Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Year's Resolutions

I write down a set of New Year's resolutions every year and, as is customary with resolutions, some you follow and some you don't.  I want to make 2015 a life changing year.  However, that is a lot easier said than done so I thought it would be best to write my resolutions down in a public place so the few people who read this blog can hold me accountable ;).

My 2015 Mantra
Alma 57:27 - "Now this was the faith of these of whom I have spoken; they are young, and their minds are firm, and they do put their trust in God continually.
  1. Admit when you are wrong and apologize when necessary.
  2. Read at least two books a month.  At the beginning of each month, write down the names of the books you will read and write reviews on Goodreads after completing them.
  3. Take chances and risks.  You don't want to sit there wondering what might have been had you just said or done something differently.  Make a list of the things you want and do what is necessary to get there, even if that means you have to step out of your comfort zone.
  4. Plan a trip to a new place.  Budget and save for it.  Look for deals and make the most of your money!
  5. Focus on being healthy.  Exercise regularly (at least 45 minutes a day) and eat right.  Develop a better relationship with food.  (I'm trying out Whole30 in January.)
  6. Learn to sew.  Sew a skirt and another article of clothing by the end of the year.  Ask Mom for help and advice but do all of the sewing yourself!
  7. Relearn old subjects you used to study, like Chemistry, Algebra, Geometry, and Biology.
  8. Become an expert on the Revolutionary War.  Read and research everything you can.
  9. Create a bucket list.
  10. Keep a regular journal.  Write at least once a week.
  11. Read your scriptures and study the gospel daily.
  12. Don't be so quick to anger and annoyance.  Develop patience.  Before you say anything, pause and analyze whether your anger is warranted.  Most of the time, if not all of the time, it isn't.
  13. Focus on service.  Try to do something nice for someone else each day and try to do at least one service project a month.  Look for service opportunities in your community.
  14. Develop a morning routine before work.  Go to bed earlier so you can get up earlier.  Do a morning workout, sit down to eat breakfast, and have morning prayer and scripture study.  The day will probably go a lot more smoothly and you'll feel a lot more put together.
  15. Learn more about corporate law so you can be a better corporate paralegal.  Take a class in another area of law you are interested in.
  16. Transform a space.  Makeover the furniture you already have.
  17. Update your blog at least twice a month.  Try to share the gospel more through Sunday entries.
  18. Design more wall-hangings for your Etsy shop and ask for advice on how to make the shop better.  Implement these suggestions and get sales!
  19. Do more family history work.  Ask relatives questions about their lives and write down their stories!
Let's make 2015 a great year!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Recent Travels #2: Georgia

At the beginning of November, Sara, Katy, and I went on a little trip across the country to Atlanta, Georgia.  Sara's brother got a job as a pilot with Delta and recently moved out there with his family. Ever since I went to Tennessee for the first time back in 6th grade for a Christensen family reunion, I have really loved the Southern atmosphere.  When Sara suggested we take a trip out there to check out the Atlanta area, I jumped at the chance to visit the South again.  
Embarking on our fabulous journey!  (Ignore my extremely prominent arm.)
We landed at the Atlanta Airport and then headed down to the rental car area.  Sara's brother, whose home we would be staying at, lives about 30 minutes south of the airport.  We started driving through the beautiful fall colors to his home.  I was basically squealing in delight over how beautiful it was and how many trees there were.
Trees were everywhere!
Talk about Southern charm!  This is one of the many awesome houses we saw while in Georgia.
Once we got settled in at Sara's brother's beautiful home in Sharpsburg, Georgia, we were able to start in on some of our adventures.  It's nice having friends with a similar interest in history.  My appetite for Civil War and other historical sites was definitely satisfied.
The hike up Stone Mountain!
On the top!  If you look closely, you can see Atlanta in the distance.

Stone Mountain is the world's largest granite formation.  It was an awesome hike!
After climbing to the top, we decided to take the tram down the mountain.  The tram ride was AMAZING! (By the way, that pile of white stuff is man-made snow.)
On the side of Stone Mountain, there is a carving of Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and Jefferson Davis riding on horseback.  It is basically the Mount Rushmore of the Confederacy.
The carving with the fall colors!
Near Stone Mountain, there is a plantation area where they have transplanted a real plantation house and other buildings from around the Atlanta area.

The view of the Plantation house from the front porch of the Kingston House.
Katy and Sara in front of the Thornton House. There were a number of cats roaming through the plantation area to catch mice.  The one pictured here walked with us from the Kingston House to the Thornton House.  It is perhaps the only cat I haven't detested so I affectionately called it Acorn since an acorn fell from a tree as we were walking from one house to another.  (Yes, I'm simple-minded.)
I can't remember if the two-seater was called a carriage or a phaeton.
They had a barnyard area with goats.  They were oddly shaped but cute.
Katy and Sara in front of the plantation house.
The beautiful arched hallways inside the plantation house.
The dining room.
Sara looking though the other door into the room everyone would probably retire to after eating dinner.
One of the bedrooms.
The study.
The gazebo outside the plantation house.
Miss Anderson
They were hanging up snowflakes in the park to decorate for Christmas.
Just look at the the leaves!
After our morning and afternoon at Stone Mountain, we decided to check out Atlanta.  We all wanted to eat good southern food so we ate at Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q.  It was soooooo good!  We had to wait a little while to get in but it was totally worth it.

The next day was Sunday.  We attended two singles wards to see what the singles scene is like out in the Atlanta area.  President Ernst (who used to be in my homeward in California before his family moved to Georgia and he became a Stake President) happened to be visiting the Northpoint YSA Ward that day.  He invited us over for dinner at their home on Monday.  It was great to see the Ernst family again.
We also ate at Zaxby's.  Southerners just do chicken better, that's all I can say.
I also wanted to check out another Civil War site so we went to the museum dedicated to the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain (which took place during Sherman's infamous and very destructive "march to the sea").  The museum had several cool artifacts and the battleground was absolutely beautiful.
Me standing next to a canon just outside the museum.
We drove most of the way up Kennesaw Mountain but then hiked a little bit to see where the Confederates set up their canon.

On our last day in Georgia, we decided to go to downtown Senoia (pronounced "Senoy" by locals).  The show, The Walking Dead, is filmed in the Atlanta area and they were actually filming in Senoia while we were there.  I had never seen the show before so we watched the first episode one night.  While I was intrigued by the story line, the gore was a little too much for me and, I have to admit, I had some weird, slightly scary dreams the night after.  But it was good to have some knowledge of the show before going to downtown Senoia.  There is a Walking Dead store there in town and it was fun to poke through some of the memorabilia with the limited knowledge I had gained from watching the first episode.  
Underneath the store, they have recreated some of the scenes so fans can take pictures.
The recreated prison cell.
The front of The Walking Dead Store.
All those white trailers were for the show.
Part of the set they were filming in.
There is a cute little cafe in downtown Senoia where we got really good smoothies.  I thought I'd try some watermelon juice.  It was actually pretty good.
Me on the train tracks in Senoia.
After spending six wonderful days in the land of peaches and Southern belles, we packed our bags and headed back to California.  I loved the Southern charm, the trees, the history, and the country feel of Georgia.  It's a beautiful place and all of you should go there!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Recent Travels #1: Arizona

A few months ago, I decided I wanted to go visit my friends Rhiannon and Jaden in Arizona.  My only experience within the state's borders was at its northwest border when I drove from Saint George to Southern California.  So when Jaden got a job down in Phoenix after graduating from BYU, I thought I'd take the opportunity to visit a place I'd never been before.

I bought tickets on Allegiant Airlines for the third weekend in October.  The last time I flew on Allegiant I had a nine hour delay.  Allegiant is so much cheaper than other airlines, though, so I decided to risk it.  Luckily, I had no problems on this trip and everything went smoothly.

I arrived at the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport on Friday night where Jaden and Rhiannon picked me up.  We got dinner at a BBQ place in Mesa (where I swear I saw the guy who plays Joseph Smith in the Joseph Smith movie) and then headed over to Bahama Buck's to get shaved ice.  I'll be honest, I was afraid it was just going to be a snowcone-like concoction but it ended up being amazing.  I chose cinnamon and wedding cake as my two flavors with chocolate ice cream in the bottom.  It was delicious!  I finally understood what all the hype was about!
We drove to Jaden and Rhiannon's cute little apartment in Phoenix to plan out the next couple of days.  They spoiled me with my own room and my own bathroom.  The next morning we went on a hike at a place I can't remember the name of but it was nice to get out and see the area before it got too hot.
The large hill we hiked up.
I needed a picture with a cactus :).
"How do I get down now?"
Rhiannon with a baby cactus.
After we got our fill of hiking, we went back to the apartment to get cleaned up before heading to downtown Phoenix.  Our first stop was at the Japanese Friendship Gardens.  It was like a little oasis in the middle of desert.
So posing for pictures isn't one of my strong suits.

The ponds in the garden were filled with Japanese Koi fish.  We chose not to buy food to feed them but that didn't stop them from following us around.  They sucked on Jaden's fingers, thinking they were food.
Opening their mouths for non-existent food.
We then headed out to check out Phoenix's downtown area.  It was very hot outside and I was wearing the wrong kind of jeans for the heat but it was fun to experience the culture of a desert city.  It was so different from cities like San Francisco, although I actually saw more cross-dressers in Phoenix than I ever have in the Bay Area.  It was kind of funny.
Downtown Phoenix
Jaden and Rhiannon's ward participated in a Down Syndrome Awareness carnival type thing so we went to help out at that.  Their ward was in charge of the cookie "booth" so we got to eat a lot of delicious sweets as well as check out some of the other booths.  It was fun to just hang out and watch the cute kids have fun playing all the games.

We got to sleep in a little bit on Sunday since Jaden and Rhiannon's ward doesn't meet until 1:00.  It's always nice to attend church in other places.  It reaffirms the fact that we are a world-wide church and that no matter where you go, the gospel is the same everywhere.  After we got back, we had a delicious Sunday dinner, reminisced about old times, and played board games.

On Monday, Rhiannon and I dropped Jaden off at work and then drove to the Phoenix Temple to attend the open house.  I had only been to two temple open houses previously (Sacramento and Draper) so it was a treat for me to experience another one.  The temple was beautiful!  They incorporated a lot of desert landscapes and plants into the paintings and carvings inside the temple.  It was awesome to go and feel the spirit that already resides within that building.
All too soon, it was time for me to fly home.  Thank you to Jaden and Rhiannon for being excellent hosts for the weekend.  It was great to discover some of the sites of Phoenix together and to catch up with each other!