Friday, December 31, 2010

Oh what a year.

Dear Reader,

Well, it looks like 2010 is just about over. Yeah, you know what's coming. It's flashback time:

1. At the beginning of the year, in February, I hit up Vegas with some friends. It was my first time.

I loved it.

2. I went to Park City during Sundance season. Also a first. Didn't see a movie, but we did have a great photo shoot with Natalie's amazing camera.

3. The Festival of Colors. A lovely, chalky mess.

4. I interned at Deseret Book over the summer. I worked on 55 books, including President Monson's biography!

5. In May I turned 22! And I got to go home to Michigan for a few days.

6. Over the summer I went to Arches with some friends. And yes . . . it was another first.

7. I was called to be the Relief Society secretary. Best. Calling. Ever!

8. Cousin Cami got married. Cousin Laura and I took pictures of ourselves while we waited outside the Salt Lake Temple for the wedding to be over.

9. I hit up Michigan again at the end of summer (thank you frequent flier miles). Seriously, I haven't been to Michigan this many times in a year in like forever.

While I was there we saw Lake Michigan.

10. Drama, drama, drama, and . . . at the beginning of September I moved! I like my new bed a lot. But I didn't spend nearly enough time sleeping in it last semester as I wanted/needed to.

11. During the fall I interned at the Friend! And I loved it.

12. I also became a baking fiend. You may have picked up on that.

13. Halloween rolled around and Natalie and I carved pumpkins. And I dressed up as Lois Lane.

14. Concerts, concerts, and more concerts. The favorite being: Ingrid Michaelson.

15. Diwali, festival of lights, happened too. Of course, Natalie and I were there.

16. Last week I got endowed in the Detroit Temple! It was a good day. :)

17. So now I am home again in Michigan, ringing the new year in with this lovable fur ball.

It's been a . . . productive year. Very stressful. Very educational. But in the end it turned out wonderful!

So here's to 2011. My last semester of college. Graduation. Getting a real job.

Yeah . . .

Please don't be as scary as I think you're going to be.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

The forecast calls for sugar cookies.

Dear Reader,

Yes, another picture of the amazing sugar cookies. I taught my mom and sister how to make them today.

I apologize that I'm not doing more blog-worthy things in my life. I mean, I could take pictures of my trip to the mall, or me watching Psych on Netflix, but let's be honest: if you find that interesting, we need to sit down and discuss the direction your life is taking.

Oh, and btw. If you want sugar cookies, please come to Michigan and eat some. We have way too many cookies in our house right now.

And I can pretty confidently say that they are worth the trip.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Friday, December 24, 2010

God Jul

Dear Reader,

Happy Christmas Eve! This is my favorite day of the year. You see, we are part Swedish (note the goat):

God Jul means Merry Christmas in Swedish. Anyway, since my Mom's dad was Swedish, we let our Swedish selves go free at Christmas. On Christmas Eve we have a smorgasbord. Comme ca:

Please note the Japanese plates and Santa Claus place mats (you can sort of make them out?, not really. I apologize). We are an eclectic, worldly family. But not the bad worldly. The good kind. (That's a thing, right?...)

Pickled herring also made an appearance at dinner.

Also, my Dad served his mission in Germany so we've got some German influence in our Christmas, too. Naturlich.

So go to bed soon, and sleep tight! Santa Claus is coming to town tonight!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Decking the halls . . . with way too much sugar.

Dear Reader,

Ho hum. The internship is over. And what was my greatest accomplishment there?

Keeping this plant alive.

But since Saturday I've been home. Yay!

And what have we done pretty much since Saturday? Christmas preparations, naturally.

Monday we spent all day baking Christmas treats.

I started with the caramels . . .

. . . and ended with everything else.

I was covered in chocolate by the end.

After baking (and inevitably eating what I was baking) I ate a Clementine. That cancels out whatever unhealthy things I've eaten throughout the day, right?

Saturday, December 18, 2010

We have reached the future.

Dear Reader,

The future is here. And it has come in the form of internet on the airplane. What a magical place we live in.

Also, if you're wondering whether or not I'm flying first class right now, the answer is a resounding "yes." Thank you free upgrades. Because I'm a silver medallion elite flyer. Because I've spent roughly half my life on an airplane.

I will take my perks, thank you.

Also, my milk was served in a glass cup. Now that's classy.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Lights, camera, action.

Dear Reader,

Going to Temple Square at Christmastime is one of my favorite traditions. And, much like the bridge at Stourhead,


Big Ben,


or the Eiffel Tower,


I seem to be under the delusion that the next picture I take will be much different and far more amazing than the last 239 that I already have on my camera.

Yup. And guess what THAT means??

Yes, you are smart. It means you are about to embark on a journey of pictures. Have fun!

My faithful adventure buddy.

This is Joseph Smith…in case you couldn’t tell…

This is by far my favorite nativity. It’s Asian style. Respect.

Also, as a side note…this is my last week of my internship. I haven’t been this sad to go home for Christmas since London. Well, I should rephrase. I’m excited to go home for Christmas—I’m just not excited about coming BACK from Christmas. I was walking on campus on Friday and I got a terrible feeling in the pit of my stomach. I felt like I was walking to my funeral.

Oh well. Only 4 more months. It’ll go by super fast, right?


Friday, December 3, 2010

A Thought to Open the Christmas Season

Dear Reader,

When you work for the Church their work Christmas parties are heavily weighted on the spiritual (and delicious food) and less on the partying (and alcohol). Shocker.

They offer devotionals for the different departments within the office building, followed by a very delicious lunch.

I'm still dreaming about the spinach dip.

For my department (Curriculum) we were combined with the Priesthood department. I have no idea what that department really is, and neither did anyone else I asked. (Granted I was only asking interns, but whatevs.) I'm assuming the Priesthood department includes the auxiliary presidencies because the Relief Society, Young Women, and Primary presidencies were all there. It's very possible the Young Men presidency was there too, but honestly I have no idea what they look like, so I couldn't really tell.

Elder Andersen introduced our speaker Bishop Burton who gave a wonderful talk on keeping the right mindset during the Christmas season.

Simplicity. That was the challenge he gave us. Keep Christmas as simple as you can.

Apparently American children see an average of 40,000 commercials a year. They have less responsibilities in the home now because parents are worried about overwhelming their children.

No wonder when Christmas morning comes and children sit down to open the many presents under the tree that all they can think of is more, more, MORE.

What happened to the old-fashioned feelings of gratitude? Bishop Burton wonders. Good question.

He gave us his personal views on what we can take away from the Christmas season that will bless our lives:
1. Read scriptures (Not just the Christmas verses, but also scriptures of Christ and his ministry)
2. Listen to good music
3. Serve (this forces you to distinguish between NEEDS and WANTS. Especially the needs of others.)
4. Keep it simple (this helps us to focus more on the legacy of Christmas than the commercial hype. Several pioneer stories talk about simple Christmases where they had practically nothing-but they were the best Christmases they ever had.)

Sometimes people feel like they can't find the Spirit of Christmas. They are looking in the wrong places. You won't find it in the Christmas that the American commercialism and even Mormon culture have created. Both of these tell us how we should feel during the holidays. And when the Christmas bliss isn't powerful every year we become disappointed.

So how do we feel the Spirit of Christmas?

You guessed it: keep it simple. Watch the Christmas devotional (This Sunday!) and sing songs of Christ. Remember the real reason we celebrate Christmas.

Bishop Burton closed by saying that God rarely does things the way of the world. We need to look for him in the seemingly unimportant places in our lives. If we expect him in the grand places, we will probably be disappointed.

So embrace simplicity. And have a Merry Christmas.