I’ve been having a great time the last few days. My sister Anna is here for a visit after having been in Japan for the last year. It has been great catching up and spending time together. As a special treat for her visit I decided I wanted to throw a little party.
I love entertaining but had gotten a little burnt out last year and so hadn’t done much. I also got a game from a kickstarter I sponsored called The Jane Game. It is all based on Jane Austen and was done by a woman here in Utah. I also got a party pack as a perk for my kickstarter, which I hadn’t used. It seemed like the perfect time to combine both needs and have a Jane Austen Tea Party!
The party turned out really well. I had teas/hot cocoa to choose from with sweeteners and cream. Then for food we had chicken salad croissants, cucumber sandwiches, meringue cookies, strawberries, shortbread and two treats from bake 360.
I think it all looked very pretty and I enjoyed putting it all together. I also dressed up in as close to a regency dress as I have! Most importantly in any party I enjoyed spending time with my friends and catching up since I don’t get to see any of them as much as I would like.
After visiting we played the Jane Game and it was a lot of fun. And I am proud to say none of us ended up as old maids! We also learned that all of us need to brush up on our Northanger Abbey and Mansfield Park. I’m seeing a movie night in our future.
Overall the party was a great success and everyone seemed to have a good time. I feel encouraged to try again and get back to entertaining regularly. It’s a part of my life I really missed and had been feeling very discouraged about it last year. It seemed so hard to get anyone together for anything that I wondered if my party planning days were over. Today let’s me know it’s not.
Hey guys occasionally I like to share with this blog some of my videos and blogs on movies. I thought I would let you guys know about a series I am doing on my channel where I am reviewing the films nominated for Best Animated Feature Film for Oscars. This prize started in 2001 and I just posted 2005 today.
I would love if you gave these videos a look and a thumbs up if you think they are any good. I’ve been working hard on integrating clips and trying to give good feedback on each film.
Make sure you also look at ldsblogs.com for my new column on Family Movie Nights. I am so proud of it so please subscribe to it even if you aren’t LDS because it is non-denominational column.
This post is kind of a product shout-out that I am excited about. You will all probably remember that I recently completed my 10th open water swim race. Until today I had those medals on 2 nails on my wall. The idea was that looking at the medals each day would help motivate me to keep swimming and trying to stay in shape.
Well, a few weeks ago my friend over at http://www.disneyinyourday.com/announced a giveaway on her blog for a medal hanger from https://www.medalhangers.com/. I had never heard of a medal hanger and I thought they were really beautiful. I entered the giveaway and to my delight I won!!! I never win everything so it was so exciting! I used my prize and added a little bit to make a custom hanger and I love it so much!
I came up with the saying ‘Water Knows No Size” because I think it encompasses my swim philosophy. There is no other place where I could win 10 metals but in the water and in that sense the water knows no size. In the water it is about how fast I move my arms and legs not how much I weigh. I’ve always felt at peace in the water and most girls are self conscious in a swimsuit but oddly enough it is where I feel the most confident. Go figure!
I went with 2 layers on my medal hanger but you can have more than that. There are also a number of fonts and icons that you can pick from. Here are some others on the site I liked:
Anyway, I know a lot of you race and I thought I’d share this quality product. They have 100% satisfaction guarantee and they are built to last. Your medals are something to proud of and this is a way to show them off and hopefully be encouraged by them. I think it would be a great thing for kids to see and hopefully encourage them to enter their own races or other athletic enterprises.
If you get a medal hanger I would love to see what you chose. (I’m not receiving anything from them. Just thought it was a good product and I’m really enjoying mine.
I have very exciting news! Today in Carmel, Indiana (just outside of Indianapolis) they dedicated a temple for my church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (or the LDS part of Smilingldsgirl).
This is important to me because I served my mission in Indiana from 2003-2005. Back then I could never have imagined a temple in Indianapolis because there were so many nearby (2 in Illinois, 1 in Kentucky 1 in Iowa, 1 in Michigan etc). My mission was a great experience but it was incredibly challenging. I can honestly say I left it all out there and gave m all spiritually, physically and mentally. I’m not saying I was perfect but just that I did the best I could and I had a confirmation from Heavenly Father when I was done that he accepted my effort.
So you can imagine how thrilled I was when I heard the news of the temple way back in 2010. But then it seemed to be taking forever to even get construction started so I started to wonder if it would ever happen. I’m not sure what kind of difficulties they had because typically temples go from announced to built much more quickly.
However, I’m just so excited that it is done and the great work can go on there for the Hoosiers I love so much. They are a giving, loving people who are deeply involved in community, churches and civic organizations. I’ve never lived anywhere where high school and college sports was that important. Anything that could be cheered on and celebrated was whether it was Indy Car racing or Notre Dame football. It was deeply felt and passionate like nowhere I had ever seen before. I can only imagine when that fervor gets turned to temple work what great things will be done.
Seeing the Indianapolis Temple makes me want to renew my goal to go to the temple more as I am far to quick to let that slip. And the sad part is I really need it. It’s such a peaceful, quiet, lovely place and really is my sanctuary from the world. I’m so happy that my Hoosier friends will have such a place for them to commune with the Lord.
I do have a witness of this work and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I know the Book of Mormon is the word of God through a spiritual witness and it is my greatest desire to serve Him each day. I know Jesus died for me and has suffered for my sins and shortcomings.
Congrats to my Indiana Mormon friends! I love you!
What do you think is fun? Aside from watching animated films, I think every reader to this blog would have a different answer to that question. And yet why do we assume that everyone will think the same movies are fun?
This years seems to be the year of “fun movies” and I must have heard 100 times “oh come on, just have fun with this movie”. I have also caught myself saying it on videos and with blogs.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately because it seems to me fun movies are great when you enjoy them but when other people tell you to have fun and you’re not it is very annoying.
For example, I had fun with Jupiter Ascending because it was so over-the-top. To me it felt like a campy soap opera and I laughed but I don’t try to pretend it is a…
Hey guys! This is just a quick update. Those of you who have been with the blog for a long time might remember the eye surgery I had in 2011 and 2012. It was quite the journey but the surgery was to correct an amblyopia or strabismus (commonly referred to as a lazy eye). I had always had trouble seeing double and found it incredibly difficult to make eye contact with other people. Focusing in general was tough but I didn’t think there was anything you could do about it. Indeed I had eye doctors tell me there was nothing we could do about it (stupid doctors!).
It’s a real shame too because the problem is much easier to fix when kids are little but because of the doctors ignoring it I went untreated until I failed a vision test for my drivers license. I was supposed to look into a box and see a light but couldn’t see anything. This was caused by my strabismus issues.
I ended up finding Dr Petersen at Rocky Mountain Eye Care and it took 2 surgeries and then vision therapy from Utah Vision Therapy but the treatment seems to have worked. My doctor told me last week that I don’t need to see him again for another 2 years!
I made this video where I explain more of my journey and the treatment I received. Please pass it on to those you know and keep an eye out for kids that have signs. Thanks!
If you’ve been following the blog for a while you know friendship is extremely important to me. I’m not someone who has had luck with romantic relationships in my life and so most of my experience with love has been through my friends. (Why do I still feel embarrassed to admit that? It’s just the way life has worked out…Silly). Anyway, I have been thinking about friendship lately and what qualifies as a friend. If you were to ask a child they would probably say “a friend is someone you play with”.
Unfortunately as an adult it gets a little bit murky. A large majority of my friends have moved away from me and so I don’t get to see them as much as I would like. Even the one’s that are close it can be frustratingly difficult to get together with schedules, kids and everything else. Thankfully we have social media to help us keep in touch and still feel a part of each other’s life. It’s so much more difficult to make new physical friends these days because I don’t come in contact with that many new people like I used too. This makes me even more grateful for social media and it helping me keep the friends I already have who are far away.
But what about online friendships? Are the people we meet while blogging. vlogging and other online communities ‘friends’? Here are two examples of videos I have done with youtubers who both refer to me as their friend.
I’ve never met either of these individuals and yet I do feel a kinship to them. I feel like we are friends. Am I deluded? No, I don’t think so.
Aristotle said there are three types of friend. They are friendships of utility, pleasure and virtue. Each one has its place and is important in its own way.
A friendship of utility is a useful friendship. It is a friendship that can be easily dissolved and done away with when a more useful version comes into place. For example, I took voice lessons for many years and was sincerely friends with my teacher. I still love her but now I’m not taking lessons we don’t see each other or interact really in any way (she’s not huge on social media). So no hard feelings but the friendship went dormant because it was more of utility.
I’ve known people who see all their friends like this. I had a roommate in college who’s view was ‘I’ll see you in the next life’. She made no attempt to keep in contact with people or keep up relationships feeling they were all in the end friendships of utility.
This makes me sad because you never know what you might be able to do for another person and having such a cynical view of something as special as friendship doesn’t feel right to me. These aren’t dolls you dispose of but real people. I know that friendships of utility exist but I don’t go into anything expecting that to happen. I would love for all my friends to be more than friendships of utility.
But then there are friendships of pleasure. These types of friendships are built around love or passion for similar things. For example, my open water swim friends are connected to me because of our love of open water swimming. In fact, I would put most of my friendships, including my online friends in this category. My friends who I shared videos above are my friends because we have gotten to know each other over our shared love of movies. What’s wrong with that? I have friends I’ve gotten to know because we love Survivor, or are Mormon or any number of common interests that bond us together. I treasure these friends. I’ve had the chance to meet many of these friends over the years.
Aristotle says these friends are fleeting and start and stop without much pain. That may be true but what a great ride we’ve had along the way. I wouldn’t trade the memories for anything. Plus, even if interactions are brief (even if it is just doing a collab video with someone) I learn something from each person I meet and interact with. I become better. They teach me how to be a better person or see the world in a new way. Both the people in the videos above don’t even live in the US and yet we have a bond and friendship, which I am grateful for.
I prefer to think of life in moments than end results. Yes a person may not be in my life forever but for that moment we shared an experience and isn’t that what life is all about? Moments of emotion shared with other people?
The third type of friendship for Aristotle is a friendship of virtue. This is that rare friend which supersedes friendships of pleasure or utility. This is that bond which is practically sacred it is so special. I think we are all lucky if we have one or maybe two such friends in this life.
The best description I’ve ever heard of a friend of virtue is from The Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs (or Linda Brendt):
“Friend! It is a common word, often lightly used. Like other good and beautiful things, it may be tarnished by careless handling; but when I speak of Mrs Bruce as my friend, the word is sacred”.
I have such a friend and it is a sacred, special thing. I also thought I had such a friend and it turned out to be more a friend of pleasure, which was extremely painful. I think many are lucky enough to marry their friends of virtue. I hope to be so lucky someday!
That said, if we don’t embrace all the people who come into our lives because they aren’t the rare friend of virtue I think we are making a great mistake. Human beings are for the most part wonderful souls trying to live good lives. If we can have a moment of their time and learn something from them than I think it behooves us to do just that.
So yes, my internet friends are actually my friends. It may not be the friend of virtue but it doesn’t mean they don’t give me much joy and happiness. Life is too short to not embrace the people in your life however they may enter it. Thanks to all of you readers who I consider my friends. I really do. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Hey guys, I have a quick announcement I am very excited about! Over on my youtube channel I have been doing a series called Family Movie Night. Well, for the past few weeks I have been in contact with the folks over at ldsblogs.com and they are giving me the opportunity to post a weekly column for my series! This will include my video and a brief blog piece about the film. While the blog may have a Mormon readership-base my posts will be non-denominational and appropriate for anyone with a family.
Each of the movies I pick from will be off of Netflix Instant Stream but are all available in other ways and will be predominantly animation (although this week is on Disney’s Holes). They will all be kid friendly, mostly G rated recommendations. Next week will be Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.
If you follow the youtube channel I will be a week ahead than the articles so that I have a little bit of a time for the additional writing (and a little lag if I get sick or something happens).
I’m really excited about the opportunity for more exposure and for new people to read my writing/see my videos. It’s pretty cool and I must admit I’m proud of how it turned out in week 1. I would love for you guys to check it out.
Please welcome our newest blogger Rachael. She will be reviewing a different movie every Monday, for Family Movie Night.
Welcome to this week’s Family Movie Night. Each week I will be presenting a movie that is available on Netflix Instant Stream that you can watch and all enjoy as a family . This week’s selection is Walt Disney’s live action 2003 film, Holes. This is an incredibly unique and creative film that is based on the popular novel by Louis Sachar who also wrote the film’s screenplay.
Directed by Andrew Davis who normally does action films such as Fugitive, Holes tells an unpredictable story about a teenager named Stanley Yelnats played by Shia LeBeouf.
Recently LeBeouf has received bad publicity and the Transformers films didn’t help his acting credibility among critics and moviegoers; however, in Holes he does well as the kid with no luck. In fact, as legend goes his family has been cursed by a gypsy (played by the great Eartha Kitt) years before with generations of bad luck.This leads Stanley to be convicted of a crime and sent to Camp Green Lake, a juvenile detention facility in the middle of nowhere. Run by a woman named, The Warden (Sigourney Weaver), a man named Mr Sir (Jon Voight) and a camp counselor named Dr Pendanski (Tim Blake Nelson), the sole purpose of the camp is to dig about 5 ft holes in the desert. When they arrive there are already hundreds of holes peppering the landscape. Why are they digging these holes? That is one of the mysteries of the film.
As they dig Stanley and the eclectic group of boys (including a quiet boy named Zero -Khleo Thomas) start to uncover clues about the history at Camp Greenlake, The Warden, and the holes. We even start to get a series of flashbacks from the 1850s involving a school teacher named Miss Kate and an African American onion salesman named Sam. Their relationship develops and of course it is not approved of in that day and age. This romantic drama becomes a compelling story on its own but also relates to Stanley’s journey in interesting ways.
There are a lot of great things about Holes which make it ideal for Family Movie Night. First, it is creative and inventive. In a world where all movies, especially family films, can feel like they are made from the same boring mold, here is a movie that takes some risks and still surprises with its unique storytelling and I still feel that way after seeing it many times.It is also special because it introduces important and weighty subjects to kids such as racism, prejudice, hate crimes and interracial relationships without it being too violent. This is helpful as it allows families to talk about these topics and for kids to ask questions but not be subjected to imagery which they are not prepared for. It is a good first step in these discussions which unfortunately we still need to have as racial intolerance is certainly still an issue that haunts our nation.
But that may make it sound like a real downer but it it’s not. Fortunately because of the flashback structure you get a lot of breaks between the Sam/Kate story and comedic moments between Stanley and the boys and the over-the-top villainy of Mr Sir and The Warden all lighten things up. We even get the great Henry Winkler as Stanley’s Dad in a few scenes. None of the humor is vulgar or unseemly and kids will get a kick out of it.
The acting is first rate with veterans like Weaver, Voigt and Nelson adding real credibility to their roles (and seemingly having a great time playing villains). All the boys are good but the story doesn’t rely on them like say Stephen Spielberg’s Hook does. Recent Oscar winner Patricia Arquette is Kate and Dule Hill from TV’s Psych is Sam and they have a believable chemistry in their scenes together and are both great.
The script builds really well to an exciting climax but it is not too intense for small kids because like I said it is mixed up with moments of humor and the flashbacks. I also like that the boys don’t need any help to solve the mystery and confront the camp leadership. It is their intellects that save the day and I appreciate when a children’s movie doesn’t talk down to children or assume they are stupid.
The cinematography by Stephen St John captures the desolate feeling of the desert with all the holes looking a bit like a groundhog sanctuary. In contrast, the flashback sequences when Camp Green Lake really was a green lake look lush and beautiful. The music by Joel McNeely is also strong.
When this first came out I remember calling everyone I knew and telling them ‘you’ve got to see Holes’. It was so different and exciting and I still feel that way all these years later. If you haven’t seen it check it out on Netflix and enjoy a great family film. And then have a discussion with your kids about the important issues it raises as part of your family home evening lesson. If you do, I would love to hear your experiences and how your family responds to the movie.
Today my friends I am a finisher, 10 times over! Yes, I finished my 10th open water swim at Deer Creek and I couldn’t be more thrilled (and tired!). If you’ve been a follower of mine on the blog you might recall my very first race back in 2011. In fact, after my first open water swim at the clinic that year I posted “Yesterday was the best day of my life!” I hope that everyone is able to find something they love like that in their life. Once was all it took to get me hooked!
What a journey it has been since that first attempt. 10 races have come and gone and they all are treasured memories.
Like always today’s race had its fair share of challenges. I went in to the race feeling pretty confident. I felt strong at Bear Lake and then did a practice swim on Thursday that went very well. My plan was to break up the swim into sets of 100 strokes and then do 25 strokes of breaststroke. The problem was for some reason my asthma was bothering me and I felt pretty wheezy. It didn’t seem like I could get enough air which was causing me to get a lot of water up my nose and in my mouth. This is not the ideal way to swim by any measure. But I kept going…
This race was really neat because my Dad swam it with me. Typically my family and I don’t share a ton of common interests and so it was really neat to share this experience with him! He did the entire race alternating between breaststroke, backstroke and sidestroke but finished and did very well! It’s been a cool month for me with the swim with my Dad and doing the book videos with my Mom. Both meant a lot to me.
It’s the weirdest thing when you are swimming open water because it feels like you are on a swim treadmill. No matter how fast you go it feels like you aren’t making any progress and you will never reach the darn buoy. Then you do and it is so exhilarating! You would think after 10 races it would get less exciting but it is still such a thrill.
My time wasn’t good on the race but the important thing was I finished. I’m very proud of that as I am for all of my finishes.
I’d like to thank my paddler Michelle for taking time out of her busy schedule to help me achieve my goals. She couldn’t have been more encouraging and wonderful. It was so great to catch up as she isn’t my trainer at the moment since I left that gym.
I also want to say thank you to Jim Hubbard and everyone at Salt Lake Open Water for being such a wonderful community that nurtures all types of swimmers. I couldn’t be more grateful that I am accepted and cheered on at every race.