Sunday, June 30

Being Pregnant: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

I want to end on a positive note, so I'm going to begin this list in reverse. 
The Ugly~
1. Swelling legs and feet. I don't think I've had this visibly yet, however I have felt the effects. My feet ache from the weight of being on them for a long period of time, and my legs have started to feel numb when I use them a lot. 
2. Stretch marks. I have not spotted any yet, but it's only a matter of time. Most appear in the last few weeks of pregnancy. 
3. Feeling full to the point of bursting after eating too quickly. This happens to normal people, too, but when there is a baby taking up more stomach space, it feels really uncomfortable. 
4. Acid reflux. I have only experienced this one time and it was after drinking an entire can of Inca Cola (which I think has caffeine in it). It didn't hurt, but it felt like I had vomit coming up my throat for several hours. No more of that...ever.
5. Unfixable muffin top. I can't do anything about it while pregnant except deal with it. And try to wear clothes that don't pronounce it. 
6. Worrying about my body post-baby. I shouldn't care about this, but it's hard not to worry a little. I want to be able to do the things I normally do. And I don't want to feel un-cute. Hopefully breastfeeding will slim me down a lot more quickly. 

The Bad~
1. Waiting, waiting, waiting. It feels like she's never coming.
2. Getting emotional over new things. Like children getting hurt (even if it's on TV and it's fake). Or babies. Or when I mess up because of my pregnant body. 
3. Nothing from my old wardrobe fits. Even jeans that were big for me pre-pregnancy don't fit. Baggy shirts that seem promising? My belly still pokes out at the bottom. And worst of all, sometimes I don't notice right away until I feel a sudden breeze...also, maternity clothes are expensive! I'm pretty cheap so this is really frustrating for me--I just don't want to buy clothes I can only wear for like four months at a time! 
4. Feeling guilty. I wanted to wash the dishes and do the laundry and pick up the house...but I just couldn't do it all. 
5. Feeling overwhelmed. I have so many things I should and could be doing. I just can't anymore.
6. Perpetual exhaustion. Feeling tired (or never feeling energized) never seems to go away. 
7. Clumsiness. I dropped an entire bag of goldfish this morning. Then I was too frustrated and emotional about it, that I couldn't pick them up right away. 
8. Belly being in the way. I spill even a drop, it is guaranteed to land on my belly. I have also hit my belly into corners and things a few times which really hurts and freaks me out (I worry I've hurt the baby). 
9. Inability to pick things up easily. Sometimes I use my feet to pick something up because it's just so hard to bend over with a big belly in the way. And sometimes (I hate this) I bend down to get something but can't make it on my first try because my legs weren't spread enough to make room for my belly. 
10. Peeing. Often. Standing up, climbing stairs, descending stairs, getting out of bed, adjusting my legs, drinking something, baby squishing my bladder--all of these bring about an instant need to pee. And it's most annoying when it's only like a teaspoon's worth. So many ten-second trips to the bathroom it drives me crazy.
11. Leaking. From a few spots. Enough said...
12. Inability to sit on the ground. On my butt? No. Cross-legged? Nope. Kneeling? Definitely not. If I do these things anyway, I lose circulation in just a few minutes. 
13. Getting asked all the time about when you're due. If I weren't so impatient, maybe I wouldn't mind. But now it's just tiresome because I'm already counting down the days. 

The Good~
1. Knowing I'm bringing a new little spirit child into the world. And knowing she has unmeasurable potential. 
2. Growing our family! So excited to have a family of three!
3. Creating life. It is so cool that women have the ability to bring tiny new humans to this earth. I love reading about what is happening to my body and knowing that I have all the supplies to bring a healthy new life into the world. 
4. Feeling her grow and move inside me. Sometimes those kicks and stretches are uncomfortable, but I still enjoy feeling her push her little foot against my belly and her wiggling around. 
5. Buying things for her. I haven't needed to buy very much since we've received so many things used but it's so much fun to look!
6. Getting lots of hand-me-downs and baby gifts. People love buying baby stuff. And having the first grand-daughter (or first grandchild) for your parents has its merits. 
7. People asking about your baby. I don't really like talking about when she's coming (since it reminds me how long I have left) but I love telling people about how it's our first child, the name we like for her, and about how excited we are to have her. 
8. People go out of their way to talk to you and be nice to you. Seriously, everyone wants to hold the door for you and everyone wants to help you. No one minds loading your car for you or lending you a hand when you look like I do. 
9. Getting to eat whenever I want without people commenting. I snack and snack and everyone's like, "Keep eating, that baby needs nourishment!"
10. Willingness to serve increases in others. I've been getting a lot more help from friends, family, and husband with chores and others things. When you're pregnant, it isn't a burden for family members to help you out. 
11. Being given a break when you do something embarrassing or dumb. People make excuses for you like, "It's okay, you're pregnant," and being able to use the excuse of "pregnancy brain" which is real. 
12. Babymoons. We are so excited for our daughter to be here and wish she was already, but in the meantime, we try to take advantage of the small amount of time remaining that we will have alone. This means more eating out, special dates, etc. 
13. Being in charge of someone. We get to pick her name and choose how she will be raised. We get to dedicate our lives to this little daughter of God and help raise her to be the best she can be. 
14. Learning to become parents. We are already figuring out what kind of parents we will be and I cannot wait to see Dalin as a father. He is going to be the best ever! 
15. Knowing that, in the end, we will have an addition to our family and it will make all the waiting and discomfort 100% worthwhile. I simply cannot wait. No matter what, less than 50 days! (I don't think I'll have a choice after 43 from now anyway). 

P.S. I thought of number 16. No period. Best thing ever. 

What were your favorite or least favorite parts about being pregnant? 
(I've been really lucky with the sickness side--I only felt nauseous from about weeks 8-12 and I never actually got sick.)

My big baby belly. 35 weeks

Thursday, June 27

Thoughts of a Conservative (and a Mormon)

I do not understand some people in America. I really don't. I do not understand how some of them can justly call themselves "American" and harbor the misconceptions that they do.

Fact: America was founded on religious principles. It was settled by pilgrims seeking religious freedom from an oppressive king. As much as some try to deny it (if you do, see here), this country was formed as a nation under God.

If you know anything about me, it's that I consider myself very conservative.  I found this great quote which reflects the views of The Social Science Encyclopedia: "Conservatism is a condition found among the mature, who have discovered what it is in life they most value." I would say that sounds about right. I will tell you the five things I most value: God; my husband and family; my religion (which goes along with my belief in God); freedom; children/life. When people suggest that my religion or conservative values are "outdated," I think to myself that their beliefs, in contrast, are unrealistic and ideological. I look at the world and see a lot of good people but also a lot of evil. Those on the opposite side of the fence see only the best of human nature. They think everyone deserves to live exactly how they want to live and, if given the freedom to do so, will choose to live responsibly. Their unrealistic expectations of the world and their ideas relating to this are attractive to those who similarly believe in the potential for an ideal society. They are also attractive to those who are "victimized" in actual society because it gives them a false sense of hope for a better future. The point is, these beliefs are unrealistic and ultimately impossible.

As a Latter-day Saint, I believe in agency. Before coming to earth, God gave us the ability to choose right or wrong for ourselves. Before choosing this, Lucifer (Satan) presented the plan that those who come to earth would have virtually no agency. They would only be able to "choose" goodness, which we realize is no choice at all. Lucifer's plan was rejected because God loves us so much He wanted us to be able to choose our own fate in this life--whether that meant returning to Him or choosing another path. I feel like those who believe in some kind of ideological world do not see the flaw in their thinking. Because people have agency, there always have been and always will be people who choose evil. This is one of our Heavenly Father's greatest gifts to mankind. I'm sure it makes Him very sad when one of His sons or daughters chooses this path but He loves us enough to allow us to choose for ourselves.

I will just be scratching the surface in sharing some thoughts on this subject. To start, do people honestly believe that banning guns would eliminate gun violence? I will put my two cents in (since this is my blog and the First Amendment is still operative)--No, I do not believe that military grade weapons need to be in the hands of average citizens. Sure, it's a good idea to perform background checks before guns are sold to the public. Do we need semi-automatic guns in regular society? No. Do I think guns are bad? NO! I eat meat and I'm completely okay with hunting for the purpose of feeding one's family. I'm also okay with guns used for recreational purposes. But back to the original rhetorical question (do people honestly believe that banning guns would eliminate gun violence?), the "answer" is clear. There are always evil people out there. There are always those who are selfish and willing to hurt others to achieve their ends. Were there murderers and crimes committed before guns existed? Obviously. The point is, stricter regulations on guns does very little. Look at Mexico, which does not allow citizens to own anything larger than a .22 caliber weapon. Evidently, this law isn't very effective based on the fact that drug lords and criminals still find a way to make or purchase larger weapons. I've already discussed how eliminating guns entirely would never be effective. As proven by Australia, complete eradication of guns always results in greater violence, more crimes, and ultimately, public outcry. Criminals prey on the defenseless. I do not intend to foolishly leave my family vulnerable against an armed criminal. If someone does not share my views about this and can explain their thinking in a realistic way, I'd love to hear it.

I intended to go on into other subjects, but lucky for some of you, I am very tired and both physically and emotionally drained from the day. Don't worry though, I'll undoubtedly be sharing some more of my "old-fashioned" ideas in the future.

If you would like to read my views regarding abortion (another touchy subject), you can do so by clicking here. You can read about my opinion that the family unit is sacred right here

Tuesday, June 25

Our First Conversation...Ever. Humorous and Embarrassing.

It all started with Marisa...making us be friends on Facebook. Her persistance paid off ;)

Dalin: so we have a friend in common...
Olivia: haha we do / one friend / silly marisa  
Dalin: yep, so, i've never really just talked to someone on facebook that i've never you know how this is supposed to go?
Olivia: haha is there a right way? / i don't know what was going on in marisa's head / but she spoke very highly of you...haha
Dalin: i dont think that there can be a right way but i'm sure it's been done before...she spoke pretty highly of you too

Umm...somehow our conversation turned from this to a discussion about how easy I would be to kidnap because of my size...only two hours later. Oh good, I made a comment about it at the time: 

Olivia: wow i like how you originally thought i like to murder people and now we're talking about you kidnapping me. we've come full circle. essentially. we probably are done talking forever

How weird are we (am I)? How did we even end up falling in love and getting married? I can't say I know based on this conversation, but I'm very glad that we did!!!!! I'm also glad that Dalin was able to see past my rude sarcasm and still like me somehow! 

The one good thing about our first time talking ever being on Facebook is that it is recorded forever. Unless Facebook goes obsolete, in which case I have this blog post. Unless blogger goes obsolete, in which case I wrote about the experience in one of my zillions of journals. So unless those get stolen or burned, and all technology fails, I'll have this forever. 

Do you have a weird story about the first time you met/spoke with your spouse? If so, I want to hear about it, so share below! 

Kindness by Small and Simple Means

If you are struggling today, here is a little motivation for you:

I love this quote from The Hobbit (which you do not need to be familiar with to like it, too), as said by Gandalf the Grey: "Saruman believes it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. I've found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love." 

Such true words! I love that quote because it reminds me of a similar one by poet, William Wordsworth: "The best portion of a good man's life; his little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and of love." 

It is a good idea to try going about our day seeking to help people. We may not feel like we can do much, but "by small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise" (Alma 37:6). Very often, the kind things we do go unnoticed by others. It can be frustrating to feel unappreciated, but we must remember that God sees every act we perform and He knows the true intent of our hearts. Honest acts of kindness seek no reward. 

Do not be discouraged when the good things you do for others go unnoticed. The most important person of all notices them and He will bless you for your efforts when repayment is not your goal. 

I really enjoy this motivating quote by Marjorie Pay Hinckley--it has helped motivate me to action when I feel lazy or unenthusiastic about something: "Think about your particular assignment at this time in your life...our assignments are varied and they change from time to time. Don't take them lightly. Give them your full heart and energy. Do them with enthusiasm. Do whatever you have to do this week with your whole heart and soul. To do less than this will leave you with an empty feeling." 

Last, I liked a story that our bishop of the BYU Married 4th Ward (Bishop Call) told us a couple of Sundays ago at church. It has a message similar to Marjorie Hinckley's quote. There is no way my version will do it justice, but I'll try. Basically, he told us of a married couple that went to this restaurant that was rumored to have amazing steak. As the couple ordered, their waiter replied with "Done!" after each item. He not question the couple's order, he just responded enthusiastically, "Done!" When the food arrived, it was delicious and exactly what the couple had ordered. Very pleased with this experience, the husband decided to implement the waiter's willing attitude at home with his children. The children joke that this waiter ruined their lives because their father expected them to respond to their responsibilities and jobs with a "done" attitude. If they were given a task, their father wanted them to get up and do it, not wait or complain or postpone the work. After a few years, the family wanted to return to the restaurant so that they could once again see the waiter who had "ruined" the kids' lives. Once there, they requested the waiter, describing what he had done the previous time. The host said he thought he knew who they were referring to, and seated them. Sure enough, the same waiter came to wait on them. Only this time, when the family ordered, the waiter responded after each item: "Happily." The father was a little disappointed that the waiter had changed the phrase, but upon pondering further he realized that "happily" was an upgrade! He didn't just intend to get things done but to do so willingly and happily. 

I like this story because it encourages us to do the things we must do with joyful willingness. We should not complain or procrastinate or do a job halfheartedly. When you have a task, do it HAPPILY!
It has been a long, warm day here in Provo and I am more than ready for Dalin to come home from work so I can spend some much-needed time with him. My father-in-law sent out an email to the family today with a link to some beautifully restored historic pictures (most are from the early 1900s). I love history and I thought I would share the link with anyone who is interested, so here it is:  The photos are very clear and detailed, and personally give me a sense of curiosity and interest in our country's history when I look at them. I hope someone else enjoys them as much as I did! Here are a few of my favorite ones from the link:
Look how many people! And look at their swimsuits in 1904! Crazy. 
1921 Home Economics Class. Look at how cute all the girls are.
Dramatic change in swimwear in 1922. 
St. Paul, 1908. So interesting!
P.S. I think it would be really cool if someone took the time to re-visit the places in the photos and take a new picture from the precise location to compare it 100 years later! Someone who has the time, means, and talent should really go do that... ;)

If you have any thoughts to add, share them with me by commenting below!

Monday, June 24

Maternity Photo Shoot, 34 Weeks!

In case you haven't heard yet, I'm 34 weeks along! The anticipation and uncertainty are the worst parts of the third trimester. I just wish I knew she would be here for sure on the 5th so I could relax until then. I'm looking forward to my doctor's appointment this Thursday--they always seem to make things go a little faster. But for now, I'm just counting the days. 

Yesterday, we spent much of our Sunday afternoon by the duck pond on BYU campus taking maternity pictures with friends Stephanie and Emil. We had a lot of fun and were so grateful they were willing to spend that time with us to take some fun maternity pictures. And now I can relax, knowing I got that done and won't regret not taking pics once my baby belly is gone (which will hopefully be pretty quick!). 

Here are some of my favorite pics from the afternoon:
"An apple for serenity, a pendant for balance..." Haha this picture makes me think of Mulan.
We did some just for fun yoga poses to show off different angles of my belly
When I look at these, I cannot believe just how big my belly really is. It is so strange because even now looking down at it, it doesn't seem as big as it actually appears when I look in the mirror or at the pictures. Sometimes I walk by a full-length mirror and I go, "WOAH," in my head. Like who is that? I have to admit that the thing I am most excited about post-pregnancy (besides our daughter finally being here!) is getting my body back. Not fitting into any of my normal pants is really discouraging. Especially because I always had to wear a belt before being pregnant. But apparently my hips are wider than I realized--I know my pelvis has to widen to make a passage for the baby, but I did not think it would be as noticeable as it is! I just want to fit in my skinny jeans again!!!!!

But for now, I'm wearing lots of stretch pants, skirts, and getting good use out of my two pairs of maternity pants. Hopefully by September or October I can at least have a few more options in my wardrobe! 

If you want to see more pictures from Sunday afternoon, you can look at my Maternity Shoot album on Facebook!

How to Get Rich...

Would you like to know the secret to getting rich? I'll tell you my opinion. I may not be qualified to write this post, as I most certainly am not rich by the world's standard, but I have learned a thing or two about saving money--especially since I've been married. Here are some good tips and changes that are easy to make:

Don't spend more than you earn.
Duh. This seems so obvious, but it is a real challenge for many people who were raised with their parents taking care of everything for them. Keep track of how much you earn and delegate how much of that income will be put toward your basic needs, how much will go into savings, and how much will be left over. This is the most basic budgeting skill and is essential if you truly want to save money. 

Don't go into unnecessary debt. 
Sure school is expensive, but as long as you are saving to pay off school loans, you won't be in debt forever. Make that payment your priority. Save up and pay it off as quick as you can. We are trying to save up to pay Dalin's student loan off by graduation. Fortunately, we have been able to earn scholarships to help us save money. The same advice applies to homes and cars. You may have to settle for less before you can save up for something better. 

If you don't, it's going to be really hard to save money. Limit yourselves to going out once a week. Choose free date alternatives as often as you can. If you are the type who likes to splurge, try this simple solution--don't go out. If you don't want to spend money, don't go to the store. That has helped us save SO much money these last two years. If you love shopping and stopping completely is difficult for you, only carry a tiny bit of cash when you go. Leave your credit or debit cards at home. Pretend you're back in middle school or high school when $20 was all you had. 

Search for deals. 
Paying full price for anything is not very wise. Most things always go on sale at some time or another. Especially with clothing, shoes, and items for the home. If you want to be really thrifty, practice good shopping habits by making lists and searching for coupons or special deals on groceries and home products. Check Groupon and other money-saving sites. You would be surprised at the many ways you can find deals and discounts when you take a few minutes to look. I will admit, I always look for deals when it comes to clothing, but I have not yet gotten into the habit of seeking the best deals while grocery shopping. I attribute this to lack of time, but really it would be worth doing it to save even $15 a grocery trip. Something for me to work on. 

Avoid credit cards. 
I am far from an expert on credit cards, but I do know that everyone mistakenly seems to believe they must have one. Establishing credit is good when the time comes to buy a home or car, but it is not the only way. If you do have a credit card, make monthly payments on time and do not exceed your limit. Dalin and I prefer to use a debit card. We know where the money is coming from (straight from our checking account), and this prevents us from spending an unreasonable amount. Because we are leasing our car, we make monthly payments (ON TIME!) which helps us establish credit. If we need to, we can borrow our parents' credit to get a home when we find ourselves wanting to settle down. The point is, credit cards are okay if you know you can afford to make the payments. 

Save, save, save. Put as much money as you can into the bank. Have a stash at home for emergencies. Put money in separate envelopes or jars to go toward specific trips, vacations, or other fun activities. Plan out what you are saving for and a rough estimate of how much you need. I usually find that rounding up when considering how much you think you will need is safer. 

I love the quote by Anne Frank: "No one ever became poor by giving [too much]." How true! I also believe that giving to those in need blesses your life and, in turn, you will have more. I would rather be rich in blessings than money any day. 

Pay tithing. 
Heavenly Father gives us everything we have. We are only required to give 10% of it back to him. I would say that's fair. Especially considering the many blessings we receive as reward for our obedience to this simple commandment. It is one of the only commandments we can truly be perfect in.

All of these things combined will help you. Like I said, I am no expert--and I could stand to follow my own advice a little better--but I know that there is nothing better than being self-sufficient and feeling truly free from financial burdens. 
How do you save money? 
What are your best tips that I could use?

Saturday, June 22

Summer Has Arrived

LOVE the east coast.
Happy summer, everyone! I love summer. Usually it means going to the ocean, laying on the beach, jetskiing on the lake, camping, cabins, family picnics, trips, and lots of ice cream. This year is a little different mostly because we're in Utah with our first little baby on the way. Instead, this spring and summer has been filled with books, pies, dinners, movies, new babies, and a lot of waiting for our own baby. 

Reflecting back on an earlier post this week, I finally found another good book series! It's called Enclave by Ann Aguirre. I bought it for $7 on our Kindle and read it in two nights. I couldn't stop! I started the second book (just the preview at the end of Enclave) but I haven't had the chance to buy it yet. It's definitely a book for teenagers or young adults, but I really like it. It's not The Hunger Games...but there are similarities. I would definitely suggest it to someone looking for something new to get into.

I am so pumped to be at 34 weeks tomorrow! Everyone who sees me now asks, "When are you due?" They always seemed surprised that I still have a month and a half left. I should just wear a shirt that says "Due August 5th" so I can save some time explaining myself to everyone. I don't mind being asked, but I get tired of thinking about how much time I have left...I'm already impatient!

I made a chain at work to help me countdown yesterday...I only have 44 days as of today!!! (At least until she's due). Time is flying faster than I expected. I don't get how it is already June 22nd...but I'm not too sad that summer is flying by. Yesterday after work, Dalin and I visited our friends Daniel and Rachel whose baby is just nine days old! We got to hold him and he is precious! I seriously can't believe he is their's--we just saw them two weeks ago without a baby! It feels like they're just babysitting him. It's just so hard for me to grasp and I think it's because I've never met the first child of any close friends our age. I expect that it will be just as weird for us when we bring our little girl home. I wonder if it'll feel like she's ours right away or if it will take some getting used to. I am so excited for her to be here!!!!!!! I am not a very patient person so the suspense (particularly not knowing exactly when she'll be here) is driving me crazy!

After meeting the Nelson's darling new son, we had dinner with our new friends Emil and Stephanie. They are Resident Assistants at King Henry (where I work) which is how we met. They invited us over and we ate delicious barbecued hotdogs and corn for dinner. After, we had peanut butter cookies and got to know each other. Stephanie and I also watched Emil and Dalin play ping pong for what seemed like forever while we talked about all kinds of things. Later, we went back to their apartment to talk until midnight. It was a lot of fun and we really enjoyed getting to know the two of them!  

Today, we slept in (just because it's Saturday and we only have a limited number of weekends where we'll be able to sleep in together left) and when we finally got up, headed out to see World War Z at the Riverwoods' theater. We hadn't been to the movies (just the two of us) in a while and this was one we wanted to see (though, I will admit I had voted for Monster's University or that we wait until The Lone Ranger comes out next week). Anyhow, the movie was very good--but very scary. At least, that's what I thought. I only screamed once, but I had my mouth covered for about half the time so I wouldn't scream in the near-empty movie theater. I had to squeeze Dalin's hand or arm the entire time to calm down. Afterward, my body felt very tired and stressed from the emotional toll that the movie had on me. It wasn't sad or anything, but I was on edge for the full thing and it exhausted me.

Now Dalin is at work until 10pm, and I'm just missing him and trying to work up the energy to pick up the house. Dalin thinks it's fine, but he's a guy and I guess he just doesn't notice the clutter the same way I do. I am so grateful that summer has arrived! Pretty soon our little girl will be here!!!! I just need to be patient.

Below are some favorite pictures from last summer...good times :)
What is your favorite thing to do in the summer? 
What has your summer consisted of so far?

Wednesday, June 19

Homesick and Baby a different way

Every morning I wake up and say to Dalin, "Why can't she just be here already??" Then I say something along the lines of, "I wish we could just go to the ocean today or walk around Portsmouth. Or visit Boston. I miss Dad. And Payson. And Mom and Donovan. I am craving a clam chowder bread bowl from Faneuil Hall and a smoothie from The Monkey Bar." This morning, I said, "When I wake up in my room in New Hampshire, you can hear boats or jet skiers out on the lake. It makes me want to go boating." Then I said, "I can't wait until she's born and we can go to Central Harbor and bring her to all the little shops in Meredith and everyone will see her and ask, 'Is that your baby?' and we'll be like 'yup!'" 

I could go on, but you get the idea. I want our baby here NOW and I want to be in New Hampshire. My family goes to the ocean or lake like every day in the summer so it kills me when it's nice here in Provo and the ocean is a few thousand miles away. 

Besides missing my parents and brothers, (and our dog...and everyone else) I really miss the awesome places in New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, and Vermont that my family visits frequently during the spring and summer months...

I miss:
Kittery Trading Post
Loco Coco's Tacos
The Ice House
Fort Foster
Downtown Portsmouth
Fort Stark
Lake Winnipesaukee
Gilford Tennis Courts
The Gilford Public Library
Andy and Molly's House
Mill Falls
Gilford House of Pizza
Moulton Farms
Bean's and Greens
Gilford Beach
Nana and Grandpa's house
Moultonborough Country Store
Sawyer's Dairy Bar
Beech Hill Farmstand
The Joseph Smith Memorial
Johnson's Restaurant
The Boston Temple
Laconia Ward 

I'm sure there are others, but these are just a few of my favorites. 

What other great places do you love (or miss) in the east? 
Is anyone else homesick?

Monday, June 17

33 Weeks Craving: Good Books!

I am in serious need of a new series or just a really great book that is hard to put down. I love reading. Quite a lot. So much so, that it is literally the reason I am studying English at BYU and the reason I want to be a book editor (so I can read all the time!!!!). I am not just craving a good book because I'm pregnant like the title implies, but I do want to get into some good books so I'll have some distractions when I'm dying of anticipation and boredom. 

The last book I read was Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen. I loved it. But I am thinking more specifically about something that is as good--or almost as good--as Harry Potter or The Hunger Games or Divergent. I love reading classics, but I haven't heard of any awesome modern books that I need to read. For your information, I like quite a variety of themes. I even liked The Host, surprisingly. Teen books, fiction, nonfiction, fantasy, mystery, books with a hint of romance--they're all acceptable.*

So please, friends, family, and anyone on the Internet, give me some good books to read!!!! 
(If it something you would put in your top ten or fifteen favorite books, I want to hear about it!)

Note: Dalin also loves reading and just finished a series called Mistborn, I believe. He claims it is "better than Harry Potter." As if...but has anyone else read this book or series? And please confirm that there is no way it is better than Harry Potter....

*That is, they are acceptable as long as they are clean. I don't like tons of swearing or any sexual content. Basically, if it is something you would be okay reading in front of a group...

What is your all-time favorite book? Or, if you have many like I do, what are your top five?

Sunday, June 16

Katie Moss's Perfectly Moist Banana Bread

Whenever I get a great recipe from someone, I copy it onto one of my cute little recipe cards and give credit to the creator (or founder) of that recipe. A great girl in my ward that I happen to visit teach gave me a loaf of delicious banana bread one time...and it blew my mind! It was so stinking good! It was perfectly moist and flavorful--I'm pretty sure I ate the entire thing that night. The next Sunday at Church I had to ask her for the recipe because I was craving it. 

She gave it to me, and that is what I made today. (She also was kind enough to give me some walnuts, too because for me, those aren't optional!). 

Here it is for your eating pleasure. (It's so easy! You can make it right now if you have a few bananas and shortening!)

3-4 bananas (preferably overripe)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup shortening

Blend these together using a mixer. 

Then add: 
2 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 1/4 cups flour

Mix it up, and get your bread pans ready. I used three small foil loaf pans from the store because I didn't have any loaf pans. Flour them (or PAM them) so that the bread will come out easily once baked. I filled the pans halfway and sprinkled them with smashed walnuts (I smashed them under a paper towel with a hammer). You can mix the walnuts in if you want, but I wanted them on top. 
Bake them at 325°F for about 45 minutes. Bake time will vary on the size pans you use, your oven, and on the amount of batter you put in the pans. I had one that had a little less batter and it was done in 40. The other two, I had to wait an extra five minutes for the toothpick to stop coming out wet. (Well, I left them a little wet because I like when they are really moist!)
About twenty minutes in the oven
You can let them cool, or if you're impatient like me, you can carefully help them out of the pan so you can have a warm slice right away. Tastes extra good with cold milk. I could easily eat an entire loaf (or all three...), but I have to save some for friends! 

Do you love banana bread and have a great recipe? Share it with me!
Also, let me know if you try this recipe! :)

The Results of our Pottery Date

Well, if you read my blog every few days or so, you saw that Dalin brought me on an awesome date a couple of days ago. We each painted our own piece of pottery. Dalin chose to paint a mug, and I did a bowl. I promised to share pictures (unless mine came out terribly...) so that is the purpose of this post. The pieces were fired in the kiln and we were able to pick them up on Saturday! Here is how they turned out:
I love the inside of Dalin's looks way cooler in person

 We made the mug for Dalin's dad for Father's Day! Since we won't be able to see him soon enough and we don't want to risk mailing it, we are providing these pictures as a sneak peek!

Here is my bowl. It looks a little different than I'd expected, but overall I am pleased with how it turned out!

I painted the inside to look like sand.
In case you don't know, I'm pretty much obsessed with the ocean which is why I painted ocean waves washing up on a sandy shore. I am missing the coast a lot right now.

We don't know for sure, but we have a suspicion my mom (who is possibly more obsessed with the ocean than I am) might just want to take this bowl from us when she sees it. We'll see...but I think I would need a trade--like plane tickets to New Hampshire after our baby girl is born ;) 

What do you think of our artwork? Have you ever painted pottery before?