Saturday, March 31, 2012

Switching Roles

Last Saturday, my singles ward held a date auction. Let me explain how this was organized. You as the date requestor would submit a date idea to the social committee with a description of what the date would entail. Girls would bid on dates that the guys would submit and vice versa. The person who submits the date would play the role of the initiator. They would be in charge of organizing, paying and the activity for the date. When it comes to bidding on the date, the only thing that the bidder knows is what the date is, they don't know who it is with.

Since going out with someone who you don't know if you will be able to carry a conversation with or not it is somewhat hard to know what date idea to submit. You don't know if you will be able to carry a conversation with them, if you will have things to talk about, what the chemistry will be. Keeping all of these things in mind I decided to submit a date to go to a Wizards basketball game. I figured that either way you would be able to have a good date even if you don't have anything to talk about because you can always just be entertained by the game, elevataing the pressure of having to entertain each other.

I was unable to go to the date auction due to an annoying migraine that wiped me out. But from what I had been told by those who went, a basketball game was a pretty good idea as several guys bid on it. Wish I could have known who all bid on it. You know, just in case I want to connect with them. I was somewhat worried that whoever won might be disappointed when they found out who they were going with. Unfortunately, I wasn't there to see their reaction.

I didn't really know how this date was going to go. The winner was someone I knew but not who I had ever really had a sit down conversation with before just the two of us. I mean we had talked, but could we carry a conversation? Good thing we were going to a basketball game because I knew we could at least talk about that.

Since I was the dating organizaer I played the role of the man by going and picking him up, opening the car door, etc. It was really weird, because while I have always been a strong, independent woman, I do like to be treated like a girl sometimes and know that a guy would do nice gesters for me. Girls kind of tend to expect that on a date but this time I couldn't expect that since I was the one initiating the date. Don't get me wrong, he would have done those things but we both kind of had this understanding that I was the one in charge of the date.

Well the game was fun. We were able to talk about the game and other things as well. I bought us dinner and we had a good time. The Wizards won the game which was fun. He was rooting for the 76ers so a lose for them. They played a bad defensive game but the Wizards, who generally lose all the time looked really good.

Skipping to the end of the date (I really have a hard time calling it that), I drove him home and didn't know if I was supposed to walk him to the door or not. I kind of halfway parked and out loud said, I'm not sure what to do? Am I supposed to walk you to the door? Eventually it was decided yes. So I parked the car and walked him his door. Talk about an awkward moment. I'm having to put myself in the place of the guys typical role. I think even he was a little unsure of being in the what would typically be the girls role. But we made it through and I guess everyone should put themselves in the role of another person at some point.

Now that I have done the switched date I have to say it's not one of my favorite things and I think I will keep my place as a girl when going out. I like having doors opend for me, not having to worry about organizaing the logistics, being picked up and dropped off at the door. I definitely have more respect for the guys and the pressure they have of dates but I am stay with the social norm of maintaining my role of being treated like a girl.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Cherry Blossoms

I looked out the window and what did I see? Popcorn popping on the cherry blossom trees. Spring has brought me such a nice surprise. Cherry Blossoms popping right before my eyes. I could take an armful and make a treat. A popcorn ball that smell so sweet. It really is so, and it seems to me. Blossoms blooming on the Cherry Blossom trees.

I love living in DC in the spring. Walking around the tidal basin with the cherry blossoms in their peak bloom is unbelievably gorgeous.  One of my favorite things to do in DC is walk around the tidal basin. The water, creates a calm relaxing environment. in the distance you see the backdrop of our nations Capitol, with the Washington Monument as its main focal point. Add to that the cherry blossom trees in full bloom reflected in the water and you have a magical place that I could only imagine Claude Monet depicting the scene in a beautiful mural just like the water lilies.

 My absolute favorite place along the tidal basin is walking along the path in front of the FDR memorial. The view of Thomas Jefferson, the Washington Memorial, and the city take my breathe away every time. I feel like I have been transported to a magical place where dreams come true. I feel the peace and love of my Heavenly Father for me every time I visit. 

I am at peace and loved here. I have been so blessed to be able to come on this walk with so many friends. I have been blessed to share this with many friends in the area. Fond memories strolling through the blossoms, picnics, staged proposals, tours, good friends and good times.

I feel so blessed by the Lord to have these opportunities to live here and be able to witness this magnificent beauty. 

Monday, March 26, 2012

Addams Family the Musical

I have to admit I was a little skeptical at the idea of taking a story like the Addams Family and turning it into a broadway musical. I had grown up with the idea that broadway shows were composed of classical, memorable songs that swept you off your feet. How could a story like the Addams Family compare classics like Les Miserable, The Phantom of the Opera, Aida, Hairspray?

Well I have to say, I have never laughed so much in a musical before. I couldn't believe the whit and humor that this show portrayed. Gomez was a hysterical romantic that kept me laughing with his charm and wit.

The plot follows Wednesday Addams who has fallen in love and doesn't know how to tell her mother. She confides in her father who must keep it a secret from her mother until after a family dinner with her significant others parents. Through a series of events, including interventions from the Ancestors thanks to Uncle Festor, everyone is in for a creepy, unconventional, hilarious ride. I was on the edge of my seat with laughter, and awe at the sets as the story unfolded.

I would definitely recommend this show to anyone who wants a good laugh with some memorable characters from your past.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Cabin Fever

Time for a little R&R and what better way to get some than to retreat to a house in the hills of Luray. A group of us took off Friday after work to escape the business of the city for a little winter (or not so winter) retreat. The house we rented was huge with several beds to accomodate the 21 poeple coming out for the weekend.

Finding the place was the first part of the adventure. The house was located off a dirt road that twisted and turned in the hills where no gps could go and signs were hard to read. At one point, Ruth and I found an abandoned jeep with no one in sight. It looked like a scene from a scary movie ( I had just seen the movie Gone earlier this week with that exact jeep and woods just like this where girls were kidnapped and thrown into a hole to be murdered later so my imagination was a little wild). Eventually we found the house though and all was well.

First things first, get in the hot tub before anyone else has a chance to. It's a little chili out which makes for the best time to sit in a hot tub and let all your stress and troubles melt away in the relaxing jets. Oh how sweet it is. This would be repeated again the following night.

We stayed up late chatting, watching movies playing games and putting puzzles together.

The next morning after a wonderful breakfast of pancakes, eggs, and bacon, Ruth and I took off to go explore the local village of Luray.

While driving toward town, I saw a Civil War historic sign which of course meant we had to stop. Turns out, it was a historic mill called Willows Grove Mill.

We then went into the town to walk the greenway, which is a path that follows a stream through the town. It was a gorgeous day for a lovely stroll. They had painted murals along the side of the buildings that reflected the history, and scenery of the landscape around the town. There were swings to sit on, bridges to cross, cow pastures to smell, ducks to watch, it was such a beautiful, peaceful place.

We found an old one room school house and a slave block that is an original block where slaves would be placed upon, looked over, negotiated and ultimately sold from. There are few of these left and they are a historical treasure to remind us of where we have come in our country today. I love how you can go to any small town out here and find historical artifacts that tell about our nations history.

When we were done exploring the town we went back up to the house in the woods, where I was able to curl up on a chair outside and enjoy the sounds and fresh mountain air while reading my book. How glorious it was. I felt such rejuvenation coming back to me. I retreat into the woods reading a good book is the ideal vacation idea.

The rest of the weekend was really nice. I enjoyed my time with my friends there and being able to relax. Weekend retreats are excellent ideas and should be done more often.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Big Apple

This weekends adventures took me to the Big Apple. That's right New York City here I come! I remember my first time ever coming to NYC. I was so scared. No, I was terrified. I had never been in a big city before in my life. I remember thinking I was going to get lost, or mugged, or raped, or kidnapped, or run over by a crazy cab driver. My mind could not handle so many people and not being able to see the sky. Even Central Park felt like a confining jail.

Well, I am happy to report that I can now walk the streets of New York City wtih confidence. I have even learned how to navigate the ever crazy subway system. I know how to read the street maps and the general areas of where key landmarks are. So now when I go to visit I have a much more relaxing and enjoyable time.

My favorite thing about NYC is broadway. I think I have an addiction. I love going to broadway shows. So when I go to NYC thats what I want to do. So when a couple of friends invited to go with them for the weekend I couldn't say no. We took the bus up to NYC Friday after work and stayed at a really nice Hilton hotel right behind the 34th street Macy's. How convenient it was to be staying so close to Time Square.

The first thing we did the next morning was stand in line for rush tickets. We purchased tickets for Spiderman Turn Off the Dark and then headed out to see the Museum of Modern Art. I was really excited to visit this museum as it is the current home of Vincent Van Gogh's Starry Night painting. I get lost in the scene when I look at this painting. I believe I'm sitting on a high mountain top looking over a sleeping city with the moon and stars playing in the heavens. Such a magical place it takes me to. I also really loved Claude Monet's water lily paintings on display. I sat in front of these four massive paintings that spanned an entire wall for quite a while. It's because of Claude Monet that I love bridges and water so much.

When we were done at the MOMA we headed to our matinee showing of Spiderman which I have to say was pretty impressive. Its one of the most expensive set productions to date and I have to say it was pretty worth it. The props and costumes are made to look like the comic books. A lot of the show is done with impressive acrobatic skills in the air. Our seats were in the front row of the balcony right where the landing pad is. So whenever Spiderman came flaying out over the audience he would right in front of us (one time he almost landed on us). It was really impressive. The music was good, nothing to shout out loud about but a good show none the less.

We went to dinner at one of my friends favorite Indian restaurants where the curry was really good. Love taking waiters reccommendations on food. You know it will be good when you do.

That night I went to see Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. Will Swenson from the Singles Ward (though he doesn't say that now as he has left the church) was one of the leads. The show is about a couple of drag queens who make their way across the Australian desert. The music involves classic hit songs like Material Girl, It's Raining Men, True Colors and many more. It was a laughing good time with a few emotional points as well. Absolutely great show.

The next day we made our way over to purchase more rush tickets. This time my show was front row seats to Mamma Mia. We then stopped into this retro place for some Sunday morning brunch. I had these chocolate pancakes with a maple bacon syrup over them that was amazing. Whoever came up with the idea of Sunday brunch is a genius.

We then made our way down to the World Trade Center 9/11 Memorial. We first stopped at the church across the street that was used as a refuge for clean up workers and firemen after the towers fell. They still have many displays up to show what happened on that day. It's very touching to see how people reached out to help each other.

We had to wait for a long time to get into the memorial itself but once inside it was really nice to walk around. The memorial consists of two square waterfalls that flow down and in the center is this dark hole that all the water goes down in. You can't see the bottom of the falls. Around the sides are the names of all the victims of those who died in the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and the airlines. It was really touching. I remember that day well watching it all happen on tv.

We made our way over to the Little Italy for some amazing italian food. I have never had better gnocci than what I had for dinner that night. So good. It melted in my mouth with just the right amount of seasoning and sauce. Heaven! For desert we all ordered canoli's that were just pure delight to your senses.

Time for the show. I have always wanted to sit front row to a broadway show and that dream became a reality as I was transported to an island in Greece with the music of Abba. It was fun to be able to see the expressions on the performers faces and really feel like you are apart of the story. The voices were amazing. I just wanted to get up and dance. Dancing Queen!

The next morning, we packed up our bags and left them in the hotel lobby. We found a wonderful little bagle shop that had the most amazing bagel I have ever had. The tomato and basil cream cheese was heavenly. I also found next door the cutest little dresses for my niece.

We made our way down for a stroll along the Brooklyn bridge. It was such a lovely day and a great view of the city walking along the bridge.

After walking the bridge we went for some shopping in China Town. I love shopping here as bartering is one of my favorite things to do. I get a rush from it. But don't worry. I didn't buy anything, this time. ;) We went for dinner again to a restaurant in Little Italy. The food here is what I picture food will be like in heaven. Fulfilling all of your senses. We did some more shopping around and then made our way back up to Time Square where we sat drinking hot chocolate and enjoying the lights and people in the square. Such a relaxing evening.

It was a nice getaway and I saw some amazing shows. I can't wait until the next time I get to come back to the big apple. I'm completely hooked now.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Weight Wars Challenge Celebation

For the past 8 weeks I have been leading a weight wars challenge with some of the women at church. It was an idea I had to help us stick to our New Years resolutins of eating healtheir and staying/getting into shape. Everyone had their own goals for participating. There was a $10 buy in to compete and the winner who lost the most percentage wise would win the pot. We had 16 women sign up to compete to so the prize came to $160. Not bad at all. That helps in getting a new wardrobe.

For me it was not as successful as I would have liked in terms of weight lost, but it did help me to be more conscious of what I'm eating and to keep my fridge and pantry full of healthier choice food. I also started taking yoga courses which was fun. They helped to stretch me out and build confidence.

I was very proud of all the women that competed. I know that they worked hard on their goals. At the end of the 8 weeks I had a gathering for everyone to come and congratulate each other on a successful first round. It was requested that I start another one to help in getting ready for the beach this summer. So round 2 will commence starting next Friday.

You better believe I'm using this time off to splurge a little on my eating. But healthy habits have been formed and I hope they continue to be formed as I go through this process again. It's not about losing the weight, but creating a healthy lifestyle. And I have to say I feel pretty good.

Some fun quotes I found about fitness:
"I'm not losing weight, I'm getting rid of it, I have no intention of finding it."
"If you wait for perfect conditions, you'll never get anything done."
"It took more than a day to put it on. It will take more than a day to take it off. Move."
"Sweat like a pig to look like a fox."
"You can feel sore tomorrow, or you can feel sorry tomorrow. You choose."
"You don't always get what you wish for, you get what you work for."
"Do not reward yourself with food, your not a dog."

I have taken two goblets and filled one with the number of pebbles that represent the number of pounds I want to get rid of. Every week when I weigh in I move pebbles from one goblet to the other to show how much I have lost and how much I still need to lose. Slow and steady will win out here.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Happy Holi

Holi or Festival of Colors, is a Hindu festival that helps to celebrate the beginning of a new season. Spring! It is also a day used to celebrate many Hindu religious myths and legends. The bright colors help to reflect the coming of the spring colors to a world that has been dead as new life is restored to the world. Friends and family gather together to throw colored powder on each other turning each person into a canvas of colorful art.
I was so happy to have found a place in the DC area where I could participate in this festival with some of my friends. The energy at the festival was very friendly and fun. There was a lot of respect for the festival iteself and towards each other. Everyone there became each others friend as they spread color on your face saying, "happy Holi." All personal bubbles were burst at this festival. My favorite part was a man who would grab other men in headlocks and bring them over to large groups to get colored. He loved bringing men to our group of ladies. Nothing says hello like a colored powder rubbing all over your face.
There was dancing and chanting of Hare Krishna going on in the background as people were celebrating this festival. There were meditation tents set up where you could learn how to meditate. They also had food stations with some really good vegan food. My favorite was the  cauliflower that was fried in some kind of batter with a red sauce dip. Yum!

We spent over 2 hours at the festival changing colors several times. When we were sufficiently colored and the bonfire (burning of the witch, which I can't find information on at this time) was complete. We all decided to go to Cafe Rio for a late lunch. We had many people stop and stare at us. Some of the servers said they liked our makeup. (yes this is how I get ready every morning).

I think the funniest part happened on the car ride home when I looked over to my right and waved to a guy who was laughing at us and trying to take a picture of us on his iphone while we were still driving. I just smiled and waved. Would have given him my phone number too as he was kind of cute but alas hard to do when your driving.
All in all a very fun event. Good times getting colored with my friends. Celebrating the coming of spring on a beautiful sunny day. Cafe Rio for lunch. And great pictures to remember them by. Happy Holi!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Disney on Ice

So by now if you can't tell, I have had a many adventures with Disney lately. And I am proud of it! Disney has a way of magically transporting you back to your childhood where you believe you can grow up to do anything and be anybody. A place where dreams can come true. Where you can fly to Neverland with mermaids and pirates. Where you can explore new places on magic carpets. Where a puppet comes to life as a real boy. Where every princess finds (or is found by) her prince charming.

Well tonight was a special outing with my roommates and a few other friends to the Verizon Center to see 75 Years of Magic Disney on Ice. There were over 60 different characters that took the ice with amazing talent. This event really is a combination of two things I have always grown up loving to watch, Disney and figure skating. I wanted to be a princess and I wanted to be a skater. Well only one of those things came true (I'll let you figure out which one that is) but this shown is an accumulation of the two worlds brought together to bring life and elegance to magical adventures.

Some of the characters on parade where of course the classic Minnie, Mickey, Goofy and Donald. They brought their friends and characters from the movies Pinnochio, Mulan, Pocahontas, The Lion King, Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, The Incredibles, Finding Nemo, and It's a Small World.

I love the magic of Disney and the warm feeling it gives my heart. Never grow too old to believe in magic.

Happy Birthday Dinner for Ruth

My old roommate and still good friend Ruth was having a birthday. So to show her how much I love her and cherish her friendship, I invited her over for dinner. I decided to try a new recipe. The results were delicious. It's a chicken pesto pasta dish. The toppings were red and orange peppers sauteed with artichoke hearts, garlic and spinach served over pesto pasta. Definitely a recipe I am going to keep in my recipe box. It was delicious! And super healthy for you.

I just love trying new recipes.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Epcot Day 5 a perfect ending

Like all good times, eventually they must come to an end. But I have to say this was a magical ending. We made our way back over to Epcot for a grand finale to a magical week.

We had a little bit of time to walk around so we made our way through Mexico with the Three Amigo's who took us on a water ride through colorful scenes of a festive land.

We headed over to meet the ultimate princess of girl power, Mulan. She really is a girl who fought for what she thought was right and didn't let anything get in her way. Love her. China would definitely be a fun place to visit sometime. They had recreated the terra cotta warriors inside. Wow! That is a lot of skill and talent to create all those soldiers.

We took one last mission to Mars. Walked around a little bit and then made our way to Norway for a Storybook dinner. As we went inside, Belle was there to greet us. Love her full yellow dress. Dinner started with an open buffet for appetizers. There were so many different salads, meats, fish, vegetables, pastas, all such good food. For a main dish I had a sirloin pasta dish that was so amazing. The meat literally melted in my mouth. And for desert we had a rice pudding, strawberry pastry and a chocolate cake. Oh my goodness!

While we were eating our meal we had a few visitors come to our table. Snow White, Ariel, Aurora, and Cinderella came to wish us well, take pictures and talk to us. After they had visited every table they took all the children on a parade of the princesses through the restaurant. Fairytale ending indeed.

I was so full after dinner and so completely happy inside. I have had all of my dreams come true on this trip. The company was great (thanks for going with me Jessica), the rides were fun. So many characters were greeted, amazing food was eaten. Truly a most magical, memorable time. I can't wait to come back again. Thanks Disney for making all of my little girl dreams come to life.

Animal Kingdom Day 5 continued

We made our way back over to Animal Kingdom to explore what we had not explored yet. If you remember my first day started in Animal Kingdom and we only explored half the park to make sure we got to everything at the other parks. Now we were going to see what we missed.

We decided to run the hidden pine trails of the forest and learn to paintwith the all the colors of the wind by paying a visit to Pocahontas. I remember when this movie first came out and love the music.

We made our way over to the forest area to hang out with Jungle Book characters King Louis and Baloo the Bear. They give great hugs and are all smiles.

Walking around it seemed that the forest was moving. That's because part of it was. There was a tree woman who was walking around on stilts. She was so graceful as she moved through the forests and down the sidewalks.

We made our way over to Dinosaur Land for a time travel adventure to find a dinosaur that was being tracked for study. But we had to hurry through otherwise we would get caught in the mass explosion that ended dinosaur life as we know it. I almost got eaten by a T-Rex! Luckily we made it through.

We found Pluto hanging out in Dinosaur Land as well and said hi to him again.

It was decided that we needed to visit the Yeti again on the Everest Ride which still has me boggled as to how amazing it was.

Time to go to Africa on a Safari adventure. Disney really does have a great conservation area. Every animal I could ever think of encountering in Africa I found on this Safari adventure. There were lions, warthogs, giraffes, gazelles. elephants, hippos, aligators, ostrich, rhinos (he walked right by our jeep). It was an amazing African adventure. I feel like I could mark off African Safari from my bucket list because this was a pretty cool adventure. You couldn't see the fences at all that would have divided the animals up so the whole thing felt like it was an outdoor wild adventure.

Parade time! The Jungle parade was really unique as they many of the floats were designed to look like exotic animals. Very creative.

Well it's almost time for the adventure to end and we have a date with princesses in Epcot.

Magic Kingdom Day 5

Today is my last day in Disney World. I am so excited to be going back to the Magic Kingdom this morning for one last adventure and view of Cinderella's Castle. What were we going to do today? We had already seen everything we could. So we made our way to visit more characters.

We made our way to meet Rapunzel and see the lanterns flying over her tower. She is super cute. I asked her how long her hair was and she said at last count it was 79 feet long. Wow! That's a lot of shampoo she uses.
Wemet up with Ariel and Prince Eric. Yea, I would have left the sea to marry that man too.

Then we went to meet Tinker Bell in her Fairy Cove. She had a friend there with her whose name I didn't catch but guy fairies are cool too. Tinker Bell really is a feisty little thing but she also has a sweet side. She likes to save sparkly things. I can't blame her.

Woody and Jesse were hanging out over Frontierland. Woody is really tall but just as much fun as you expect him to be. Jesse is too cute. I think she would make a most excellent Halloween costume.

We found frontier Donald who ready to head out west with Davey Crocket in his coonskin hat.

We found the Fairy Godmother from Cinderella who is just as nice to us as she was to Cinderella. However, we didn't get a horse and carriage to ride out on. We need our own Fairy Godmother for that.

Before leaving, we decided to take another ride on Peter Pan, Snow White, It's a Small World and Pirates of the Carribean. They still hold their magic.

On our way out of the park we stopped by to see Mickey and Minnie one last time. I love Minnie's polka dot dress and Mickey looks so fine in his tuxedo.

Well the Magic Kingdom was everything I could have dreamed it would be and more. I truly felt like a princess and can't wait to find a prince to take me to my own castle.


Off to Animal Kingdom again.