Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas Time Is Here

Last Saturday, one of the stakes in Chicagoland had a movie night. We all met at a theater downtown, and watched A Christmas Carol. You know, the newish one that was shown in 3D. Well, afterward we walked up Michigan Ave, and ended at Ghirardelli's. Well, I spotted a chocolate croissant, the kind Hope and I had been looking for since we met each other. Searching for chocolate croissants was actually the first thing we did together. So we bought a croissant, and it was truly delicious and I think the First Christmas Miracle of the season. 

We also stopped for a pic with the big tree in front of the John Hancock building. I liked how blue it looked from far away. It doesn't look so blue in this picture however.  

I've always thought that the biggest trial in my life might be to have children who are allergic to normal food. I've given this a lot of thought, and I think that is the thing that would cause me the most trouble. Well, that night we met a guy who was severely allergic to peanuts and some metals. And then it hit me: Could my biggest trial in life be to marry a man with food allergies? That sounds terrible! And what if our children were also allergic to everything? It would be a huge trial, that's for sure. 

Employee of the Month

November was kind of a big deal because I was named Employee of the Month! In true eDrop-off style, I received a necklace and also this rad poster: 

And then everyone signed it! 

I love being loved. 
(Also, please note the use of "X" and "O" on there. I've never considered using them before, but maybe I should? I usually do a dash or a heart and then sign my name. But maybe it's time for a switch.) 

China Town and Kozlareks

I rarely sit around. Okay, that's a lie, I sit around whenever possible, and sometimes even when it's not possible. But even though I love the sitting, I find myself on adventures. And somehow, I found myself on an adventure to Chinatown with Sandy, and Branch President and Sister Kozlarek. 

We did what you do in Chinatown: walk around, go in stores, make jokes about the dried wares, and eat Chinese food. 

I surprisingly had a lot of fun (I say surprising because I don't usually hang out with my Branch Pres and his wife) and we joked and joked and joked and joked, and then they took us out to lunch, which was amazing. 

Oh, and we also found out that Pres K and I are both of the Year of the Rat, which really clears things up. And Sister K, in all her Sister K-ness, looked at all the different years, and wrote down which years were compatible with Sandy and I, to be looked up in the branch directory to better find us husbands. 


Have you noticed? I'm in a huge rush to post past events. I've been so busy, I just haven't been posting. But I want to remember these events, so I will post them all in December, and then move them to their correct months in a little while. Also, it's almost Christmas! That means great things will be happening that I will be sure to document. I'm going home for Christmas, and then some of my favorite people from Chicago will be visiting Atascadero for New Years! I'm so excited! This is why I've got to hurry and post everything before even more amazing things occur!

Tin Foil Dinners

Hope and I get together for a meal at least once a week. The other week it was tin foil dinners. I just love tin foil diners. I think maybe Hope grey up calling them hobo dinners? But I had a problem with that, because where was the hobo going to get fresh produce? 

Anyway, in her honor, and because we had a lot, we made a dinner for Diana!

And this candle doesn't mean anything except that we found it at the grocery store for 35 cents, and I just can't pass up a deal when I also get to burn something. 

Halloween, In All Its Forms

Ahh, February. It is a great month, seeing how I was born in it. And apparently, a bunch of other people call February their own as well. But that doesn't matter. What matters is that I have finally decided to post about Halloween. It's a really scary holiday, and I was simply afraid to post about it. But, right after the holiday of love, I felt like I was strong enough to post about something so scary. So here she is. 

I don't know if you remember, but last year at Halloween is when I really became friends with Hope and Diana. This year, Diana was in India or Indiana (I can't remember which) so Hope and I took a pic in memorial of our Christmas mugs at Halloween festivities of yesteryear. 

Wendy was gracious enough to host Halloween 2011, which included chili, carmel apples, apple cider, white chocolate candy corn bark, and amazing corn bread. 

While I was at my party, I received two texts from my family. 
Mother is all ready for her Halloween party, 

and Bryn is hopped up on sugar, and Torah seems to feel exactly how I do about getting dressed up. 

On the actual Halloween day, I was lucky enough to celebrate however I wanted. First I enjoyed some artwork, 

Then Hope and I had soup in bread bowls. And, they were fresh bread bowls. It's how life should be.

We took a walk around a cemetery and tried to pretend that we knew stuff about cemeteries. 

We did, however, find the tree that Boo Radley used in To Kill a Mockingbird.

And we were also fortunate enough to stumble upon The Lake of Shining Waters. 

We finished off our day with a little short story, which seriously was the best Halloween book I've read in a long time. You should probably put it on hold at your local library. Yeah, it's that good. 


Since Diana moved and the Hope and Diana household was split, Hope has had someone visit her every other weekend. One weekend without prior planning, her mother and her cousin came for a visit!

I got to hang out with them. The best part is getting to know Hope's family and also getting to know Chicago! We went to Navy Pier. I have never been to Navy Pier. I was glad I finally had the chance to ride the ferris wheel. 

There is also a fancy and crazy water feature on Navy Pier, which I tried to capture in the following shot. 

We had deep dish, and we went to go see Mary Poppins on Broadway. It was amazing! I LOVED it. Since living in Chicago I've seen Wicked, Mary Poppins, and West Side Story. Mary Poppins was by far my favorite. When you come to Chicago we'll go and see it. I love it. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


For Labor Day weekend, Elizabeth came up with this great idea that included meeting in Tucson and surprising the Balls. And, really, it was a very satisfying surprise. Amanda dropped everything she was holding, shrieked, and didn't even wake up her children. Amanda was pleased to see me, but I don't think Ethan was. He seems a bit on the fence about me in general. 

PS, that photo was taken in the Ball's backyard. Their swanky backyard. With the swanky grass, and the swanky view of the swanky lake in their exclusively swanky housing development slash gated community. 

The next photo is basically what everyone looked like all weekend. I realized, while going through photos, that we were rarely in a condition fit to be posted about on a blog. So we might not get too many photos of us hanging around the house. Cause seriously, it was pajama time and crazy hair for most of the weekend. 

While Amanda practiced her skills and maintained her talents (playing righteous hymns on the piano), 

I too practiced my skills (fishtail braiding)

and maintained my talents (InStyle reading).

Even though we were setting great examples and being super awesome with our talents, the girls were not impressed. 

Oh well. So the weekend was awesome because Elizabeth brought her dog Jack. And I love dogs. The weekend was also awesome because we had a project. We were going to paint the living room. So, we dismantled the living room, and essentially made a mess. Stuff was everywhere. But we got it done. We were amazing.

 Then we had to wait for the paint to dry, and everybody waited in their own way. 

At some point during the weekend Tyler bought a barbecue. It was Labor Day Weekend, so of course we needed a barbecue. He put that thing together with lightening speed.

I also luxuriated in 100% silk sheets (it's high class or nothing at the Ball residence) 

We took multiple walks around the lake, 

Did awesome physical activity like sit ups, 


taking pictures of Odette, 

and climbing over fences to get into the big dog park. 
Big dog park = cooler than little dog park. Obviously we had to get in there. 

Apparently the Balls are the only ones who participate in Church. They had multiple people call them and ask them to cover for them. Tyler and Elizabeth taught a Sunday School lesson to 14 year olds, Jacqueline and I taught the 5 year olds (or something) and Amanda was in charge of Sing Time in Primary. Good thing the Balls had all those surprise visitors, or who knows what would have happened! 

Lillian and I did some reading. I love reading. 

Nora and Jacqueline also did some reading, but they were a bit more proper and ladylike. 

We ate a lot of fabulous things, including ribs and tri tip. Yeah, that's right. tri tip. I'm telling you, nothing but the best for the Balls. 

On Monday we hit up the Zoo. This was an awesome photo op that that the girls kept hogging. 

So Jacqueline and I had to move them a long.

And in the end the girls were still in the picture. They are so sneaky.

At the zoo you have the opportunity to feed the giraffes! You have to wait in a special line, but it's all worth it cause I got to see this awesome mohawk: 

I got a fab souvenir that matched my outfit. 

After the zoo (which had no pics of Elizabeth because we couldn't figure out how to pass off Jack as a medically necessary working dog, so he and Elizabeth had their own adventures outside of the zoo.)
we went for my very first Sonoran hot dog. Thankfully, Amanda had done her research (or seriously, we probably wouldn't be friends) and we went to the best hot dog place around. 

If you can't find it, just remember that it is across the street from this building with this creepy van:

It looks disgusting. When the ingredients are listed it sounds disgusting. But when you eat one, all you can think about is how you want to eat another. Seriously. They were very good. They knock the socks off of a Chicago Dog, that's for sure. 

After hot dogs we went back home to lay around and look at the paint job. Amanda noticed some places that needed to be touched up.

I noticed that I had never played Angry Birds before and what had I been doing with my life? 

It was a fabulous weekend, made possible by Elizabeth. It was wonderful to spend time with people I love and just chillax. And by chillax I mean live life and stay busy and do a lot of work like paint a living room, balance on things, read magazines, braid hair, watch movies, cook, and make jokes. I loved every minute of it. I especially loved night swimming in the salt water pool. I need to do that more often.