his mother had just had surgery. as elliott pointed out, unless it was surgery on her ears, that was a weak sauce excuse.

but, it couldn't dampen our holiday cheer as we went up and down the street, singing and smiling and giving and making new friends. then it was home for wasail and other christmas treats. baby kyle also barfed on me, but since it's christmas-time, i didn't even care.

and so, in the glow of the christmas tree, a warm cup in my hands, i thought about how much i love this season that brings us all together. this season that inspires us to do good things and be good people.. and i thought about how i wish it could just go on and on.

a merry, merry christmas to you. (and you, and you, and you.)

Monday, December 22, 2008

bite me

{sallee and joan, waiting for the vampire fun to begin}

i tried. i really did.

i heard the whisperings, the talk. a vampire romance? i thought. no way.

no way.

i avoided. i mocked.

then i started reading and i could.not.stop.

it's not because it was good. and i was fully aware of how ridiculous i sounded talking about hybrid human-vampire babies. i mean, believe me, i never expected to say things like, "the good news is, they were shape shifters and not real werewolves all along, so they don't have to be mortal enemies with the vampires after all."

and yet.


if only it had ended with the books, right? if only. but instead, i went to see the movie on saturday with sallee and joan. it was the second time i had seen it. that's right. number two. and i am not making any promises about stopping there.

because here is the thing.

i like it. i like the vampire romance.

there. i said it.

sure, it's not good, but i like it just the same. i like the mystery. i like the (slightly poorly executed) suspense. i like the misfit, misplaced heroine finding her place. i like the passionate forbidden love. i like it! i like it! (i especially like robert pattison's broody film vampire. those eyes! that hair! that lipstick! immortality has never looked so good.)

so when joan leaned over half way through the movie and said, "well, this is an excellent film and i will be buying it," it was like she had read my mind.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

chance of (creative) flurries

on friday it snowed. and snowed. and snowed. it snowed literally i shoveled the driveway three times. the roads looked like this.

this was bad news primarily because i hate the snow. hate.the.snow. it was also bad news because getting in my car and driving south on the freeway seemed like a pretty bad idea, and that meant i missed laura's gingerbread house-making party.

a whole evening inside the house did mean plenty of time to work on my project for the art exchange, though, and that was super good news. i had been stressed out about the art exchange for the past week or so, worrying about what i would make and when i would find the time to make it. creativity has never really been my thing so i needed something simple, but still expressive and worth giving away.

that old friend, the interweb, solved my first problem when it blessed me with this adorable pattern for fabric birds. and that sneaky enemy, the blizzard, did me a favor for once by giving me the time to sew those little birds up.

the original idea is actually for a bird mobile, with a dozen birds and twigs and wire, but i didn't feel like i had the skill or the confidence to pull that off (and i had to use whatever leftover fabric there was in the house because, again, no driving in the snow) so i went with a scaled down version of just one string of birds.

and, wouldn't you know it, they actually came out pretty well. i can sew! who knew? janelle drew my name, and she promises that she really loves those birds and isn't just saying that to be nice. she even had the perfect little hook for them and they are hanging up happy as, well, little birds.

Friday, December 19, 2008

elephant in the room

today was the annual office-only christmas party aboard the good ship enterprise. we had a nice, catered, family-friendly affair a few days ago, but the office-only party is where all the fun happens. and by fun, i mean gambling.

first, though, we had the obligatory white elephant gift exchange. (oh, that old chestnut!) i never really care what i get at those things. my goal is always just to get rid of something lame that's been cluttering up my house. this year it was a wooden craft of unknown origin. i believe it said something like, "family: our greatest gift." the person who got that should feel lucky indeed. and i feel pretty lucky about my take-home as well.

{i am keeping the foreign coke for sure. the spam, strangely, did not make it home.}

once presents are done it's time to break out the petty cash and go wild. (are you starting to see why this is an office-only affair?) this year it was "crap on your neighbor" and "acey-doocey" or something like that. the important details are that there was lots of hooting and hollering and table pounding and shennanigans, the COO lost everything on a big and ill-advised bet and i came home with all these quarters.

do you have any idea how many diet cokes that will buy me at the sev? and may god bless them, every one.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

hot fuss

check it out.

sallee and i just got an e-mail (ok, sallee got it and forwarded it to me) that the killers' record label is doing a little documentary about the making of the music video we worked on, and we are in a couple shots! fame and fortune here we come!

lest you brush this off as something less than the biggest deal in the WHOLE WORLD, let me tell you that i just had to fax in a release form to none other than island def jam records (IDJ to me), giving them permission to use my likeness in the project. welcome to the big time.

i must admit, there was a very brief e-consideration of a boycott, given the whole internet censorship debacle. come to think of it, if we had tried harder maybe we could have shut the whole operation down until the band agreed to submit to our demands of even a small amount of making out. with us. but, sallee and i decided to take the high road. plus i still have the bassist's pick, and that, my friends, is what we call leverage.

(also, still waiting to hear from you, mr. flowers!)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

frances cake, take 13: the it's beginning to look a lot like christmas edition

i was so busy enjoying my evening with chuck that i completely forgot to take a picture of him. i did, however, remember to snap these chocolate cupcakes with buttercream frosting and peppermint candy on top. beauties, eh?

nothing says "holiday season" to me like peppermint. and on the night of frances cake with chuck, "holiday season" is just what i wanted to hear.

chuck grew up in a big family in the midwest, minnesota to be exact, so we have that whole growing-up-in-midwestern-states-that-start-with-M thing in common. (did you know that was a thing? well, now you do.) though this was only the third time we had ever met, i can tell you that chuck is remarkably intuitive and interested and gives good compliments and asks good questions. por ejemplo: what is the best gift you have received? (me, a framed picture of my great-grandmother the christmas after she died. him, a guitar from his mom which he has played every single day since.) we also talked about super powers we would like to have. (me, invisibility. him, ultimate empathy.) and that led to a really great discussion, over frosting, about how we can develop some "super powers" right here and now. invisibility maybe not so much, but empathy for sure. i think i often fall into the trap of thinking, "well, this is just the way i am so take it or leave it" and it's nice to be reminded that we can, in fact, change for the better.

and, being that this was the day before thanksgiving, chuck also helped me put up the christmas tree! hurrah. it was pretty easy since chuck is actually taller than my tree. and he put on all the lights, which is my least favorite part.

it was, if i do say so myself, a wonderful way to welcome the season. and, f your information, chocolate cupcakes with buttercream frosting and peppermint candy on top make a delicious breakfast.

non-manic monday

a really good way to spend a monday night is celebrating jen's birthday. and admiring her sexy new iphone.

another thing that can make a monday great is coming home to find a package from with the $15 leather boots and $20 wool sweater you ordered packed safely inside.

(and yes, that is yet another picture of my hoots. also a good way to pass a monday, or any day really. wouldn't you say?)

Monday, December 15, 2008

under where?

carolynn is getting married, which means, of course, that we all got together to bestow sexy underwear on the bride-to-be. my house became the bridal bungalow, and stephani did an awesome job with the food. and we all shunned lame shower games, so right there we knew it would be a successful event. (a sidenote: seriously, what is with shower games? is there anyone who really thinks it's fun to wrap someone else up in a roll of toilet paper and pretend it's a wedding dress? anyone? i didn't think so.)

for the second lingerie shower in a row i found something lovely at smith's marketplace, so i don't think i'll go anywhere else from now on. why should i, when i can get unmentionables and groceries at the same place?

one new twist on an old favorite was marc coming home with the festivities in full swing and almost stumbling into the middle of the whole thing. luckily he had retreated to his secret hiding place behind the kitchen counter (where he could hear but not be seen) by the time carolynn opened this.

happy wedding, indeed.

Friday, December 12, 2008

so long, old friend. you've been a good companion.

for the past week or so, flying orange sparks preceeded by a popping noise have appeared sometimes when i do my hair. the first time it happened i thought the sparks had come from the outlet, so i unplugged everything, turned off the lights, had a small panic attack and then plugged my hair appliances back in one by one. everything worked fine, so i figured it was just a fluke.

a few days later the same thing happened again. i was in a different bathroom this time, so i knew it wasn't the outlets. my next theory was that some lint or other foreign object had gotten inside the hair dryer and was sparking from the heat. this is not totally unheard of and i decided it was nothing to worry about.

today i was using my hair straightener, the scalp master, when i heard the telltale pops. and then, all of a sudden, the scalp master literally blew up. in my hand.

all right, not exactly literally. it didn't blow up into a million little pieces. but, it did explode with flying orange sparks, right there in my hand, and i finally figured out what has been going on this whole time. the spot where the cord meets the base of the appliance had become detached somehow, and the copper wires inside the plastic cord casing were exposed and snapping, one by one. each time a copper wire snapped, there was a mini-explosion of orange sparks. since the scalp master kept working after each explosion, i never considered that it was the root of the problem. (scalp! root! joke!) but today's explosion sent the scalp master to its grave for good.

this is very, very sad news. i have a deep and abiding love for the scalp master. it had been a part of my life for a while and it had never let me down. until, of course, it started blowing up. its high-tech ceramic plates always left my hair sleek and, well, straight, it always heated up quickly and it was the most appealing shade of orange. my emergency, back-up hair straightener just isn't the same, i am sorry to say, and it certainly does not deserve the name "master," but i am afraid it will have to do for now.

and, though i wish i could say that was the end of today's bad news, i suffered another loss when i stopped by wendy's (don't judge me) and discovered that my favorite dollar menu item, the jr. cheeseburger deluxe, is no longer available. and a jr. bacon cheeseburger with no bacon just doesn't cut it.


so long, old friends.

Monday, December 8, 2008

have you ever?

i stole this from kristina, one of my most favoritest mission companions. (she is also soon-to-be sisters-in-law with sarah, who is going to marry kristina's brother, joel. i introduced them, you know. oh, i've mentioned that before? well, you better believe i am going to mention it as many times as i can.)

but, back to the game. it's sort of like an online version of that game "have you ever," except you don't have to get up and find a new seat every time someone says something you've done. or do you have to get up for things you haven't done? i can't remember, which is probably why i always lose at that game.

for the online version, i just put all the things i've done in bold. you don't even break a sweat doing that, so it is my kind of game. ready, set, go!

1. started your own blog (duh)
2. slept under the stars
3. played in a band
4. visited hawaii
5. watched a meteor shower
6. given more than you can afford to charity
7. been to disneyland
8. climbed a mountain
9. held a praying mantis
10. sang a solo
11. bungee jumped
12. visited paris
13. watched a lightning storm at sea
14. taught yourself an art from scratch
15. adopted a child
16. had food poisoning
17. walked to the top of the statue of liberty
18. grown your own vegetables
19. seen the mona lisa in france
20. slept on an overnight train
21. had a pillow fight
22. hitch-hiked
23. taken a sick day when you're not ill
24. built a snow fort
25. held a lamb
26. gone skinny dipping
27. run a marathon
28. ridden in a gondola in venice
29. seen a total eclipse
30. watched a sunrise or a sunset
31. hit a home run (in the park)
32. been on a cruise
33. seen niagra falls in person
34. visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. seen an amish community
36. taught yourself a new language
37. had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. seen the leaning tower of pisa in person
39. gone rock climbing
40. seen michaelangelo's david
41. sung karaoke
42. seen the old faithful geyser erupt
43. bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. visited africa
45. walked on a beach by moonlight
46. been transported in an ambulance
47. had your portrait painted
48. gone deep sea fishing
49. seen the sistine chapel in person
50. been to the top of the eiffel tower in paris
51. gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. kissed in the rain
53. played in the mud
54. gone to a drive-in theater
55. been in a movie
56. visited the great wall of china
57. started a business
58. taken a martial arts class
59. visited russia
60. served at a soup kitchen
61. sold girl scout cookies
62. gone whale watching
63. got flowers for no reason
64. donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. gone sky diving
66. visited a nazi concentration camp
67. bounced a check
68. flown in a helicopter
69. saved a favorite childhood toy
70. visited the lincoln memorial
71. eaten caviar
72. pieced a quilt
73. stood in times square
74. toured the everglades
75. been fired from a job
76. seen the changing of the guards in london
77. broken a bone
78. been on a speeding motorcycle
79. seen the grand canyon in person
80. published a book
81. visited the vatican
82. bought a brand new car
83. walked in jerusalem
84. had your picture in the newspaper
85. read the entire bible
86. visited the white house
87. killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. had chickenpox
89. saved someone's life
90. sat on a jury
91. met someone famous
92. joined a book club
93. lost a loved one
94. had a baby
95. seen the alamo in person
96. swam in the great salt lake
97. been involved in a law suit
98. owned a cell phone
99. been stung by a bee
100. seen mount rushmore in person
101. learned to play an instrument

as life lists go, this is a pretty good one to go by, and there are things listed here that make pretty good goals, i think. publishing a book, for example, is something i definitely want to do some day, and seeing the great wall of china falls into my see-the-seven-wonders-of-the-world-before-i-turn-35 scheme. (that scheme, by the way, needs a shorter name.) it's pretty absurd that, living here in salt lake city, i have never swum in the great salt lake, so that is top of the list when the weather gets warm again. and i would love, some day soon, to be selfless enough to do things like give more than i can afford to charity. what a wonderful thing to work towards. for the most part, though, i am pretty pleased with what i've managed to get done so far.

what can you cross off this list?

a day in the life

do you ever get to the end of a day and say, "man! where did the day go?" well, here is where my friday went.

8:30 a.m.: breakfast with ryan and miaken (unheard of, i know. but i am willing to get out of bed early for good food and even better company. also for a chance to be famous, since miaken was shooting a documentary.)

11 a.m.: proofing, proofing and more proofing.

12:45 p.m.: christmas baby stops by the office. fawning ensues.

2:30 p.m.: hurrah for half-day fridays!

3:00 p.m. afternoon delight.

3:45 p.m. baby natalie gets some baby legs. (are baby leg warmers the cutest things ever? why yes, they are!)

4:30 p.m.: arrested development in bed. also known as: heaven.

6:40 p.m.: dinner.

7:10 p.m.: in the car.

8:20 p.m.: ryan and steve performing stand-up at wiseguys.

{a word about these two. they are engaged, to be married that is, and it is all thanks to me. no question about this one. me, me and all me. they have already agreed to name their first-born daughter frances, which seems only fair, since the only thing i got out of the rilo kiley concert where i introduced them was a confiscated fork.}

10:45 p.m.: chili's. also known as: the only thing in utah open that late. also the scene of some impressive eating by travis.

and then home.

where does your day go?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

wreck of the day

it's been a while since i've done one of these, and i am too tired to blog about anything else (but am determined to blog nonetheless), so here you have it.

for today...

outside my window: pitch-black night sky. stars somewhere, i am sure, though i can't see them.

i am thinking: about how excited i am to go to sleep. about how much i love the pictures i hung on my wall last week. and about how i hope it never, ever snows all winter long.

i am thankful for: the heating pad tucked into bed with me.

from the kitchen: remnants of my ginger cake from tonight's friend dinner. or, as i like to call it, friendinner. (two words that can be smashed into one are money.)

i am wearing: flannel pajama pants, my "we can do it" t-shirt and a yellow fleece pull-over. and fluffy socks. (yes, sometimes i wear socks to bed. so what?)

i am reading: just started "never let me go" by kazuo ishiguro. (thanks, doctor john!)

i am hoping: for a good night's rest and sunshine tomorrow.

i am creating: fodder for dreams.

i am hearing: absolutely nothing. quiet nights are heaven.

around the house: christmas decorations and a variety of baked goods. i've managed to stay organized all week, so not much mess.

one of my favorite things: a full stomach. (amy's homemade barbecue is delicious.) and my pillow.

a few plans for the rest of the week: breakfast tomorrow with miaken and ryan, visiting baby natalie, helping sallee and nathan move, maybe a matinee movie and the children's choir at the cathedral.

a picture thought i am sharing with you:

it is almost one year since i left for india. i have thought about it a lot since news of mumbai broke last week. i wish safety and peace for the place i learned to love. and i wish for southern india's perfect winter weather, too.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

frances cake take 12: the half-baked edition

a little while ago i got a very nice e-mail from nicole. it appears there was a rumor circulating that she didn't like me (how old are we again? this rumor business is so seventh grade. which i like to pretend never even happened), and she was just writing to clear it up. i hadn't heard the rumor, but it sure was nice to hear that it wasn't true anyway, and we decided to put it to rest once and for all by getting together for frances cake. because if anything kills nasty rumors, it is baking. not sure if you knew that, but it's true.

now, i don't want the following information to be regarded in any way as an indication of how i feel about nicole, but, as it happens, i was so swamped the day of our rumor-busting cake date that i didn't have any time to look up a recipe, let alone pick up ingredients. and so, when nicole appeared on my doorstep in her adorable purple sweater, i asked if it would be all right if we just ate some of the lemon tarts bri and i had made the sunday before. (this was only tuesday so it wasn't gross or anything.) nicole said that was fine. and that is why nicole is just fine, too.

nicole and i met at a rilo kiley concert (actually, we met in her car on the way to a rilo kiley concert), so we had a pretty fool-proof start. and then she moved to salt lake from lehi and started coming to my ward, which also helped. the biggest news in nicole's life the day she came over was that her boyfriend, patrick, had just been baptized into the mormon church. so, over our lemon curd, we talked a lot about mormonism and what being mormon means to us, which is a discussion i really needed. i have, of late, had some difficulty articulating, to myself and to others, what it is about mormonism that is so important to me. it was really enriching and comforting to sit and hash the whole thing out with someone who knows where i am coming from, with someone who can relate, who sees life through the same lens i do. i am all for diversity, don't get me wrong, but sometimes you need to be reminded that there are other people playing on your team, and nicole gave me just that.

as this is a post about cake and not religion (though i suppose the two could be closely related) i won't go into all the details, but let me say this. while from the outside i am sure the mormon church seems a stark contrast of nothing but black and white, i have always done my best learning and growing inside the nuances of the gray spaces. sunday school cliche or not, the business of being mormon is an intensely personal and rewarding experience for me. there are things i do not like or understand, but what i gain has always outweighed anything i have had to sacrifice and i am always grateful to be reminded that my way of living the gospel is just as good as anyone else's. (if not better.) (i kid, i kid.)

anyway, back to nicole. since frances cake, her life has generated even bigger and more exciting news. she and patrick are getting married! hurrah and congratulations! i can't prove that it is all thanks to my tarts, of course, but i wouldn't be surprised.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

it takes a village

all right blog stalkers and google updaters who visit me here every day, this is a limited time offer and it's just for you! and you will all be very, very grateful, as the little piece of information i am about to share will help bring you one step closer to my own impressive status of being done (that's right, done!) with christmas shopping.

check it out.

ten thousand villages in salt lake is donating 20 percent of the proceeds of anything sold from 5 to 8 p.m. TONIGHT to the ywca of salt lake city! it is the gift that, literally, keeps on giving. ten thousand villages has all kinds of jewelry, home decor and gifts from fair trade organizations and local artisan groups from around the globe, so you are giving a gift to women and families all over the world right there. and tonight, your purchase will go to help women and children right here who seek services at the ywca, including shelter and counseling. not to mention that, in the midst of all that global do-gooding, you'll also walk away with a unique and meaningful holiday gift for someone you love. or for yourself. or both. and isn't that what the christmas spirit is all about?

i thought so. so, come join the fun! tonight from 5 to 8 p.m. at 1941 south 1100 east in salt lake city.

see you there!

Monday, December 1, 2008

come ye thankful people, come

i spent thanksgiving at my parents' house for the first time in 10 years last week. i loved being there, and it was oh-so-hard to leave. in fact, every time i go home it gets harder to come back. but, back i came. luckily, i have these highlights to think about.

1. my mom taking the turkey out of the oven and spilling the inside-juice all over the floor, the oven and her slippers, due to an improperly sealed oven bag. trust me, it was funny.

2. loading up on good music and movies from my dad and brother, who are infinitely cooler about those things than i am.

3. three kinds of pumpkin pie.

4. seeing santa claus.

5. putting up the christmas tree.

6. sorting through old photographs with my mom. and erasing all evidence that i was ever in the seventh grade.

7. having my grandparents and uncle john along for the ride.

8. a snow storm that made the trees look like they were dripping with magic. and i didn't have to drive in it or shovel it.

9. going to primary with my mom, and witnessing the following exchange.

teacher: what did we learn today about making good friends and treating people kindly?
adorable six-year-old: resurrecting!
mom: what class was she in?

10. finishing my christmas shopping. that's right folks. my christmas shopping is done. d-o-n-e, done. and it feels so good.

11. knowing i'll be back home for new years in less than a month.