Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 return and report

  1. Visit 12 places I have never visited before.  Check. Check. Check. Cabellas, Thai Basil, Taste of India, spiral jetty, Sundance moonlight ride, Canada, Cardston Temple, Waterton, Glacier National Park, Horse Shoe Bend, Cathedral Wash, Cabo San Lucas, Puerta Vallarta, Splendor, Mexican Riviera.
  2. Make 12 new recipes.  Check. Some I’ve posted. Stay tuned. I may post more.
  3. Meet 12 new people.  Check. New ward made this easy.
  4. Reconnect with 12 old people. Check, maybe.  I haven’t done such a fabulous job of keeping track.
  5. Run 12 miles. Uncheck. I had some back issues and the doctor told me no running for a little while. I haven’t felt comfortable getting all the way back into it. This year I am going to. 
  6. Learn 12 new skills. Check, I am pretty sure.  I didn’t do the best job recording it. I did learn some pretty awesome knitting stitches recently. 
  7. Read the Book of Mormon 12 times. Half Check. I started out the beginning of the year doing really awesome. First three months I read the B of M three times. And then in the middle of my fourth month I realized as awesome as that was, I didn’t have time to read anything else, including conference report, other standard works, etc. So I slowed down and made sure I got those other important works in. I did however manage to read the B of M a total of six times this year. I feel pretty good about that.
  8. Read 12 books that I already own. 11/12. Unless you count the B of M, then it would be 17/12.
  9. Read 12 nonfiction books. 10/12. Unless you count the of B of M, then it would be 16/12. I did reach my Goodreads 2012 goal of reading 30 books this year.
  10. Discover 12 new loves. Check. I really love parasailing.
  11. Learn 12 new pieces on the piano. Not quite check. I’m sure I played 12 new pieces. But actual focused practice, no.  
  12. Find 12 names to take to the temple. No Check. Sad smile I’ll keep working on it. 
  13. Look at this list at least 12 times. Check.


Sunday, December 30, 2012

a hallelujah christmas

Normally on Sundays while driving to church I flip back and forth between two local stations known to play "church" music on Sundays. However, due to the recent loss of one station, I was forced to find a substitute while the surviving Sunday sounds station was on a commercial break. I decided to give the Christian Rock station (that I may or may not listen to on a regular basis) a try. I think it was fate because not only were they still playing Christmas music, but this song came on. I am already in love with the original Hallelujah song. But I fell in love all over again with the Christmas lyrics. 

It has already been added to my Ipod and it will probably be one of the few Christmas pieces that will stay there year around. 

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

a christmas to remember...

Merry Christmas!!

Monday, December 10, 2012

a cruisin’ christmas

I am fresh off the boat and still rocking. No I mean literally rocking, you know swaying back and forth over those swells that aren’t really there. Ok, maybe it is just in my head. This year Christmas came a little early. And it came in the form of 7 days on a really big boat where they treat you like royalty and all that is expected of you is to be there and enjoy yourself. 
Carnival Splendor, here we come.
Yes, life was really rough.

First day in Cabo San Lucas

Baby Sea Turtles

Day 2 in Cabo

Home Sweet Ship
Beyond all this amazing stuff I spent the week relaxing a lot, eating a lot, and reading a lot. Three books finished. I haven’t done that in a while. My favorite place to hide out, I mean hang out on the ship was in the spa. A bit of heaven a week long. A fabulous Merry Christmas.  

Sunday, November 25, 2012

“An ungrateful man is like a hog under a tree eating acorns, but never looking up to see where they come from.” Timothy Dexter

This quote was shared at church today. And I kind of liked it. I am not sure what the significance of ‘a hog eating acorns’ is and I had to Google Timothy Dexter to find out who he was and why people were quoting him. But the whole ‘never looking up to see where they came from’ stood out as a good reminder to look up and remember where all blessings come from.


I could go off and list all the hundreds of things I am thankful this month of Thanksgiving. But I won’t. It’s been done. And it’ll be done again. There is one thing that I am largely thankful for this season of gratitude. And it is people. I am so blessed by the people who are in my life, passed through my life, and will pass through my life. Ok, so really that is more than one thing. It actually adds up to hundreds of blessings that make my life abundant. And these blessings come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. They often appear as home teachers, roommates, classmates, coworkers, blind dates, amazing people I admire and wish to emulate from a distance, friends, passing acquaintances, cousins, friendly drivers, good neighbors, friends of friends, leaders, teachers, bishopric, mission companions, brothers, sisters, support system, family, tender mercies… Some quietly pass through. Some are here to stay.

A few nights when I was thinking about these many blessings and I wrote in my journal, “God has been in my life through the people He has let in my life. Some I have prayed for, some He knew I would need.”

Thank you for your example. Thank you for looking out for me. Thank you for making me laugh for making me laugh. Thank you for including me. Thank you for reminding me I am not alone. Thank you for loving me in spite of me.

Friday, November 2, 2012

café rio night

So I have been wanting to do this forever. Make a full Café Rio meal at home. I get some kind of strange satisfaction knowing I can cook something just as well or better than they do at a restaurant. (i.e. This Zuppa Toscano rivals the one you order at Olive Garden.) This Café Rio adventure was a long process, but worth every minute. Sorry no pictures. (I am not a big fan of the cooking blogs that do a lengthy photo play-by-play. Really, I don’t need a picture of all my ingredients and I already know how to stir and crack an egg.) Enjoy!

Cafe Rio Pork Barbacoa

5-6 lb. pork roast

21 oz. Dr. Pepper (or Coke, do NOT use diet soda)
1 cup brown sugar (I may have cut back on the sugar a bit. Your discretion.)
3/4 cup white sugar
1 clove garlic, minced
7 oz. can chipotle chilies in adobo sauce (I just used the sauce. I didn’t add the chilies. Add chilies if you want more of a kick.)
6-ish oz. red taco sauce
1 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Total cook time: 18 hours. (Plan accordingly)

  • Place roast in crock-pot, cover half-way with water and cook on low for 12 hours. (Plan ahead. Works to cook it overnight.)  After 12 hours, drain pork.
  • Mix remaining ingredients until sugar dissolves. 
  • Add mixture to the roast and cook on low an additional 4 hours.
  • Take out roast and shred, add back into sauce and cook for 2 more hours.  At this point the meat was so tender it practically shredded itself.

Cafe Rio Tomatillo Dressing

1 pkg. Ranch dressing mix
3 tomatillos (remove papery skin), rough chop
1 cup mayo
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup (or more) cilantro, rough chop
3 cloves garlic
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 - 2 tsp green Tabasco sauce (This is what gives it the kick. So use less if you prefer less kick.) 
juice from 1 lime

Dump everything in a blender and blend until smooth.  Refrigerate in air-tight container. This dressing is to die for, but there is no need to double it because this makes plenty. (I learned this the hard way. Good news it freezes just fine.)

Easy Pico-de-Gallo

3 tomatoes, diced
1/2 bunch of cilantro, minced
1/2 sweet onion, minced
1 section of green pepper, minced
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
about 1/3-1/2 cup vinegar (your discretion)
salt and pepper

Mix it up really well and refrigerate.  Works well in a Tupperware, then you can shake it up right before serving.

Final Checklist:

  • Tortillas – I like the uncooked ones in the refrigerated section.
  • Cheese –I like mozzarella best with this kind of meal.
  • Beans – “black or pinto” (From a can is fine. I stuck my in my mini crockpot to warm them up and added a little garlic.)
  • Rice – I cooked it Brazilian style. (Sauté the rice in olive oil and garlic till slightly brown then add water.)
  • Enchilada Sauce – If you want to do your burritos enchilada style.
  • Pork – Yummy! So worth the time.
  • Lettuce – Shredded Romaine.
  • Pico de Gallo
  • Guacamole- Did I forget to include this above..Just mash up a few avocados, squeeze in some lime, add some chopped cilantro, sprinkle some garlic, salt and pepper. Or I like to add Morton’s Nature Seasons. (My favorite add-to-everything seasoning.)
  • Creamy Tomatillo Dressing – Yum!
  • Tortilla Strips – slice a corn tortilla into strips, brush with olive oil and salt and pepper and bake on a foil-covered sheet for 15-20 minutes at 350-ish. Or Corn chips work fine, too.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

i made the jump

I made the jump. Yes, I made the jump from the YSA crowd to the Mid-singles crowd. (They actually like to drop the ‘mid’ part but for clarification purposes they use it.) This leap actually occurred back in May but I have failed make record of it here. Not because I was embarrassed or anything. I just haven’t gotten around to it. The transition actually was not as horrific as I feared. It was actually somewhat refreshing. Yes, I am now going to that huge mid-singles ward that you have heard all about. And, yes, everything you’ve heard about it is true. It is huge. There is no parking. It has its characters. The gal to guy ratio is about 2.36 to 1. But it is also a lot of fun and there are a lot of fantastic people. In fact, they define “thirty, flirty, and thriving.”  Making it a really great crowd to be a part of. I was fortunate to have a friend with a good attitude help me make the jump and I have decided to see the positive, keep that good attitude, and smile at the little trivial awkwardness that might exist.

Something that I did find interesting in my first few weeks is that I kept hearing people say that it is so hard to meet people here. And to that I looked around and thought, “Are you kidding me? With all these people here you think it is hard to meet people?” Yes, unbelievable. However, what I have come to find is that it is not the meeting part that is hard.  It is the building relationships with the people that is hard. Case and point: You meet someone. You have a great conversation and you start to feel like you are really getting to know him or her and he or she is a person with who you would like to develop a friendship with or maybe something more. However, following this great encounter, the weeks may go by and you mayor may not see that person again for several weeks. And by the time you do see them,you have probably forgotten their name or that you already met them. Thus the problem. Getting lost in the masses. But it is not without a solution. It just takes special skills and effort. Effort to remember peoples’ names. Effort to build relationships. Effort to get pass the initial chit chat. And like my stake president said, “Brethren, if you interested, man up and get her number the first time you meet.” So this is my life now. And I am alright with it. If you are going to be there, it is a good place to be.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Bem Vindo a Macao

Just a ferry ride away from Hong Kong is Macao or Macau. Another stamp in my passport and finally a place where I could read the street signs.  Macao was once a Portuguese colony making the second official language Portuguese.
Macau felt like a little Europe in the middle of Asia.

My language skills in Portuguese only helped me out so much in Macau. I could read all the street signs, however I didn’t meet anyone who actually spoke it.  Apparently only government officials are required to learn it.

Other Macau facts:

Macau is home of the Macau Grand Prix
Gambling revenue has made Macau the world's top casino market, surpassing Las Vegas.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Rise and shout

It's the most wonderful time of the year. Fall. Yummy food. Cooler weather. Beautiful colors. And, of course, football. I've been looking forward to it since the bowl game last year. I have been especially looking forward to the BYU vs USU game. I was not disappointed. It was a good game.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Look what I found…

…in Hong Kong. I walked around the corner and ….ta da!!!! Beautiful and amazing. Inside and out.






Friday, September 28, 2012

Countries I've Visited

  1. United States
  2. England
  3. Scotland
  4. Ireland
  5. Belgium
  6. France
  7. Brazil
  8. Mexico
  9. Egypt
  10. Jordan
  11. Israel
  12. Peru
  13. Belize
  14. Hondorus
  15. China
  16. Hong Kong
  17. Canada

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Land of 10,000 Buddhas

Actually it’s a Monastery in Hong Kong. And there are actually over 12,000 if you count the travel size ones inside the monastery. But you’ll have to take my word about that. No pictures inside. And I guess I didn’t count every single Buddha on the 431 step hike up. But there were a lot. Each with an individual expression.

Yep. It’s up there. And there isn’t a lift.
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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Creamy Tortellini Tomato Soup

This is an ultimate comfort food that would be great on “one of those days.” It is a lot easier than it looks and it impresses. I used this recipe from Taste of Home as a basic guide. But I ad lib measurements and spices a bit.


  • 1 package (9 ounces) refrigerated cheese tortellini
  • 2 cans (10-3/4 ounces each)  condensed tomato soup, undiluted
  • 2 cups vegetable broth or chicken broth
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 cups half-and-half cream
  • 1/2 cup chopped oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
  • One can of sliced mushrooms (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil (I used fresh. yum)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • Additional shredded Parmesan cheese, optional


  • Cook tortellini according to package directions.
  • Meanwhile, in a Dutch oven, combine the soup, broth, milk, cream, tomatoes and seasonings. Heat through, stirring frequently. Drain tortellini; carefully add to soup. Stir in cheese. Sprinkle each serving with additional cheese if desired. Yield: 10 servings (2-1/2 quarts).

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Oh, Canada

When my cousin decided to hop the border to Canada in order to marry her sweetie, who can’t legally get into the USA. I knew there wasn’t nothing in this world that would keep me from being there with her. (Yep, we are those kind of friends. Partners in crime and other outrageous schemes. (ie. Bear Lake) Along with seeing one of my BBFs tie the knot, this resolution carried with some very fortunate repercussions.  1. Road trip, baby. 2. New destination: Canada. (Yes. I’ve traveled to China and Egypt, but I’d never stepped foot in Canada. Sue me.) 3. National Park: Glacier National Park is on the way if you go slightly to the west. I was super stoked.    

P1050009Glacier is another piece of Heaven on Earth.


Crossing the Border



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I love her dress almost as much as I love her.

Being the BFF/cousin that I am, I volunteered myself to stay a few extra days and do the unfortunate task of bringing her back to the states without her sweetie. This temporary separation is necessary until she has her visa and can go live in France with him. While they did the honeymoon thing, her new family made sure I got to do some true Canadian must-dos. Have you ever tried Poutine? Food native to Canada.

They took me to Waterton. A Canadian National Park.

Now I can say: Canada. Been there, done that. My only regret is that I didn’t get a picture of  a Canadian Mounty. One of favorite books, Mrs. Mike, is about the life of a woman married to a Canadian Mounty. And he really is the epitome of a perfect man. I would like to meet one sometime and take his picture. Next trip to Canada, I guess. 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

real-life love story

One of my favorite joys in life is standing on the sidelines and watching the real-life love stories unfold of my friends and those I love best.  

Over the past year, I got to watch one of my dearest friends and cousin’s love story. She and her forever have a story like no other. One that only the Almighty could orchestrate. But they both had to play their parts well and not give up when times got tough. And after the work, prayers, and faith even oceans couldn’t keep them apart. She and I have spent hours through the years talking about life, love, and the day when it would finally happen to us. We both surmised that no matter the timing, circumstances, place, age, or aligning of the stars that brought two people together who will love each other forever, it is nothing short of a miracle. Even the simplest story. Her story is without a doubt evidence of that. It was a good story to watch. Better than the best chick flick.

I am so grateful that I got to be there when this segment of the story wrapped up and when these two amazing people completely committed to love and take care of the other for the rest of eternity. The day was beautiful all around. And she was “the bride of my dreams.” (Do you know that reference? Hint: It’s from a movie and a book.)

a and jp

The happily-ever-after is still in the making. But it will be a joy to continue watching.

*Picture courtesy of Jared Harlow.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

I bring you glad tidings…

…of little bundles of joy.  Actually just one. Makayla Madge Hintze graced us with her presence. And she is a sweetie. 




Sunday, August 12, 2012

a year later…

…I am finally getting around to posting about Hong Kong. Don’t get me wrong it wasn’t not memorable. It was amazing. Another one of those experiences I wasn’t expecting to happen in my life time. I have just taken my time recording this adventure for posterity so that it looks like I go on more adventures than I really do.

So remember when I was here, and here. A year ago I was just getting home from China. Yes, the year has flown by. Too fast.

Well this Asian Adventure ended with a real treat. Hong Kong. Erin, Liz, and I parted decided that the trip would not be complete without a quick jaunt through Hong Kong. I mean, why not? We had traveled all that way. I would be a shame not to stop. And since this is where Erin had served a mission. Our adventure was complete with our own personal tour guide. So when when the rest of our group went home from Beijing. We head to Hong Kong for a week. We rented an apartment that was teeny, tiny but really nice and in a great location. The second we landed it was confirmed Hong Kong was going to be F-U-N!


I was amazed by Hong Kong. The contrast from mainland China was significant. One of the first things I noticed was how clean it was. Seriously, you could eat of the ground in the MTR stations (aka Hong Kong’s subway, metro, tube, trax) And there was hand sanitizer in most public buildings. China isn’t the dirtiest place I’ve been, but after six weeks of living there, there was a stark difference. It was refreshing.



Let the reliving of Hong Kong begin….stay tuned!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

lovin' summer

Summer is here in all it's glory. And I am lovin' it. I've been super excited for summer to come. And now that it is here I've been thoroughly enjoying all the long-anticipated events and activities of the season. Swimming, grilling, summer nights, camping, fireworks, fresh food, bare feet, outdoor concerts, sleeping under the stars, anticipating the Summer Olympics....

Even with all the busyness, activities, and events. I've had this nagging feeling that something was missing. This feeling was almost causing me anxiety. My number one goal is to take advantage of every single summer moment and not miss out on anything. I really did not want to get to the end of summer and think, "oh man, I should have done that." I kept running through my head all my plans and all the many summer possibilities there are to fill the summer moments. Still, I had no idea what I could possibly be missing out on. Last night after someone asked me if I was going on any trips this summer, it hit me. For the first summer in a many years I don't have a major trips planned. It feels a little weird. And a little sad. But really it is o.k. Most of what I've been looking forward to and anticipating this summer is right here at home. And part of the fun of being out of school is I don't have to wait for summer to go on a trip. Nope, I can go anytime. I just have to wait for the vacation days to add up.

Good news. Thanks to my cousin's crazy wedding plans, I will be taking a quick trip to Canada. And since I've never been to Canada it gives me a new place to check off my list. And I would hate for the summer to go by without checking something off my list.

Happy Summer!!!

Friday, June 22, 2012

5 years

I was in a interview a few weeks ago. An interview I felt pretty good about. I was able to express and present myself soundly and eloquently. Something that is always a relief. There was only one question that caught me a little off guard. “Where do you see yourself in five years?” I know. Weird. That is the most basic of interview questions and frequently used in interviews. I’ve been asked it before. But that was five years ago and I am no where near where I thought I would be five years from then. And it’s been a while since I have thought about five years from now. I kind of don’t want to think about it. It just sounds old. And I have no idea where I will be five years from now. I know where I would like to be. But the last five years have taught me not to plan on it, just be prepared for anything.

After a moment of feeling tongue-tied I was able to formulate a sincere and profound response. I surprised even myself. I said I hope to be progressing. Whether it is in a career or with a family. I hope to be progressing intellectually, spiritually, socially, and even physically. And then I added. Similar to what I am striving to do now with my life. Progressing. I liked that thought and it was comforting to know I am striving to do now what I hope to be doing five years from now.  

I didn’t get the job. It was close. They were impressed with me but they chose to go with someone internally. It was disappointing. Fortunately, I have a job. And it did feel good to know that I had good interview.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Casa do Senhor

If I could've been anywhere on June 10, 2012, I would've been in Manaus, Brazil participating in this long awaited event.

I am so happy for the people in Manaus, Brazil. They hold a special place in my heart. My first mission companion in the field was from there. She was Amazonian to the core. We worked so hard. I didn't know missionaries were allowed to stop to eat dinner my first transfer because we never did. But we were blessed with so much success. We saw miracles happen. I love her so much .
She gave birth to her first baby last month. A girl. She named her Sarah. :)