Month: January 2013


The big day has finally come!  Today I closed on the house.  Halleluiah! I met the builder and my realtor who I have both come to know quite well over these last 6 months at the title company and was presented with a myriad of documents to sign and initial (all with my full name including initial which I kept forgetting)

So much to sign!
Me, my builder Dave and realtor Greg
closing 2
So much to sign!

I was very grateful to my mortgage brokers who couldn’t make it to the signing but they did a great job at preparing me for the process.  It was through Marc and Christopher at City Wide Home Loans.  They were wonderful.  Marc actually explained every fee and the entire closing process to me twice so that I understood what was happening (I had gone over it once and then I called my Uncle Tom and he had all these questions so I called Marc back and he went through it all over again. So nice).  I highly recommend them if you live in Utah and are purchasing a home.

They also got me a great rate of 3.25 with an FHA loan.  I have to pay the mortgage insurance but we decided as a long term investment getting the lower rate was a better plan as the insurance is just for the first 5 years.  (that was a drama-filled process!).  I’m not going to tell you I understood everything that I signed but pretty close.  Integrated Title Services was also good about explaining each document and keeping the process from feeling any more overwhelming than it already did.

So after signing my name about 30 times I was finished.  It is done!  I’m a homeowner!  Finally.  Halleluiah.  Hurray.  Whatever positive exclamation you can come up with!  Yes! I am SO relieved and So excited.  Mainly I just feel exhausted. A little like I did at the end of my mission, just spent but so thrilled to be spent.  I did it!

My realtor said I was one of his most excited clients.  This amazed me because I thought I was pretty subdued for me.  What amazes me is how someone could not be excited? You are buying a house for goodness sakes.  If you can’t be excited for that what can you be excited for?

Not to be a downer but after my signing I went and visited my Grandma R in a care center.  She looked pretty good and is recovering from her surgery and pneumonia.  My Grandma W is also in the hospital with heart failure and I’m very concerned about her.  She is super special to me. I wish I could be there to help her through this and will get out there as soon as I can.   Please send out a prayer for both my Grandma’s that they will be strengthened if it is God’s will to do so.


Movies I Hate


The other day I was talking to my sister and she said ‘He’s Just Not That Into You’ was her least favorite movie of all time.  I was shocked by this because while it is not perfect there are definitely things I like about that movie.  For one, I think some of the writing is good, and a lot of the performances I like.   Really if you took out the Scarlet Johansen plot line it would be a favorite rom com of mine. Maybe part of it is I liked the original non-fiction book.

This discussion made me think of what movies I hate and wouldn’t watch again unless dragged in by gunpoint.  Just to be clear, most notoriously bad movies I am smart enough to stay away from so you will notice there is no Battlefield Earth or scores of lame horror or  Adam Sandler movies on my list.   I am grateful to the critics out there who take that bullet for me and warn me from the horror.

Most terrible movies are from my college years because I was less particular back then and the $1 movie theater steered me wrong many a time.  So here goes.

My most hated movies (in no particular order)

1. Contact- I know many love it but I hated it.  I have never looked at my watch so much.  Unbearably long and completely condescending to anyone of faith, even as a high schooler my eyes rolled throughout the screening and I wanted to leave after about 20 minutes.  Science is treated as perfect and religion as the folly of the foolish and simple-minded.  Please! This is also the most boring alien movie ever made (although, Close Encounters of the 3rd Kind would be a close second). In fact, I think it is the most boring movie ever made.  Contact is the first movie I remember seeing that I truly hated.

2. Superstar- I have walked out of 2 movies in my life and both will be on this list.  I made it through about 20 minutes of this awful SNL movie before my friends and I looked at each other and all left.  I don’t think I’m much of a prude but when you have a character in your movie dressed like Jesus and openly mock Him that is where I draw the line.  You can make fun of my faith’s idiosyncrasies and strange beliefs but do not mock my Lord.

3.  Armageddon- Another movie from high school that I loathed. There is no real plot just one blast and lofty speech after another. The romance is so stupid with a love scene involving animal crackers.  Really? I hated it so much I went into another room and talked to my friends parents for the last 30 minutes or so.

4. Drop Dead Gorgeous- This is the other movie I walked out of.  It actually made me cry. Everything from the anorexic beauty queen rolled out in a wheel chair, to the shrill contestants, to the cold and callous murder of young girls, the whole movie was incredibly cold, unfeeling and creepy.  And what makes it more disturbing  is that it is supposed to be funny.  Who thinks such disgusting behavior and images are funny? It’s beyond me. What made it over the top for me is a scene where a contestant dances on a cross with a Jesus doll surrounded by crosses and is carried off the stage as if she was Jesus.  I was on a date and I started to cry and had to leave the theater and went into the lobby for the rest of the date. I still remember some of the disturbing images and it was 12 years ago!

5. Lizzie McGuire Movie- I took my sister to this movie and I think even she knew it was a dud.  Perhaps I should give it a break because its a dopey kids movie but no, Pixar has proven that kids movies can be twice as smart and engaging.  The thing that gets me is why not make a movie about a girl going to Europe and experiencing a new culture, having a neat experience? That could actually be a good movie.  Why do you have to make her into some pop tart/celebrity? It’s like Princess Diaries was a hit so studios have been remaking it for the last decade.  Move on.  Write a good script!  Teens and young girls deserve better than the shlock that is served to them. You saw the same thing with the recent Monte Carlo, which was actually kind of cute with some engaging characters until they went all Hollywood on it. So lame.

6. What Happens in Vegas- Of all the terrible rom com’s I’ve been dragged to by friends this one is the worst (Ugly Truth, 27 Dresses, and any Jennifer Aniston movie comes to mind as well).  The thing that makes this one especially bad is you have 2 characters that are so unlikable, forced into the most strained premise imaginable and then they are completely hateful to each other.  Why would anyone these people to be happy individually, let alone together?  It was painful to sit through.  Every performance and line of dialogue was awful.  If I wasn’t there for a friends birthday I would have left.  Tip to Hollywood- stop turning board games, catch phrases, lame TV shows from the past, into movies.  If you don’t have a good script donate the 30 million to make the movie to a good charity and make a movie about that!

7. Good Will Hunting- I figured I had to pick one movie that everyone else loves.  I hated this movie . First of all, the plot is completely obvious and predictable.  How many hundreds of movies are made about the struggling genius who finds his way through an inspirational teacher (in this case a shrink. Sigh…).  The performances are tired, wooden and mundane, and evidently Oscar’s idea of a good script is profanity every sentence (and I mean every sentence).  I can handle some profanity but when it is just done for no reason and at such extremes it drives me crazy.  So lame! I actually found it to be boring and stupid.  Definitely most overrated movie I can think of (although I thought the Breakfast Club was way overrated, but, it does have some good performances).

8. Pearl Harbor- While the attack on the harbor is well done, it goes on forever, until it just starts to deaden your senses.  The romance is SO STUPID and obvious.  The acting is terrible.  The dialogue is wooden and dumb.    What those people went through and the sacrifice they made deserves better than this long, overwrought, idiotic ‘blockbuster’.

9. All Dr Seuss Movies- Aside from the short animated special made in the 60’s every attempt to turn Dr. Seuss’s brilliance into a feature film have been awful.  They are definitely the worst kids movies I’ve seen. First, we were horrified with The Grinch, with Jim Carey looking like some kind of large weed that had just been pulled out of the ground.  Then we got the Cat in the Hat with Mike Meyers as a bizarre amusement park character tormenting 2 rotten kids (such a strange, unsettling movie).  Horton Hears a Who was the best of the attempts but still strained and full of glaring colors.  Then recently we got The Lorax which I hated.  It is way too long, with boring, putrid colors, the music stinks, and  it feels like a 17 page book stretched to 90 minutes, which it is.  It can’t be done!  Stop trying and leave the poor man’s legacy alone.   Next we will see Oh the Places You’ll Go in movie form.

10.  An Inconvenient Truth- Al Gore standing in front of a power point for 2 hours with intermittent clips of global disaster= Oscar! If anything should make you discount the academy’s opinion, that is it.  So boring and did I really hear anything I couldn’t get from a quick search on google?  Boring, condescending and overly-simplistic.  Amazing California hasn’t sunk into the ocean yet?

11. My Dinner with Andre- I’m all for artsy, strange, inventive movies but this movie is so dumb and boring I couldn’t believe it was even made.  I had heard it was a hipster gem and that people loved it.  I kid you not the whole movie is a dinner with Andre.  It is 2 men eating dinner for 2 hours.  That’s it.  Nothing happens.  The conversation isn’t even interesting.  They aren’t good friends and they spend most the movie talking about the various plays they’ve been in. Kill me now.  I fell asleep for long stretches.  For the life of me I don’t understand what could be so great about this movie?  I thought it was awful.

12. I have to include Film Socialism a completely baffling art piece of bizarre images and strange captions that is supposed to be existential and moving but is merely maddening.  To read more of my thoughts on this movie read this post

So there you go.  My least favorite movies.  What are some of yours?

32 on 23rd

So today was my birthday and it was a great day!  As if written by a screenwriter I got a text from the builder today “Looks like your Birthday mojo has paid off and we are FHA approved!”.  Can you believe it? It’s my birthday and we get the approval!!! What a present


I am SOOOOOO excited.  There are no words.  I am just thrilled.  So I contacted the mortgage broker and they are starting the underwriting, title, finalizing processes to get to the closing. They told me there is a 50/50 chance of closing on Friday! That means I could have a house by the end of the week!  Wahoo!

I probably won’t move until next week because the deed has to be transferred and everything else but who knows.  I could start Saturday.  Either way it is happening and the waiting game is almost over.

So what a great way to start off my birthday!

The rest of the day proved to be wonderful with a bit of a hiccup at the end but it was great.

good morning birthday
Good morning lazy Rachel. Took the day off work to enjoy!
at house
After getting the news went over to house to take a look and check out the new closets
basement closet
basement closet.
my pretty master closet.
garage storage
Then I met up with Anna and we went for a cake testing for my cake at my birthday/housewarming party on February 8th. The ladies were so sweet. I really enjoyed talking with them and the cake!
This is their inspiration for my cake. I’ve always wanted to do a custom cake so I figured why not and Up is my favorite movie so it is perfect. It will be super good and they say even better than this one. They said this one was sloppy. 🙂
anna and I with cake
Anna and I at a cake testing. Yum!
waiting for car
Then we were going to go for a big dinner but after my voice lessons the car stalled and we spent about 2 hours getting it jumped and a new battery installed.

So that was my birthday.  Even though I didn’t open a single present it will definitely go down as one of the best.  Plus, I got a call from nieces singing me happy birthday and lots of well wishes on facebook and texts (the grandest use of facebook if you ask me).

Maybe the next entry to this blog will be on closing and moving!  Wouldn’t that be cool!

Thirty Two

379632_10151369153287239_1850479153_nSo I’m turning 32 tomorrow and was thinking of this clip.

40 is coming.

Still no word on the house. Sigh…

Maybe the FHA will give me a great big birthday present and come through for me.  Come on house!



More Delays

Some of you that don’t follow me on facebook may be curious to know where my house is at.  Unfortunately I don’t have great news.  The house is done and gorgeous but I can’t go through closing until the FHA on the complex gets approved.  I’m not going to hear anything until Tuesday because of the Monday holiday.  We have no idea if we will even hear anything then. I think I am going to go crazy!

To make matters worse we could go through all of this and get denied for the myriad of reasons FHA has. I’m trying to not think about that because it is highly unlikely but still possible and with so much time to stew on things the mind reels. Yesterday I caused myself to have a mini-panic attack trying to decide between keeping with the FHA loan or abandoning it and going conventional.  In the end, I decided to stick with what I have and not second guess myself.

So now it is just waiting. The house is done.  It’s sitting there and I’m waiting.

In the meantime I’m trying to curtail my anxiety and fears as best I can.  Mostly I’m trying to distract myself from the boxes and the continually rescheduled moves and the looming loan and closure and some moments I do better than others.  A lot of the day my brain feels like it is going to explode.  Like I’m in a big vice and it gets tighter and tighter.  I’m left wondering what I can do and the answer is nothing and that makes things tighter and tighter.

So all there is to do is wait and sigh and try to distract myself.  I wish I could explain it better but the attempt feels totally futile.   I’m not stressed out, I’m not even anxious.  You know that feeling when you are just about to throw up, like your insides are going to pop outside of you?  That’s how I feel all the time. I wish I could help it.  I wish I could make it go away.  I wish I could grow up and deal with things better.  Sorry I’m really trying.

I am trying to make things nice for my tenants by ordering a POD to be delivered at the house on Monday so they can do part of the move on Monday if they wish.  It’s the least I can do with all they have put up with.

And all I can do is wait…

Green Panda Cafe

Any reader of this blog knows I love good food and finding great restaurants.  I take a special pride in hunting down hole in the wall places that have delicious food at low prices.  For instance, there is a little Japanese restaurant in Midvale called Nagoya Sushi in a strip mall sandwiched between a party supply place and a petsmart and it is so good!  Best tempura I’ve ever had.

Another good find is Bangkok Grill in Orem that has fabulous thai food but its also next to a party supply store (maybe a trend?) and a block behind a mall. I also love Diego’s Taco Shop in Provo.  The nacho’s are to die for and it is fresh, cheap and yummy.  My kind of place.

One more little find is Firehouse BBQ in Salt Lake.  It is sort of tucked away on 21st south but everything I’ve tried has been delicious. Even the sides which are usually lacking at BBQ places were superb.  Great pork, beef, chicken and the sauces aren’t too sweet.  Best BBQ in Utah and low prices.

Sometimes I think the more intriguing the location, the better the food. It’s easy to make good food in a spot close to an arena with tons of foot traffic but it takes real effort, and food has to be extra spectacular to be successful in some strip mall in Midvale. What are some of your favorite hidden gem restaurants?

Well, today I’d like to profile one of my newest finds- Green Panda Cafe, Provo

Last Fall I was driving to visit my sister Anna in Provo and we were discussing where to eat dinner.  Neither of us had any ideas and I happened to drive past a strip mall and I noticed a sign saying ‘The Green Panda Cafe’ and for some reason I was intrigued.  What does that even mean? I’ve never heard of a Green Panda let alone a cafe for them.  I said ‘let’s give it a shot’ and being the adventurous type she agreed.   (Trying hole-in-the-wall’s takes a certain degree of adventure because believe me they can be disasters but that’s part of the fun of it!).

green panda

The front of the restaurant is kind of dark and its hard to know if it is open or not but trust me it is! It is run by a husband and wife couple and she does all the cooking, he takes the orders.  She is Taiwanese and the place is always full of returned missionaries who served in Taiwan and they seem thrilled, so I’m guessing its pretty authentic.

I’ve been there 4 times and every time it has been a home run.  Everything is fresh and remarkably light for Chinese.  Tonight Anna and I had gyoza, cream wantons, curry, shrimp and chicken with noodles and pork buns.  So much food but so yummy! It’s not greasy or overly sweet like most Chinese food.

Plus they have steamed pork buns.  Ever since I went to Japan I’ve been searching for them and they are the best!  Light, flavorful, and so delicious! (sorry I need more food adjectives!).  They are special right now but I hope they never take them off the menu

Who can't like steamed pork buns.
Who can’t like steamed pork buns.

The other great thing about this place is it is a real bargain. $6.49 for a LARGE bowl of chicken, veggies and rice. $3.75 for a boba drink, $2.99 for 2 pork buns, $3.99 for gyoza.  A steal.  I couldn’t make it for that price if I tried.  And large helpings too!


shrimp and chicken choi mein
shrimp and chicken choi mein. An incredible bargain. Tons of shrimp, chicken, veggies, under $10!
cream cheese wantons
cream cheese wantons
kung pao
kung pao chicken. A favorite of mine. They use grilled chicken instead of fried in some dishes.
They have boba drinks of all flavors which take a little getting used to but I love
They have boba drinks of all flavors like these which take a little getting used to but I love

I really want this place to make it so spread the word and go check it out.  I know you will be impressed.

Green Panda Cafe

3220 North University Avenue, Provo, Utah

Was thinking of this book today. What’s my story?

Rachel's Musings

For my birthday my sister Megan got me A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller.  I am about 50 pages into it and loving this book. It is a bit hard to describe but basically Miller is a writer who begins to feel that his life is boring that it is unworthy of a memoir (even though he had just published a memoir and was blocked on writing his newest one).  While feeling frustrated and blocked he gets an offer to write a screenplay and in his meeting with the other writers they mention that his character will need to be changed to make a better story.  This makes him wonder even more about what his life is all about and how much of a hand God has in the development of his story.

I am still reading but there was one part that I just had…

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Walk Through of House

Today I did the walk through inspection of my house.  We went from room to room with blue tape and marked any dings, nicks or spots.  No major problems just little things here and there.  So basically everything is ready for closing except for the FHA renewal which everything hinges on.  The entire complex has to be approved and I guess my builder had to overnight them additional information on Friday.

Once the FHA  case # is posted online it can take 48 to 72 hours for the closing to get done.  The builder is hoping to hear back from FHA by Thursday or Friday.  This means I probably won’t have a move in this Saturday like I was hoping but we will see.  Maybe I will get lucky and things will move right along? (Goodness knows I could use a little luck and especially my poor roommate.  What a month she has had!).  It took them 10 days to give us an initial response so hopefully the correction (they had listed 107 units instead of 108) won’t take that long.  We’ll see!

Nothing we can do but just wait and go crazy (patience has never been my strength)…Sigh

I did some video of my house so that my family and friends could see what it looks like. I think it is very pretty!  I know it will all be worth it but I can tell you this- I am not moving for a LONG time!!!!!

Main floor

Top Floor 1

Top Floor 2

Basement Apartment

Please everyone say a prayer that FHA will come through and I will be able to close soon.  Thank you!  I’m so excited for my new house.  I think the colors and the choices turned out very nicely.  I’m really proud of how it turned out.


I am relaxing tonight after a long week.  Work on my house has been clipping along and it looks like I can do the walk through on Monday! Still not sure on closing because of an FHA approval that is ‘in process’ (that is all the government will tell us.  Sigh!).   The house looks great and I’m very happy with it.

It makes me happy as well that my tenants are happy with it and  “LOVE it” (from their text caps and all).   They certainly have been through a lot waiting for this house right along with me and I’ve been so grateful for their patience and kindness.  I definitely chose the right people to share a home with!

Strangely the building (and waiting) of my house was actually the happy part of the week.  It was a very intense week at work with end of the month and end of the year responsibilities.  I’m still packing up my house and had a full schedule.

The real mess started with my soon to be roommate staying up at my Dad’s rental while my house is being finished.  I felt bad but the situation got worse with a break in, her laptop getting stolen and a missing person’s case forcing the police back up to the house.  Then to make matters worse I was still showing the house to potential tenants.  On Wednesday someone looked at the house and LOVED it.  They said ‘we want to sign the contract and get in asap’.

In fact, they wanted to get in the house on Saturday (tomorrow), giving me only 3 days to get the house cleaned, carpet cleaned, move my Dad’s stuff, get it ready to go. Not to mention getting my roommate moved ( I feel so bad about that! The woman deserves Sainthood for all she’s been through).

At first I said no way but then the money convinced me to give it a try.  (Stupid!).  Me and the manager worked very hard to get everything ready but with the snow storm it became clear yesterday that it wasn’t going to happen.  We didn’t want to endanger the cleaners or make things unsafe.

I tried to call, text and email them about the delay and didn’t hear back from them so we kept on working.  Stacia, the manager, worked after getting a root canal done that morning!  Then finally at the end of the day (while I still got my 8 hours in for my regular job and missed my swim!) they sent me a text saying they got ‘cold feet because of the storm’.  Sigh…

It was super frustrating.  I just wish they had expressed some concerns to me sooner or at least been more up front with me yesterday so we hadn’t killed ourselves working on such a tight deadline.  I’m exhausted!

Anyway, it’s just as well.  What made me think of this is I was talking to someone today and they said

‘I’m more of a Spartan when handling such things’


‘Why waste energy and anxiety over things you have no control over?’

This made me feel a little sad because I hate being weak.  Sometimes it feels like everyone else is tougher, stronger, braver, better than me and I’m a big wimp.

Here’s the thing I realized- Maybe I am the Spartan because I do get through it all and channel anxiety in the best way I know how?   I take the burden of my fears and worry and still complete the goals in my life.  Doesn’t that in a way make me twice as tough?

Here’s the second thing- I also do it for the most part completely alone.   Yes, I have family and friends who love and support me (thank you!) but as far as the day to day financial, work, social decisions of my life I take all the pressure and have to make all the decisions.

I know women who have made almost no decisions independently of a spouse or parent in their life, ever.  I think it can be hard for these types of people to understand the pressure, anxiety and fear that can go into each choice.

If I have a fear that everything will go wrong and an anxiety for the future maybe it is because I’ve fallen flat on my face enough in life to know how much it sucks?  I think in a way it is a protective instinct.  To protect me from the pain I try to prepare for it.  I also feel like once I had my first panic attack my brain changed and I just don’t absorb things like I used to.  I fear going through that again because it was awful.

Just look at this house- it is 100% all me.  I made every choice as far as colors, size, dimensions, income property, tenants, everything.  Getting the loan, picking the location, going through closing will be only me.  Again, that is a lot of pressure. If it fails I am the one that is blamed.   It is the same way with my work- all 3 of my jobs. Yes, I have associates and support but in the end it is me alone in my apartment working.  No substitutes, no excuses.

And I do it all with a diagnosed anxiety disorder…maybe I’m not so weak?

Here’s the third thing- Asking the question ‘why worry about things you can’t control?’ is sort of redundant for anxiety sufferers because

I can’t control my anxiety!

Yes, I can channel it; and yes, I can learn to react to it more effectively but at a certain point it is there and just like any other illness you have, and you must work with your body to respond in a healthy way.

This is so hard to explain to someone who hasn’t experienced that out of control feeling but believe me it is real.  I actually feel I have handled things pretty well considering.  Believe me if I had given into every moment of anxiety I felt I would have been way more of a mess!

So there you go world- Just think about it when you use that CONTROL word because what is in my control as far as anxiety may be just as challenging as my control over FHA approvals or anything else.

CONTROL (Maybe that’s why I like blogging I can control it and it is all mine!)

What do you all think about control and dealing with pressure?  I’d be especially curious to hear from my single friends that have to do a lion-share of the decision making and how they deal with that? Especially singles who have purchased homes!

Trying to figure everything out
Worrying Rachel
Try to smile through the fears

An Absorber

Something has been on my mind that maybe all of you, internet world, can have some insight into.  Maybe you can relate?

Do any of you have friends who seem to be able to handle just about anything that is thrown at them? What I mean is I have friends and family in my life that never get unglued, never feel panic or anxiety, and we are talking after dealing with some serious trials and yet they bounce back so well.  Do you have people in your life who keep a constant calm while the world is swirling around them?

I envy those people.  As much as I try I just can’t do it.  In fact, I have to consciously allow myself to express anxiety and feelings of being overwhelmed or the problem only gets worse.  The whole reason I had my first panic attack was because I balled everything up inside of me for 3 years until it exploded. I learned the hard way that keeping it all in my head only made things a million times worse for me.

This week I am feeling haggard and worn out.  Trying to manage 3 jobs, moving, waiting for the house and the loan, managing my tenants, finding tenants for one of my Dad’s properties who wants to be in by Saturday which necessitated the moving of my tenants (sigh…) and going to a new ward.  All of that in one week!

And yet I think of my friends with special needs kids or a myriad of other challenges and my problems seem so small; yet that doesn’t stop my brain from feeling like it is going to explode.  My heart starts to race.  My head aches.

I guess when it comes down to it I wish I could be more of an absorber.  It makes me feel weak that life wallops me so often.  I honestly try to be stronger but again that can make it all worse.   I see little improvements in how I handle anxiety and I ALWAYS finish what I start but the journey can be rough.

Sometimes I feel like I’ve turned into kind of a lousy adult because I come unglued so easily.  Things seem to make me nervous or anxious that other people don’t even care about.

For example, I was talking with a friend about my frustrations over being alone for Christmas and she mentioned all of the great things she did when she was alone at Christmas and it made me feel more frustrated.  It just feels sometimes like others have it all figured out and I am playing catch up.  Do you ever feel that way?

I think the challenge is finding that balance between improving myself and self-acceptance.  I want to do better and I certainly don’t want to feel anxiety but then I also want to acknowledge what I am feeling and deal with it in a constructive way.

I don’t know if any of this makes any sense so please tell me if you see any of this in your life?

How can I do better?  How can I be more of an ABSORBER?  What do you do to manage anxiety in your life in a productive way?

On a related note, one of my frustrations is that it is difficult to adequately describe how I feel.  Stress definitely doesn’t encapsulate it and anxiety is really too clinical for most people.  Pressure or feeling overwhelmed is the best I can do.  I think this image says a lot more than my words ever could.