Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Yikes! The time flies!

Oh goodness!! So I'm a little upset, because the last time I posted was on my dear brother's birthday, and that was over 2 weeks ago!! What happened to me?

Well then, I guess I'll just have to give you one giant post of awesomeness to catchup then... :DD

So we'll go in order, which means I actually have to think back to before my last post, since I was missing some things as it is... so...whew... here goes!

Lets start with this: 

Christmas Decorating!!! YES!

I'm the kind of person who can barely make it through October without listening to Christmas music, planning out gifts, and starting to enjoy the general wonder of the season. So when I went to Shopko after Halloween (or was it before? If it was...then that shows you how sad of a person I am) and saw that all of their Christmas decorations were on sale for 50% off.

Yes. ON SALE FOR 50% OFF!!

So of course, what did I do? Bought a little fake tree, lights and such with my roommate and we decorated! I'm SO EXCITED!! :D

YAY! They're up!

Working on decking the tree... We made the star by hand with duct tape! :D 


Side note: I am hugely against fake trees. And I'm dead serious about this. BUT, I have to respect, my lovely roommate would suffer from some serious allergies if she woke up to a real tree in the house. While I think it still would be fine, she thinks it would probably be easier to do homework without one's eyes swollen shut. *Sigh* I guess I'll have to take her word for it...

BUT! This does mean one other thing! We DO get to have a REAL WREATH!! I'm so excited! So further decorations to come! Stockings, a real wreath, present wrapping and more!!! I LOVE CHRISTMAS!!

Ok, that rant is done...moving on...

My other roommate also made a fireplace out of paper and its beautiful! Plus we got little stockings on sale on black friday... they're adorable! We're also wrapping all of our christmas presents for people and putting them under the tree...because we can :D

I also go to do my roommates hair in this super cute hairstyle that I've never done before. I instantly fell in love with it, but have not yet managed to successfully try it on myself. Darn it!

Before my brother's birthday, was my BEST FRIEND'S BIRTHDAY! It's literally the day before, so I always told myself "Best friends come before brothers" to keep them straight. ;P 
I was going to do a huge birthday post for her, but since I'm so late I've decided instead to do a reunion post when I've got more pictures and I can talk talk talk about her without balling my eyes out cause I miss her so much.

Then, for my Brother's birthday, we had a little celebration, but what he didn't know was the awesome surprise we had come. My mom came into town! She hasn't been present for my brother's birthday since he turned 17, so it was great for her to come into town and make him his favorite cheesecake.

Then we of course went up to Logan to visit my grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. Here is basically what happened all weekend:

Yup, I was attacked my crazy boys and a rabid two toothed little girl with the funniest little nose scrunch I've ever seen. Don't be too terrified, she's not as scary as she looks.

Also, my mom and I made an amazing discovery at Denny's right before she left. They're selling food from a Hobbit menu and giving out Hobbit TRADING CARDS! There are 12 of them, 10 base cards and 2 limited edition ones. My roommate and I have so far collected two and a half base sets, with no limited edition ones so far, but we will fight to the death to get them! 

They also have a pretty decent "One ring burger." I recommend it if you're gonna go for the collection. It isn't bad for Denny's food.

For Thanksgiving we went down to Arizona to vist my Dad's family, and we had a BLAST! It was great to visit and to enjoy the 80 degree weather. Below is a picture of my brother, who drove the whole brother ever!

We also got to spend some time with my previous Bishop's family in NYC, who recently moved to Arizona, and I had to post this adorable little picture of their littlest girl. Isn't she ADORABLE? 

Anyway, more to come soon. I just have to make it through finals and then its Christmas Break! Whoot whoot!

Live, Laugh, Photograph.

Friday, November 9, 2012

The angsty part of my life.

So I'm going to start this post with a warning.

WARNING: This is a very angsty post. Lots of depressing things are said and several sad rants happen. I apologize.

When I started this blog I promised myself that I wouldn't hide the suckish parts of my life from it. It's part of my goal to be open and honest with myself, and to quote my all time favorite movie "What better way to share my private thoughts than to broadcast them on the internet?" Hence the "angsty" part of this blog's title.

Now for the most part I really try to stay upbeat and don't like to write about the cruddy things because they pass pretty quickly, and I don't like to dwell on them, especially given a whole lot of really difficult stuff I went through last year. But today has just sucked. 

And I can only think of two ways to make me feel better. 

A)Rant, get it out of my system, breathe, be thankful and cry a little.

B)Eat bad food and play Legend of Zelda.

Part B comes after this.

So lets start with the bad stuff.

1) I was up all night studying for an American Heritage Midterm. I've really been putting it off all week  (and all of my other assignments for this week) and needed to take it by 11am this morning. I also had to pay $7 for the late fee. I will admit: I was tired, cranky, out of caffeine, and I got super distracted several times. I finally pulled myself together and left around 10.

2) It's freezing cold outside, and at first it was raining, and now it's snowing. Given that I was tired and cranky (still am), and halfway there I realized I was WAY underdressed, I just ended up being COLD, tired and cranky. Not a good way to take a test.

3) Sat down to take the test. An hour and a half earlier I left, hoping that I had at least passed, since I'm already failing American Heritage. Nope. Got a 63. (Admittedly, this is 10 points higher than my last midterm, a 53, which is definitely an improvement...) There are only four graded things left in the semester, and I need to achieve perfect scores on two of them and mid 80's to low 90's on the other two to *hopefully* get a 70 in the class. THAT SUCKS.

4) By the time I left the testing center it was snowing. I was wearing a sweater and gloves. I'm freakin freezing as I'm trying to bike home, and I can barely see as it is. 

*Side note: I saw a kid walking onto campus wearing a t-shirt, shorts and flip flops. No coat. IS HE INSANE? Three possible explanations for this phenomenon. a) He's from Antartica and this is warm weather for him. b) He's insane/an insane friend made a bet with him. c) He's trying to kill himself by hypothermia. 

As I'm biking down University Ave (Those not in Provo: Giant highway-like road that has a steep incline as it goes down the last bit of the mountain.) a car cuts me off. I swerve, fall off of my bike and fall into a puddle of freezing street water/slush. You have no idea how hard it was not to just lie there and cry pathetically until someone came and picked me up.
Oh, and the car, just zoomed right by me. Didn't even slow down. Now if I was in NYC, this wouldn't be unexpected. But this is Provo. A guy accidentally bumped my rear tire once and stopped traffic so that he could get out and see if I was ok. I hadn't even fallen.
I guess I'm not the only rude driver on Provo streets. I thought I was the only one who cut off people so rudely. (Hard habit to break I must say, it's in my blood.)

5) Found out the last Lab for one of my classes was last week. Not this week like I thought. I was 1 lab short. Now I get an automatic fail. I signed up with 15.5 credits. Dropped one class for 12.5 credits. And now I'm going to fail one? And I'm not doing so hot in the others? WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME!?!?! I suck. Major suck. Ugh.

Note our awesome christmas decorations. That post is coming up soon. Promise.

They were really small flakes, until...

...they got massive, and super pretty.

7) The worst part of all of this is, today is my big brother's birthday. He's 24 today, and I can't believe it. It's so hard to realize that he's an adult himself, about to move off to Seattle for an awesome job after he graduates this December. He's changed so much from the little kid I grew up looking up to and hoping that he wouldn't always think I was just his annoying little sister. And even harder for me to accept, is that since he is an adult, with his own life and own situation, is that I will end up following in his footsteps. Not in the exact same way, but I will also end up out in the world on my own, in a way college never will be, and it's scary enough as it is to watch him do it. 

Ever since I was a toddler, I was always comparing myself to him. I always wanted to be just as big, just as interesting, just as cool and just as smart as him. One of my mom's favorite stories is from when I was little, and I had an earlier bedtime than him. I was angry that I had to go to bed first, and was throwing a fit about it. Mom gently tried to explain that since I was younger I needed to go to bed first, to which I responded, "I'm not younger! I'm just shorter!"

Imagine a little blond, curly haired girl with a huge pout on her face and hands on her hips yelling this line in defiance. Yup, that was me.

Even though we're six years apart, I always felt like I had to be as good as him in everything I did, something that I found extremely difficult given our different personalities. Throughout high school he struggled with just being social, and talking to people. Meanwhile I had the opposite issue, I liked to be social, but couldn't make the same grades, test scores and I distinctly remember him being a senior in high school, and everything just "clicking" for him. He was doing really well, in school, with friends, and on an even keel on every front, preparing for college in a slow but steady pace.
I on the other hand, struggled throughout high school, especially in the last two years, and I kept waiting for things to "click" like they did for him. But instead things got worse and worse. And while things have improved since, I'm still not much closer to clicking like he was. 

He tells me things weren't easy for him. He didn't always get really great grades or blow everyone out of the water with everything he did. No, that's not what I wanted. I wanted his steady pace, his stability,  his quiet and calm demeanor and his emotional center. He tends to take things internally, while I explode outwards, letting everything out. He has self-control, and I don't.

I watched him go on a mission, and see him blessed a thousand times over for his service. He came back a stronger person, a more confident person, and a more stable person. As I consider, and prepare, for my own mission, I can't help but hope and pray for the same change. Maybe not in the exact way that he changed, but with a similar end result. I want to be a more stable person, and I don't want to feel like I'm a volatile bomb waiting to explode at the next possible moment. He made a slow but steady upward trend and I look at where he is now, and all I want is to be there, not stuck in the middle of this muddy bog trying to make enough sense of myself to get to the other side.

So I guess today has a good thing. It's his birthday, and since it's November it's only appropriate that I just be thankful for him. Thankful that he's here with me now. That we can both live in the same city as adults. That everyday he finds a way to show me how much he cares, that even though I'm an outpouring of emotions 24/7 (and I can promise you, I've rotated through sad, mad and happy several times whilst writing this post) and he's not, he knows just when and how to be there for me, even when I know he has NO IDEA how to deal with, or understand the rapid-fire and ridiculously strong emotions I'm presenting, he still loves and cares for me, no matter what.

So that's what I'm most thankful for, for today, and this week, for my brother, the BEST BIG BROTHER in the whole wide world, who I wouldn't give up for anything.

Happy Birthday. I love you more than you could ever know, and I hope you aren't super weirded out by this post. :P

Live, Laugh, Photograph.

Up Next: A light and fluffy post or two (snowless snowball fights, christmas decorating) and another long emotional one about another special birthday... THE BFF's (which was yesterday). She more than deserves her own post, and I've got a couple of good and embarrassing stories (embarrassing for both of us, but that's ok.) to share from over the last ten years. ;)

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

30 Apples + 1 Cook =?

So the one thing I absolutely love about fall is apples.

(well...the colorful leaves and the great weather too, but mostly apples)

Something about the season just makes me want to wear all sorts of colors.

And take pictures of all sorts of colors...

And eat all sorts of colors!

Also, I just want to wrap up, pick some apples, and make TONS of stuff with them!

So I embarked on a project.

Part 1: Make Apple Butter and store it in the freezer for its amazingness to last through winter.

Part 2: Make some super amazing apple pie... cause...well, cause it's awesome.

Part 3: Make Apple Cider Donuts.

And I did! 

This post however, will be about Part 1&2. (Seeing as Part 3 hasn't happened yet, we decided there were too many treats in the apt as it is.)

So here we go!

Basically it was really simple:

We took LOTS of apples...

And peeled them..

And then cut them up into little chunks...

For the apple butter I put it in a crockpot, with some sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, apple cider, lemon juice and just a splash of vanilla extract.

I let it sit for basically 12 hours, took it out...

and stuck it in a blender. Yes, I blended it, but it was the best way to get it smooth and super yummy :D

Of course, for the apple pie I took those apple chunks (with the same ingredients too! Can you believe it?) and stuck it in a homemade pie crust.)

Now, here's what I actually recorded photographically. I used the pie crust and apple pie recipe from this cookbook my mother got me before I moved in. This guy Mark Bittman is a genius, but I read his recipe for pie crust and was like..."Uh, NO WAY"

He called for two sticks of butter, to be smashed with your fingers while COLD into flour. Oh, and don't forget to add ice water while you're at it!

And I was making two pie crusts, so I needed FOUR sticks of butter. 

what was I thinking!!!!

So of course, the only thing that got me through the finger smashing bit was to...of course Photograph it. :D

Eww... that much butter totally made me gag.

So I promise you, if you ever try to smash four sticks of butter with your fingers, you will swear off of butter for the rest of your life. Not really. And the smell will totally make you gag. Like, ugh *shudder*.

But, it was totally worth it.

Why you ask?

It was the best apple pie I've ever tasted.

And no. I'm not exaggerating. THE BEST.

I sat down and took my first bite and all I could say was "Oh my gosh."

That pie crust is divine. The apples were perfect. I was in total heaven.

So I highly recommend Mark Bittman's recipe's. I've tried so many, and they're all just amazing. He's a phenomenal chef, and his book breaks everything down, and makes it all so simple. And since I'm such a visual person, all of the photographs in his book show you how it's supposed to look not just what you're supposed to do.

Also, if any of you are wanting, here is my mother's apple butter recipe. It really is divine, and you will never go back after you've had apple butter.

5 lbs of apples* peeled, cored, and cut into chunks (similar size)
2 cups apple cider
2 cups sugar (can use white or brown sugar or mixture)
Pinch of salt
1 T cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
Splash of vanilla extract
Juice of 1 small lemon

*For apples I like to use a mixture of sweet and tart (Roma, Granny Smith, Red Delicious, Cortland, Northen Spy, Winesap, Red Delicious, Liberty).  

Core and peel apples then cut into similar sized chunks.  Put apples in crockpot.  Add other ingredients and cook on high for 1-2 hours covered, then cook on low for 8-12 hours.  Use three marble sized tin-foil balls to prop lid up and allow steam to escape (this will help to thicken the apple butter).  Once the apple butter has reduced in volume, taste to see if more sugar or spices are needed.

Spoon into containers and freeze.

NOTE: 5lbs of apples is basically 20 apples (large apples, more if they're smaller) This makes for A LOT of apple butter, so I highly recommend scaling down to maybe a quarter of this, unless you're really happy with having apple butter in your freezer until springtime (which I totally am.)

Also, use a handheld immersion blender or a standup blender after the apples are done. This will smooth out the chunks and make for even better apple butter.

Stick it on peanut butter sandwiches, pancakes, toast, and just about anything you can think of! It's pretty much the best stuff I've ever eaten.

I may be lying about that. Please forgive me. It's still really amazing though.

Next up in the series of projects: Christmas Decorating, followed by Apple Cider donuts, with a possibly brief interlude by a post about a snowless snowball fight. :D

Live. Laugh. Photograph. 

Friday, November 2, 2012

Genius Roomate + Cardboard = A coffee table?

Alright guys, I'm finally updating you on all the goings on of last weekend.
Surprisingly they ended up leaking into this week and this weekend, but one thing is definitely done and checked off our list- and that's our new Coffee Table!!

You see my genius roommate Katie decided we needed a coffee table because we spend 75% of our time on the couch. And it's a lot easier to share snacks, eat dinner and generally be messier when the table is closer to us. And while the table that BYU provided us is really great, it doesn't encourage general laziness. ;)

But we're college students, so of course, the general preference isn't to buy something, especially if you might end up having to get rid of it 6 months from now because you're moving out and have no place to put it.

So Katie works as a Custodian (it's one with super awesome hours- 8-12! Not any of those crazy early morning shifts!) and of course, as part of that job she has to change the paper towel rolls in the bathrooms every day. Now she started with just bringing home a half filled roll, because she has to change them anyway, and instead of throwing out the roll we get free paper towels! AWESOME!

But then she was like "Lets make something with the paper towel rolls!" And I was totally confused at first, like seriously? Who is she kidding?

But then. a brilliant idea was born, and soon after we produced this amazing brain child:

(This is the finished project. I wasn't gonna wait til the end to show you!)

And voila! A coffee table!

Now, thanks to Zeus and two months of being camera-less, we decided nothing was quite as beautiful as documenting the entire process with photos, so I grace you to (maybe not the worlds best photos, but that's ok.) the story of our table.

It started out with these paper towel tubes...

A large box, and Katie's super awesome cutting/drawing skills...

So serious!

Ain't she a pretty lady! Haha she's super awesome!

So we cut a box in an oval shape, and then glued the layers together for added stability.

Textbooks are necessary for these sorts of projects...

See the layers?

And of course... we may have done a little goofing around too.

Next was the spray painting... we picked a lovely blue :D

And then I decided that we should sponge the paint a little bit to add some texture. 

I think it sorta's still cool :D

So then we took the duct-tape wrapped paper towel tubes, glued them together, mounted them on square pieces of cardboard and then added it to the top!

(Note: we placed little stones in the paper towel tubes to add stability. We thought of everything! :D)

I also like taking pictures of my feet. I apologize for the randomness.

We originally hot glued the legs to the table, but every time we moved it the glue make little cracking noises. So after we duct taped the edges for extra gold awesomeness, we super glued the legs on again, with a whole bunch more glue too...and some extra duct tape for good measure...

 ...and voila! We have an awesome little coffee table! It's the best thing ever!

Hahah, so there's one of our adventures... Up next is Apple Butter, Apple Pie and Apple Cider Donuts. :D

Oh, and then I'll post pictures of our newly decorated apartment! Decorated for Christmas I mean... We got a little christmas tree and everything!

Oh geez. I feel extremely domesticated. I need to go to something more interesting. Darn cooking and little house projects. You're just way too much fun! :D

Live. Laugh. Photograph.