Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Tuesday Tell-All


*After months of sweat, toil, and constant vigilance (largely on the part of Matt, let's be honest), our own little cosmos plants have grown and flourished from the tiny seeds they once were. Isn't that magical? Of course, it's nothing short of a miracle that they're not all dead, considering that Matt and I kept going out of town and forgetting to tell people to water them...

*Okay, silly girl moment now: can I just say how EXCITED I am that my hair is now long enough to do these waves again? I mean, LOGICALLY I can do them with shorter hair, but it usually ends up looking like my head is a giant triangle, and the geometric look just really isn't my thing. But now, within the last week or so, my hair has somehow become long enough that these waves work again. Hallelujah!

*Yes, I did just have to double-check on the spelling of hallelujah. What a weird word.

*So tonight we're going out with some friends to celebrate Matt being completely done with math forever--we're going to get a massive amount of ice cream and just stuff ourselves silly. I seriously can't wait!

*Of course, Matt isn't completely out of the study zone yet: he's got his huge comprehensive anatomy final tomorrow, so all day long, this is what I've been looking at:


*Mom, don't look too closely at the kitchen behind Matt's head.

*Remember how I mentioned in my post about girls' camp about how I got sunburned and all? Well, now I'm in the lovely stage of things where my scalp is peeling. I honestly think that the scalp is the worst body part to get burned for that very reason. Is anyone with me on this?

*Of course, you probably don't burn at all. In which case, I stick my tongue out at you :P

*We leave on our cruise to Alaska NEXT WEEK. Can you believe it? I can't. Have you ever been on a cruise? Do you have any tips for me, a cruise first-timer?

*Matt is scratching his armpit as we speak. Just thought you should know.

*Now, after telling him that I just put that in, he asked me if I would like him to pick his nose. He's so charming.

*I have finally started Fellowship of the Ring and am liking it so much more than The Hobbit. I think it's just because I like to read books with MEAT, you know?

*Apparently though, judging by comments that were said/written about my review of The Hobbit, I am the only one to feel the way I do about that book. Guess I'm just difficult to please.

*Here's a pretty picture of one of our flowers to change the subject:


*I just made this awesome ham/potato/corn dish all drenched in a creamy cheese sauce for lunch, and it was awesome. Especially because I drank a whole bottle of Dr. Pepper with it. Life is good, friends.

*What makes that lunch even better was that we finished watching Girls Just Want to Have Fun to keep Matt's head from exploding with weird anatomy facts.

*For example, did you know that physical therapists sometimes use maggots to clean wounds? How gross is that?

*So I pretty much start my new teaching job right after getting back from the cruise. I maybe kind of am starting to freak out a little bit. Not so much about the teaching, mind you--mostly about decorating that dang classroom of mine. Stressful, I tell you.

*Yes, I'm dead serious about that last comment.

*So I've tried to spend my time more wisely lately (instead of spending hours every day playing Angry Birds and drooling over cookbooks--you should be proud), and in addition to playing the piano, typing up my mission journals, and cleaning the house, I have also started to try and play around with photo editing programs. Mostly, I'm just abysmal at it. But today I found a cool site (picmonkey) that pretty much has shortcuts to all the cool photo editing stuff so you don't have to actually learn the complicated way. Here's a couple examples (original is on the left):



*That kind of just blows my mind. You should try it out.

Have a great Tuesday! (And don't forget to leave me your best cruise tips!)

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Here's What's Cooking . . . Crescent Rolls


Are you sick of roll recipes? I sure am not. It's like I have this crazy roll addiction that seems to come around every Sunday, just begging to be satisfied...

Anyway, I found this recipe in The Food Nanny Rescues Dinner, and it is amazing (I think Matt ate 8 or 9 rolls the first night alone).

Trust me, you'll thank me for trying this recipe out.

Liz's Crescent Dinner Rolls (by Liz Edmunds, aka The Food Nanny)

2 tablespoons active dry yeast
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon warm water (105-115 degrees)
1 cup milk
3 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
About 5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
2 teaspoons salt
Butter

1. In a small bowl, combine the yeast and water. Cover and let the mixture stand about 10 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, heat the milk in the microwave until just warm, not scalding.

3. In a large bowl, beat the eggs, sugar, and oil with a whisk. Stir in the milk and yeast mixture. With a wooden spoon stir in 5 cups of the flour and salt until combined. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead to form a moderately soft dough, still slightly sticky.

4. Cover with plastic wrap sprayed with oil or cooking spray and allow the dough to rise in a warm place until it is sticky, 2 to 3 hours.

5. Lightly grease a 12 x 18-inch sheet pan and set aside.

6. Punch the dough down and turn it onto a lightly floured surface. Pat it with additional flour if necessary for handling, and keep your hands floured.

7. Divide the dough into thirds. Roll one section into a circle about the size of a dinner plate. With a pizza cutter, cut once down the middle, then across, then diagonally (the same way a pizza is cut) to make eight wedges. Roll up each wedge from the wide end toward the point. Place the rolls point side down on the prepared pan. Repeat with the remaining sections. (All rolls should fit on one sheet pan.)

8. Cover with a clean dish towel and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 15 minutes.

9. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Bake 5 minutes on the bottom rack; move to the middle rack and bake 5 minutes or until the rolls are light brown. Remove the rolls from the oven and brush the tops with butter.

Delicious!

Yield: 24 rolls


Saturday, July 28, 2012

Mom Taught Me...To Ask


Mom taught me to never be shy about asking--for a discount, for the manager, or for a better deal.

Lesson learned, mother:

I scored all the stuff above for just over $23, just because I asked for an educator discount.

Boo-yoy.

(Why yes, I WILL be showing excerpts from Girls Just Want to Have Fun to my 7th graders. Thanks for asking.)

Friday, July 27, 2012

Book #15: The Hobbit

Title: The Hobbit
Author: J. R. R. Tolkien
# of Pages: 275
Genre: Fantasy

So I'm keeping up pretty well on my bet with Matt, as you can see (and he has actually started to keep his end of the deal too, so it looks like Fellowship, here I come!). And I will admit that it is rather convenient that this was the year I finally read The Hobbit, seeing as how the movie comes out later this year (and looks awesome, by the way).

For anyone who remembers old Bilbo Baggins from the rest of the Lord of the Rings series, The Hobbit tells the story of all of his adventures back in his youthful days--of how he set out on a quest with Gandalf the wizard and a dozen dwarves to go steal back the legendary treasure of Dale, which was guarded by a fiercesome dragon. Along the way, Bilbo and crew meet with trolls, goblins, elves, and many other such creatures, which both help and hinder their path. But at the end of it all, Bilbo discovers that there truly is no place like home sweet home.

How's that for a quick summary? But honestly--that's really all the book is in a nutshell. And while I wish I could say it topped the list of my favorites forever and ever (as it is near the top of Matt's list), it just wasn't quite as magical for me. Maybe it's because I've heard/read about one too many Tolkien-plot-knockoffs, but the storyline didn't seem to be anything special. Taking a step back, I realize I need to account for the fact that the books are brilliant because he was basically the first to try any of the fantasy-type stuff and have such success with it, and I will admit that the book was fun to read and had an exciting plot--there was a lot of action, lots of gold, and lots of fighting. But I didn't feel a great connection with any of the characters--in fact, I felt like I barely got to know them at all.

But maybe I'm being a little harsh. Overall, the book was a quick, entertaining read, and Tolkien has kind of a fun style (albeit it is a little jarring at times to hear the narrator coming in and out randomly). And I will definitely say that I'm glad I read the book before the movie came out--at least now I'll for sure know what's going on.

Have you read The Hobbit? Do you agree or disagree with me?

My Rating: 4 Stars


Thursday, July 26, 2012

Girls' Camp 2012


Well, I survived girls' camp.

I wish I could say I came away without burns or bruises, but that wouldn't be exactly true.

I promise you I wore sunscreen, and plenty of it.

But it didn't matter.

Oh well--I love hanging out in my 85-degree apartment with burns all over my knees and neck and back.


But camp was awesome--we enjoyed the wonders of nature, the pleasures of dutch oven cooking, some new experiments (boiling omelettes in plastic bags, anyone?), and some gorgeous sunsets.





Of course, you can't have girls' camp without a fair bit of silliness (especially on skit night!).

The girls came up with the whole skit themselves: a miniature musical based off of Old McDonald.

Hilarious.

(By the way, our group totally got the loudest cheers cuz we were the awesomest)



And what's camp without some good ol' cheesy award-giving?

Guess which one we got?

The golden plunger award.

That's right, people--we had the cleanest campsite in the whole stake.

Boo yoy.


We rounded out our week of fun with a STELLAR day up at Bear Lake, where we went tubing, water-tramp-jumping, and sunburning, I mean sunbathing.

Besides, it kinda sorta cleaned off the stench that had been building up on us since the beginning of the week.

Win-win.



We rounded off the experience on a spiritual high by having the bishop and his wife come up for testimony meeting, which was preceded by an awesome guest speaker and some scrumptious pulled-pork sandwiches.

Wanna know the craziest thing though?

I went to girls' camp thinking that I was just going for the girls--that I would just be there to help them have an awesome experience and strengthen their testimonies of our savior Jesus Christ. What I didn't anticipate was how much the experience would be for MY benefit. With all the craziness of life, I just needed the simple reminder that I am a daughter of God, that He loves me, and that I have infinite worth, just the way I am.

What a perfect week.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Pioneer Day Festivities

K, so I know Pioneer Day isn't 'til next week. But I'm not going to be here, remember? I'm going to be having about as much fun as I can handle at girls' camp.

Luckily for me, Bountiful City was kind enough to oblige me with lots of Pioneer Day festivities the whole weekend before the fact.

Now, I've been through some Pioneer Days in my time (twenty-five to be exact), but this year marked some pretty cool firsts for me:


*The first time that I helped somebody pick ALL the plums off of their tree,

 
*The first time that I took family names that I personally had found to the temple (SUCH a cool experience for me! Maybe I'll post more on my awesome family history stuff later)


*The first time Matt tried his hand at wood-burning (sadly, not the first time that I've taken pictures of myself in the car when bored),


*The first time I've ever seen anyone sleep like this (have you ever seen anything weirder?!),


*The first time I went to go see the preview concert of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir's Pioneer Day concert (also awesome!),


*The first time going to the Bountiful Parade with my handsome hubby (we couldn't make it last year),


*The first time we took advantage of the little kids selling popcicles along the parade route (thanks to my sister-in-law Chris for buying for everyone!),


*And finally, the first (and last time, most likely) that I saw over 2,000 young men dressed up as the stripling warriors from this scriptural story. Seriously, this was one of the craziest/most awe-inspiring sights I've ever seen. I got goosebumps and everything.



*Anyone else catch the Bountiful Parade? What did you think?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Tuesday Tell-All


*I think I was warned about the Meidells and math long before Matt and I were ever married. But oh, how ignorant I was on how deep the hatred really runs, and how there's nothing like a complicated math word problem that gets a Meidell's blood boiling, and fast.

*I tell you this because we have been doing math together for the past 5 hours, and we still have about 5 more to go. It is do-or-die time because Matt's final is tomorrow, and there sure has been some blood boiling around here. There are only a few things that can get Matt frustrated: mainly, math, bad drivers, and me not rinsing off my dishes the right way. But the point of all this is: Matthew is FINISHED with math FOREVER (not counting stats) when this class is over (if he passes, of course).

*We have already decided that when he passes (we're not even going to think about what happens if he doesn't), we're going to go clean the sink at Angie's (Translation: we are going to get an entire sink full of ice cream and whipped cream and bananas at the local diner and gorge ourselves silly).

*I have never been more ready for a math class to be done in my whole life.

*(That's even including all my own math classes, including the one I ended up dropping in the middle of the semester).

*All that aside, I went to this power toning class last night (that I've totally done several times before, by the way), and when I groggily stepped out of bed this morning, I literally collapsed. The sad part? My instructor was like 8 months pregnant and kicking my trash.

*So remember how Matt's whole family was in San Diego last week and we couldn't go because he had two tests? Well, my family is in St. George this week, and we can't go because Matt has this calculus final. I'm telling you, I don't think we'll ever do this take-classes-in-the-summer thing. Not cool at all. Especially because we'll go home this weekend and "get" to hear all about how much fun everyone else had. Boo.

*On the bright side, I get to go to girls' camp next week with the young women in our stake, and boy, is that going to be fun! I haven't gone to girls' camp since I was in the YW program myself, so it should be a good time: we'll be having us some banana boats, some pedicures after our long hike (although I won't be letting anyone touch my missing-from-the-marathon toenails, don't you worry!), and some good ol' on-the-spot skits. But alas, you all will have to go without a Tell-All next week. I'm sure you'll live. Don't despair. I'll be back.

*One concern though: I don't think girls' camp is going to help me with this hardly-getting-ready-every-day thing I have going. It all started with my toenail falling off (which prevents me from wearing flip flops or peep-toe heels, making me resort to running shoes or socks with flats every day). Then the heat made it so I had to wear my hair in a perpetual top-knot. And now it's just gotten to the point where I've let myself go (just about, anyway). Well, Matt had a cute newlywed wife for the first year anyway, right?

*Matt was asked to sing a duet with another guy for this funeral last week, and it was phenomenal. Every time he sings, my heart melts for him all over again. Seriously, people. My husband's got CHORDS (vocal chords, that is).

*Matt and I struck a deal about a month back that he'd read Count of Monte Cristo if I read the Lord of the Rings series. Now, Matt has been trying to get me to read that series forever, and it's not that I'm exactly against it--it's just that I'm not exactly interested in it. And now that I'm halfway through The Hobbit, I will repeat what I said during my lesson on Sunday (don't ask why): The Hobbit is fine and all, but it's not exactly soul-changing.  That's all.

*Matt might disagree with that last statement.

*P.S. He has totally not started on his side of the bargain, so we'll see if I even get to Fellowship.

*I make awesome cookies.

*Just thought you should know.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Book #14: Total Money Makeover

Title: The Total Money Makeover
Author: Dave Ramsey
# of Pages: 223
Genre: Personal Finance

I don't know how other couples handle their finances, but Matt and I like to talk often and openly about everything going on with our money. We like to dream, we I like to worry, and we have yet to get in a fight over anything financial (or anything, period, really--is that weird?). Overall, we've stayed (relatively) debt-free (if you don't count minor credit card bills, which we pay in full every month, or small loans we occasionally get from our parents).

So, according to this book anyway, we're ahead of many people.

But I've never been one to sit in the middle and be content--I want to be at the top, baby! Well, kind of. See, I actually don't care about money as much as some people. I've never cared to have a big house or a fancy car. All I've ever really wanted is a house full of books, a big yard, and enough money to buy ice cream whenever I want it. Oh, and having a large emergency fund would be nice too.

I've been listening to Dave Ramsey's show on the radio now for several months. I am all too familiar with his no-nonsense approach to debt and his general mistrust in the average American consumer. Although I raise my eyebrows at some of the things he actually says to people, I usually have to admit that he's got a point. So I decided to give his book a shot, just for the fun of it.

The book is outlined to follow his Baby Step Plan (and show you exactly how to accomplish each step). In case you're not familiar with his Baby Steps, they are:

1: Save $1000 fast to start a baby emergency fund (only pay the minimum on all your monthly bills, don't save for retirement yet, do not charge anything new to any credit line whatsoever--just save $1000 as fast as you can)

2: Get rid of all your debt by using the Debt Snowball method (make a list of all of your debts except your mortgage from smallest to largest and go to extremes to pay them each off, from smallest to largest. Once you have paid off the smallest, allocate the money you would have used to pay that one onto your next smallest debt, and so forth. Dave wants you to get really intense about paying off all your debt as fast as possible--he suggests that you sell a car, work a second or third job, and/or have a garage sale in order to pay them off as quickly as possible).

3: Finish your emergency fund (Save 3-6 months' worth of expenses. Although I should have mentioned this sooner, absolutely under no conditions are you ever to get into debt ever again after starting this makeover. You're supposed to cut up all your credit cards, buy used cars with cash, and basically go without).

4: Put 15% of your income towards retirement (Now that you've only got your house payment every month and no other debt, you should have plenty of money to really start saving for retirement. This section is my favorite because I love using the retirement calculators they have.)

5: Start saving for your kids' college education

6: Pay off the home mortgage (by using all the money you would have paid towards debt on your house payment each month)

7: Build wealth like crazy (invest, invest, invest)

8: Live like no one else (have fun, invest, and give to those in need)

Now, one thing you've got to know about Dave--he's really intense. And he can kind of get under your skin sometimes with his know-it-all attitude and only-my-way-works aura. I'll give him credit for basing his total money makeover plan on sound principles, and I'll acknowledge that the plan (if executed with the kind of intensity he encourages) would work. It would have to.

That said, I do like how the money makeover is broken up into bite-size pieces that even the most financially unstable could manage, if they had the necessary desire and discipline to. And I do plan on following his steps--kind of. You see, Dave would tell me that I'm in denial, but the truth is that Matt and I are NOT like most average people with money--we have paid for our college educations with cash, we own both our cars, and we already are saving towards retirement. So I probably still won't cut up my credit cards yet (not until I have at least 6 months' worth of living expenses under my belt, that is). Dave would say that I'm set up to fail because I'm not "gazelle-intense," as he puts it.

But I'll get to my ice-cream-and-book-filled fantasy.

I'll just do it my own way.

All that aside, this still is a great read, especially if you're struggling financially. It will give you hope and a manageable plan. He also includes numerous success stories for inspiration, which were my favorite part.

So go check it out. You won't regret it.

My Rating: 4.5 Stars






Friday, July 13, 2012

Photo Walk: International Peace Gardens


Okay, so I know I already did a little post about our date to the International Peace Gardens in Salt Lake. But, what I didn't already do was post some of the stellar pictures that we (mostly Matt) took of the general splendour of the place. So here you go, for your viewing delight.

Hope your weekend is a beauty!










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