Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Preparation Day*

I'm taking the day off work today to get my act together. I fly to San Francisco tomorrow to apply for (and hopefully come home with) my student visa. Mom and I leave early tomorrow morning (our flight is at 8:30), so the New Year festivities will be slightly abbreviated for me this year. Either that, or I'll just be completely exhausted. :)

*This kind of makes me feel like a missionary again. Speaking of which, I really hope there are some sister missionaries serving right in Paris that I can go on exchanges with. What a blast that will be!

A Note From France

As I've been going through all the stuff I moved from the townhouse back to my parents', I found a notecard I had sent to Jessica and Happy while I was in Europe with my family last May (2007).

Isn't it cute? I loved the pop-up Eiffel Tower.

Here is what I wrote:

Hey, ladies!! We're off to Berlin in the morning, so I just thought I would drop you a line from Paris before we left. London was great, Paris was FAB-U-LOUS, and I absolutely need to move here. We'll see what Germany and Italy have in store for us next! Thanks for holding down the fort while I'm gone! See you soon. Love, Sar.

Over the past few days I've been having some minor freak-out moments. When I think too hard about moving to a city with 11 million people, by myself, without knowing anyone, I kind of get nauseated. But then I see things like this notecard, and I realize how comfortable I am there, how much I flat out love it, and how well I communicated with everyone in Paris when I was there with my family (I definitely took on the role of official spokesperson).

I'll have two full weeks to adjust to Paris life before school even starts, so I'll be able to figure out where the grocery store is, how long it takes to walk to the Metro, how long the train ride is, and how long it takes to walk to school. I'll have time to go see some exhibits, and maybe even go on my first out-of-country adventure. I'll stop in to go to Institute on my first day, call the missionaries to figure out which ward I'm in, and get myself unpacked and my shelf in the kitchen cupboard and fridge stocked so I don't just eat panini and crepes for a week straight (my immediate family knows that this is a serious possibility). The second day I'm in town is when I go to school to have my language skills tested. Once that is done they will determine which class "level" I belong in and I'll know more about what my class schedule will be like. That's the 22nd... and classes don't start until Feb. 10th. So, really there's no good reason for me to freak out.

I'll also be taking a LOT of pictures. So prepare yourselves.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Days of Auld Lang Syne

As I have spent some time thinking of things I want to do or change in 2009, a few things have come to mind. I am not going to call them New Year's Resolutions, because I think that gives me too much leeway to "give up" if I don't keep them up within the first few weeks of the year (and considering what the first month or two of the year will be like for me, I'm not going to set myself up for failure. I know my limits.).

So, instead, I am setting goals for 2009. I will share them with you. (I hope they don't bore you to tears.)

The first goal is what inspired the title of my post*; it's the one I've been thinking about the most over the last month or so. Last year I took a "Writing Your Personal History" class to fulfill one of my last English requirements for my minor. Because writing at least 250 words in my journal every day was required to get a good grade, I wrote every day for as long as I was in the class. But, as you might guess, a couple of months later I had dwindled down to only a couple of times a week. When my wonderful friend Camille went missing and was later found dead near Bridal Veil Falls, I abandoned it altogether because I couldn't bring myself to write what I was feeling and thinking about. It was too painful--too final--to write it down on paper. But I feel really strongly about writing my personal history. I have a terrible memory, and I want my children and their children (should they be interested) to have access to all of the memories that will too soon fade away.

So, with that abbreviated version of my thought process, I want to share with you a new blog project I started. It's called "This Time It's Personal," and the purpose of the blog is to provide prompts for people who want to write their own personal histories but don't really know what to do. I make no claim of expertise. The only thing I'm an expert on is failing at journal-keeping. So... if you're interested in writing your personal history (or encouraging your children to write theirs), join me in my journey. You can go to or just click here to check it out and read about how it is going to work. I posted the first prompt just a few minutes ago.

If you like what you see there and want to share, I would love for you to link to it on your blogs. The more, the merrier (and frankly, I think the more, the "successful-er" we'll all be at keeping journals or making progress on our personal histories)!!

My second goal is a bit more simple. :) It is:

Exercise at least three times a week for 40 minutes or more.

Exercise wasn't something I ever thought about when I was younger. I played soccer and danced for years and years, so I never needed to think about it. But since abandoning soccer, clogging, and track, I've never been really consistent about exercise unless my grades depended upon it.

Well, it's time for that to change. It's time to make healthy living choices my go-to, default, no-questions-about-it way of life.

Since I won't have a car in France, and I think I'll have quite a bit of spare time every day (who knows what my schoolwork will be like), I am committed to exercising at least three times a week for a minimum of 40 minutes. Now, I'm not going to put a lot of restrictions on what counts and what doesn't. I'm also not going to require of myself that the 40 minutes be consecutive. I'm also not going to require that my heart rate reach a certain level, or that I burn a certain number of calories per day, etc. The most important end goal for me isn't weight loss (though that is important for me), but a healthy and active life. My big hope is that by the time I come home, I would rather walk to the grocery store or to work, that I would rather go to the gym and get a workout in than eat Sour Punch Straws and watch TV. It's a big change, and it's going to be really difficult for a long time. I may not be to that point when I come back, but I know that if I am consistent, I'll be much closer than where I am now.

So, maybe two goals isn't super ambitious, but I feel like they're big goals that will take a lot of self-control, discipline, reflection, and TIME. So I'm okay with just having these two main ones to work on.

*I saw on Wikipedia that Auld Lang Syne has been used as a rough equivalent to "Once Upon a Time," so I thought it fit in with the idea of writing my personal history, since I think of personal histories more as an actual story, like a memoir, than a journal.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas Traditions

Every year my family gets together with dad's side of the fam for a Christmas party. The party involves soup, hot rolls, chatting, and... hockey sticks.

That's right. Every year we reserve the cultural hall at my aunt and uncle's church the weekend before Christmas and we play indoor hockey. It's a blast. Sometimes we play basketball or volleyball as well, but this year we added dodge ball instead.

I always love getting together with our extended family, on both sides. I never realized how rare it is for extended families to get together frequently, so I feel really blessed that I was able to grow up being close to so many of my cousins.

Another tradition with our immediate family is bowling and pizza the week of Christmas. This year we went to Fat Cat's and did bowling and Costa Vida. Yum.

Hooray for Snowshoeing

I went snowshoeing with my dad on Christmas Eve. We were gone for about three and a half hours. It took me at least that long to warm up again once we got home. Brrrrrr. It was a tad nippy outside Wednesday.

We hiked up our usual ravine, but it was like a whole new place because there was about 5 feet of snow underfoot. Toppled trees that we normally have to crawl under were completely covered in snow and we were able to walk right over them. It was really fun, super cold, AND according to my heart rate monitor I burned 1150 calories. Nice. If only I had three extra hours a day that I could go snowshoeing.

A bunch of the trees in the ravine still had leaves on them.

The ravine we hike in.

This is a funny little sign near the top of the ravine.

The ravine opens up to a few ridges... a few sort of "foothills" on the back of Cascade.
Then... over the southern ridge into a meadow, down the hill to meet up with the road and trek back to the parking lot. (Where, unfortunately, the bathrooms were "locked for the season." LAME.)

Oooooh, I'm going to miss my mountains.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Snow Day

I wish I could take the day off of work and curl up in an armchair with a great book. I would spend the day reading and watching the snow fall out my front windows. Aaaaah.

Trees covered in snow are some of the prettiest things to me. They look delicate like lace, but pretty (unlike lace).* I also love the look of the Rockies covered in the snow and reflecting a golden, pink, or purple sunset. I hope I get to see that a few times before I go. Especially because there are no mountains anywhere near Paris.**

*I'm guessing none of you know this about me. I hate lace. I think it is ugly, with only a few rare exceptions. I'm more of a minimalist, and so lace just looks gaudy and over-embellished to me. Though there are rare instances when I think it is beautiful. Rare instances.
**I don't know how I'll ever be able to tell direction. You can click here to see a panoramic shot taken from the top of the Eiffel Tower. It's got a lot of distortion, but you can at least see that there are no mountains. :)

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Just A Month...

until I fly away on a jet plane.

I started packing yesterday. Is that too soon?

I am a classic over-packer. But I'm looking forward to packing for a 5 month adventure, because I'm pretty sure that means it will be impossible to overpack. Suh-weet!!

I have two checked bags, a carry-on, and a laptop bag. I don't actually know how I'm going to get all of my luggage from the airport to my apartment in Paris, but I'm pretty sure I'll be shelling out a few Euros so I don't have to do it by myself.

And I'm not going to lie... I'm probably going to ship my pillow and my earring organizer over. Mock me if you must, but a good night's sleep and NOT sifting through hundreds of tangled earrings are totally worth the extra effort (and cost).

Friday, December 19, 2008

Yann Arthus-Bertrand

One of the blogs in my Google Reader is Paris Daily Photo by Eric.
Today Eric shared about a meeting he had with Yann Arthus-Bertrand, a well-known photographer (and the genius behind Earth From the Air, one of my favorite series of photographs).

Eric also shared the link to 6 Billion Others, a massive project being done by Arthus-Bertrand. I think it's an incredible project: very personal and detailed, but global and eye-opening at the same time. And the BONUS is that they are going to have an exhibit in Paris from January 10-February 12th. I'm definitely going to make an effort to get the exhibit. (School doesn't start until February 10th, so after the first couple days of getting settled in, I'll be off on some fun adventures, doing some exploring, and going to several museums.)

Check out these two projects. I think they're both fascinating. Arthus-Bertrand seems like a man with BIG ideas and the ability (and resources... wow) to see them through. I wonder if he needs an intern... :)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

No Christmas Eve Hustle and Bustle for Me

I finished my Christmas shopping yesterday. I hope everything gets here in time (I bought half of my presents online).

Now I just have to wrap everything.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A Vision of Students Today - OR - Why I think YouTube is a Great Teaching Resource

Have any of you seen this video before? I think it's fascinating.

Maybe part of why I like it so much is that when I get home from France part of The Plan includes trying to get a job as a teacher at some point.

I think it's important for teachers (and as a trainer I thought this was very applicable to me in my job, so I promise... I'm not judging) to incorporate technology into the classroom. I think it provides an additional audio/visual/interactive element that is very often lacking, and it provides a sense of continuity and relevance between what is being taught in class and the things the kids are Googling or YouTube-ing or blogging on their own time.

Plus I think it allows teachers to access resources that they might not have been able to track down as easily otherwise (clips of certain songs, movies, etc.). Even better, a teacher could upload a specialized video or presentation of some kind. This could be viewed in class or as part of a homework assignment. Even better than that, there's a whole world of potential interactive projects that the kids could record (in or out of class) and post online themselves (or have their parents or teacher upload it) to be viewed in class, reviewed by the teacher, or shared with family and friends.

Maybe you think this is a good idea, maybe you don't. But I'm not gonna lie... when I'm a teacher, we'll be You Tube-ing.

Brian Regan

Another comedian I really like is Brian Regan. He's much less scandalous and still really funny. Here are a few good clips from him.

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Squealing Princess

Hayleigh is quite the squealer. She doesn't seem to laugh so much as just squeak and squeal when she's enjoying herself or thinks that something is funny. I can't wait to see what she sounds like when she talks.

I think Dad took this video last week while we were putting up the Christmas tree at Mom and Dad's.

I wish I still thought peek-a-boo was this funny... there's hours of free entertainment to be had there.

Friday, December 12, 2008


Well, it's really official now. My house is sold!! It funded today, and I feel rich.

Don't worry, the feeling won't last. I am moving to one of the most expensive cities in the world.

Photo by TracyO via Flickr.

Oh, So Helpful

This interactive map of the Paris metro/RER systems and I will be best buds while I'm in France.

How cool is this? It's like MapQuest for the Paris Metro and RER system (which is more like a commuter train, because it has fewer stops and goes farther out into the suburbs).

You just enter your beginning and ending metro stops, and it shows you the most efficient way to get there, including the names of the stops where you have to switch, and which direction you need to take on each new line you jump onto. Via this site I discovered that I don't actually have to make two transfers to get to school... I can just hop on the RER instead of the Metro. Hooray!

This is how I get from my apartment to school. Or the Musée d'Orsay. Or the Eiffel Tower. I would also just have to hop over the river from this line to get to the Louvre. Convenient, no?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Daaaarling Paper Flower Ornaments

If you don't feel like blowing a bundle of money on christmas tree ornaments, you could make a bunch of these super cute ornaments designed by Jessica at How About Orange. Cute, easy, and budget-friendly. Perfect.

What's That You Say?

Today I came across this quote, and it made me chuckle so I thought I would share. It reminds me of all the literary theory articles I had to read in college.

In certain kinds of writing, particularly in art criticism and literary criticism, it is normal to come across long passages which are almost completely lacking in meaning.
-George Orwell, “Politics and the English Language”

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Dear GF

Mr. Handel,

Thank you for sharing your gift of music with the world. I have to admit that I'm a big fan. You, Vivaldi and Pachelbel turned me onto Baroque Music.

I particularly enjoy:

the Messiah*

Water Music (especially the hornpipe)

and your music for the Royal Fireworks.

Simply gorgeous.

*went to a Messiah sing-in at the American Fork Tabernacle last week. That's definitely what inspired this post. Wow, I just wish I had a gift with music. It literally gives me chills to hear these songs.

Moving Pros and Cons

-getting rid of crap I never really needed in the first place
-throwing away things I should have junked a long time ago but didn't
-change is good
-a fresh start (whenever I move, I feel like I have the opportunity to completely reinvent myself)
-not having a house payment, HOA dues, utilities--I kind of feel rich (that feeling will go away rather quickly once January comes around, I'm sure)
-benefiting from the awesomeness of others and their willingness to serve

-not being able to find anything in my huge pile of boxes
-Dexter whining his head off the second my alarm goes off in the morning (No snoozing allowed, apparently)
-feeling far away from my neighbor-friends
-no covered parking (Boo for scraping windows)

Monday, December 8, 2008

Moving Day

Saturday was moving day.

Jessica and I both moved out of the townhouse. We had a lot of great help from our families and the Elders from our ward. I'm extremely grateful for their help; they did all the heavy lifting (which means that I came out of the move with only a slightly stiff back, so my physical therapist won't yell at me.)

The only things left at the apartment are the washer and dryer (which will get moved on closing day), some furniture that Jared (the new owner) is going to buy from me, a few things to donate to D.I., and cleaning supplies.

I'll be spending the evening today and tomorrow scrubbing down walls, the fridge, and the floors.

Now I just have to go through all of those boxes and put my life back in order.


Friday, December 5, 2008

Friday Faves* - Memories of the Townhouse Edition

It's official.

I'm closing on my house next Wednesday and handing over the keys to Heather's brother, Jared. He got engaged while we were all at Disneyland, so he's going to move in now and spiff the place up a bit before his cute fiancée, Katrina, moves in post-wedding.

So, as a final farewell to the ol' townhouse I thought I would write down some of the best memories I've made there.

1) First, just moving into the place and making it mine. Mom and I painted SEVEN coats on the bottom half of my front room to get it to that perfect shade of deep red. The color chip I chose and the actual paint on the wall didn't match. We kept saying, "Well, maybe one more coat will make it look less fire engine-y".
After two coats of primer and three coats of the 1st red, I took the paint to Home Depot and stood there while the guy mixed, remixed, and remixed again until I was happy. So, now I have an awesome custom paint color 'recipe' in my filing cabinet.

2) Living with wonderful girls: Jessica, Camille, Happy. All great friends, all wonderful roomies. And all soooo different from one another. Wow.

3) Staying up until all hours laughing and talking with whoever was there. You know who you are (and most of you probably don't read my blog, so... whatever). (We can still be friends.)**

4) Having sleepovers with Taylor and Easton.

5) Being the HOA president (HA! Not. That was one of the main reasons I decided to move in the first place [pre-France]).

6) The LeChems (kindred spirits of fun and sassiness that I met in my ward). Two of the most brilliant and gorgeous women I know. If I didn't buy my townhouse, I never would have met them. That would have been a tragedy, indeed. They are wonderful.

7) Dinner parties with Ruth and all of her friends.

8) Putting together piece after piece of "some assembly required" furniture.

9) Painting things that weren't really meant to be painted. And liking the results.

10) Making myself a custom earring holder.

11) Creating some of my favorite paintings ever.

12) Learning so much about home ownership. That will come in handy later.

13) Going to plays with Jessica!

14) Finishing my last two classes via the internet and finally graduating from college.

15) Spending lazy Sunday afternoons on a blanket in the front yard just reading.

16) Crepe parties!!

17) Trying to do areobics in my front room, and mostly giving up. Moving all of the furniture to make room was a good enough workout, usually.

*It's been a while since I've done Friday Faves. Woops!
**Me: Hi, I'm Sarah. And I'm addicted to parentheses.
Group: Hi, Sarah.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Great News

So, considering the current economy and with unemployment creeping up, I've been getting nervous about leaving a stable job with a great boss in a company I love (even in exchange for a wonderful lifelong dream). It wouldn't have changed my plans, but I was thinking to myself:


Will I come back to an economy that is worse off than it is now?

Will I be able to find a job that offers benefits?

Will I have to sell my soul to the devil to afford individual health insurance?


Well, yesterday my boss told me that the VP our department reports to agreed to let me telecommute from Paris and just work fewer hours.

It might end up that I do this as a contracted employee, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I can just get bumped down to a 20-hour-a-week cap and stay on as a "real" employee. Which would be great, because I would stay 100% vested in my 401k and be able to get right back onto my health insurance.

Either way, I'm rejoicing.

Oh, and today I also got my confirmation from Campus France. With their approval in place, I can now apply for my in-person visa appointment at the consulate in San Francisco.


Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Bones in the Real World: Forensic Anthropology and Genocide

So... I love CNN.

Today I read this article about how forensic anthropology and DNA testing are being used in Bosnia to identify bodies buried in mass graves, which eventually allows the bodies to be turned over to the victims' families.

What a wonderful thing for those families. It's like Bones times a million (but it's actually real, not a t.v. drama). I want to be a forensic anthropologist. Kind of...
But not really, because I'm squeamish. I'll just get my fill from watching the awesome show and having a celebrity crush on David Boreanaz.

Advertise on Your Child's Homework

I think this article is sad, but I applaud the teacher. He ensured that his students' success continued despite a lack of funding. Very cool.

And yet not cool that it was necessary.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

It's ggggGREat!

I bought these today. I hate math.

Here's to preventing my brain from deteriorating completely.

I found a graduate program that I really like, but I have no idea whether I will be accepted or not (so I won't tell you which one it is {yep, I'm totally prideful}). I'll be studying for the GRE in the meantime, but actually applying to the school will go on the back burner at least until I'm back from Paris (which means I probably wouldn't start school until fall of 2010).

Sarkozy to Obama: A Letter of Congratulations and Support

On the home page of the French consulate's website there was a link to this letter from Nicolas Sarkozy (Pres. of France) to President-elect Obama. I realize not many of you are as interested in Franco-American relations as I am, but I'm posting it anyway to show what seems to be a good example of how this election has been perceived by the rest of the world.

Letter of congratulations from President Nicolas Sarkozy to President-elect Barack Obama :
Mr. President-elect, Dear Barack,
The American people have just chosen you to preside over their destiny for the next four years.
Please accept my warmest congratulations, both personally and on behalf of the French people as a whole. Your stunning victory rewards a tireless commitment to serving the American people. It is also the crowning achievement of an exceptional campaign whose brilliance and high tone demonstrated the vitality of American democracy to the entire world, while keeping them spellbound.
In choosing you, the American people have chosen the path of change, openness and optimism. At a time when the world is in torment and doubt, the American people—true to the values that have always been at the very core of America’s identity—strongly expressed their faith in progress and in the future.
This message from the American people resonates well beyond your borders. At a time when we must face enormous challenges together, your election raises immense hope in France, Europe and beyond: the hope of an open America, characterized by solidarity and strength, that will once again lead the way, with its partners, through the power of its example and the adherence to its principles.
France and Europe, which have always been bound to the United States through their ties of history, values and friendship, will thus be reenergized to work with America to preserve peace and prosperity in the world. Rest assured that you may count on France and on my personal support.
Please accept, Mr. President-elect, the expression of my highest regards.
[Handwritten:] and my warmest wishes.
[Signature] Nicolas Sarkozy
His Excellency Mr. Barack H. Obama President-elect of the United States of America

I read several blogs of American expats in France, and every one of them mentioned how much the French took interest in this year's election (to the point of being very unusual). Everyone over there wanted Obama to win, and a couple of these bloggers mentioned that they noticed a distinct improvement in the way their more casual acquaintances treated them immediately following the election (not that they were super rude before, but after the election they warmed up a bit).
One of my coworkers also mentioned to me how much easier my life in France will be because the election went the way it did.

And as a side note...

I have to say, I didn't vote for Obama (I wasn't really happy with either Obama or McCain, truth be told), but I've been very impressed with him so far. I hope he continues to be frank and forthcoming with the American people and that he follows through with his ideal of bringing Republicans and Democrats together with open minds focused on progress and what is best for the American people. I think that's an ideal that most presidents would say they wanted, so here's hoping Obama can get the right support to make it a reality.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Project of a Lifetime

Every so often I get sick of having "stuff."

I would say I am a mild pack rat, mostly because I worry about needing to refer to things later and I have tons of painting and craft supplies.

I'm currently in a "sick of stuff" mode. I get into this "give it away or junk it" mode every so often where I'll throw things away or give them to D.I.. But for some reason, this time I feel like it's more of a permanent shift.

I want my life to be less about "stuff" and more about learning: expanding my mind, developing and nurturing important relationships, deepening my creativity, and making beautiful things (whether that be through painting, taking pictures, writing stories, or any number of other avenues.)

So, I started a little project for myself last week.

I am going through all of my possessions to clear out the clutter I have accumulated over my lifetime. There are several reasons why this project is cropping up now:

-I sold my house and will be moving back in with my parents for a one month transition period before I move to Paris.

-I recently read an article about clutter and excess "stuff" creating/increasing stress. Hmmmm. No, thanks.

-In Paris I will be living in a miniscule apartment* with a tiny closet. I'll basically be living out of my suitcases for 5 months. So, I think this will be a great trial run for living the pared-down life.

-Many of these boxes simply contain papers from school that I wanted to keep either 1)Because they are a testament to the fact that I was, in fact, smart at one point in my life, 2) I wanted to use them in developing my own French course curriculum (papers that fall into this category I'll likely scan and keep), or 3) Back then I thought I "might need it for something later."

So, wish me luck. It's a really difficult process for me, because I'm so much a "what if" person that I can imagine realistic scenarios for needing just about anything later. I also feel horrible donating or throwing away anthing that someone gave to me.

I'll try to take pictures of the process so you can see what I'm talking about. It's going to be quite the project, but I can't wait to feel liberated from all of my junk. (And I think my parents will appreciate having a guest room that doesn't feel like it's about to topple over onto their sleeping friends/family at any given moment.)

As a side note, there's no getting around the fact that I'm going to keep 90% of my painting and art supplies and 99% of my books. I use those. This project is focusing on the stuff that is just taking up space and not contributing to my personal development or happiness (which is, in fact, most of my stuff).

*I don't have one yet, but let's be honest... it's a pretty safe assumption to make.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusiton into clarity... It turns problems into gifts, failures into successes, the unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important events. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.

-Melodie Beattie

Today I am grateful for many things, but especially my wonderful family. I am truly blessed to have such good, loving, intelligent, [awesome, attractive ;)], supportive people in my life. Extended family, this absolutely includes you.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

"There is No Charge for Awesomeness... or Attractiveness"

How great is this line?*

Wouldn't you love to be able to say this to someone? Be on the lookout for good times to say this. I will be looking, too. This sounds like something I would say, anyways, in one of my "I'm pretending to think more highly of myself than I actually do" moments.

Sometimes I think that people who don't know me very well think I'm a total narcissist. And I can't say that I blame them. I frequently speak very highly of myself, mostly as a tongue-in-cheek joke. But most people who don't know me well don't quite get it... so then I just look like I'm an egomaniac.

Oh, well.

Still... don't you think everyone should think of themselves as awesome? I think they should.**

Take the poll on my sidebar and tell me if you think you're awesome!! This could be a life-changing self-affirmation moment. But only if you let it be. :)

*From Kung Fu Panda
**But I think their opinion of themselves should be tempered by the realization that everyone else is awesome and deserves to be heard, respected, and supported, too. I think there are people who have unreasonably elevated opinions of themselves, and as a result, the way they treat other people is just atrocious.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

"Never" Coming Back

In a recent conversation with my best friend, Happy, she said the following about me moving to France.

"You know you're never coming back, right? You say you're coming back, but we BOTH know you're never coming back."

Well, then.

I wish I could say with any certainty that that was true. But I can't. I've got a plane ticket to come back, and my visa will expire at a certain point (assuming I ever get one).

So unless I randomly decide to stay in France and do a Master's program (which apparently I can do, and they will just extend my visa while I'm still in France), I'll be back at the end of June and looking for a job.

I Also Think I Don't Have a House

Yesterday I signed a purchase contract to sell my house. Hooray!

Now it just has to appraise for enough and the inspector needs to not surprise me with termites or mold or something like that.

The plan is to close on the 10th. Wow, that's so soon! Two weeks from tomorrow!

Jessica and I are moving the 6th of December (she to a new house, me to my parents').

Goodbye, tiny townhouse.

Hello, even tinier apartment in Paris.
I'm not going to lie... it's a tradeoff I would make 10 times out of 10.

I think I Have an Apartment

So, my friend's sister in Paris called today to report on her visit to one of the two apartments I've been deciding between.

At this point, I don't really think it's even a contest. Unless something miraculous happens with the second apartment, I will probably take this one.

It is:
-apparently good sized, and my room is quite large for Paris
-very secure--there is an outer gate and a digital code I have to enter to get into the building
-15 minutes by foot to the Arc de Triomphe
-15 minutes by foot to Montmartre
-5 stops by RER away from the Eiffel Tower
-one Metro transfer away from school, Notre Dame, and the Louvre
-in a very nice neighborhood
-with a 45-year old lady who is rarely there on the weekends
-550 Euros a month (right now about $720) with no extra charges (includes internet, unlimited international phone calls, washing machine, use of the kitchen, etc.)

Not bad, eh?

There is also a farmer's market twice a week on a nearby street.

Now, if only the consulate would answer my emails so I could get my visa...

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Russell Peters...

... is sooooo funny. Oh, man.

His parents are from India, but he was born and raised in Canada. The guy is just hilarious. I laugh out loud every time, and I don't think I've laughed so hard I actually cried in a LOOONG time, but I did when watching some of his clips.

Disclaimer: He does say some things that are wildly inappropriate. And he bases a lot of his humor around cultural differences/stereotypes, so if you are offended by things like that he's probably not the comedian for you. He does swear once or twice in the first video below.

My Musical Horizons...

... need some expanding.

So, I'm going to ask for your help.

Please leave a comment and let me know five (or more if you want to) musical recommendations you would make. They can be songs, groups, or artists.

Keep the following in mind.

1) If the lyrics include big-time swears, let me know in advance so I can try to track down an edited version.
2) I am not going to tell you what kind of music I listen to normally, because I don't want you to be influenced by what you think I would like. I want to know what you listen to.
3) If you recommend an artist, I will listen to at least three of their songs to get a feel and go from there.
4) If you recommend a song, I will listen to that song and then look up the artist and listen to three more. :)
5) I'll let you know what new favorites I discover.

I would also love if it you tell other people to come to my post and comment. The more recommendations, the better!

Hopefully you will also learn about more artists, songs, and genres that interest you through this group effort.

Twilight Movie: Yes or No?

The Twilight movie opens today. Are you going to see it?

I will, but probably not this weekend. Unless there is a showing tomorrow that magically isn't sold out when I feel like making my way to the theater.

I might wait even longer because I don't want to be in a theater full of screaming girls in "Team Edward" shirts and the like. (Not that everyone going to see it is such a superfan... I'm just saying. It's like when we went to the new Star Wars movies and we found ourselves in line with a Sith Lord, Princess Padme, and other characters. What??)

I have mixed feelings about seeing the movie--I enjoyed the books (the last one FAR less than the previous three, unfortunately), and I'm curious to see how they translated some of the aspects of the book onto the big screen. I just hope I don't walk away from the theater wishing I had just saved my money and reread the books. :)


I took a French linguistics class a couple of years ago where we had to memorize* the International Phonetic Alphabet.

You might not think it is interesting, but I am completely fascinated. It's a great resource for linguists because it allows you to understand how a word should be pronounced in another language, even if you have no experience with the language outside of the IPA.

Singers also use it according to Wikipedia (which I had never thought of before, but it totally makes sense). (Hello, Josh Groban??)

We also used this a little bit in an English Language class, in which we also learned about different regional dialects and pronunciation patterns in the US.
This NPR clip highlights some examples of these differences, focusing on the Northern states in the US.

So fascinating.
Maybe when I'm back from Paris I'll do a masters in linguistics and travel around the world gathering "research" on the way words are pronounced in different places.
*I don't remember it anymore. I wish I did.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Color Addict

Adobe Kuler is a great place to feed my color addiction.
People come up with great color combinations that I would never think of. It's very inspirational for me as I think about paintings (or combining clothes I would have never put together on my own... I'm very very conservative when it comes to color combinations in clothing).

Here are a few examples.

Aubergine by natalieeiferd

Sneaking Around by whoneycutt

Tell Me I'm Pretty by CivilSumo

Maybe looking at this site more frequently will help me be more adventurous in my fashion choices.


Saturday, November 15, 2008


If the title of my post doesn't speak to you, then you, like me, are not obsessed with cars.

However, I think I might have just had an obsession-inducing experience with the Mercedez-Benz SLK series 55 AMG. A guy friend of mine just bought one and took me for a ride this afternoon.

This is what it looks like.

Isn't it beautiful? If I was a bazillionaire, I would buy one. It has a bum-warmer and a neck warmer for the driver and passenger. Among dozens of other features, of course.
Because I know my mother reads my blog sometimes, I won't tell you how fast we went.
I'll just tell you that on the way home from Phoenix (where he bought it), my friend went 180 and "didn't dare go any faster." Uummm, yeah, ya think???

Can a Back Massage Change Your Life?

Yes. At least the one I had yesterday did.

Okay, it was actually what happened before the massage that made such a huge difference...

Every friday, the company I work for brings in two massage therapists to do seated massages. It's $10 for 15 minutes, and on more than one occasion I have considered it the best $10 I ever spent.

This time I actually had a back injury, rather than just general tightness. Last week this same therapist just did a massage, and she kept commenting on how tense and tight all of my muscles were, not just the ones in my back.

So this week before she started with the massage, she did a process that she called "unwinding."

I've never really had anything like that done before, but I tried to keep an open mind, and the results were truly incredible. It's not like my back magically feels 100% better, but I could see a significant improvement just in those ten minutes.

I found this article, which seems to be a pretty accurate description of the process as I experienced it (and as she described what it is supposed to do).

My back actually felt so much better after my "unwindy" massage appointment, I forgot all about the chiropractic appointment I had that same afternoon.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Memry, Memory, Memories

Today I discovered Pim Pam Pum's Flickr toys.

Memry is my favorite because it takes me back to my childhood days. My family used to play Memory ALL the time.
Basically you enter a tag into the page, and then Memry pulls up Flickr pictures with that tag as the 'tiles' for your game of Memory. You click on a tile, and it flips over to show the picture so you can match it.

Exercise for your brain, pretty things to look at for your eyes. Win-win. And it's free, of course... so win-win-win. Click here to play.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Blog Award!

To my utter astonishment, this week* the darling, creative, and crafty (in a good way) Scrap Chair Potato gave me the "This Blog is Rated E for Excellent" Award!

Hooray! Not only was it a complete surprise, but I was truly flattered by all the nice things she had to say.

So now it's my turn to pass the award along...

And I pick Heather! I've blogged about Heather's mad decorating and party-planning skills before, but strictly speaking about blogging, she does a great job of keeping all her family and friends in the loop with great updates about their family's activites, always accompanied by loads of great pictures.

Okay, Heather... start writing your acceptance speech!! (But be warned--I'm totally going to turn music on over the last 5 or 10 seconds of it... just to keep it realistic.)

*Just in time for my 100th post, which happened to be this morning's Pie Chart post. :)

A Personality Pie Chart

I think this Personality Pie Chart from Marc at Take Out Photo is a brilliant idea. I think this would be a really fun series to do with several individuals displayed next to each other (Teachers of the Week, a display at a family reunion, celebrities, random people who are being judged solely on their appearance...).

It would also be cool used in some kind of advertising (sort of a spin on the "Priceless" MasterCard commercials). Whaddaya think?

Plus I just love the look on this guy's face.

If you had to reduce your personality to five of the most representative traits, what would they be?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Super Secret Photographer, Double-Oh Sarah

I would love to have one of these. From the Photojojo Store.

I love candid shots, and I would especially love to use this with those charming nephews of mine... for those moments when they are not so happy about being in pictures, and thus a tad less charming than normal. Ooh, or a cousin on my dad's side of the family who refuses to let her picture be taken (she's incredibly gorgeous, I don't know what the problem is). Ha! She'll never even see it coming!!
The lens is basically just a fake, and there is a hole in the side (see above) which has a mirror placed juuuust so... which sends the image into the image sensor to be recorded. So, you can take a picture of anything that is at a ninety degree angle from where the front of the lens it pointed.
There's a short video on the Photojojo store page if you want to see it in action.

Maybe I'll buy one for myself when I sell my house. Then I can take pictures on my people watching adventures in Paris and no one will be the wiser.

Plus, I think it would just be cool to say, "Hey, So-and-so, I'm going to head out and take some pictures with my Super Secret Spy Lens. Don't be jealous."

The Art Snob and The Poster List: A Confession in Two Parts

Part One: I am an art snob.

It's true. I am very opinionated about art that I do and don't like, and I would rarely consider actually paying for art that someone else has created.

There are two reasons for this:

Reason #1. I am not independently wealthy, so I can't just buy all of the paintings I have posted about here. Believe me, if it were financially possible, there is nothing that would stop me from owning them and creating the World's Most Amazing Abstract Painting Gallery with Some Impressionist Works to Boot. (And I would definitely call it that, too.)

Reason #2. I see something someone else has made and I use that as inspiration in creating my own paintings. Even though I know a lot of talent and hard work (and TIME) goes into the things other people create, I just can't justify spending $1300 on a painting. That's two house payments, for crying out loud. Plus I just love to paint.

Considering these two reasons, it may not surprise you to hear that I rarely hang art in my house that I didn't make myself. Enjoying the process+refusing to buy others' works = lots of fun+random art that changes every so often (unless I really like a painting I've done, I won't keep it intact when I feel the need for change. I'll just paint straight over it).

The nice thing about being a cheapskate art snob is that I can make things I like--with exactly the right color, texture, pattern, etc. And if I don't like it when I'm finished, I can just cover it up and start over.

Part Two: I'm not a poster person.

That's probably because the only posters I ever owned were 1) posters of famous paintings which I never got frames for (and which, frankly, just didn't hold as much appeal when they lost the texture of the actual painted surface) or 2) tweeny posters that I tacked onto my walls next to all of my chalk pastel drawings when I was 13. (I need to find those old school artistic endeavors o' mine.*)

Having admitted this to you**, I am now going to do a complete about-face and tell you how much I love some of the offerings at The Poster List. Definitely frame-worthy, and definitely things I would put on my own walls if I had the space and wasn't moving. And considering my art sobbishness, the fact that I'm actually willing to spend money on these is a big deal to me.

I've been to their site before (don't remember how), but Jessica at How About Orange is holding a contest on her blog this week where you can win TWO awesome posters of your choice. Details here.

My personal faves are (from L-R) Lonely Flower, Gotcha, Shoe Fetish, and Kisses (not shown).

So, if you want to win a couple of grown-up posters, go to Jessica's blog. If you just want to buy some, check out their shop. Right now they've got two 12x18" posters for $20. Not bad, considering they don't feature Hannah Montana.

*Would you be interested in seeing them if I found them?

**There's no shame in the tweeny posters, right? I think everyone goes through that phase. And apparently my art snobbery has been a part of me for a lot longer than I remembered initially.

Monday, November 10, 2008

A Silhouette I CAN Feel Good About

You now know how I feel about the DC pants trend. **Shudder**

This, however, is a look I think is darling. Fun, whimsical, feminine. I really wish I could rock a top hat without looking ridiculous.

I like this one, too. Definitely a different feel, but I would totally wear it.

Not that I own any clothes that remotely resemble anything in either photo...

Whoever decided these were a good idea...

...needs to rethink a few things.

Drop crotch pants are not a look I can get behind. Truly horrible, and apparently pretty common in Paris, Moscow, and NYC. Yikes. Comfy, I'm sure, but seriously frumpy looking.

See circled information above. SERIOUSLY??

I'm obviously not the fashion police, but I am pretty opinionated about silhouettes, and this one just doesn't appeal. See other examples here.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Friday Faves - Restaurants (in Utah)

1. Bombay House - I love it despite the awkwardness of everyone there looking at me with these knowing looks (one of their servers asked me out once). Love their mango lassis and naan, and their chicken saag is perfection in a sliver dish. Oh, yum... I am craving it right now!

2. Pizzeria 712 - great little pizza, pasta and sandwich joint. More expensive than CPK, less variety, but better quality and vastly better atmosphere. They also serve hummus and pitas as a free appetizer. So good. Can't make a specific recommendation, because their menu varies by season and availability of local and sustainably farmed produce (which they use whenever possible). Oh, and GREAT service in my experience.

3. California Pizza Kitchen - I absolutely LOVE their Margherita Pizza, the California Club Pizza, and the Chicken Waldorf Salad (with Dijon Basalmic Vinaigrette). Really loud, though. They should make their booths higher so people can hear each other talking across the table.

4. Shoots - I have no idea if this is a chain restaurant, or if the one in the Provo Riverwoods is the only one/one of very few. De-li-cious Chinese food. (Not Panda Express-style, either. More P.F. Chang's.)

5.Bajio/Cafe Rio/Costa Azul/insert your favorite fresh Mex restaurant here - Love the Cafe Rio pork salad or burrito, big fan of the ensalata Bajio and queso dip from Bajio.

6. Maestro's - Not actually a restaurant. It's a gelateria, but it's soooo good I would eat there as a meal if I wasn't trying to shed a few. Very authentic gelato, European hot chocolate, and crepes made to order. Mmmmm.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

"I Love the World"

I think the Discovery Channel is some of the best TV around, and their new commercials are fantastic in my opinion.
If you haven't seen them yet, check out this one below. Clever, catchy, and fun.

And if you own a TV and don't watch the Discovery Channel, I want a commitment from you, right here, right now. The shame of it all...

One last thought on commercials:
I've been a rather big fan of the music that is being used on commercials these days and how it is being used. The Discovery Channel being my first example, let's also consider the United Way commercials airing recently using the "We Belong" song. Very effective.

And let's be honest. Don't we all know that Apple does a great job with this? In fact, I would dare say they're trendsetters in this domain.

I'll Take One... in White... in July 2009. Thank you.

I want to buy a Beach Cruiser soooo badly. Except that I have no money. And it snowed today, which isn't really helpful to riding around on a cute beachy bike. Winter is officially on its way. Maybe I'll just get one next year when I'm back from Paris and don't have a car.

This one from is only $180. I hate mint green, so I would get it in white and add a basket on the front. I'm pretty sure you have to assemble it yourself, though... so... maybe not.

Monday, November 3, 2008


I am officially accepted by the Sorbonne!! I checked my application status on their website today, and I am in. So now I just have to wait for the paper letter of acceptance to arrive in the mail so I can finish my visa application. Everyone keep your fingers crossed. :)

Just One More Reason to Vote Tomorrow

I get a weekly "Customer Loyalty" newsletter in my work inbox every week from a company called COLLOQUY, and one of the customer loyalty stories they reported last friday is below.

Okay, so it's not an actual REASON to vote, but a fun reward for those who were going to anyway.

Finally, a campaign promise we can get behind

November 4th, Election Day, the day Americans exercise their most precious right in our democratic society. And now, just for voting, Americans can be rewarded with ice cream. You’d have thought it impossible to beat the feeling you get from voting but Ben & Jerry’s has done it.
According to the company
web site, each voter who proves their eligibility for a free scoop of ice cream, either by displaying their "I Voted" sticker, showing a photo of themselves at the polling station, or doing the "I Voted" dance, will be rewarded at a participating Ben & Jerry’s outlet.
Free ice cream will be scooped from 5 PM to 8 PM on November 4th. We’ll assume that you get free ice cream regardless of for whom you voted or the quality of your "I Voted" dance.
Source: Ben & Jerry’s

I'm anticipating a very long line at my voting location tomorrow morning, so maybe the promise of free Ben & Jerry's will help the time pass more quickly (well, that and maybe coming up with special choreography for an "I Voted" dance of my very own).

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Picures from Southern, Central, and Northern France

I'm getting more excited every day to move to Paris... assuming that I can find an apartment and get a visa.
Not that I needed a reminder of how much I love the City of Light, but today I spent some time looking through pictures of previous trips to France. Here is a smattering with brief captions. Note that some of them are older and from a point-and-shoot camera, so the quality isn't the best.

My second trip to France was the summer of 1998, when France won the World Cup. Let's just say there were lots of balloons and fireworks that night.

On Saturdays and Sundays, the fountains at Versailles run and they play classical music over loudspeakers hidden throughout the gardens. I'm pretty sure I took at least one picture of each fountain, but I won't make you look at all of them.
The beaches at Normandy were quiet in August. From what I remember, we were the only people there, tourists or otherwise. The descriptions of the difficulties of that day made so much more sense after walking the beach when the tide was out--the beaches are simply vast and we walked out several hundred yards from the face of the cliff and didn't even reach ankle-deep water.
Le Chateau de Chambord in the Loire Valley. This palace has a double-helix staircase (very cool) and 365 fireplaces. It was built as a hunting lodge for Francois I. Sick.

Me swimming in the Mediterranean Sea. Nice, huh? Icky nudie OLD French man came and camped out behind me, though, once I had settled on my towel. That was slightly traumatizing.

Street performers in some village in Southern France.

The Pope's palace in Avignon.

The Pont du Gard (a Roman Aqueduct and World Heritage site). Very cool. Also a big swimming spot, apparently.

The Louvre

The Eiffel Tower. At night it sparkles, every hour on the hour, thanks to thousands of jumbo christmas-like lights that have been strung all over the giant framework.

The Arc de Triomphe and the French flag. Awwww. This is in the center of the largest roundabout I've ever seen. Ten cars can fit across the roundabout at the same time.