Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Things I learned (so far) while writing a novel (so little)

If you didn't know (and I'm not sure how you would since I haven't posted here in a month), I'm participating in NaNoWriMo this month! This is the video that finally convinced me.

What I've learned so far:

*You will never, ever, not in a million years, ever read the draft that I finish this month. I may not even read it again. I'm estimating that I'll keep maybe, MAYBE 5 percent of it in the final manuscript (which adds up to most character names, the page numbers at the bottom -- those prob won't change, and a couple of paragraphs).

*I still prefer writing beginnings, but those middle parts are actually pretty fun. Still scared of the ending. How can you possibly live up to the build up? How can it ever be satisfying enough? Worth all that time?

*1667 words is a lot, but 3000 is a hecka lot more. Which is what I've had to do to catch up for all those nights I decided to skip.

*"I'll do it later" is never a good idea.

*Every three pages or so, I think to myself, maybe this would be a better place to start my novel. Where IS the best place to start a novel?

*Writers are a pretty impressive bunch. It takes so much more time and energy and emotion to write a novel than I ever imagined. Good reading = hard writing.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The book fair

Remember book fairs in elementary school? Best days of my life. So many brand new books. Brand new books and money. Money from mom and dad, cause everyone knows it's ok to spend money on books. I remember always having a hard time choosing between the "How to draw 50 dogs/horses/other animals" books (anyone?) and the Garfield/Calvin and Hobbes/Far Side comic books.

Clearly, I was born with great taste in literature.

Haven't been to a book fair in over a decade, but just yesterday I came across this.

And it's so much cooler than the title lets on. It's everything book: papermaking, letterpressing, bookbinding, free book appraising, rare book eyeing. Probably not a lot of Calvin and Hobbes reading, but this... this will be cool.

Five dollars to get in, and you better believe I will be there. Everyone knows it's ok to spend money on a book [fair].

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Please excuse

But today was my last day in the office. Like I said, I'll be working remotely from Houston, but today was my last day to drive in so that I could see and work and laugh with my coworkers, who have become my dear friends.

They threw a going away lunch for me. It was perfect. They made delicious foods, we played bananagrams, they let me win once... you'd think it couldn't get better. But then they gave me sweet cards and said sweet things and gave me sweet hugs. Plus a travel pack for surviving the driving. (Did I mention it's a 24-hour drive?)

So please excuse the reminiscing, but I have to say thank you. Thank you and I'll miss you and please learn how to use video conferencing.

And please excuse if I'm still in pajamas when you do.

Monday, October 11, 2010

and in the classifieds...

Just a few items looking for a good home. Pass it along to any good homes with space for a few items.
Five days and counting!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

I declare a time out

Let me set the stage for you.

We're in the middle of a volleyball game. In what is supposed to be a noncompetitive city league. Our team, made up of some of my favorite coworkers, is losing miserably. Our "noncompetitive" opponents, with their "bump set spikes" and their "overhand serves" and their excellent "coordination" are chewing up all our fun and slamming it in our faces. Fun? There will be no fun.

So I deal with it the only way I know how.


I'm screaming it. Waving my arms frantically in the air. Spinning a little.

The ref was confused and probably a little concerned, but it didn't work. He motions for the other team to continue with their serve. Meanwhile, our team has completely lost it. I'm laughing myself dizzy and can barely take another breath when Jenny finally signals to the ref (that's all it takes) and he calls a time out.

It was a little like this.

Anyway, now that we're only a week away from packing up the truck, I'm wishing I could call a timeout on life for a bit. Just to slow things down. Pull a Blossom or a Zack or any other early 90's TV show character who could freeze everyone else in place for a few minutes. Cause I like where I'm at and I like where I'm going, but it'd be nice to have a minute to enjoy the in between.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Good news

Looks like I can keep my job! Just got the news, one week before what would have been my last day, so I couldn't be happier. I'll be working on some new projects, which = lots of writing. And lots of fun.

Speaking of work, if any of you are looking for work, and I mean really fulfilling work, email me. We're hiring people in just about every department imaginable, and I'd be happy to put in a good word. 

And speaking of email, here's another recent bit of good news. A couple months after Ryan and I got married, I tried to get the classic email address for my married name. But, sadly, it was taken.

A couple weeks ago, I discovered that lisa dot tingey at gmail dot com was actually taken by me. Apparently I had snagged it a few months before we got married. And then immediately forgot it. So now I have at least three or four known gmail addresses (when I saw that lisa.tingey was taken, I'm pretty sure I took lisavtingey and possibly lisa.v.salazar to make up for it), but who knows how many others I've created and forgotten.

Are you an email address addict?

Speaking of addicts, I must be addicted to good news tonight cause I've got one more piece for you. We're having a going away bbq this saturday at noon. Ryan will be in town and so will some grilled goodness, so stop by sometime to say bye. Email me at any of my dozens of addresses for more info.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

World Teachers' Day

A little video we created at work -- thanks to all those teachers out there!

Sunday, October 3, 2010


This is our moving truck.

This is our moving truck on Google Sketchup.

Yesterday I started getting nervous that our 16' truck might not be big enough to pack all our stuff into. So I gave Ryan measurements of all the big items in our house, he recreated them in Google SketchUp, and then he played Tetris til he fit everything inside our allotted space.

All our lives, right in that little box. Good news is... it looks like it fits.

Btw, if you haven't played around in SketchUp, you should try it out. It's free (thank you, google), and you can explore inside 3-D models of famous buildings all over the world. For example, in the model Ryan sent me, he put our little truck right outside the Colosseum and an Egyptian pyramid. He also set it up right outside this.

Bonus points for anyone who guesses what famous building this is...

You also might be Ryan's true soulmate...

Did I mention that in the last couple weeks, I've packed away two LOTR book sets, two LOTR DVD sets (including the creepy/random animated children's version), AND a LOTR audio CD set? That's devotion.

That's right. It's the Tower of Mordor. Courtesy of Google SketchUp.

You're welcome. (The black dot is our truck.)

Friday, September 10, 2010

Why we tell stories

A couple nights ago, I discovered this, courtesy of StoryCorps...

... after which I watched every other animated short they've created. There is something so special about stories and their retelling. Can you just imagine what we'd gain if we all listened to each other a little more? And if we were more willing to share our stories?

I recently read an incredible book. A very hard book. It was written based on the author's personal experience, making it even harder to read. It dealt with betrayal, abuse, loneliness. But it was also about hope and loyalty and strength. I imagine it was very difficult to write. But I admire the author for this gift she gave. Stories like this, like Danny and Annie's, like the ones my grandmother tells about her mother, these are stories that don't leave you. Because they change you. These are stories that deserve to be--need to be--told. Recorded or written down.

We all have stories to share.

Some stories are harder to share than others, but I hope you'll take a moment to share one with someone you love. Or that you'll take some time to listen to someone else's special memory. It will be a gift you're not likely to forget.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Cheapskates with refined taste rejoice

We looked into seeing an opera while we were in Rome, but the only show while we were there opened an hour after we arrived in Italy. Normally I'd be all for it, but somehow the 16+ hour commute from SLC didn't put us in the right frame of mind -- plus we were jet lagged and I can't think of a more expensive (and uncomfortable) place to take a nap than in an opera house.

So we decided to forgo the opera and enjoy the sites instead. In the next couple days we saw stuff like this around every corner:

On our way to the Spanish Steps, we noticed a small army of Italians and tourists gathering. Apparently some group was setting up for a performance in the square that night. An opera group to be precise. Setting up for a free performance. So, we secured ourselves some seats on a step and listened in on the rehearsal while they brought in a grand piano and the works.

That night, after a quick stop by Trevi Fountain, and, of course, a gelateria, we stopped by the square on the way home to catch the performance in their full gear.

Right place, right price, right time.

p.s. if you were wondering, Ryan did fly in for the weekend, and we had a great time. Three more days and he'll be back for another weekend!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Goodbye Earl

Ryan's scheduled to fly in tomorrow from Newark, but Earl's threatening to shut him out.

Since when do hurricanes hit New Jersey?

Think happy thoughts, everybody.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Nothing says I love you like graffiti

So sweet of Ryan to sneak out of our hotel room so he could leave me this note across the street.

Did you know graffiti was invented in Italy?! At least, that's where the word originated. (The areas surrounding train stations seem to corroborate this theory.)

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The trouble with squares

st. peter's basilica -- our first night in italy

oh hello.
st. pete's square
One of my favorite things about Rome (and London and Paris and on) is how squares and plazas are so sociable. You could spend hours in one place, sitting and talking with never a shortage of people to watch as they sit and talk. Squares are civilization's campfire, the way they put you in a trance and make time stop, allowing you to think and listen despite all the people. It was in a square, seven years ago, that I first remember feeling like a real adult.

So I was all in love with squares up until I learned something very sad about them. Only one of them, really. The one that was right by our hotel and is pictured above.

It closes.

Which brings us to the scene of our first crime in Italy.

One particularly late night, before we knew the closing rule, we climbed over some barricades in order to cross the square and get home. Yeah, I know. Barricades don't require translation to = alert! back away! stop! but we were tired and had all sorts of reasons to ignore them, like how the fastest way through a circle (even one called a square) is right through the middle. And also how, you know, we're American and there's freedom and the mayflower compact and everything. But it was mostly cause our feet hurt and took over our will cause have you seen the size of that circle/square?

Anyway, we're about 1/3 of the way across when this police car comes out of nowhere and starts speeding right toward us. So either we've walked onto the set of the newest Dan Brown movie, or we've just done something very wrong. The car stops just short of hitting us and two angry police officers get out.

After playing a quick game of charades--Italians love that game!--we learn that the square closed at 11:30, and we'd best be backtracking before somebody gets hurt. Fine. The whole time we walked around, the car circled the perimeter, just in case we decided to make a break for it over another barricade.

Still love squares though.

My alma mater makes me smile

First motorized couches, then the old spice spoof, and now this?

There's really no end to what you can do for fun... when there's really nothing around to do.

Monday, August 30, 2010

The trip

The day Ryan and I got our first tax return as a couple, we had big plans for it. Before he started his life of servitude future career, I would quit my job and we'd live off that tax return in Europe for as long as it lasted. So when Turner called and said he had two weeks before his first day, we kinda wrote off all our plans. You can't plan a trip to Europe in two weeks. And even if you could, you certainly can't visit Europe for less than two weeks. Right?

Turns out, you can.

Really, you can do anything if you just stay up late enough.

It took us until two in the morning to realize that.

We were up looking at flights, cruises, any kind of deal that could take us out of town for a while before Ryan's start date. Right around 2 a.m., I shut my laptop, saying--as I had the night before that and the night before that--we'd find better deals tomorrow. Just as I was putting the laptop under the bed, I stopped. I opened it back up. I found a travel package to Rome, leaving in seven days. And I pulled out our credit card.

Are we crazy? I kept asking Ryan. I checked my calendar. He checked his. I checked my work calendar. Emailed my boss. Thought through a million reasons why we probably shouldn't go, but instead we entered our details, grabbed our passports, and clicked confirm.

The week leading up to it was, of course, crazy. We had work deadlines to meet, employment details to work out, and--oh yeah--a trip to Italy to pack and plan for, but it was exhilarating. Each night we went to bed with emotions teetering from crazed to excited then stressed, though usually settling on giddiness: Hey, wanna go on a date this weekend? To Italy, maybe? or I was thinking of stopping by the Colosseum in a couple days... wanna come?

To make things easier, we decided to pack one carry-on bag each and leave behind anything that needed to be charged or plugged in. After two long flights (and one very bad plastic-wrapped bbq chicken dinner), we arrived in Rome. We got lost for the first of many many times, saw some sites, some art, some statues, and then flew back home.

k, it wasn't quite that fast of a trip, but it felt like it. Stay tuned for photos and stories.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The job

So remember how Ryan got a job in Houston?

He'd been interviewing with this company since February, first at a job fair in Reno, and then for a position out in Anaheim. We were a little nervous about how expensive it might be to live in California, but I got over that pretty fast after visiting and experiencing some warm weather, great shopping, and don't forget this.

Unfortunately, we got a call a few weeks after his California interviews: they liked him, but didn't have enough work to hire him.

We were both pretty crushed--while I had been busy imagining life in sunny CA, Ryan had been busy falling in love with the company. It was hard to think about starting all over again, and even harder to imagine a better fit.

Then one day at work, months later, Ryan called my cell.

Turner called. They're looking for ten new recruits for a special training program. They want to know if they can consider me for it. The position could be anywhere in the US.

I was floored. I got all tingly inside. I almost couldn't breathe. I'm sure I probably squealed. (Shar?) Where would this lead? Where could we end up? This was an even better position than the one in Anaheim. I tried not to get my hopes up.

Four interviews (bringing the grand total up to 10) and a few weeks later, Ryan got word that he was selected. They just needed to decide which office to place him in.

They had no idea Ryan had spent more than two years in Houston, that he knew how to navigate the traffic, how to get around downtown better than I do, and how he naturally has a way with Texans (especially this one). They didn't know I grew up in Houston and they couldn't possibly have known how much I wanted to see my sister when she came home from her mission, or how sad I was to soon be living in a city without any nieces or nephews around. They didn't know how I craved humidity or how Ryan craved hot peppers and how Houston offers plenty of both.

And still, with dozens of offices to choose from, they chose Houston.

So last week, Ryan flew south to sign some papers, and now he's in New Jersey, training for a special BIM engineering position and becoming increasingly convinced that he's working for the best company in the world.

Which means I have to quit working at the best company in the world. (My company.) Which would be especially hard to do if I didn't feel like everything that Ryan's been doing for the last few years has been preparing him and leading him to this place and this position. Still hard, but manageable. But that's a topic for another blog.

I guess my point is, everything--even those disappointments here and there--happens for a reason. And I couldn't be happier (or feel more blessed) for this next big step.

We're leaving in October and we'll let you know how it goes.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

oh and by the way...

We just got back from here

because Ryan got a job here

which means we only have two months before moving here

Any questions?

Friday, July 30, 2010

For rent!

If you're the type who likes great neighborhoods, tree-lined streets, huge backyards, original hardwood floors, updated appliances, granite counter tops, and clean, whimsical houses that might actually make you feel younger, smarter, and more beautiful, you might want to check out my brother's house here--for rent in the Sugarhouse area of Salt Lake City.

If you like that kind of thing.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The spawn of the bass

Sounds like a horror movie, right? (Is there a word more evil sounding than spawn?) Regardless, the Provo bass have been spawning all week, so Ryan's been out in the river snatching them up.

I met up with him after work one day and caught a couple fish of my own (on my very first cast, no less). Those fancy, schmancy fishing shades cut the glare off the water so you can see all the fish. I couldn't believe how many there were. Dozens of people were fishing on either side of us, lined up all along the bank by Utah Lake, and people were leaving with buckets and buckets full of fish. Apparently had several armies to feed. Or a sushi bar to stock.

We got a nice supply ourselves and whipped up our own little recipe for dinner that night. Behold, I present to you pita-crusted bass with an avocado lime sauce:

Recipe is forthcoming.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Quick vacation plans, anyone?

My family’s selling a couple weeks of a timeshare for next month at some great prices. They’re such nice resorts, we don’t want them to go to waste! Let me know if you or anyone you know is interested!

Royal Caribbean Resort in Cancun, Mexico—June 12 to 19, only $75/night
Marriot in Branson, Missouri—June 18 to 25, only $60/night
I want a vacation.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Do you know any kid heroes?

I work at a Provo-based, children’s educational company called Imagine Learning, and we’re on the lookout for local heroes—specifically kids.

We would like to create two original books to be included in our online book series, read by children across the world, that are focused on heroic kids between the ages of 8 to 14. We’re looking for young people who have done something courageous, shown compassion, or overcome difficulties or disabilities. Each book would include the young person’s real identity, real name, family pictures, and quotes. We would want non-exclusive rights to publish the child’s story as written by our in-house writers.

We know Utah is full of young heroes, and we just need to get the word out. If you know someone who qualifies as a young hero and who might be interested in having his or her story inspire other children, let me know or email us at as soon as possible.

Spread the word!!

To learn more about Imagine Learning, click here.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Why small city living isn't so bad

I have a tendency to lock myself out. To quote a never published blog post from this past summer (when Ryan and I lived in Houston and I worked from home):

"I've only been here a few weeks, and already I've locked myself out three times. And I don't even go anywhere. I work from home. I eat at home. I sleep at home. And I lock myself out at home."

It's that bad.

Just a couple weeks ago, I was bringing dinner to a family with a newborn across the street. I was a little late, so--this being the first dinner I'd ever brought to a neighbor and expecting that the entire family would be waiting around the table, utensils clenched in fists--I decided to drive there instead of walk it over. First mistake.

I arrived at the house and, since I was in a hurry, decided to leave the keys in the ignition to save myself some time. Cause you know, I could use all that time I saved to patch a quilt or something else really important that takes 2 seconds. Second mistake.

I grabbed the food, reached for the door, and shut it behind me. I started walking up the steps. Then I stopped, feeling uneasy but not entirely sure why. In my mind I replayed the last few steps in slow motion. Graaaab theeee fooood... reeeeach foooor theeee doooor... shuuut theee dooo--no wait. What was that? Rewind. Now slower. And there it was. One flip of my force-of-habit, door-locking finger, and I was locked out.

But no big deal, right? Call Ryan, he'll drive back from campus with his spare, and all will be well. Unfortunately a.) my cell phone was also locked inside, b.) Ryan would now be stranded on campus since I had just locked the key into our only functioning car, and c.) I had just locked our ONLY key into our only functioning car.

I went ahead and delivered the meal, deciding not to bother them with my dilemma because I hardly knew them and--hello!--I was supposed to be the one doing the serving at the moment. That was when my luck started to turn around.

I walked home (only one block!), used my neighbor's phone (she was home!), and called the police (they had nothing better to do!). Within five minutes, an officer cruised up next to my car, pulled a MacGyver with a balloon and wire, and I had my key back. This never would have happened in a big city--just imagine what a flop that NYPD Blue episode would have been...

So thank you, city of Orem. You may not have that Big Apple excitement, but you sure do keep me out of trouble.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Happy graduation!

Yes, that's right. He's done it. And after one more term of classes, Ryan will officially finish his undergrad. Lest you feel sorry for him and his anticlimactic finish, let me give you a run down of this classes for the term:
  1. Fly Fishing: 60+ people signed up for this class of 15, but Ryan made the cut. After a couple classes, he now describes fly fishing as a martial art. He's always loved it (back when we were dating he caught fish for us to grill for dinner on a regular basis--even if that meant fishing until well after the sun went down to catch our meal), and now he's got all the latest gear to help him in his endeavor.
  2. Golf: I once won a chipping contest (as well as the best golf attire award) on a group date years ago. And now Ryan's an award-winning golfer too: He won his class's chipping contest after getting a hole-in-one from 60 yards back. Make me proud.
  3. Scuba Diving: He's not actually taking this one at BYU, but rather from a local scuba shop down south--the same one I certified at. He's trying to get ready for our big Tingey family Hawaii trip this summer.
  4. History of Christianity: A fascinating class, starting with the very beginnings of Christianity, including the First Council of Nicea, and ending with the restored gospel. His professor grew up Orthodox Catholic and is so full of passion that he spends the class jumping off the walls and on top of the piano (true story).
  5. Electrical Systems: Can you guess which class was required by his major? By the end of the class, they're supposed to know how to wire a home. Ok, so it's not super fun or adventurous, but still. Pretty cool.

Anyway, back to graduation. Ryan was the last one to sit down on this side of the Marriott Center. The graduation committee miscalculated how many seats to save, so the rest of the graduates had to sit where we were, behind the speakers. (But what a great view of those hoods!) Ryan was also the first one to lead the graduates out of the Marriott Center, and the first of his graduating class to ring the victory bell.

Congratulations, Ryan! We're so proud.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Midnight thoughts on a book I love

This past weekend, we drove up to Idaho for Mother's Day, and after church I was greeted with a special request: the Sunday school teacher's daughter was teaching a Hungarian woman in Italy about the gospel but was having a hard time communicating with her because of the language barrier. I was asked to write my testimony in Hungarian and send it her way.

So tonight, I sat down at the computer to type up my feelings on Christ, the plan of salvation, eternal families, and other wonderful things that have brought me hope and taught me to love. I struggled a bit to remember that language that came to me so easily five years ago, and finally decided to reach over to our bookcase and pull down my Hungarian Book of Mormon from the shelf.

The cover is worn completely away, and the pages are soft with well used edges. That book was my constant companion during my year and a half in Hungary. Its pages still carry the marks of my mission--there was the occasional smashed bug,* language notes made in my earlier months, highlighted scriptures, and spiritual commentary on verses that spoke to my soul.

I loved that book. I once tripped and fell in the rain, and, rather than use my hands to catch myself before hitting the unforgiving cobblestone street, I held my hands high in the air to protect this book from hitting a puddle. (And today I have a rather unattractive scar on my knee to prove it.)

As I opened it again tonight, for the first time in quite some time, my heart was flooded with a feeling of familiarity. Of love. Of power and strength. I flipped through it, remembering how many of my prayers had been answered within its pages. I felt incredibly grateful. I know that it is another testimony of Christ. It is a second witness to the Bible that He is our Savior. I know that prophets taught of Christ hundreds of years before his birth and made records of their people. And the testimonies they wrote have strengthened my own.

With these things on my mind, I typed up my testimony in Hungarian, sent the email, and crawled into bed next to my sleepy husband. "I know it's true," I whispered to him. And what my words can't always explain, my heart confirmed.

*The summer always brought hoards of extremely fragile, microscopic bugs. All you had to do was walk into one--slowly even--and you'd find it smashed against you. So they inevitably made their burial grounds on my clothes, in my hair, on my face, and--when I shared a scripture outside--inside my Book of Mormon.

For your own free copy of this special book, or to read the text online, click here.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


Last December, a few weeks before Christmas, I caught wind of a surprise present that Ryan's mom had planned for us.

"It's something that you don't even know exists," I would tell Ryan cryptically. The clue pretty much blew his mind as he dreamt of the possibilities. A new invention? A crazy gadget? Salmon that cooks itself? Then the morning came, and he was handed a small envelope: tickets for us and all his siblings to see Muse in Salt Lake City.

Now however true my clue was (he didn't know Muse was playing a show in SLC!!), I realize that it possibly made the actual gift a little anticlimactic at the time. But after seeing last night's show, I can honestly say it blew my mind.

Every number was blowout big, with fun visuals to match the crazy instrumentals. Even after going 90 minutes nonstop (and if you've ever heard them, you know how high those vocals can get), they sounded just as good as, if not better than, on their album.

eyeball balloons that fall down and pop into confetti--a very good idea

this man oozes musical talent

these people ooze photogenics

While the snow came down in heaps outside, we kept things toasty indoors. Thanks to the Tingeys for such a fun time!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

And we're back

We spent a few days last week in Southern California. Ryan was out interviewing with a company, and I came along for the ride. My friend Jenny (thank you!!!) surprised us with a gift certificate to the Beachcomber, a Willy family favorite, so after Ryan's interview we went to celebrate a job well done. Beachcomber is right on the beach at Crystal Cove State Park--you have to walk under Pacific Highway to get to it. We ate right as the sun was setting. It was windy, so they put up a clear tarp around the patio to keep us from blowing away and gave us blankets to lay across our laps to keep us warm. It was great.

We spent the next couple of days exploring Anaheim (where the office is) and the surrounding areas, which included an Angels Game (we watched Disneyland's fireworks show on our way out of the ball park), various shopping malls (hello zara and h&m), plush apartments (and now that we've seen them how will we ever settle for a reasonably priced one??), and, of course, the beach.

The trip can pretty much be summed up in one photo:

We had a great time. But it's always good to be back home.

Monday, March 29, 2010

The china dilemma

(The stuff you eat on. Not the country.)

A few weeks ago, Ryan and I decided it had been far too long since we'd seen my grandparents, so we planned a little visit. We brought the shuffleboard with us (a tabletop version, which we rocked with all the confidence of two twenty-somethings who love a game that was possibly invented in a senior center, thankyouverymuch), and we played the afternoon away. Turns out my grandpa's a pro--his team always won--and my grandma has a myriad of other lovely talents (her team never won...)

Of course when they got word that we'd be coming for a visit, my grandparents promptly invited us to stay for dinner. Which brings me to the point of this post: Because we were there, they broke out the china. Fancy plates with real silver utensils, no less. You'd have thought we were royalty.

It was so sweet of them. We knew they would have to wash it all by hand, and we knew they wouldn't allow us to help. They weren't trying to show off some kind of wealth or parade some high-class lifestyle. In a simple place setting, they were simply saying, "You are special to us."

And we did feel special. And then a little guilty. Because, you see, we had just returned the china we had purchased when we were newlyweds. The whole set. Because we never used it. Now before I incite some sort of riot, you ought to know that we did purchase another set of dishes, still very nice, but much simpler in design (see above). They remind me of something a potter might throw, and I love them. As in "I couldn't stop thinking about them after I saw them in Macy's and after months of dreaming, Ryan caved and I finally bought them" kind of love. The "I want to eat on them every day, so I do" kind of love.

Just about every day, I still tell Ryan how much I like our new dishes. But after that dinner with my grandparents, I wonder. Maybe we do need china to celebrate special occasions, like anniversaries or birthdays or special guests (like grandparents, or someday grandkids). Or maybe it's enough to eat on something that makes you feel special every day, even if it doesn't have the same effect on your guests.

What are your thoughts on the china dilemma?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Moby Dick rides a spaceship

I've had a few celebrity sightings in my life. There was Pauly Shore in Hawaii. Topanga (of Boy Meets World fame) in Vegas. Hugh Grant and Colin Firth (for whom we canceled class during a study abroad) in London's Hyde Park. But none were quite so memorable as the time I saw Danny Glover ride a viking spaceship.

About a month ago, a huge viking ship came driving down the street and took up residence in the parking lot where I work. There is a film studio just a few miles south of our office, so we figured they were cooking up some crazy Scandinavian pirate movie. Then my coworkers started doing a little research, and we found out it was so much crazier than we thought.

They were filming a sci-fi version of Moby Dick, except Captain Ahab (Danny Glover) is looking for a white dragon instead of a whale. Turns out the warehouse next to us is made up of a couple of huge green screens, making our parking lot the perfect backdrop for a futuristic drama. It was so bizarre--they were filming on the ship, but there were trees in the background (maybe in the future trees grow in the sea?), and it was snowing like crazy, and you could only turn on your car to drive home if it was in between shots.

Not that I was trying to get out. Oh no. I was standing at the window closest to the action, with my face pressed against the glass, trying to get Danny's attention and wishing I had brought my camera. (And considering how dark it was outside, and how well lit our office is, I'm pretty sure the entire cast saw me and my coworkers gawking there.)

So sure, it's low budget, and, yeah, it will probably flop when it comes out. But this movie, I gotta see.

p.s. post your best celebrity sightings in the comments!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Birthday surprises

Ryan turned 26 on Saturday. Everyone knows that the number 13 is unlucky, but few people realize that two times 13 is the luckiest number of all. Something to do with double negatives. Case in point: I met and married Ryan in my 26th year. It doesn't get much luckier than that.

So I wanted to celebrate the day with a few little surprises. First, the party.

After breaking into his email and stealing his phone, I contacted some friends from Ryan's major and told them to meet us at Spark at 8pm on Saturday night. Except then a big byu game was scheduled to 8pm, so I had to change our reservation and reschedule with everyone. Then I realized the game was at 8pm eastern time, so I had to reschedule back to the original time. The game was then postponed by half an hour so... I had to reschedule again. In the end, everyone made it there before we did, and Ryan experienced the very first surprise party thrown in his honor.

Then there was the present.

The day we were married, my mom asked my two sisters-in-law to take notes during the ceremony. It was genius, really. So all these months, I've had two little note cards full of advice and sweet reminders of why we married. I decided to take those words and phrases and turn them into something we could hang on our wall to remind us of that day. And this is what I came up with:

The words fill in to make the silhouette of the Jordan River Temple, where we were married. And now those two little note cards are safely tucked away in the back of this frame. Apparently Ryan never knew anyone was taking notes that day, and he was really happy to see them. Surprise party notwithstanding, reading through those notes was his favorite part of the day.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


I read that 30 percent of people wait until the end of January to write their resolutions.

Well, it's the end of March, and I'm just about ready to start making some now. Which is just as well I guess because I also read that only about half of resolution makers are still keeping their resolutions by the end of March--putting me waaay ahead of the curve.

I'm going to start small for now. Just two small goals: write more & bite no more. The first one applies to this blog and the second to my nails. (Cue collective cheers from my parents and ryan.) Here we go.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Adventures in cooking

Last night, Ryan and I ate bacon-wrapped filet mignon, instant powder potatoes, and tamales for dinner. And this was after throwing out a whole batch of broccoli and almost burning the house down. We should probably open a restaurant.

We decided to try searing the steaks on cast iron grills. About .005 seconds after we plopped those steaks down, huge billows of smoke came towering off the stove, filling the whole house and leaving us on the floor trying to catch some fresh air. We opened a few windows and both our doors (not so comfortable in 20 degree weather) and decided there was no point in leaving the job half done. We flipped the stakes and, not surprisingly, the other side left us just as smoked out.

By the time we got the smoke under control, the broccoli I was steaming started stinking. Rotting, even. I'm still not sure how that happened, but that seems to be the theme of the night. Which is why we conceded to the instant potatoes. Not the best tasting, but they sure are fast. And the tamales? What can I say--we haven't been grocery shopping since 2009.

Unfortunately, the steaks were good. Real good. Some of the juiciest steaks we've ever made. I say unfortunately because that means we will probably have to do it again. But not until we fix our fire alarms. Because if that kind of smoke won't set them off, I certainly don't want to be around to see the kind that will.