Saturday, November 29, 2014

Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney

Miss Rumphius is definitely my favorite children's book of all of time. Even now as an adult I don't get tired of reading it. What better message to send children than to tell them the story of a woman who despite setting out to make her dreams come true, she never forgets that she must also do something to make the world more beautiful?

I love the audio version of it too.

Please share this book with all the children in your life.

Until next time!


Sunday, November 23, 2014

Scrapbook Sunday: Quito, Ecuador

How beautiful are all the colors of this scrapbook page of Ecuador? I love them.

Happy Scrapbook Sunday!


Monday, November 17, 2014

Have Passport, Will Travel

I just got back from a trip to Portugal and I can't believe what a difference just five little days in Lisbon have made. I had not taken a proper vacation since 2011 and I was starting to feel it. Not because I was exhausted and needed a break (though that was part of it), but because my mind and senses had not been evoked in a very long time, at least not in the way that travel evokes them. Lily Tsay's quote, "to travel is to awaken." is very fitting to me right now because I have awoken once again. My travel bug was dormant. It seems that it is back and with full force. That's right, have passport, will travel.

I cannot even begin to explain the importance of travel, particularly international travel. I think it is so important for us, especially as Americans, to learn about the world. We tend to be very ethnocentric and while I think that our country is great, I also think that our way is not the only way. We have so much to learn from the world.

Now I know that traveling is not easy, I know that. Finding the time and money for it can be very challenging because it's not exactly a life necessity. Why do you think I hadn't been able to travel in so long? I also know that I have been incredibly blessed in my life to have had the opportunities to travel from a young age that not everybody has had. All I'm saying is that if you have the opportunity to travel, take it, take it immediately and if not you can still make it happen. In my eyes "travel is worth any cost or sacrifice," like Elizabeth Gilbert says and if that means scrubbing toilets after your day job to have extra money for travel then I will scrub toilets after my day job to have extra money for travel.

I love this TED talk that Rick Steves made a few years back. I am posting it because, a.) Who doesn't love Rick Steve's??? and b.) He eloquently describes what we gain from "thoughtful travel" as he calls it. I promise it is worth your time.

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.” – Mark Twain

Until next time!


Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween 2014

Take a good look because it may be another 3 years before I have straight hair again.

Happy Halloween!


P.S. In case you didn't know, I'm Alex Vause from Orange Is The New Black.

P.S.S. I'm really loving the glasses. I may even wear them on a regular basis.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Yoga or Zumba? The Choices We Must Make

Oh the agony of having to pick one because they both start at 7:00 p.m. Life is full of tough choices kids....


Monday, October 13, 2014

The Fault In Our Stars by John Green

I finally finished reading The Fault In Our Stars this week and then immediately afterwards I watched the movie, of course.

These are my favorite quotes:

1.)   "That's the thing about pain, it demands to be felt."

2.)   "...I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once."

3.)   "...the world is not a wish-granting factory."

4.)   "You gave me a forever within the numbered days, and I'm grateful."

5.)   "The real heroes anyway aren't the people doing things; the real heroes are the people NOTICING things, paying attention. The guy who invented the smallpox vaccine didn't actually invent anything. He just noticed that people with cowpox didn't get smallpox."

6.)   "You don't get to choose if you get hurt in this world, but you do have some say in who hurts you."

Do you have a favorite quote in this book?

Until next time!


Sunday, September 28, 2014

Scrapbook Sunday: My Best Friend's Wedding

I recently got to scrapbooking my best friend's wedding from 2008, finally!

Happy Scrapbook Sunday!


P.S. That is one of the few times you will ever see me with straight hair.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

I Will Not Be Calling In Dead Tomorrow

The Dreadful Keyboard
Have you ever expressed frustration to your boss in an email by saying that you were going to call in dead the next day and then later remembered that the reason he is currently out of town is for a funeral? Yea, me either. *sigh*


P.S. I really need a vacation ASAP, but since that is over a month away, I will take up drinking instead.

P.S.S. Hooray for awesome bosses who are nice and see the humor in things.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Creo En Mi / I Believe In Myself

“Creo En Mi” de Natalia Jiménez es una de mis canciones favoritas en este momento. Que bello mensaje.

A veces el favor más grande que otras personas nos pueden hacer es no creer en nosotros porque nos hace luchar más intensamente por lo que queremos y cuando finalmente lo logramos la satisfacción es más grande aun.   

“Creo En Mi” (I Believe In Myself) from Natalia Jimenez is one of my favorite songs at the moment. What a beautiful message.

Sometimes the biggest favor other people can do for us is not believe in us because it makes us fight more intensely for what we want and when we finally achieve it, the satisfaction is even greater.

Friday, August 29, 2014

First Comes Love, Then Comes Malaria by Eve Brown-Waite

I have to admit I was a little disappointed at first that this book wasn't more about the Peace Corps. It's a memoir about Eve Brown-Waite's life as an American expatriate in Uganda mostly, but she does have a short Peace Corps stint in Ecuador at the beginning of the book. I loved the book at any rate.

I think Eve Brown-Waite is a wonderful story teller. Her writing is candid and unapologetic as she describes her misadventures abroad. I was literally laughing out loud throughout the book. I really enjoyed it. It's a good book to read if you are interested in learning a bit about what life as an American expat is like and even if not the love story alone is worth the read. What can I say, I'm a sucker for a good love story.    

Until next time!


Monday, August 25, 2014

I Have Won The Jackpot

I have won the jackpot ladies and gentlemen. Last night my boyfriend came over to visit with the low-carb chicken Greek salad that I had petitioned and also a pita bread to go with it (I always feel silly ordering those two together). Not only that, he made an extra stop to buy me the Sprite I requested after he had already bought the food because I texted him that I was feeling nauseous and needed a Sprite. And no, no, no, it didn't end there, he actually sat down with me as I ate my dinner and drank my Sprite and watched a couple of Sex And The City episodes with me. Now that's love people, that's love.

Until next time!


Monday, August 11, 2014

My Close Encounter With Bill Maher

On Saturday my boyfriend and I went to the Bill Maher show at Kingsbury Hall and it was AWESOME! I got the tickets for my boyfriend as a birthday gift a few months ago because we're both fans.

I have been wanting to go to a Bill Maher show for some time now, in fact, it's on my bucket list (crossing that off right now). Sure we didn't have the best seats in the house, but Bill (don't mind the familiarity Bill) did not disappoint. We had a wonderful time and we even had a close encounter (sort of) after the show when we "ran" into him.

As we were walking back to our car we noticed a small huddle of people and a bunch of flashes going off. We got closer and saw that those people were huddling him, Bill Maher! We stood maybe within 10 feet of him and unfortunately only got a couple of far-away, not-so-clear shots of Bill before he got into his town car to leave, but that was enough for me. What a fantastic night and what a perfect ending.


P.S. If I wasn't so in love with my boyfriend I might go after Bill, though my boyfriend tells me I'm not Bill's type.

P.S.S. There were close to 2,000 people at the show! Who knew there were so many liberal hippies in Utah?!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Scrapbook Sunday: Panagia Drosiani

My Panagia Drosiani Church scrapbook page is done! (That's in the island of Naxos in Greece.) 

Happy Scrapbook Sunday!


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

The Paris Wife is the story of Ernest Hemingway and his marriage to first wife Hadley Richardson. Wait let me back up. The Paris Wife is a book about Hadley Richardson and her marriage to Ernest Hemingway. It's from Hadley's perspective with a few intercepting chapters of Ernest's perspective. The book mostly takes place in 1920's Paris (though they do travel quite a bit), so you get a glimpse of that time period which is absolutely fascinating to me (as well as Ernest).

I really liked Hadley at first. I thought she was so much like me. We both lost our fathers at a young age; We both fell out of a window as children; We were both named Elizabeth (though she went by Hadley); And we were both late bloomers of sorts, but that's where the similarities end.

I loved Hadley and Ernest's love story at the beginning and I can see why Hadley was so taken by Ernest. I think it might have been impossible not to fall in love with Ernest. Soon after their marriage began, however, I started feeling annoyed with Hadley. She seemed so needy. Now, I tried to remember that she was a newlywed and that she missed her husband when he went away for work, but I hated that her whole life revolved around him. Now, again, I tried to remember that she was a newlywed and that she lived in a different era, but still I couldn't help but feel bad for her and not in a compassionate way either. I just felt sorry that she was so pathetic. When Ernest started acting like a jerk and being unfaithful, Hadley bugged me even more for not leaving the relationship and for the third time, yes, I know it was a different era and things were different, but the thing is that she was surrounded, if not, part of the lost generation in the roaring 1920's. I just wish she would have stood her ground more in the relationship and done more for herself.

I love historical fiction and this book does a fine job at capturing this time period and though it is no secret that Hadley's marriage to Ernest ends in divorce because we know he had two more marriages after this one (no spoiler there), I felt frustrated with Hadley throughout the book. Even so, it is always great to take a peek at history through a book and get a glimpse into the lives of the people of that time, the choices they made, and how they felt. For those reasons I loved this book.

Until next time!


Sunday, June 29, 2014

Scrapbook Sunday: Parroquia de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe

A scrapbook page from that time I went to Puerto Vallarta by myself 10 years ago. Boy, does time fly or what!? I need to remember to look back through my scrapbooks more often for inspiration. This page proves that less is definitely more. It's so easy and simple and yet so lovely.

Happy Scrapbook Sunday!


Thursday, June 26, 2014

Zumba Sweat

This was me a few nights ago. No, I didn't get caught in the rain, that wet stuff on my shirt is just a little souvenir I had left over from Zumba class.

Almost every time I get home from Zumba I take a few moments to admire the sweat on my shirt. I used to be embarrassed of my sweatyness so much that I would avoid wearing light colored shirts to Zumba as much as possible. Now I don't care. In fact I love it and I'm damn proud of it. In August it will be four years that I started taking Zumba classes pretty regularly, yet the sweating has not lessened very much. Some Zumba days I sweat buckets others not as much, that depends on that day's playlist, but despite having lost 30 lbs in the last year I continue to sweat a ton. I've come to the conclusion that I will probably never be one of those graceful women that barely breaks into a sweat at the gym. Instead, I'm gonna sweat like a beast and embrace it. I worked hard for it, after all, so hurray for sweating and all its glory

Until next time!


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Salt Lake's Little Mermaid

The Little Mermaid - Danish Garden

Did you know that we have an official replica of The Little Mermaid statue found in Copenhagen, Denmark here in Salt Lake City? My boyfriend recently went on a business trip to Denmark where he learned this and of course I had to see it. It is found at the International Peace Gardens of Jordan Park. The original statue was inspired by Hans Christian Andersen's fairytale The Little Mermaid and completed in 1913 by the Danish sculptor Edvard Eriksen. It has become Denmark's symbol and it is possibly its most famous tourist attraction. While there are many copies of the statue throughout the world, apparently there were only a handful of official replicas made by Eriksen. Something like three or four and we have one of them right here in our city. The Danish Garden at the International Peace Gardens was dedicated on June 5, 1955, Denmark's Constitution Day, and with the permission of the Danish King at the time, the statue was donated to Salt Lake City.

The first time I watched the Disney version of The Little Mermaid was at my brother's house when I was nine years old. I loved it so much that I begged and begged my dad to buy the movie for me. It was probably a luxury we couldn't afford at the time, but he bought it for me anyway and I probably spent the whole fourth grade watching it, but it was a good distraction for me to have during a time when our family was disintegrating. I have a sneaking suspicion that if I watch the movie now I can probably recite most, if not all of it. I still have it. It's the only VHS tape I own today. I don't even own a VCR nowadays, but I could never part with it.

I think this statue is such a gem for us to have here in our city as well as the International Peace Gardens themselves. There is only one other Peace Garden in the whole U.S. and it is located in Dunseith, North Dakota near the Canadian border that symbolizes the peace and friendship between the United States and Canada.

Today the International Peace Gardens of Salt Lake City represent 28 countries. Each country's garden was designed by that country and has some of its native flowers and trees. A lot of the gardens also have some sort of exhibit such as a statue or replica of a landmark. Unfortunately, many of these exhibits seem to be in need of some refurbishment. Also, most of the water features that are part of some of the gardens were without water when we visited, still, it is a lovely place, nonetheless, and it's free. Definitely worth the visit!

International Peace Gardens, Salt Lake City, Utah
Chinese Garden
Greek Garden

Danish Garden

Russian Garden
Indian Garden
Indian Garden

French Garden
Until next time!


Sunday, June 1, 2014

Scrapbook Sunday: Graduation Day

Since it's graduation season and since I've finally come around to scrapbook my college graduation pictures (from 5 years ago!!) I thought I'd post my scrapbook creation.

Happy Scrapbook Sunday!


Sunday, May 18, 2014

Scrapbook Sunday: The Sphinx of Naxos

This is my Sphinx of Naxos Scrapbook page
One more for the books, yay!

Happy Scrapbook Sunday!


Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Julieta Venegas viene a SLC / Julieta Venegas comes SLC

Pre-Show Makeup
There she is!
She just rocks the accordion!
Enjoying the show with my friend Briseida
El primero de mayo fui a ver el show de Julieta Venegas en el Infinity Event Center aquí en Salt Lake City. Este fue su primer show en Utah y que honor que haya venido aquí a cantar para nosotros. Me alegra tanto cuando artistas como ella vienen a Salt Lake. Ella estuvo absolutamente fenomenal. Cualquier mujer que escriba su propia música, toque la guitarra, el teclado y el acordeón tiene verdadero talento.

On May 1st I went to the Julieta Vengas show at the Infinity Event Center here in Salt Lake City. This was her first show in Utah and what an honor that she came here to sing for us. It makes me so happy when artists like her come to Salt Lake. She was absolutely phenomenal. Any woman who can write her own music, play the guitar, and the keyboard and the accordion has true talent.

Hasta pronto!


Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Divergent by Veronica Roth

Divergent is the second dystopian book I've read this year. That's a lot for me because this is a genre I don't normally reach for, but I kept hearing people talk about it and then I saw that there was a movie coming out so of course I had to read it and then watch the movie. I didn't board the Hunger Games bandwagon back when the books first came out you see and I have yet to read them or watch the movies so this time I thought I'd jump on the Divergent bandwagon. God I'm such a follower. Anyway, the book is good. I liked it.

The main character, Beatrice, lives in what was once the city of Chicago and society has split up into five groups called factions: Candor who are the honest, Amity who are the peaceful, Erudite who are the intelligent, Dauntless who are the fearless, and Abnegation who are the selfless. At the age of 16 everyone undergoes a personality test of sorts to help them figure out which personality trait they most possess and help them determine which faction they should join because they are born into one faction, but have the choice to switch to another. Once they select their faction at the yearly choosing ceremony (wether it'd be the one they were born into or a new one) they can never switch factions. The problem is that Beatrice's test results, or Tris as she is later called, are inconclusive because she falls equally into three different factions, Abnegation (the one she was born into), Erudite, and Dauntless. This makes her divergent which makes it very dangerous for her because as she will find out, the government is threatened by her incapability to "fit in" to a single group and be easily controlled.

Like I said before, I liked the book. The movie was good too, but I don't think I will ever get used to the fact that the movies are never going to be exactly the same as the books, still good overall though. The story has action, suspense, and yes, even love. The book does have some violence that made me cringe a bit, the movie not as much. I was left with a lot questions about this society and how it came to be and about a few of the factions that were not talked about as much. These questions will probably be answered in the next book, Insurgent, but I guess that is how trilogy books work, the first book leaves you wanting more so that then you have to go out and get the other books. That's convenient isn't it? By the way, I took the book's personality test and I'm divergent. I suspect most people would be, at least I would hope so. 

Until next time!


P.S. I'm looking forward to the next book in the series!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

My Easter Eggs

My last two Easter eggs

Just when I thought I had eaten the last of them I find two more. Don't worry, I'm thinking about freezing my Easter eggs juuuuust in case I wanna eat one some day.

Happy belated Easter!


Thursday, April 10, 2014

Who Was Cesar Chavez?

I saw the new Cesar Chavez movie last weekend and I am so glad the world is finally being introduced to him through this medium. If you've never heard of Cesar Chavez you are not alone. I believe most Americans don't know who he was. Hopefully you have heard the name before as there are schools, parks, buildings, and streets across the country named after him. Even here in Salt Lake City we have our very own Cesar Chavez Boulevard which is the part of 500 South that runs from about 500 West to 700 East. It goes without saying that our public education system has many holes and flaws in it. We keep hearing time and time again how the U.S. lags behind many other developed countries in education, even though more is spent per student here than elsewhere. Kids graduate from high school without proper reading, math, and science skills. It is a real shame that even history lessons are lacking, especially when we could use more minority historical figures and role models, but I am getting off topic here. I know about Cesar Chavez because I'm from the part of the world where his fight began, Central California, but it was not until college that I had a real lecture about him and what he did.  

Cesar Chavez was an American civil rights activist. For decades the agricultural growers of Central California exploited the workers that did (and continue to do) the back breaking work of picking the fruits and vegetables that we (and the rest of the world) consume. The working conditions were awful. There were no toilets in the fields, no potable water, no breaks, and the pay was meager. Cesar Chavez along with Dolores Huerta started the United Farm Workers of America Union in 1962. In 1965 Cesar Chavez organized and led a strike against the grape growers of the region which lasted about five years before working conditions and pay began to improve. This was the beginning of the Chicano Movement and though there is still much more room for improvement in the fields, because even in this day and age mistreatment, child labor, and low wages still exist, Cesar Chavez helped promote awareness of the working and living conditions of the people that help feed Americans and the world.
I have included part two of a four part PBS documentary named Chicano that talks about this very topic. It is one of my favorite documentaries and I never get tired of watching it.

Until next time!


Monday, March 24, 2014

The Giver by Lois Lowry

The Giver by Lois Lowry
I first read The Giver back when I was in high school. I believe I was in 11th grade and I remember thinking what a bizarre story it was. It was unlike anything I had ever read before. Re-reading recently it has made me feel no different.

Jonas lives in a community of the future that is "perfect" in that it lacks all pain and suffering. There is no hunger, disease, or fears, no crime or war, but there is also the lack of any real joys or pleasures of life. The community strives for equality or "sameness" as they call it, but that means that people don't have the freedom to choose a job, a home, or a spouse. Everything is decided for them, thus there is no such thing as feelings, or passion or any real human connections.

At the age of 12 everyone begins training for the job that was assigned to them, but when Jonas turns 12 he doesn't receive just any job, he gets assigned to be The Receiver of all memories, good and bad, from the past. The current Giver is the person who trains Jonas and teaches him about the pains of war and joys of love. As Jonas learns of the old way of life he has to decide whether he wants to continue living in the community he was born into or if he wants to seek out a life of feelings and emotions elsewhere.

This story is definitely thought provoking. It is meant to make you question your life and relationships and the social issues around the world. We often speak of hopes of a better world without pain and suffering, but what things would we have to give up for such a world? And how would we recognize joy without pain?

I found some parts of this book difficult to read. The practice of euthanasia and infanticide are part of the story and I was horrified by them. There is also mention of suicide. It is a little shocking that this is children's book and I can't imagine having read it at a younger age than 16 or 17 so it is not surprising that this book has been banned in some schools across the country. At the same time, I really like the book because it does make you question things that you've never thought of before. At just 179 pages you would not think this book would have that much of an impact, but it does. I highly recommend it. Plus I hear there's a movie coming out soon.

Until next time!


Saturday, February 22, 2014

Back in SLC!

View of Trolley Square Tower (kind of) from my apartment
After almost two years of living in suburbia I'm back in Salt Lake and I am soooooo glad because my whole life is here. My boyfriend, my job, my friends, and my GYM are all here! Also, I am happy to be contributing a lot less to the smog. My commute to work is just three minutes long!!! I could walk there if I wanted to, yea, that's right, IF I wanted to, but let's not get carried away. Same thing with yoga on Sundays, I could walk there if I wanted to, but I like keeping my options open which includes driving.

Until next time!


Monday, January 6, 2014

The Gear: Craving Routine (and Workouts!)

I found my new awesome Nike gym bag at Ross for $24.99 and it took everything I had not to jump for joy in the store. It's true what they say, at Ross you dress for less (and workout for less).
The other thing I hate about the holidays is that they screw up my schedule. While I appreciate having some extra days off, I love having a routine, my I-go-to-work-on-weekdays-then-to-Zumba-and/or-yoga routine. Today is exactly two weeks since I have set foot at the gym (yikes!) and I am so ready to go back. Last night I got so excited just packing my brand new gym bag for today's Zumba and Yoga classes and I can't wait to shake it then stretch it.

Until next time!


Friday, January 3, 2014

2014 New Year Resolutions

Look at me looking all giddy at the gateway to 2014!
I don't always like the holidays, each year varies, but this year I am definitely glad they are over. I was a scrooge all the way up until Christmas eve, but boy am I excited about the new year! I always like the feeling of having a fresh start. Reflecting on my life at the start of the year and deciding what I wanna get right this time (by way of resolutions) is way more exciting to me than Christmas is. This year I have six things that I want to accomplish:

          1. Lose (an additional) 20 pounds (plus the 6 I gained in the last month or so);

          2. Pay off those 3 debts that have been hanging over my head (you know who you are!);

          3. Blog more often (about random, silly things. Why not? It's my blog after all.);

          4. Start jogging (again);

          5. Take a trip somewhere I've never been; and

          6. Be a better friend (I can be such an a-hole sometimes).

So that's it, that's my 2014 to-do list! What are you new year's resolutions?

Until next time!