Wednesday, November 4, 2009

30 Days of Thanksgiving #4

In August, I had the privilege of joining the Salt Lake Choral Artists. I have loved singing in a choir again! Dr. Allred, our conductor, is brilliant and the music he has picked it wonderful. Our first concert was October 17 and our theme was "Made in America." It's hard to choose a favorite song - but I think I'm going to have to go with Randall Thompson's "The Lord is My Shepherd." Runners-up would be Mack Wilberg's "Deep River" (an ode to altos), Howard Hanson's "The One Hundred Fiftieth Psalm," and Carol Barnett's "Gloria from the World Beloved: A Bluegrass Mass." A couple of our songs have been posted on YouTube.

We're now working on music for our Christmas concert and I am in heaven! Besides the requisite Rutter songs (it's just not Christmas without them!), we're also doing three movements of Rachmaninoff's Vespers - in Russian. I can't begin to tell you how happy it makes me! I am so grateful for good music, the opportunity to sing in this choir, Dr. Allred, and Christmas!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

30 Days of Thanksgiving #3

Today I'm grateful for my Gorgeous Grandma. A little over a year ago she had to get a pacemaker. She had a follow-up visit today and I got to spend a couple of hours with her at her appointment, lunch and visiting Grandpa (at Wasatch Lawn.) She is doing so much better than she was a year ago! I'm grateful that the doctors were able to figure out the problem and fix it! As usual, she kept me laughing most of the time we were together.

Monday, November 2, 2009

30 Days of Thanksgiving #2

I'm still not used to blogging again! I almost forgot - and I'm totally brain-dead because I stayed up way too late reading last night. So, it seems appropriate that I express my gratitude for good books today. I've always been a reader - I basically slept through fifth grade because I'd stay up all night reading Nancy Drew - well, that and my teacher was an idiot so I felt no need to stay awake or pay attention (yes, I'm aware I was/am a total snob and very obnoxious!). But back to topic...I've read quite a few books this year. Some were good, some were very helpful, one in particular was down right awful. And two were wonderful - new favorites. I highly recommend "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society" by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows and "My Life in France" by Julia Child with Alex Prud'Homme. I have read "Guernsey" twice this year - after reading it I lent it to my mom to read and when she was done, I picked it up and read it again. And was totally depressed when I finished it because I had looked forward to reading it so much every day! How many times is too many times to read a book in a year? Both books I found absolutely delightful. (The awful one is "Julie and Julia" by Julie Powell. I do not recommend it. I do, however, highly recommend the movie. That recommendation is based on three things: 1) they were able to make the Julie Powell character much more sympathetic in the movie, 2) a lot of it is based on Julia Child's "My Life in France" which I loved, and 3) Meryl Streep. Really, though, #3 is reason enough - the other two are just frosting.)

I'm currently reading "Les Miserables" by Victor Hugo. It's good. I was nervous - I still feel like I'm getting my brain back from illness. But I had a wonderful friend give me the unabridged edition and express complete faith and confidence in me a while ago and I finally decided it was time to give it a try. I've been very pleasantly surprised. I've found it much easier to get into than I thought. I am loving it. I finished book one last night - 300 pages down - 1100+ to go!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

30 Days of Thanksgiving #1

As I was sitting in Church today, thinking with excitement that the holiday season has begun, I started looking back over this last year. It's been a year of contrasts for me. I've had a few serious illnesses, and two trips to the ER including a real scare last spring. And yet, overall, my health has improved this year - I've had less frequent illnesses, have let go of 70 pounds, and have more energy than I've had in a long time. I've had some very dark days and very hard personal struggles this year. But I've also been blessed with the opportunity to serve in the temple -to have an entire day of peace every week, received some great tools in dealing with the struggles, and been blessed with much joy this year.

I was able to recognize that while from a strict "numbers" viewpoint, this year could be considered a disaster, in reality, it's been a really good year. I am so grateful for the everyday miracles, many blessings, small joys that really add up, and love and support from family and friends this year. I am so grateful for a loving Father in Heaven for providing these miracles, blessings, joys, family, friends and love for me.

I'm excited to celebrate this season of gratitude and peace. It's going to be a good one.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A Present for You

This is the most amazing video. Check it out!

Here's an article to go with it.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Smoky Tomato Soup

2 TBS extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1 TBS fresh thyme leaves (I used dried)
2 28oz cans whole fire-roasted tomatoes (I couldn't find that so I used 4 14.5oz cans diced fire-roasted tomatoes)
1 14.5oz can chicken broth
1 chipotle chile in adobo sauce, chopped

In a saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic and thyme and cook 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes, chicken broth and chipotle; lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Using a blender, puree the soup (Mom got a hand held blender stick for Christmas and it was so much easier to use than pouring the soup into a blender!) Serve with grilled cheese sandwiches (ours were made with pumpernickel bread and da Vinci Gouda cheese. Yum!)

This soup has a really nice fresh flavor. However, I think it needs cream. I added a couple dollops of sour cream to it and some members of my family put some milk in their servings. Next time, I will have some half and half cream available. Also, the chipotle chile was a lot spicier than we were expecting. The cream will help, but I'll probably try to remove some of the seeds next time. I think this would also be good as a dip for crostini if it weren't quite so soupy - maybe omit the chicken broth (and the cream)? Something to experiment with.

Recipe from a Rachael Ray magazine.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

You Capture - Week #1

Beth at I Should Be Folding Laundry is sponsoring a fun photography challenge - You Capture. This week's assignment was to photograph something you love without using your flash.

Next week's assignment is Perspective.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Write Away

There's an awesome contest going on over here. The following post, "A Thousand Miles," is my entry.

My beautiful, black bike has helped me "let go" of 49 pounds. I'm working on letting go of another 61 pounds and celebrating in Disneyland! My bike and I are partners in this endeavor and my goal is to bike 1000 miles this year. Those flying lessons are coming along nicely...

Friday, February 13, 2009

A Thousand Miles

Who knew that a beautiful turquoise blue bike, complete with banana seat, white plastic weave basket with magenta, yellow and turquoise flowers, streamers and training wheels could provide such a profound life lesson?

My best friend was a year older than me and had two older brothers. There was no way I could hang out with them on a bike with training wheels! If I wanted to keep up, I had to be brave. I had to let go of the comfort of the training wheels. I had to let go of the fear of falling, the fear of failing. I had to let go of my control and trust that the laws of inertia would work for me, too.

It took me quite a while to decide that I really did want to ride my bike with my friend and her brothers. I was able to fool myself into thinking that I was too cool to do something just because everyone else was doing it. But deep down I knew that I wasn't really happy with that decision. So, I sucked it up and tried. And-


That rushing feeling of joy--of soaring!--changed everything. I was now "grown-up" because I could fly! The wind hitting my face and snatching my breath away was the most exhilarating feeling I had ever felt--pure joy.

Fifteen years later, that exhilaration for life was snatched away. In it's place was a bleak monster weighing me down. Fibromyalgia. Depression. Infection after infection. Pain. Brain Fog. Each new medication added pounds (and pounds, and pounds...) Each new infection stole hope. Until I couldn't even remember joy. For nine years.

Ironically, my best friend, who had inspired me to let go of my training wheels, was sick, too. She was diagnosed a year before I was. She took me to my first Rheumatologist. She comforted and commiserated. And now she was ready to help me heal. She had found a new way to approach health--Energy Medicine. But to follow her, I had to be brave. I had to let go of the comfort of Western Medicine. I had to let go of the fear of falling further into the illness, the fear of failing to heal. I had to let go of my control and trust there were options other than being sick the rest of my life. So, I sucked it up and tried. And--

It was hard. But also brilliant.

Three years later I'm ready to get back on the bike. This bike isn't turquoise with magenta flowers; it's black and gray. I won't ever feel the wind rushing past me when riding this bike; it will stay in a corner in my family room. This bike comes with it's own set of training wheels. And I'm okay with that. Because someday I'll be able to ride a real bike again. Someday I'll feel that wind rush past me and snatch my breath away because my grin is just too big. Yes, this bike is beautiful. This bike means that I have hope. This bike gives me the opportunity to let go of what has been weighing me down. This bike offers me the chance to fly again.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Split Personality Mosaic

My sisters have posted these fun mosaics on their blogs and I wanted to play, too. However, as usual, I couldn't decide which pictures I liked the best! So, I decided to make two.

Here are the rules:

Type your answer to each of the questions below into a Flickr search. Using only the first page, choose your favorite image (or in my case, favorite two images - I didn't do two searches, I picked my favorite two images from the original search), then copy and paste each of the URLs into the mosaic maker (3 columns, 4 rows.) Leave me a comment if you play so I can check it out!

The questions:
  1. What is your first name? (Julie)
  2. What is your favorite food? (cheese)
  3. What high school did you attend? (Hillcrest)
  4. What is your favorite color? (green)
  5. Who is your celebrity crush? (Tom Hanks)
  6. What is your favorite drink? (juice)
  7. What is your dream vacation? (Holland)
  8. What is your favorite dessert? (mock-chocolate eclair - nothing showed up so I used "eclair")
  9. What do you want to be when you grow up? (Mom)
  10. What do you love most in life? (Wow, I just realized I read this wrong. I thought it said "What do you want most in life?" And I responded "joy." I wonder how it would have turned out if I had read that correctly. My response would have been "family.")
  11. One word to describe you? (weird)
  12. Your Flickr name. (HoboJo3 - nothing showed up so I used "Hobo Jo")

1. julie's garden, 2. Day 158/365: Grilled cheese - yummm, 3. Picture Perfect, 4. Green Dreams, 5. Foto&Cinema: Il miglio verde, 6. ripe, 7. into the light, 8. Thunder above Madeira waters, 9. The moon above a lake of digital water, 10. The Earth & the Heaven, 11. Persistence, 12. Hobo Jo

1. SOTTS clone (Julie), 2. Say Cheese, 3. A game of Tetris, 4. Splash in a Drop, 5. Tam Hanks and the piano scene from Big, 6. frog closeup, 7. Mill in motion, 8. Help yourself ....., 9. blush and bashful, 10. I'm singing in the rain...Just singing in the rain...What a glorious feeling!!!I`m happy again!, 11. Yes! It's My Birthday! And It's My Footprint :D, 12. Hobo Jo Drinks Juice

Friday, January 30, 2009

Give Away Time!

My fabulously talented cousin is having a give away contest on her blog, RHBDesigns. The contest ends Sunday so hurry over there for a chance to win! She makes beautiful hand stamped jewelry. You may remember this post about one of her necklaces that I got and absolutely love. I'm hoping to win the $25 gift certificate to her Etsy shop so I can get this beautiful necklace.

Good luck!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

A Little Sunshine

I just read a short article in Parade Magazine about Giving in Hard Times. The article starts by saying that charitable contributions tend to decrease when the economy is suffering - just when those charities are called on to help even more people. But just when you think things are awful and there is no happiness in the world, the article continues...

"Households that earn less than $100,000 a year account for almost half of the nation’s charitable giving. And this past holiday season, fund-raising drives from Beaufort, S.C., to Billings, Mont., reported support from community members who didn’t have much to give. Maj. Bill Grein of the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation reports fewer toy donations this year but more cash from individuals and even new donors. “People are saying, ‘I can’t afford a full toy, but I can give $10 or $12,’ ” Major Grein explains."

What a renewal of faith in the goodness of people that was for me. Yes, times are hard. Yes, there is a lot of sadness, heartbreak, and even evil in the world today. But there is also a lot of goodness, faith, and determination succeed - if we're willing to look for it. I am grateful for that patch of sunshine today. I choose to find the joy.