Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Don't forget! SLCA Season Tickets on Sale NOW!

"I love to hear a choir. I love the humanity to see the faces of real people devoting themselves to a piece of music. I like the teamwork. It makes me feel optimistic about the human race when I see them cooperating like that."
~Paul McCartney

We're ready to start our new concert season, and we're very excited! Season brochures are available. If you haven't yet received one, use this blog post to mark your calendars now! You won't want to miss any part of this season. Let me know if you'd like tickets to a concert, or even better... season tickets! Season tickets can be purchased for $50 before October 10th. Act now! It will be worth it!

October 17: Made in America
Moving past pop and rock and roll, the Salt Lake Choral Artists explore the roots of American music. The choir will sing selections from Carol Barnett's "Bluegrass Mass," along with traditional folk music, African-American spirituals, gospel music, jazz, and music from the American musical theater. Also including sacred and secular music by living American composers, this concert truly represents a melting pot of styles.

December 19: Laud to the Nativity
Featuring soprano Carol Ann Allred, tenor Todd Miller, and mezzo-soprano Laura Garff Lewis, Respighi's "Laud to the Nativity" charmingly and intimately tells the nativity story through the eyes of the shepherds. Dr. Allred will also direct the Salt Lake Choral Artists in Ariel Ramirez' "Navidad Nuestra," which sets the Christmas story against a tapestry of traditional Latin American dance styles and instrumentation. The concert will include the music of Arvo Part, selections from Sergei Rachmaninoff's "All Night Vigil," and familiar favorites by John Rutter.

February 20: Beatlemania
John, Paul, George, and Ringo: those four iconic names that changed the face of pop music forever. Experience the British Invasion all over again as the Salt Lake Choral Artists sing the classic music of Lennon and McCartney as well as music by artists that both influenced and were influenced by the Beatles. With Get Back, a live Beatles cover band, and the award-winning vocal ensemble T minus 5, this is sure to be a night to remember!

May 15: Lux Aeterna - Eternal Light
Light: hope, faith, life, joy. Morten Lauridsen's "Lux Aeterna," a beautiful work for choir and chamber orchestra, fully expresses the idea of light in both its soaring, majestic phrases and its moments of quiet serenity. With texts drawn from a variety of sacred Latin sources, the piece emphasizes heavenly light. The Salt Lake Choral Artists will also premiere "One Light," a newly commissioned work by Ray Shattenkirk that draws its inspiration from religious poems from many faiths.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Boredom: The Springboard of Imagination and Creativity.

"A man who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life."
~ Charles Darwin

Lately, on Facebook, I've seen several status updates from friends saying something to the effect of, "I'm so bored." I'll be frank here: Initially, I get slightly annoyed and frustrated because I begin to think of all the things I could do if I just had more time.

To me, "being bored" means that you can't think of anything worthwhile to occupy your time. So I start to think of all the projects that I have waiting to be completed, like compiling all my mission letters into a book, scanning all my mission photos (since I didn't have a digital camera then), cleaning out and organizing my storage in the basement, denim quilts, a t-shirt quilt made up of all the old t-shirts from camp and other activities I've been involved in over the years, keeping in touch with old friends, simply going grocery shopping, or finishing basic household chores.

I could go on and on. And this person is bored???

Despite my initial irritation with that phrase, I don't believe that boredom should be thought of as a 4-letter word. Out of boredom springs creativity, curiosity, and great amounts of imagination. But if you didn't learn how to entertain yourself as a child, then being bored as an adult will carry with it many burdens.

Creativity, self-reliance, self-direction, problem-solving — all of these skills are the hallmarks of a successful adult. They are also all strengths that children can learn through play and finding their way out of boredom.

So are you reading this, as an adult, and thinking... "Wait a minute, but I DO get bored." Does that mean something's wrong with you? No, but it may mean that you didn't successfully learn how to cope with boredom as a child. And let’s face it — coping with and finding your way out boredom is a life skill that everyone should have. So why not begin to foster it now?

Now, we could certainly have a discussion about OVER-booking our time, or over-stimulating ourselves, or filling our time with "useless" things, but we'll save all that for another day. I'm not encouraging you to over-stimulate yourself or book yourself busy every minute of the day or be plugged into something at all times.

Being alone with your mind can be enough. This is not wasting time. Relaxation and "me time" is vital. We begin to realize that our minds are powerful and can be quite entertaining! God gave them to us to use. So let's really stretch them to their full potential! It's a liberating feeling to discover that you have everything you really need right at your disposal.

Now, if your mind can't entertain or enlighten you, then I would suggest teaching it a few new things. Read. Meditate. Invest in an education. Talk about ideas with others. Get outside and see the world. Stimulate that mind, so that when you and it are alone, you will never feel "bored".

As Dorothy Parker once said, "The cure for boredom is curiosity." Your mind is capable of a lot. Just see what it comes up with and then go for it. Try something new!

Be curious! Cultivate the skill of coping with boredom. It CAN be done. And help your kids to learn it too. They'll thank you as adults.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Random Photo: I'm REALLY tired.

"O bed! O bed! delicious bed!
That heaven upon earth to the weary head."

~Thomas Hood, poet
from Miss Kilmansegg And Her Precious Leg: Her Dream

I just wish I had more time to do this:

Photo courtesy of some family member.
Taken in Denver, CO. September 2004.

Friday, September 18, 2009

On-the-run. Gotta eat. Must plan ahead.

"If we're not willing to settle for junk living, we certainly shouldn't settle for junk food."
~Sally Edwards

School is back in session, (has been for over a month now) which means planning for meals takes even more forethought on my part. Some days I leave the house at 5:20am and don't return until 9:30pm. That means all three meals (and two snacks) are eaten away from my pantry and refrigerator. Packing my own meals has saved me cash and calories!

First things first: Snack size ziploc bags are a must! They allow you just the right amount so you don't eat too much. Also, investing in a good insulated lunch bag is crucial. But of course, neither the snack bags nor the insulated lunch bag will do any good unless you prepare beforehand. As soon as I get home from the grocery store, I separate everything into individual servings. If it's not convenient, I won't take it because I always seem to be in a rush in the morning.

Here are some of my favorite things:

• Hors d'oeuvres. Whole-grain crackers with 3 tablespoons goat cheese; top with halved grape tomatoes and fresh basil. Or spread on spicy hummus and top with sliced black olives.

• Kirkland (Costco brand) Chocolate Weight-loss Shake. It's basically a generic Slim-fast. These shakes (when cold) are a delicious on-the-run breakfast!

• Snack bag of baby carrots and a wedge of Laughing Cow cheese.

• Mini Babybel cheese rounds. They're only .75 ounces and 70 calories. A great little dairy treat. Buy them in bulk at Costco. And who knew? They're made by Laughing Cow also.

• Mediterranean Meal. Open a whole-wheat pita and fill with 1 to 2 tablespoons hummus, fresh spinach leaves, sun dried tomatoes and 1 ounce string cheese or a .75 ounce Babybel mini.

• Small handful of almonds. Dry roasted with NO salt is my favorite. They're hard to find without salt. I buy mine from The Nutty Guys at the Salt Lake Farmer's Market. Maybe Whole Foods would have them, too.

• Tuna Cups. They are marvelous. Now, they're a little more expensive than buying regular tuna in a can in larger sizes, but they are so convenient and the perfect single size. The best part? They don't require draining of water and they're wet enough that you don't need to add mayo. Pop one open into a salad. Have one with some crackers.

• Celery sticks with peanut butter. I never thought I'd say this, but it's really yummy. I tried them once with raisins. You know, the whole ants on a log idea. I didn't love it. Leave the raisins out and I'm good.

• Fruit! Grapes or melon chunks. Dip into 1/2 cup low-fat yogurt (I like vanilla flavored). OR grapes with a Babybel mini or a Laughing Cow wedge. Seriously delish!

• And since I have a sweet tooth... Trail mix snack. I mix my own because store-bought kinds have so much salt in them. I mix roasted unsalted almonds, with raisins, and dark chocolate chips or M&Ms. Just a small amount in a snack bag can really hit the spot!

So there you have it. Do you have any favorite snacks or food ideas for an on-the-run lifestyle?

All photos from a Google search. Trail mix photo a la moi.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Random Photo: Candle Dance.

“There is not enough darkness in all the world to put out the light of even one small candle.”
~ Robert Alden quotes

Photo a la moi. A church in Prague. June 2006.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Random Photo: Once, I was a baby.

"My mother had a great deal of trouble with me, but I think she enjoyed it."
~Mark Twain

For some reason the title of this post now has me singing "Once I Was a Snowman." Maybe it's the Primary Chorister in me. Have I mentioned that I'm the Primary Chorister in my ward? Well, there. I've mentioned it. Maybe that's a topic for another post. :)

As many of you may have seen, I scanned and uploaded several old school pictures to Facebook a few weeks ago. Very fun to reminisce. Don't worry, I have hundreds now. So, you may be seeing an old school Random Photo from time to time. Enjoy.

Here's baby Emmy.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Wanna cupcake? The answer is YES!

“When you look at a cupcake, you've got to smile.”
~Anne Byrn

Last night, I went out to dinner with the work girls (half of whom don't even work with us anymore) to a great little place called Blue Lemon Restaurant in Highland. If you live close by, you should check it out.

I had the Blue Lemon Portobello Burger, which was delicious! With a grilled portobello mushroom, caramelized onions, garlic and herbs, provolone and cheddar cheese, fresh tomatoes, lettuce, citrus pesto aioli and a splash of Blue Lemon vinaigrette on a Tuscan-herbed bun, I was in heaven! And as they promised, I never missed the meat!

But, THE REAL REASON for this post is to tell you of the delectable deliciousness that is a Sweet Tooth Fairy cupcake!
Camille took orders and picked up our treats on her way to dinner. I could hardly wait! I'd been thinking about those cupcakes ALL week long. No lie. The Sweet Tooth Fairy opened up their bakeshop in Provo, in January of this year, and they have been growing exponentially (it seems) ever since. I've heard about their cupcakes and have anxiously been waiting to try them. Thanks to Camille, that little food dream came true!

And let me tell you, those cupcakes did NOT disappoint! In fact, they were much better than I anticipated. That's the truth. Now, you see, it's all in the frosting. In my opinion, frosting makes or breaks a cake ... or a cupcake, as it were. And The Sweet Tooth Fairy knows her frosting! Oh boy. My mouth is salivating as I write. Seriously so delicious!

My selections were a Va-NIE-lla Squared, a Carrot, and a Cookies n' Cream. I've already eaten the first two, and I might have to say that they were honestly the best cupcakes I've ever eaten. I'm saving the Cookies n' Cream one for tonight. After that, it's back to the normal diet. :)

Oh goodness. SO yummy. If you live in or around Provo, beware... you might be tempted to begin making weekly (daily?) cupcake runs, if you ever taste even just one. Seriously, they're that good! Good thing I'm an hour's drive away. Although... I hear that they're expanding, and one might guess that they'd come up closer to Salt Lake. I'd better start building up my will power now. But just look at them... how can you resist?

Be sure to check out both the Blue Lemon website, as well as The Sweet Tooth Fairy website and blog if you haven't already. Photos found on their blog.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Tomatoes, Talk, and Travel.

"It's difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a homegrown tomato."
~Lewis Grizzard

Today, Katie and I took Harley on a walk. Harley is Brittney and Casey's miniature English bulldog, whom we are dog-sitting until Monday, when she will board a plane to Germany to meet up with Britt, Casey, and the girls. Yes, she gets her own flight. Getting her prepared to go overseas is quite an ordeal (legally speaking), but I don't think Casey could live without her. So off she'll go on Monday (thanks to Brittney's careful planning and preparation).

So anyway, back to our walk.
Today is such a beautiful day, with the sun shining and a slight breeze keeping things fairly cool at about 80-85 degrees. We all know that I don't like to be hot. :) So, the purpose of the walk was two-fold: Harley needed to go out and the Stake President's garden is full of tomatoes. :) Don't worry; we were invited to take them.

As a child, I never liked tomatoes much. Yuck. Well, that's not entirely true. I liked them in spaghetti sauce, but, "Ew. Get that tomato OUT of my salad and OFF my sandwich!"

Oh, how we get wiser with age...

So, we filled a bag full of beautiful red tomatoes. I could hardly wait to get home to try them, so I tasted one while still roaming in the garden. Yum. So wonderfully delicious. Homegrown tomatoes far outrank their grocery store counterparts. They are just THAT good.

On the way home, we ran into a man in our ward. They live in a very German style home, almost cottage-like. He told us that returning to the States following a period of several years living in northern Germany, they wanted to build their home to have that European feel.

Over dinner in a restaurant one night, they laid out their ideas, drew a floor plan, and subsequently took it to an architect. A year and a half later they had their home. He said sometimes he wonders if they made a mistake, since the home looks nothing like any in the vicinity, but it's what they wanted. I assured him that I didn't think it was a mistake at all! I love looking at it as I walk or drive by. Helps me keep my traveling dreams fresh in mind.
So, where will it be next? :)

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Hot. Phones.

"What dreadful hot weather we have!
It keeps me in a continual state of inelegance."
~Jane Austen

Today, I was hot. I shot a roll of film on campus and then walked back (uphill -- although Salt Lake knows no hill like San Francisco does ... still, it was uphill) to my car carrying three bags (camera, bookbag, and purse). All were rather heavy, and may I just say it was a tad bit hot today. I don't like sweating unless I'm working out. On purpose.

I suppose it has been much hotter this summer, and I know we don't have the wretched humidity combined with high 90s and triple digits like the east, but today, I just felt hot. It could have had something to do with the fact that, although T-Mobile gives good customer service, they didn't really give me what I want. Well, they did. But... it's been over two weeks since my phone worked properly, and I've spent probably 6 hours on the phone (not mine, because it didn't work...) and in the store trying to solve my BlackBerry 8220 Pearl Flip's behavioral issues.

So yeah. I was hot. The weather was hot. The sun was shining... hot. I really do enjoy living in Salt Lake City. For now. But I'm thinking that I could make a list of places with ideal weather for me... :) Someplace where I don't sweat on a five minute walk to my car.

But, I got a new phone. Let's hope it works this time. I quite like the phone (the large keypad, the flip)... it just happens to be the 7th one of its kind in my possession since February, and that's a little frustrating, not to mention un-BlackBerry-like-ish. But 7 is a lucky number, right? :)

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Fall = Scarves and Sweaters!

Awhile back, I posted this status on Facebook:

eclaires wants to live somewhere where it's perpetually Spring and Fall.

It's true. I just don't like the heat. I love when there is a breeze. I love clouds. I love rainy days.


I love scarves and sweaters!

These new sweaters look fun.

And scarves simply make the outfit. Just take a look!

Clearly, I'm looking forward to the approach of Autumn. The cooler temperatures are right up my alley. Now, let me clarify... cooler temperatures does not mean that I'm excited for snow. That can hold off for awhile.

All the sweaters pictured were found on the Ann Taylor, Ann Taylor Loft, and Lane Bryant websites.

And the scarves... well, they belong to the people wearing them. Thanks Katie and Meera for being my models. (Oh and those other two pictures are of yours truly.)

Saturday, September 05, 2009

The Kite Runner.

“A powerful book…no frills, no nonsense, just hard, spare prose…an intimate account of family and friendship, betrayal and salvation that requires no atlas or translation to engage and enlighten us. Parts of The Kite Runner are raw and excruciating to read, yet the book in its entirety is lovingly written.”
~The Washington Post Book World

You may have noticed that The Kite Runner has been "currently on my nightstand" (on the right sidebar) for quite some time. It's true. It, along with a few other books, has had a spot on my nightstand for awhile. At long last, I found the time to finish it recently.

Title: The Kite Runner
Author: Khaled Hosseini
Pages: 371
Published: 2004

Generally, I enjoy nonfiction over fiction, but this was an exception. The characters, while fictional, were in a sense very real, telling stories about Afghanistan's history, its culture, its religion, its prejudices, and its wars. Beginning during the last peaceful years of the monarchy in Afghanistan, The Kite Runner paints the picture of the life of Amir, an upper-class Pashtun/Sunni boy, and his friendship with the son of his father's Hazara/Shi'a servant, Hassan. Although their friendship is quite close in the early years, Amir feels conflicted and cannot look past their differences to see the friendship for what it really is, a true friendship. Amir allows their relationship to be filled with elements of a master/servant relationship. Despite this dynamic, and the constant reminder that Pashtun heritage is far more preferred, Hassan will do anything for Amir “a thousand times over.”

The Kite Runner drew me into a world that was nearly completely foreign to me: Afghanistan, its culture, its history, its values. Amazing, it was, to read how peaceful and "normal" Kabul seemed in the days before the Russians invaded and the war took over. The devastation Amir encountered when he returned to Kabul reminded me how destructive war can really be. The overwhelming thoughts I had throughout the book were those of the power of love, forgiveness, friendship, and loyalty.

A few of my favorite lines:

-- After Amir tells General Taheri, a family friend who later becomes his father-in-law, that he is a writer of fiction, General Taheri says, "Ah, a storyteller. Well, people need stories to divert them at difficult times like this." p 139

--Hassan's mother left him as a baby, but returns when he is married with a child. Hassan and his wife welcome her, nurse her back to health, and catch up on lost years. But apparently he never asked his mother where she had been or why she had left, and she never told. "I guess some stories do not need telling." p 211

--After paying an unthinkable price of $75/night for a run down, dirty hotel room, to a man with three little girls clinging to his legs, Amir says he didn't mind the price. "Exploitation to finance a beach house in Hawaii was one thing. Doing it to feed your kids was another." p 265

--Upon watching how quickly Sohrab, Hassan's son, fell asleep following a traumatic episode, Amir writes, "I waited, rocked him until his breathing slowed and his body slackened. I remembered something I had read somewhere a long time ago: That's how children deal with terror. They fall asleep." p 342

The Kite Runner made me wince, laugh, smile, cry, and sigh over and over again. I tend to be drawn to books documenting the hardships people endure in life. I'm not sure why; maybe, it helps me to feel grateful for what I have. Also, I am inspired, time and time again, by the resilience and determination people drum up in times of adversity, and the way trials can shape one's character. This book was no exception. It was powerful. Now on to A Thousand Splendid Suns!