Thursday, December 13, 2012

Christmas comes again...

It's amazing how the year flies by. 
I remember feeling like Christmas was always so far away when I was a kid, and now it sneak attacks me every time. 
Finals have come and gone again. And just like all the years before, I somehow find out I have more time than I think and that i'm better prepared than I realized. My roommate put this quote from Winnie the Pooh on our white board this week...
Promise me you'll always remember: You're BRAVER than you believe, and STRONGER than you seem, and SMARTER than you think 
However, I feel like this finals week over almost any other has really reiterated to me that people are always more important than papers and tests. Maybe it is because I am growing up and getting closer to graduating, but I was more willing to spend time being with friends who needed me than I was willing to lock myself up at my desk. Even if I didn't get a great grade on these tests (which I still hope I did), I don't think i'll ever look back and wish I would have studied more instead of taking time to care for someone or myself for that matter. 
And I feel like Christ would feel the same way. He was the epitome of focusing on people and relationships even when there was work and scheduled appointments. Isn't this time of year all about being more Christlike after all? 

I hope you spend some time this season with the people you love! 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The End of the Rainbow

Dear Blog,
I am sorry that I have ignored you this past little while. Life just passes by so quickly these days. Two holidays have come and gone - And I didn't even get to write a "Thankful" blog post. I can't believe I am already heading into finals next week. Finals are draining and sometimes I wish I could just take the Ostrich approach and stick my head in the ground, hide, and wait until Finals week passes. But, alas - I will take these tests and papers head on knowing that no matter what happens...I will be home with my family in a week preparing for Christmas to arrive.

I need to keep studying, but I thought I'd just share a special picture or two from a few weeks ago. It was a rainy day, and as I looked out my balcony - I noticed a beautiful rainbow.

You'll never guess what I found at the end of that rainbow!
They say there is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, but I think what I found is much more precious

Here's to Rainbows, symbols of a covenant, reminding us of the covenants made in the Temple (my own pot of Gold)

See you after Finals!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Delicious Autumn

I've realized that each Autumn I dedicate one blog post to the absolute bliss of autumn, so here's another one..
Today was a rainy day and as far as the eye could see - were beautiful mountains covered in red leaves and misty clouds. 
I found my happy. I rediscovered my joy. It was genuine admiration over the beauty of fall. 
Welcome Autumn - and Welcome back joy! 
Bridal Veil Falls

 Besides the beautiful leaves, Autumn is Delicious. I love harvesting my garden full of Zucchini and I especially loved picking apples from the apple tree this year. Grace desperately wanted to bake an apple pie, so we did. mmmmmmm....homemade, fresh apple pie
Zucchini Pizza bites 

Gracie girl picking apples

"Delicious Autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive Autumns" - George Elliot

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Getting Down in P-Town

My life in Provo is pretty normal.
I read a lot - literary theory and the bible mostly, and I sing a lot. Did I mention that I am in BYU's Women's Chorus? It's a fairly new development, but I am loving it. Between that and my own personal vocal study, my chords are getting quite the workout.
When I am not doing these things...

I Work. I am starting my second year with BYU's International Study Programs. It's the best because I get to help students who are excited to travel and learn. This time of year brings the ISP fair which means I run around and make tons of copies of fliers, order balloon arches, pass out candy, answer questions and various other exciting tasks.
I was super proud of my balloon arch (and decided to take a part home )
I Zumba / Cook. I try to Zumba at least twice a week in order to release tension and probably mostly to be able to eat all the foods I love to cook. Cooking and Dancing are my ways to release stress. The stress reliever of this month? Fresh Peach Pie!! Yum.
I Enjoy the View
I mentioned in an earlier post the beautiful view from my apartment balcony. So here's a visual. I love being able to see the temple shining through the trees at night and the beautiful mountains dressed in fall leaves during the day.

Welcome to my typical day in P-town!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Calm before a Storm

Oh Hello's been a while hasn't it? It's finally arrived - my last year of school. Not just my last year at my University, but possibly my last year ever. I can't remember not being in school, so something about this just doesn't feel right. You know what else doesn't feel right - my complete lack of fear and worry regarding the fact that I really have no idea where I am going to be in a year from now.

GRADUATE SCHOOL? I never grew up thinking I would go to Grad School, but why not? I like school and I can push myself to work really hard. Graduate School is a possibility, but one that is slipping every day I get closer to the dreaded application deadlines. GRE studying is way on the back burner, not to mention I have no idea what I'd want to study in Grad School (which I hear is kind of an important part of applying). You want me to just choose one specific thing? Are you crazy? The idea of taking a year off is sounding more pleasing each passing day.

MARRIED? You know, I had a beautiful summer....but now it is Fall and just like the leaves, everything changes. Suddenly, I find myself envying the couples around campus and missing the joy of caring about someone. I can't foresee any immediate change to this current lonely situation. Sure, I am hoping for some good first dates to come along, but I just can't imagine being in love again for a while. Healing takes time, and let's face it...I'm not one to jump into anything fast. Since I have an "all seasons and a trip" rule for myself, I would seriously need to meet the man I am supposedly marrying next year in the next few months in order to be able to spend a year with him before we get married. But really, I am only 21 and there is no rush to bind myself with a ring.

TRAVELING AND TAKING SOME TIME FOR ME? Boy, doesn't this sound nice? I've always wanted to audition to be in some community theater shows, but I never have time because of school. Maybe, I could actually do some of these things I've always wanted to try, but never had time! Why not travel around and get some good life experience before I am tied down to a job that doesn't offer summer breaks? I'll tell you one good reason why and the fact that I am an adult now and need to grow up and face the music. (However dissident it may sound).

INTERNSHIP/ JOB / APPLYING TO GRAD SCHOOL? I suppose this is probably the most reasonable option. Working experience is good for Grad school applications right? Maybe as I try out a few jobs, I'll get a better idea of what I really want to focus on in my graduate work. Wouldn't a year long Paid Internship at the National Gallery of Art be divine? I think so, that is why I am applying...but I really have no hopes of getting hired. (But, it is always worth a shot right?)

There are a lot of things I don't know right now and that should probably scare me, but for some reason I am surprisingly calm. I guess my optimism that things will work out and fall into place is going to win out for right now. With all these variables, my life could really go multiple ways right now. I don't feel in control...and that scares me. BUT - there are many things I do know.

I know that my family is always going to have my back no matter what
I know that this semester is going to be difficult, but so rewarding in the end
I know that the view from my Apartment window is gorgeous 
I know that I love Fall
I know that I will at least be somewhere this time next year and that I am determined to be happy wherever that somewhere is. 
I know my friends stand by me and will continue to do so
I know I am capable of great things and should steer away from comparing myself to my academic competition all the time. 
I know that no matter how stormy my mind and my life get, Jesus Christ is a solid anchor. 

I know who I am, I know where I came from, and I know where I want to end up...I just don't know how I am going to go about getting there. But, maybe that is the fun part. So here's to a fun last year full of decisions and surprises! Welcome's going to be great!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Fresh Veggies are Best

Remember my vegetable garden that I started this summer? Well, it has exploded with plump red tomatoes, large green zucchini, and fragrant basil leaves. There's nothing better than cooking with fresh veggies and fresh herbs. 
A fresh Green pepper from the garden with a turkey burger
Everyday I walk out and survey my garden. It's amazing how things grow so quickly and even though I know I don't do much to help the photosynthesis do its job, I somehow have this proud feeling that I, Jenny, am creating and raising vegetables. 
My beautiful Zucchini 
Tonight I made a homemade pizza crust and topped it with my fresh tomatoes, Zucchini, and Basil. Here's how it turned out. It tastes even better than it looks. 
So here's to delicious veggies and the fun I've had raising them! 

Sunday, August 12, 2012

I believe in...

I believe in smiling every day.
I believe in falling asleep quickly and waking up slowly.
I believe in “too-thick-for-a-straw” Milkshakes
I believe in cold ice cream and warm brownies
I believe in rain streaking down car windows
I believe in families that last forever
I believe in God and in the redeeming power of his son, Jesus Christ.
I believe in New – new sights, new smells, and new discoveries
I believe in Old – old friends, old shoes, and old traditions
I believe in “Happily Ever After”
I believe in the invisible language of music
I believe in friendships- true and long-lasting
I believe in Hugs that linger
I believe in the magic of words and the power of thoughts
I believe in the feeling of flour on your hands
I believe in white Christmases and golden autumns
I believe in the words “I love you” and “I’m sorry”
I believe in crying every once and a while
I believe in live theatre and art museums
I believe in “down to the line” sports games and friendly rounds of cards
I believe in wishing and hoping
I believe in dancing around the kitchen
I believe in feeling beautiful and worthwhile
I believe in myself and my unlimited possibilities

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Catch a Wave and you're sitting on top of the World

Welcome to one of my favorite places of all time - The Outer banks of North Carolina! Since I have a lot of family living in Virginia, it has been a tradition to drive down to North Carolina and spend time on the beach together. The drive down was a bit scarier this year as the car I sat in hydro-planed and spun off the road knocking into a sign and giving me the scare of my life. There's nothing like a close call like that to remind you of your own mortality and miraculous survival. It was a blessing no one was hurt and we made it safely to our final destination. 

In the beginning, we packed all of our families into this one or two roomed beach house called "The Sandspur." It has gone down in history as our humble beginnings and the spot where we survived at least two hurricanes. But as our family expanded, we needed an upgrade. We left our little "Sandspur" (shown on the left) and have started packing our clan into some beautiful beach palaces. This year's house was called "Fish Tales"

I love the beach. I believe in the healing power of the salty water and also the terrifying thrill of crashing waves. There is nothing like staring at a gigantic wave knowing you have one second to decide if you will ride this wave all the way to shore on your boogie board or let it completely smash over you. Riding on top of a wave truly feels like sitting on top of the world, but it feels even better when you look over and realize people you love are riding it with you. 
I don't like sand in my swimming suit, but I do love to feel the sand between my toes as I go searching for sea shells and dolphins jumping in the waves. It was fun to spend so much time together as a family splashing in the ocean and the pool. 
Brother and Sister
When the ocean tires you out for the night, there is always the lure of a sunset walk along the beach or a run  down the cool sand dunes at Jockey's Ridge Park. 
With Mary and Emma

Heading to the Giant Sand Dunes
The ocean waves always seem to call me back despite sun burns, jelly fish stings, and tumbles along the ocean floor. Thank you Outer banks for the memories and the lovely tan. 

The Delights of D.C.

I've been lucky enough to have spent a lot of my childhood visiting my cousins out in Northern Virginia. We grew up like siblings although many of them are almost ten years older than me.  Because Arlington, Virginia is literally 15 minutes from downtown D.C., I feel like I can claim Washington D.C. as a city close to my heart. 

Even though I have been there multiple times, there are a few points of interest I HAVE TO SEE   every time I return. I always try to go to the FDR Memorial and walk around the Tidal Basin at night and pop into the National Gallery of Art. 

This was the Gallery where I believe I first started falling in love with art. In fact I like to pinpoint it to the day my mom and I walked through this gallery looking for Van Eyck's "The Annunciation" (shown below). It is even more magical returning now that I have studied a lot of these masterpieces in class. I get a childlike excitement bubble up inside when I turn a corner and see a favorite piece of art hanging there in its three dimensional glory. A picture in a textbook never comes close to the beauty of the original paint jutting out in thick blobs and still glistening as if it were wet. 
Cole's "Voyage of Life" - a favorite that I have hanging in my room
Remember my earlier post about Albert Pinkham Ryder?  Here's one up close! Yes, I noticed the oozing paint and I smiled.
I love to find a Seurat painting and stand right up close to it where it is just a huge compilation of little dots. Then as I walk slowly farther away, these thousands of dots become a beautiful landscape. AMAZING!
My sister-in-law and Cousin were nice enough to humor my love and excitement for art as I dragged them from room to room in this art gallery. I truly could spend days in that gallery. 
Here's Van Eyck's "Annunciation" the beginning of my  love affair with  art! 
This trip I had the joy of taking my new sister-in-law around to the monuments (because it was her maiden voyage to D.C.). I enjoyed reuniting with some of these fun tourist spots. 
At the WWII memorial
The Lincoln Memorial
Going to Teddy Roosevelt Island
Oh Washington D.C. - Although your hot, humid summers make me sticky and smelly, I still love you. I love your fireflies and your insects that roar with noise after dark. Who knows, maybe I'll be joining you again a guide at the National Gallery perhaps? One can dream! 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Bard on the Rocks

Cedar City is just a small little southern Utah town that most outsiders have never heard of. However, it is also the home of one of the best Shakespearean festivals in the country! This year, I joined my mother and her dear friend, who happens to be a famous opera singer, on a trip down to Cedar for some good quality time with the Bard and the rocks. 
Carla, Juliet, Me, and Mom
As a theatre-lover myself, seeing 6 plays in 3 days was like heaven. It started out with Harper Lee's classic, "To Kill a Mockingbird." I had forgotten how much I loved that book and it once again made me think about having a son with the middle name of Atticus. The other plays included "The Merry Wives Of Windsor," "Scapin," "Mary Stuart," "Les Miserables," and "Titus Andronicus."
With the Bard
"Titus Andronicus" is one of those unknown Shakespeare plays and now I think I know why. Of course it was well-acted and well-written, but the fact of the matter is that this play is like a Shakespearean Horror show - full of revenge, murder, blood, and gore. I'm sure the groundings loved it back in the day! 

When we were not play-watching, we were exploring Cedar or going to lunch with Fred Adams (the founder of the festival). One day we decided to hie to Kolob canyon and see the beautiful rocks. I had never been to Kolob before, but it truly was heavenly up in the quiet splendor of those tall and majestic mountains. 

After the festival, the three of us jumped back in the car and headed off to Bryce Canyon. Bryce is one of my favorite spots in Utah. I love the colors, the hoodos, the crazy formations that look like people and stories, and the relatively cool weather. We hiked our favorite route from The "Queen's Gardens" trail to the "Navajo Loop" trail. It was gorgeous and my tennis shoes were covered in glorious red dust. No to mention, nothing is more blue than a Brcye canyon sky.
Traditional tree hugging picture

Queen Victoria riding a turtle with a following fish!

This is what I would look like as a ghost!

Our next destination took us to Zion National Park and boy was it a cooker! 105 degrees is not my favorite, but we still had fun. My favorite part was watching my mother clutch two ski poles as she inched her way up the rocky water of the Narrows. We've always loved hiking up the Narrows, but since my mother's back surgery, her foot and leg have been pretty unstable. I feared that walking over a rocky riverbed would be impossible, but she did it and she did it with style! I couldn't be more proud of her. It was good to have her near me as we went through the refreshing water to discover waterfalls and repelling hikers. 

Next week I head out to one of my favorite places in the whole world! The Outer banks, North Carolina. It will be good to be back at the beach with all my family. Stay tuned for pictures and stories to come. For now, look at my blog background (the outer banks) and imagine the sound of ocean waves!