Tag: new years

2015: My Year in Review

Hi friends! 2015 was a long, interesting year that had a lot of great moments.  As is my tradition here on the blog I thought I would go over some of the personal highlights.

To begin with it started off with a very enjoyable visit from my friend and former mission companion Julia Graves.  We had a blast catching up and ringing in the New Year together.

happy new year happy new year2Then in March I went to NYC for a RHAP Survivor event, met some great people and spent several days with my sister touristing around the Big Apple!

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In April I was called to go to Georgia for work and took a very productive work trip and stretched it to an excuse to see Atlanta and all it offers! Yay for solo traveling!

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Right around that time I got my 50oth subscriber on my youtube channel.  I now have nearly 700 so if you haven’t subscribed check it out! https://www.youtube.com/user/smilingldsgirl

500subs2And I posted my 1000th post on this blog!

1000-postsIn the summer started my new open water season which was a real thrill because I had my season truncated in 2014.

First there was Great Salt Lake

gsl1Then I did Bear Lake for the first time

bear lakeAnd then in August I completed my 10th open water swim race at Deer Creek.  This time I got to do it with my Dad, which was really special.

deer creek1 deer creek5Next up I finished my review of all the Pixar films and shorts which was an amazing experience.  Check out those reviews http://54disneyreviews.com/pixar-reviews/I also got the treat of 2 Pixar films this year!

inside out5good dinosaur famiyI did a series on my youtube channel I’m immensely proud of called Did the Right Film Win?  Where I looked at the animated Oscars and decided if the right film won.  Through this and other projects I really improved my channel and gained new skills in editing and using Adobe Premiere effectively (a colossal task I assure you!)

In the Fall I had the treat of seeing Idina Menzel in concert and she was fabulous.  My friend Heidi went with me and we had a such a great time.


In November I was able to go to California and visit my nieces which meant a lot to me.  I don’t get to see them very much as they live in Portland and it meant a lot to me to hang out and get all the hugs I could!  I don’t have a picture of me with my niece Olive but here is me and Sparrow.

nieces sparrow

I also completed Nanowrimo for the 4th time in November!  I didn’t think I could do it but I pulled it off somehow.

migraine with ice nanowrimo winner

In December the highlight was seeing Star Wars: The Force Awakens with my brother, roommate and Aunt Kate.  It was one of the most fun entertainment experiences of my life and the film did not disappoint.

rachel leiaI also loved doing podcast style videos with my friends Abby and Jeremy where discussed all 7 Star Wars films and then a review/response video with my brother Sam. If you are looking for something to listen to on a commute or something I think you will really enjoy them. Our last one was just recorded yesterday and we had a blast!

Then the final highlight of the year was having my sister and the rest of my nieces come for a visit.  What a treat to be able to see all 5 nieces in under 2 months time.  I miss them so much now they are gone back to DC.  (The one girl in the red is not my niece but the others are)

nieces lloydsI also had a great time at a new book club.  Thanks to Suey’s Books and company for being so welcoming.  It’s helped me read more and expand out of my comfort zone.  I’ve really tried to do that this year seeing films like Max Max: Fury Road or The Visit that I might not normally see.   The movie pass really made a difference to me in the number of films I can see and I recommend it for anyone that goes to 3 or more movies a month.

It’s funny as I sat down to write this piece I was thinking 2015 was a bit of a boring year but look at all the cool stuff I did! It was a great year!

For 2016 I hope to keep improving in everything in my life.  I hope to improve in my job.  I hope to improve in my relationships.  I hope to improve on my channel and both blogs. I hope to come up with new and exciting projects that people will like but more importantly I will like doing.  I hope to improve in my callings and in my daily devotions to God.  I hope to be more thoughtful and find ways to serve more than in 2015.

Either way I look forward to sharing it with all of you.  Thank you for all your support and for paying any attention to my content this year.  Thank you, thank you, thank you!


Mission Companion New Years Reunion

Normally New Years is one of my least favorite holidays. For a long time it was fun but I’ve found it frustrating because it is a very couply holiday and one where I increasingly seemed to get left out. See post New Years Eve Sucks)

Not this year!

This year my friend and former mission companion Julia Graves came for a visit and it was such a treat.  I rarely have visitors that are here just to see me.  My family comes a lot but they have their own house and sometimes I hardly see them because of their work responsibilities and other family things.

Regardless, they aren’t here just to see me and for me to be host and show them around.That hardly ever happens despite my very comfortable guest room! (It’s ready for anyone to come on over!).  So it was so great to have Julia here for a visit and to have fun and reminisce.

She arrived on the 30th and we went to lunch and then got settled in and she was kind enough to join me for our SLOW (Salt Lake Open Water) end of year banquet.  We spent a fair amount of time in the car and had a lot of fun talking with each other.

Then the 31st we went to Blue Plate Diner in SLC and had a yummy breakfast.


And then I had gotten a room for New Years at my favorite hotel- the City Center Marriott in Salt Lake.  It is the place I went when I quit my job in 2007 and so it has always had a special significance (one of the best days of my life!). I also went there for my Eat Pray Love weekend in 2012.

hotel1It’s a lovely hotel with great linens and fluffy robes for all the guests.  They have yummy room service and an amazing pool!  It is one of my favorite places in the world.

I also successfully parallel parked twice! Pretty impressive right?


Then we went to Copper Common- the sister restaurant of my favorite place Copper Onion and it was very yummy!

copper commonAfter that we spent a bit of time at Temple Square and listening to music and enjoying the lights of the city (there was a lot going on this year with eveslc.com).  It was the most walking I’ve done since the knee injury which was good.  I felt it the next few days but it was a start. good menThere was a faux light fireworks display but we were so cold we decided to head home and watch the New York ball drop (what a letdown that was.  They didn’t even show the countdown!). But we had a great time with the hot tub and pool and just enjoying the hotel.

hotelWe rang in the New Year with gusto a little early and then crashed! It was great.

happy new year happy new year2New Years Day we went to breakfast at the hotel and then went to the new Living Aquarium in Draper.  I’ve been wanting to go and it was really fun! My knee was hurting from pushing it the previous day so I used my cane and it helped a lot.

The aquarium was easy to work around with lots of animals and fun exhibits.  My favorite was the penguins.

aquarium penguins turtles julia turtlesWe spent about 3 hours at the aquarium, and I have a membership now so if you want to go call me up and let’s go!  Your kids will LOVE it!

After the aquarium my parents and grandma came over and we had fajitas and Mexican food together.  They got to hear all about our memories from the mission.  It is so strange to think it will be 10 years in March since I came home from my mission.  Being with Julia made it feel like yesterday.

Today was the final day of the trip and we went to Bake 360 for breakfast (their new cafe is so delish!).  Then we did some shopping and tried to go to 2 different art museums but they were both closed! (Art was not on our side!).

So we went to the Leonardo.  They have one of those plastic body exhibits and those creepy me out so we just went to the regular exhibits and it was fun.  I thought it was an art museum but it’s actually science and math based.

leonardoJulia wanted to go to Chick-fila since they don’t have them in Nevada so we finished off the day eating some chicken and ended up visiting my Grandma in some extra time.

chickfilaIt was just a great trip and time with a friend.  I am so lucky to have wonderful friends in my life and playing host was a blast.  I loved reminiscing about our mission and all the years since. Julia is also single and we have very similar personalities and are both still active in the church. Our faith is very important to us and sharing it with the Hoosiers has given us a bond that will last forever. I just had the most lovely time.

Definitely my best New Years Eve ever!  A great way to start 2015!

2014 Year in Review

2014 was honestly one of the best years of my life. Yep, it’s true. It really has been a great one and it feels so long I’m kind of left wondering what even happened at the beginning of the year?

Well, the highlight of those early months was Christmas 2013 I decided to focus my energy on making my youtube channel as great as it could be. I made a background and got off the webcam and learned how to edit. (Poor few who suffered through my previous videos thank you!).

2015 my channel should get even better and I am so excited. I’ve learned so much, made new friends and had a blast. If you aren’t subscribed please do. It really helps me out and I think you will enjoy either the box or movie reviews I post. https://www.youtube.com/user/smilingldsgirl

channel art3

When I started to work on my channel I thought I was just doing it as a hobby but all that I learned proved to be extremely helpful in a surprise opportunity that came around March. My Dad told me about a job opportunity he had heard about at Kobayashi which is the company that bought Grabber where I used to work. It was in the marketing department, particularly digital content.

It was a part time job but anxious for a chance to break out of accounting I jumped at the chance and applied. It’s one of those tender mercies because if I hadn’t decided to work on my channel months before I wouldn’t have had a chance of getting that job. But after about a month and a half of applications, interviews and waiting I got the job! It was so exciting!

It was one of the best days of my life when I started the new job and it has been a great experience ever since. I’m grateful for all those years in accounting but to be able to do something new and creative, putting all my social media and blogging experience to use, is really a dream come true. Plus, still get to work from home and telecommute. I am so blessed.


And yes, the dream job really is a dream!

In March we had the 40th book celebration for my book club. It’s kind of sad now because I’ve taken a bit of a break . With an injury it became too much wrangling people and planning everything, but I’m sure eventually I’ll feel inspired to start it up again. Regardless, it was a fun party to throw.

My friends from book club.  Love these girls
My friends from book club. Love these girls
book fabric from scizzors etsy store.
book fabric from scizzors etsy store.

Before I started the new job I had the chance to travel and took a risk to visit an old friend from high school Kim Durkin I hadn’t seen in 15 years. We had kept in touch through facebook and I was a little nervous we wouldn’t have much in common but we had a wonderful time together. She was an amazing host and I loved going to the beach every day. It was gorgeous and I really had the time of my life. Plus, I was in between jobs so it was the first vacation in years where I didn’t think about work at all and just enjoyed myself.




Just after Tampa I was able to swim in the Great Salt Lake Marathon Swim 1 mile race and despite cramping at the start I got a great time, nearly 20 minutes faster than the previous year.



In July I got the chance to visit my folks in California and had a good time seeing my nieces.



Unfortunately the trip would end by a slip in the shower and a torn MCL that would dominate the rest of the year. I’m still going to physical therapy for the darn injury.


My injury meant that I couldn’t swim at my usual Deer Creek race, which I was feeling pretty depressed about. Well, in an attempt to turn a negative into a positive I decided to watch the entire Disney canon something I’ve always wanted to do. It took me from August to November but I started a new blog and had a blast watching all the Disney films.


I had so much fun with it and enjoyed conversing with other movie lovers that I kept up the blog even when the project was ever and did Scrooge Month in December where I reviewed 30 different versions of Christmas Carol. If you haven’t looked at the reviews please do and add your comments. I am very proud of the quality of the writing and I learned a lot from each review I did. Plus, I had so much fun watching all these movies. (2014 was also a great movie at the theaters too).


I worked more movie reviews into my channel and started a whole series called the ABC’s of my blu-ray collection. It hasn’t gotten a ton of hits but I’ve enjoyed making the videos which is what matters. I just posted the letter’s I and J.

I also continued my box reviews and set up a facebook page to promote the channel and have giveaways. If you aren’t a follower to both please check them out.

Got to https://www.facebook.com/smilingldsgirlreviews for the facebook page.


I had the chance to do a collaboration with the Lawn Gnome which was really fun on our Top Forgotten Animated Films.

I’m just really proud of myself for taking a sucky situation and finding the positives. I took on a whole new adventure and had a great time when it was very painful and difficult. I hope that is something I will have in my pocket for the future when life gets tough. Thank you to anyone who read any of my reviews or watched any of my videos. It means so much to me and really helped me get through a sad and painful experience.

The Fall flew by. Two of my best friends moved this year, which was very hard for me. I miss both Emily and Tania so much.

emily and I

Tania and me.
Tania and me.

In November I spent the month working on my Nanowrimo novel which I finished! Winner!


The elections also made me very happy in November! Wahoo!


The rest of the fall was about work and trying to help my knee to heal. I watched a lot of movies, blogged a lot, made a lot of videos and spent a lot of time with friends and family. It was a very happy time if frustrating with the injury.

old firends

So with a new job, blog and channel I couldn’t have asked for better for 2014. Yes I wish I hadn’t been injured but I wouldn’t have been inspired to write and try something new, so it all worked out. I’m grateful for my life and the good people I have cheering me on and worrying about me. I am so blessed by the Lord.

christmas card

Most importantly I’ve felt Jesus guide me all year and help me to forgive others and remain positive even when in pain. He is the source of all happiness in my life and I know He loves me and is aware of my needs.


May 2015 be as great as 2014 for you and me and everyone! Sure love ya all!



Normally I am a huge goal setter.  I love having a plan and motivating myself to do better, be better.   As you all know my life has been overwhelmed lately with the building of my house and my move. So much so that I haven’t been able to eat well and my stomach has been continually upset.  I wish I could control this but I can’t.I’ve thrown up a lot, had nausea, sleep apnea, insomnia, stomach cramping, headaches and asthmatic episodes and I actually think I’ve handled it all pretty well for me….Sigh

So with this in mind I had an interesting experience yesterday. I met with my nutrition counselor on Saturday and she tried 3 times to get me to set goals- goals for the New Year, goals for the month, and then I think getting a little desperate, goals for the week.  I just couldn’t do it!  My brain couldn’t formulate one goal. Even as she asked me I felt my heart begin to race and my stomach churn. My whole body felt raw, wrung out and tired.  Really kind of numb… I just shook my head and said ‘I can’t do it.  I have no idea’. 

This is highly unusual for me but it was in fact a healthy choice for me to make. I’m kind of proud of myself.

I told her that I knew I was in a vulnerable spot and whatever goals I set would become obsessive for me.  I’m searching for things I can control and diet goals are something I could go way overboard in feeling I can control.  I just knew I had to step back and take it one day at a time.   It’s a good thing that I am getting to the point in my mental health where I can tell I am vulnerable and when I am not.  Right now I just need acceptance, congratulations and as much normality as possible.

No goals!  No resolutions!  Just survival!  I feel a little guilty even saying that but its true.  I need to coast for a month until I get in this darn house and then it will be back to the goal setting Rachel.

Does that make sense? I can only take so much and I also feel I need to savor the moment and be grateful for the blessings of so many changes.  It would be easy to distract myself from the fear of change with a diet rush or some other goal, obsess into that instead of dealing with all the new and absorbing it with fearlessness.


So there you go.  No goals!  Just going to try and be happy to be me. 248072_10151332018897239_58777808_n

Good Bad and 2011

So the end of 2011 has come and that means my traditional year in review.  I thought it might be fun to do something different this year by going through each month and citing one good and one bad memory I’ll take with me.  When I say bad I mean more challenging or difficult.  So here goes…

Good 🙂 Bad 😦
January Watched Sherlock on BBC and loved it Fell Down a Flight of Stairs/ Turn 30
February Make great strides in PCOS treatment Receover From Fall
March Work Success Difficult Victoza Response
April Royal Wedding Diabetes Diagnosis (then diagnosis lessened)
May Mom in Town Strabismus Surgery
June Surfing in Hawaii Exercise Pains and Struggles
July Family Reunion Difficult Preparations for Open Water Swims
August Deer Creek Swim Bad Date
September DC Visit Sore Throats
October Slam the Dam Fibromyalgia Diagnosis
November Thanksgiving at My Parents Tonsilitis
December Christmas Activities and Traditions Start of Poler (also great blessing)

Let’s hope for a 2012 with few struggles and tons of joy! Of course, we often find the greatest joy in overcoming the struggles…Still, a little breather might be nice!  Either way I am sure it will be full of growth and discovery.

It starts off with a bang.  In January I have to change my wards into the mid-singles ward.  It will be a lot of change which I am not a fan of but it will be a great opportunity to meet new people and get out of my comfort zone.  I also look forward to 3 open water swims this summer but will probably not get a big trip (have to spend money on trainers rather than plane tickets!).

New Years Eve Sucks

So everyone knows I’m not a woe is me single girl but some days it does kind of suck.  New Years and Valentines being the chief offenders.  I don’t think there are any more ‘coupley’ holidays in the calendar year.

The only thing that makes New Years slightly worse is there is no ignoring it like with Valentines and almost every ‘fun’ activity involves dancing, which I hate.

I have never liked dancing. For starters I have almost no natural rhythm  and I’m not just being modest.  I literally have no natural rhythm. I hate the music typically played at dances. I don’t like club music and find DJs to be obnoxious.  Its also so loud that you can’t talk and you end up either as a wallflower which sucks or gyrating to ‘Everybody Dance Now’ like an idiot. It’s also dark and hard to see anyone so I don’t know how anyone hooks up at a dance but it is the activity of choice for ‘meeting people’ and coupling up in Utah. (Dancing and Utah have a long unfortunate relationship.  They love it there! 😦 )

With dancing out of the picture this year I’m left with the choice of hanging out with my sister and her boyfriend or my parents and their older group of adults from church.  My younger siblings are both doing activities with their friends. I don’t have any friends in California and would rather be hit by a bread truck than go to the YSA dance alone.

So, what’s a girl left to do? Any ideas?

I will probably go to a movie so at least I will be surrounded by people but not have to dance.  (And yes, I go to movies by myself all the time.  In fact, I like it!And no, I will not be seeing New Years Eve because it looks terrible and seeing it on New Years Eve is just depressing).  Normally I don’t mind being by myself.  In fact, I kind of love it!  But on super coupley days it is easy to feel a bit forgotten, left behind.

This is my first New Year in my 30’s and its been a hard year, one I am not eager to repeat.  I am ready for a string of good luck and period of peace (or at least no major medical diagnosis!). I know I’ve had many blessings also but it has been one of the most challenging years of my life.

It seems like 30 is a rough year for a lot of people I know.  It represents a transition both mentally and physically that can be difficult for ‘stay-the-samers’ like me to deal with.

I have never been a big fan of change, especially change I don’t direct and manage, but like a time bomb it comes whether you like it or not!  30 is the first step to being old…Even at church I will soon not be considered a ‘young single adult’.  I will be a ‘mid-single’.  In January I have to change wards and start attending the mid-singles ward, which I am sure will be great but it is a change (which again, I’m not a fan of!).

Maybe I should just plan a trip next year for New Years, go to Hawaii or something like that? That always makes me happy.  Just thinking of Hawaii makes me happy.  I love being home for Christmas but the week after can be rough.  I miss my apartment, car, friends, gym, food, trainer, etc.  At least this year I get my 9 days off of my strict diet.  That’s been a real treat (literally and figuratively).

I wish my family enjoyed traveling during the holidays but my younger siblings would revolt.  I love it! One of my happiest Christmas memories was when my family came to Utah and stayed in our home in Alpine.  It was so nice to not have to worry about all the Christmas stuff and to be able to see my family while still having my own space.  If I had my druthers we’d do that every year.

But I don’t know that New Years would suck any less if I was at home.  My friends and I used to have awesome parties but in recent years they’ve died down. (We used to have great Halloween parties also but that has died out too 😦 ).  For me, parties and the like feel a very college, post-college thing to do.  As a 30 year old woman I find it is so much harder to get anyone together. I have lots of entertaining ideas for cute parties but I’m not convinced anyone would be able to come to a party if I put a lot of work into it.  People are just so busy and have other obligations that are more important by the time you turn 30.

I’m also not sure what it means to be 30.  With other ages the expectations are real clear (20’s college, gain a career). I think it is supposed to bring all those experiences with kids but not so much with me. It’s all a bit of a mystery, the 30’s mystery.

Anyway, don’t mean to complain.  I just wanted to get it out there that New Years sucks and I’m pretending like it doesn’t exist.  Be gone 2011!

To my single friends out there- don’t you agree that New Years is a total drag?