December First

Tuesday, December 1, 2015


Yeah, I'm really really excited. I'm especially excited because I finally have my own apartment to decorate this year! And let's be honest, Christmas is the best holiday in the entire year. 

There's just something about the glowing lights of the tree at night, of being able to see your breath at Temple Square. 

Wrapping up in your warm coat and scarf and hat and watching the snowflakes fall from the sky.

 About finding the perfect gift to give your sister or dad or mom, thinking about their reaction on Christmas morning. 

Eating pie and ham and decorating cookies, making candy, hanging the garland and decking the tree.

Sledding with your siblings and crashing at the bottom of the hill- maybe accidentally getting a bloody nose or two (whoops!)

Watching the glow and hearing the crackling of the fire in the fireplace (or in this case... the fire on my TV screen). 

Watching "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" or "Santa Clause is Coming to Town" and going to see Ballet West's "The Nutracker" at the Capitol Theater ever year.

My little stacking doll set I got in Poland this year

Listening to Michael Buble's Christmas album, or watching the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sing the Hallelujah Chorus. 

All the little crafts that the kids make for you for Christmas, and how excited they get over a popcorn wreath, and the idea that Santa Claus is really coming in just a few short weeks. 

Watching the glow of the Christmas lights reflect in your cat's eyes.

I love Christmas for so many reasons, but mostly I love being together with my family. I've been so blessed to have my grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins and siblings so close. Christmas has always been a time for us to get together and enjoy each's other's company. Making family traditions like going to see the Nutcracker, doing a family Christmas program, making Christmas cookies. Getting pajamas on Christmas eve, and taking turns opening presents on Christmas morning. Spending Christmas Eve, Christmas morning and Christmas night together as a family.

 It just makes me so happy, and I can honestly say I never feel more happy-
 or more blessed- than I do in the holiday season. 


Thursday, November 26, 2015

This Thanksgiving, of all the years, has me in such a different place than I've been in years past, and I think it's helped me put things into perspective and be a little more appreciate and grateful for all of the tender mercies in my life. 

I think back to last year, home from my mission on medical release, spending most of my days in pain with excruciating migraines and dealing with the emotional aftermath of an early release (which included missing my Mexico with all my heart). Throwing myself into family history and reaping the some incredible and touching rewards as I found so many of my Polish-German ancestors that needed their work done.

I think of the year before, where I was a senior in college, and just went through the temple, all while most of my friends had left on missions, and one of my best friends was preparing to leave on hers. All while I was getting ready to do my student teaching, juggling work and class and driving an hour to St George to go to the temple (and warmth). 

There's a lot of years of thanksgivings, a lot of memories. Remembering my first year of college, and the roommate thanksgiving we held where we made turkey hats and ate monkey bread and pie.

The year I was a senior in high school, and we were having our first Madrigals Christmas concert the next week, and still had a lot of choreography to learn and master.

A few years before, our first Thanksgiving without our grandpa, who was the heart and soul of our family, and who's empty chair made us think back and really appreciate the good things in life, and how quickly they come and go.

Even a few years before that, where we had just finished our pool in Arizona, and Cassidy and I had to test it out, and jumped in the freezing cold water in November. We only stayed for about three minutes before we were chilled to the bone! 

We've had some really good memories over the years. I attribute a lot of that to my sweet family. Food and gifts, music and decorations are all well and good, but it's people that make the memories, not things. 

This year, I'm grateful for so many things- my wonderful job, my car that's already been paid off, my apartment and , but what I'm grateful for most are the people in my life.

My friends. My coworkers, and roommate. My Nana and Gram, my cousins and aunts and uncles, and second cousins. My cats and dogs- But especially- with all of my heart- my mom, my dad, my sisters and my brother and sister in law. 

Friends come and go- that much I've learned, more than once- but family is forever. They're my real best friends. 

And I can't imagine my life without them.

Fall is in the Air

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Oh man...  so many things have happened in the last few months since I updated you about my trip to Europe... but instead of sharing those things with you, I'm going to post pictures of my cute little fall decorated apartment.


Because I love it.

And maybe I'll post about our second Yellowstone trip of the year in a few days. Until then, you'll have to wait with baited breath to read all about it. 

Anyway, I think I'm in love with fall. Red and gold aspen leaves falling onto the street, the weather starting to cool down, rain storms that make you want to curl up with some hot chocolate and read a book, General Conference and temple trips, watching the mountains change color and getting in some last minute hiking. There's just something about it that I just love. We never really got "fall" in Arizona, so ever since we moved to Utah seven years ago (what???) it's been my favorite season. 

So... fall decor pics now, and life update in a few days when I can gather my thoughts enough to write a post. Everything's from Hobby Lobby and Joann's and let me tell you, they're golden. Best places. I'm already tempted to go shopping for my Christmas decor and it's not even November yet!

PS. My gold obsession is managed only by the fact that it's SO easy to spray paint stuff gold and have it look amazing. I highly recommend it. I think I've spray painted almost everything gold. 

Fall Garland is from:

World Traveler 2015: Poland & Ukraine Edition

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Salt Lake City ➡ Amsterdam ➡ Warsaw ➡ Lviv ➡ Vienna ➡ Warsaw ➡ Amsterdam ➡ Salt Lake City

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Well, the entire trip started out with the craziest fiasco ever, so hopefully that tells you what an exciting trip it was! Monday, we left for the airport and checked our bags at the carside bag check, and headed inside to print out our boarding passes.... only to find out my dad's passport expired in less than 90 days! Thank you, EU, for having the dumbest rule ever that passports have to be valid for 90 days before entering the country, or they won't let you enter. After getting a flat tire on the way home, having his passport expedited, and delaying our trip (twice), we were able to set out for Europe on Friday afternoon! 

First class... can I just say? Amazing. First class international? I felt like a freaking celebrity. It was glorious. They fed us. They let us watch free movies. Seats that roll into a bed? Yes, please. 

We spent the night in Warsaw, Poland, and had the entire morning to do a little bit of exploring in Łazienki Park before we left for Lviv, Ukraine. What an amazing city! Despite the tension in the eastern part, Lviv was extraordinary and beautiful. There were churches everywhere, tiny narrow streets that made driving a nightmare, historic statues and cathedrals and everything was crazy cheap (One Ukrainian hryvnia was worth $0.045 in the US). We stayed in the Eurohotel across the street from a gorgeous church and just a half mile from the city center.

We also got to eat at a restaurant called "Meat and Justice". Not kidding! It was SO good. Just platters of meat. Oh, we about died. So so so good. 

The competition in Lviv went well, and everyone was so welcoming to the US team! Our S5 team ended up placing 4th in that particular event, and we were able to see old friends and prepare for next year's competition! 

The reserve day was spent exploring bits of Lviv, including hiking up to the High Castle, seeing St. George's Cathedral, and checking out the Lviv cemetary. What an amazing city. I seriously loved it.

That Friday, we boarded and plane and headed through Vienna and back to Warsaw, staying at the Radisson Blu in the central part of the city. 

Can I just say how excited I was to go to Poland? Our great-great-grandparents immigrated from Poland in the early 1900s and I am so extremely proud of my German-Polish history. So I was excited to visit the country of my family! This was a HUGE deal to me, and a HUGE dream of mine! And it did NOT disappoint! 

Saturday, we went to explore Warsaw Old Town, which was mostly destroyed during WWII, but the Poles rebuilt the city to look identical to what it had formerly been. What an amazing (and colorful) area! I could have stayed there forever. We followed a free tour guide around, who spoke amazing English, and who took us all around Old Town and explained the buildings and history of the area. He was so cool! We ate at a local restaurant, and I had the most delicious pierogi with strawberries. And then we had Hard Rock Cafe for dinner! Hooray for American food, though. At least they give you a full glass of soda instead of like 1/4L. 

Guys, I love Polish food. So much.

Sunday, we had the opportunity to go visit Wilańow Palace and Gardens. They call it the "Versailles of Poland" and it was spectacular. It was really neat to be able to go through the palace and look at all the paintings and trinkets and bedrooms and learn about the history of some of the Polish royalty. The gardens were absolutely stunning as we walked through them. 

Monday was our last day in Warsaw, and we didn't waste a second! We spent the morning visiting the Warsaw Uprising museum, just a mile from our hotel (and I saw the missionaries!!!!!). The museum portrays the history of Warsaw rebelling against Soviet/German occupation during WWII and was so interesting. There was even a 3D theater where we could watch a video of what Poland looked like after it had been bombed and destroyed, as well as a large theater where we could watch actual footage and see photographs taken during the war. It was so interesting, and so amazing to see how strong and hardy the Poles are, and makes me so proud that that's in my blood.

After the Warsaw Uprising museum, we headed to Praski Park, where we visited St. Florian's cathedral, walked through the park, and saw the three bears that live on the concrete island within the park itself.  Did a little bit more shopping in Old Town, and then we had dinner at the most amazing Polish restaurant just down the street from our hotel. 

We had to wake up at 3:30 AM the next day to catch our flight to Amsterdam, and then head home, but luckily we were 1st class again, so it went as easily as possible. Seriously, what an amazing trip. I was so glad I was able to go this year and see all of these amazing places! 

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 United States