Tuesday, September 30, 2014

borderline obsessive.

If you've been around this neck of the woods for a while, you'll probably realize that I mention Cafe Rio often. See herehereherehereherehereherehere, and here. As you can tell, it's something that crosses my mind often - that sweet pork and tomatillo dressing! Mmm.

Last week Ben came back from Utah with a salad for me and I'm pretty sure I've never loved him more. Cafe Rio is my main love language. ;) 

(Don't mind the ginormous bags under my eyes...his plane got in at midnight.)

Monday, September 22, 2014

what can i say? i like holidays.

// Ben left Friday morning to head out to a funeral, so I was home alone all weekend long. I decided that in addition to studying for a Human Development test coming up (bleh), I was going to do all of the girly things I've been wanting to do. Like make some crafts and decorate for Halloween. And maybe watch a few episodes of Call the Midwife.

// Speaking of decorating for Halloween, I had absolutely zero Halloween stuff so I made myself those sparkly black letters, bought some candy and a black bird, and sewed a few buntings. This could be the start of something expensive wonderful. I like holidays too much.

// I discovered the easiest and most delicious recipe for Reese's stuffed peanut butter cookies and I'm grateful for friends who helped me eat all of them so I didn't.  I also rediscovered my love for frozen grapes.

// I've been thinking a lot about this talk and how agency can bring about some of our greatest blessings, or lead to some of our greatest struggles.

// Calling all bookworms:  lately Ben and I have been taking turns reading Divergent aloud to each other in the evenings right before falling asleep. We're almost done with the book and need suggestions for what to read next!

Happy Monday!

Friday, September 19, 2014

cruise tips that will make your life easier.

General Cruise Tips:
1. Don't arrive at the ship until an hour or two before it takes off in order to avoid lines! Everyone tries to get on the ship as soon as possible, so you can easily spend an hour or two parking and waiting to get through security/fill out forms.

2. Keep your boarding passes you printed out, your passport and/or birth certificate, and any other important documents you think you might need in a folder that you can easily access. You'll have to pull out these documents multiple times before you're allowed on the ship.

3. Buy yourself some of those motion sickness patches. Never know if you'll need one or not and you don't want to pay the jacked up price at the ship store. (Also take whatever medicine you think you might need. It's just so expensive on the ship.)

4. Order however much food you want....in whatever order you want it. Too good to be true, I know; I thought so, too. I didn't know until this cruise that you can order your meal in any order (dessert first, possibly? ;)) or maybe even skip the entree and just get appetizers.

5. Formal wear night isn't really all that formal. Ladies, feel free to show up in a cute sundress and flats, or even a casual skirt. Men, any shirt with a collar is great.

6. Skip the room with a balcony or even a window! An interior cabin can save you quite a bit of money and you'll probably be spending most of your time out and about anyway. Tip: if you get seasick in an interior room, turn the TV to the channel showing the front of the ship and focus on the horizon. It works wonders.

7. Take the time to unpack your clothes the first day and slide the suitcase under the bed if it'll fit or store it in a closet. It'll make your cabin seem less crowded and everything more organized.

Alaskan Cruise Tips:
1. No matter what time of year it is, take at least a light to medium weight winter coat, gloves, a scarf, and a hat. You won't believe how cold and windy it can get when the ship's moving. Maybe even throw a few hand warmers into your suitcase. Take advantage of the hot chocolate too!

2. Don't forget your umbrella, waterproof shoes, and sunglasses.

3. Take your swimsuit. There were times when we were stopped at a port that it was definitely warm enough to lay out in the sun or jump in the pool. Don't forget a pair of flip-flops for wearing while walking to and from the pool!

4. Check out the week-long spa pass! It might just be the only warm spot you'll find all week long. :)

5. Take your binoculars - you never know when you'll see some wildlife.

Know of any great tips or tricks that I haven't included? Leave a comment below!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

three books i couldn't put down that you should probably read, too.

I wish I could show you a picture of my nightstand without getting embarrassed. But because it's messy and cluttered, I'll paint you a picture instead. On it you'll find a lamp, my glasses, a box of tissues, a bottle of lotion, some hair ties and bobby pins, my scriptures and Primary lesson book, and a tower of books. Books from the library, books I've bought on Amazon and eBay, and books borrowed from friends. Sometimes this tower of books gets so big that I have to strategically place the books so they don't topple over. Some of the books at the bottom of my pile have been sitting there collecting dust for a few months because I find new books that I'm really excited about. Eventually I'll get to them.

If you're like me and constantly on the lookout for new and interesting books to read, check out these books.

1. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Set in the Deep South in the early 60s, this book delves into the issues of racism and inequality through a young woman wanting to change the way things are. Meeting with maids behind the backs of their employers, she records their nitty-gritty stories in an effort to put together a book to bring attention to the issues at hand. You'll laugh at times and you'll cringe at times, but you'll want to keep reading through the night to soak it all in. Pretty sure I won't be able to look at a chocolate pie the same way again. ;)

2. If I Stay by Gayle Forman
Yes, 14-year old girls across the country are probably dying over this book. I'll admit that I skimmed over the high school romance stuff in the book, and was more interested in the car accident and hospital stuff. This book posed some interesting questions and thoughts about comas and whether we get to choose if we stay or go when we're in limbo, and I couldn't stop thinking about it all for a few days after I had finished the book. I'd highly recommend this as a quick read for when you need to kill 2-3 hours (e.g., on a flight, waiting at the dentist, etc).

3. Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan
I found this book to be highly captivating since it's a true story. Susannah was fresh out of college and new to the workforce when people close to her noticed that she was acting less and less like herself. Starting with paranoia about her apartment being infested with bugs (even after an exterminator came out and found absolutely nothing) and escalating to being so out of it mentally, she was hospitalized with no diagnosis. Being passed around from doctor to doctor, and eventually to another hospital completely, she lived for weeks with a mental illness that continued to worsen. The book chronicles the experiences of her family and friends, as well as the security tapes from her rooms, and the faint memories that Susannah was able to hold onto.

Check out this page to see what else I've read lately. :)

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Skagway, AK & Victoria, BC

Catch the first part of our trip here and the second part here.
On Wednesday we had the chance to explore a cute little town called Skagway. With only 900 permanent residents, most of the hustle and bustle of the town comes from tourists. Okay, all of the activity comes from tourists. Ha. We checked out a small Alaska museum/gift shop and a few other shops before deciding to ditch "downtown" and just walk around the town. As we were out and about walking, we ran into some missionaries! (We didn't take our cameras out since it was raining when we got off the boat and all I have are camera photos unfortunately.)
^^We found the local LDS church. So small, and so different from any other I've ever seen!^^

Thursday was another day at sea. At this point I had caught some kind of nasty cold, so my day was full of lounging in heated chairs at the spa reading The Help (Side story: Possibly one of my most favorite books I've ever read. Everyone should read it!), eating all of the pre-cut fruit I could find on the ship, and religiously taking DayQuil and vitamins. Fortunately I was able to curtail my cold and my energy came back just in time to explore Victoria Island on Friday!
I had been to Victoria before, but all I remembered was the condo we stayed in and touring some old castle. So between that and just being older on this trip, I felt like I was discovering a new city. Our first stop was Chinatown; honestly, it wasn't as cool as the Chinatown in San Francisco or New York, but it was still fun to walk around and see something different for a change. 
We stumbled across a small outdoor market and a bunch of really cute restaurants on our way back downtown. 
My second favorite thing to see on the island was the gigantic parliament building. It was absolutely beautiful and impressive in every way possible.
^^The famous Empress Hotel - built between 1904 and 1908.^^
After hanging around downtown for a little bit my mom, grandma, and I took a taxi to Butchart Gardens. This was definitely my favorite thing we saw/explored on the island - the weather was perfect for walking through acres of flowers! And now for too many pictures of flowers. . .
To kick off our week of cruising with a bang! we spent our evening watching one last cruise ship show, stuffing our faces with one last fancy dinner we didn't have to prepare ourselves, some reading, and a cheesecake run at 1 am. It was the best and definitely one of my most favorite trips ever, and I'm dying to go back already!