Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Topanga Lawrence and Kelly Kapowski

I couldn't help but giggle to myself when I thought of this the other day, so I created my first (and probably only) meme.  Hope it makes you smile!

Monday, September 24, 2012


Folks, this is my first post as a 32-year old.   

What's that?  You want to know all about my birthday?  Well since you asked nicely...

Last week was a collision of fun times - an elegant dinner out at Paris Bistro with my handsome fellow's family, a Yelp event at Rice Fusion Cuisine and Sushi Bar, and 9 to 5 the Musical at Hale Centre Theatre.

Then came my birthday.  This year I had taken note of all of the crazy amounts of events happening around my birthday and had decided I would just play it cool and spend the evening with Rob (yeah, handsome fellow I keep alluding to has a name - who knew?) instead of making myself another chore on everyone's to-do list.  My friends had a different idea.

I arrived at my 1/2 day of work to decorations, my favorite co-worker produced baked goods - caramel brownies, and a Nordstrom gift card.  Everyone was so kind and sweet in spite of the extreme work-stress we've been under recently. 

After work, my next agenda item was a 5-mile run at the gym.  Some of you may think this is rather odd, especially because my legs are about two inches long and I am not, I repeat not, a runner.  But this is a benchmark run for me each year because I don't think I can get too far off the fitness path if I can run five miles in under 50 minutes at least once each year.  I was a little further along in my training for the run this year and managed to beat last year's time of 43:25, running my five miles in only 41:45!!!  I was so proud of myself and exhausted.

I didn't let the exhaustion wear me down too much because Rob (have I mentioned he is the best?) booked a 90-minute massage for me.  You heard me.  I've never had a real, professional massage before and had no idea the ecstasy I was in for.  I had no idea 90-minutes could pass so quickly or that my mind could be so empty.  Imagine my surprise as I stumbled out of the massage room in my semi-coherent state to hear, "You have a delivery."  Rob had dropped off flowers for me at the front desk!  I must have lit up like the sun as the therapists exclaimed various renditions of, "You have the best boyfriend ever!"

Upon arriving home, I cleaned up a bit, took a little power nap, and made myself pretty for the evening, which would first involve heading to a DJ meeting with Rob for his 45-minute presentation.  Before you think that is also a weird thing, I thought nothing of it - I love knowing what is going on and helping out where I can with his business and I also think it is nice to do something sweet for him after he had spent the whole day making sure I was spoiled.  Little did I know the spoiling wasn't over.

We left the meeting after his presentation and after I asked where we were headed he said, "Well, I forgot my wallet at your house."
"I have money.  You can pay me back, I don't care."
"It's your birthday.  I would feel better if I paid.  What do you want to eat?"
He clearly knows talk of food will divert my attentions more quickly than anything. 

As fishy as this wallet debacle was, I clearly had not suspected anything up until that moment or I would have made sure to eat before I'd left home.

I walked around the corner into my condo to this gloriously unusual non-happy birthday song:

I may be acting entirely silly in that video, but I was brimming so fully of love that it almost spilled out my eyes if you know what I mean.  I could not believe it.  I love all of my friends so much and to know this many people were able to sacrifice the precious little time we all have just to come and wish me a happy birthday (which is always weird because it isn't like I actually did anything to be born), is overwhelming.  What an amazing sight.

Apparently Melissa and Rob had been planning this soiree for weeks.  Good one Guys, good one.  The guests came and went over the next four hours, each new face causing me to squeal with joy.  If any of the guests are deaf now, my deepest apologies.  My day and my heart were full beyond what I ever could have hoped for or done for myself.

And if all of that wasn't enough, the next morning Rob dropped by my office to meet all of my co-workers and wish me Happy Birthday yet again.

Not to sound cheesy or cliche, but my life is richly, fully, explodingly blessed.  Thank you all for being on this journey with me and so selflessly giving me your love every day.  Here's to the next 32!!!

My Fella and Me, 1950s high-school style for Yelp's back-to-school event

The flowers Rob delivered while I had a 90-minute massage
Shayla knows I don't like cake, so she and Laci made this amazing Rice Crispy Treat peanut butter cup/pretzel concoction for me!

Amy, me, Melissa - the last ladies of round 1 at the surprise party

Me, Chris, Megan, the true last guests to the party

The man of the hour and just about the best man that ever there was

Aloof Adorable Amy, me-clearly-not-ready-for-a-photo-and-rather-skeptical-about-something, and Hottie Keri working it - love these beautiful, energetic, glowing women!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Testimonies and Body Image

Body Image.


How are these two things similar in my perception?

I feel as if they are things that people portray as something you have to have struggled with to have.

You always hear how the woman overcame her body image issues after the trial of an eating disorder or being chased around the playground by her sister's friends being called Miss Piggy (I haven't told you the Miss Piggy story yet?  Shame on me)

You always hear how someone who hasn't had their testimony tree tested, requiring them to dig their roots deeper into the ground, will just fall over if a strong wind/trial ever comes along. 

Tell me, can't a woman simply have great body image?  Can't someone simply have a testimony?  I know the whole bit about "no witness until after the trial of our faith," yet I can't help but think of my own situation.

Many Sundays I have sat back listening to testimonies of absolutely amazing and spiritual people, thinking, "Wow.  I haven't been through any severe trials lately...or ever (I've had plenty of trials, don't get me wrong, just nothing I would call substantial).  I don't have anything to bear my testimony about."  The sarcastic side of me the thinks, "Guess I can't have a testimony if my life is good!"   Then you walk into the next meeting and you hear, "We need to thank the Lord in the times of happiness more often."  But...wait...how do we gain a testimony in times of happiness if we only have testimonies to bear in times of trial?

More recently, body image issue after body image issue has come to the surface in the media.  Women are fighting stereotypes more fiercely than ever before and reclaiming their love for themselves that they somehow lost over the "years of male oppression and stereotyping." (yes, insert sarcasm here - there is much more than just the natural man to blame)

But here is where I have a very unique mind frame and feel I am one of a few out there who can say this honestly and without bias.  I've been both places.  I've been obese.  I've been 17% body fat.  I am currently neither.  I don't care how proud of your body you are, if you are substantially overweight or out-of-shape, your health is in jeopardy.  Period.  End of story.  Exclamation point. 

I listen to all of these women talk about how they are proud at their 200 pounds and saying men are pigs because they won't love them at their size.  Seriously?  Sounds to me like you need to work more on whatever it takes to make you a person you love yourself!  First of all, if you think that being unfit is the reason men are not dating you, then change it.  You have control.  I'm not saying that is the reason men aren't dating you at all, I'm simply stating if you have control over something that bothers you so much you can't quit talking about it, then quit complaining and just do something.  I know it is hard.  Second, there is some natural instinct within each of us that triggers an internal alarm about certain things regarding "natural selection" of potential mates.  For me, that's obesity.  For some guys I've dated it's my sense of humor or interest in theater or, well, I'd be lying if I said I haven't been told more than once in the past four years that I'm not thin enough.   I've been there.  I know the health problems it causes.  I've watched my mother battle this monster her entire life and the resulting health problems that are slowly and prematurely killing her.  I do not want those issues in my future.  Why would I willingly jump into a situation with a partner who clearly has those issues? So, men, judge away if you think I'm a terrible person for not dating someone who doesn't take care of their health.  Ladies, judge away if you think I'm a terrible person for telling you to take care of your health.  To clarify, I'm not making a blanket statement that overweight is bad.  You can be healthy and overweight or thin and unhealthy, so what I'm saying is to simply be active, eat right, and take care of yourselves.

I know many, many of my readers are currently trying to conquer their battles with the obesity monster or the lack-of-testimony trials and I am practically brought to tears each time I think of what you are battling every moment of every day.  I wish I could take some of those burdens for you.  Please do not feel as if I am judging you, I'm simply trying to get a point across. 

I've had a testimony my entire life.   I've always had a perfect love for my Heavenly Father.  Never have I had a huge trial of my faith other than a bishopric from the land of you-have-no-life-obligations-outside-of-church-and-are-a-heathen-if-you-pretend-you-do.  Ah, yet another story for another time.  Anyway.  I've always known God loves me.  I've always known how important I am to Him and how intricately His hand is in my life.  Always.  I've questioned other things gospel-related, but this love I know.  Of this love, I am always sure.

Yet some people will say, "You can't really know unless you've had this trial."

I have struggled with my body image from the age of...as long as I can remember.  I've never had a perfect love for my body.  This is a battle I have to fight (and I win!) every day.  If you come to know something through a trial, then I should have the world's best body image!

Can it be okay to simply have a testimony and to simply have a good body image?  YES!  Don't make someone feel like they just don't understand and can never be on your level because they know God loves them without having to have had a trial of their faith.  Don't think someone is a conceited snob because they know they are a beautiful human being inside and out without ever having to have battled internal monsters.

Something to think about.

Cheddar Jalapeno Biscuits

I am a sucker for anything cheddar jalapeno.  But you know how sometimes something is so close to what you want, yet so far?  So I decided I needed to come up with something I know will satisfy me every time.  Enjoy!

Cheddar Jalapeno Biscuits (12-16 biscuits)
2 cups flour
2 cups (8 oz.) shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 c. dry Nestle Carnation Instant Nonfat Dry Milk
3 finely chopped medium jalapenos, seeds removed (unless you like the heat)
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup butter softened and diced into smaller pieces
3/4 cup water

Preheat oven to 400° F
Combine in medium to large bowl: dry milk, flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, cheese, jalapenos
Knead in butter into dry mixture in bowl
Knead in water gradually, just until dough is moistened, yet still firm in bowl
Wash hands immediately to avoid jalapeno-hands (you can soak in whole milk if you feel a burn, but I've never been affected)
Remove dough from bowl and knead on a lightly floured surface for about 30 seconds
Place dough into lightly floured 8x8 inch square, pat down, cut into 12-16 squares (depending on the size you want)
Place each biscuit onto a lightly-greased baking sheet
Bake for 12-16 minutes (remove when light golden brown)

These go perfect with my shredded chicken chili or your favorite jalapeno jelly.   When you reheat them, do so in a toaster oven not the microwave - they are much, much better crunchy and fresh.  Just trust me on this one. 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

What I've Been Looking For

When the movie High School Musical was released, a song caught my lil sis's ear and she said, "I want you to sing this at my wedding."

So it was no surprise to me when she got engaged last year and called to ask if I would sing a duet with her bestie Ryan (Ry-Bear has been to NYC with me twice). 

The Song?

What I've Been Looking For.

Seems crazy, right?  But today I went to print out the lyrics and was surprised to see how cheesily appropriate for a wedding the lyrics actually are:

It's hard to believe
That I couldn't see
You were always there beside me
Thought I was alone
With no one to hold
But you were always right beside me.

This feeling's like no other
I want you to know
I've never had someone that knows me like you do

the way you do
I've never had someone as good for me as you
no one like you 

So lonely before I finally found
what I've been looking for

So good to be seen
So good to be heard

Don't have to say a word
So long I was lost
So good to be found
I'm loving having you around

This feeling's like no other
I want you to know
I've never had someone that knows me like you do

The way you do
I've never had someone as good for me as you
No one like you
So lonely before, I finally found
what I've been looking for

If you made it through reading all of this without singing anything, I applaud you.  I certainly did not.  Jazz Squares!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Shredded Chicken Chili - Larissa Style (healthy, spicy, simple)

I cook.  Mostly bake.  Did you know this?  I rarely blog about anything "foodie," but I recently decided that maybe I should document and share some of my finer (and easier) endeavors for my posterity...and other food-lovers.

'Tis the season for soup.  I created this beauty all on my very own a few months ago and couldn't get enough.  

Chicken Chili (serves six)
1 jalapeno (or more, depending on desired spiciness level)
3/4 pound chicken breast
1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes with green chilies drained
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
1 green pepper
1/2 cup cilantro
1 pkg. your favorite taco seasoning
1 pkg. frozen corn
1 can black beans drained
1 can kidney beans drained
1 - 3 cups of water, depending on how thick you want the chili (just make sure chicken breast is covered with liquid)
Optional garnishes: shredded cheese, sour cream, Feta cheese, tortilla strips, Nature's Seasoning to taste

Directions: (really you can just dump it all in and let it cook, but for those who need specifics) 
Put Crockpot or slow cooker on high
Chop jalapeno, green pepper, cilantro to desired thickness
Combine water, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes/green chilies mix, taco seasoning
Mix until taco seasoning is dissolved
Place chicken in liquid mixture
Combine all remaining ingredients
Simmer for 6 hours.  Longer simmer times absolutely work if you change the setting to "low" - I've simmered for up to 24 hours.
With two forks, shred the chicken in the pot/cooker and stir until evenly divided into chili.
Serves 6 (you can store in freezer - it reheats well, or in sealed containers in the fridge for up to a week)

This goes perfect with my cheddar jalapeno biscuits - recipe to come later! 

Friday, September 7, 2012

LDS Church Zinger Ad in Book of Mormon Musical Playbill

Did you know the LDS church recently purchased an ad in the Playbill for the L.A. run of The Book of Mormon Musical?

You can read all about it in this article.  

One of the ads features a woman smiling with the subtext, "The book is always better."


I'm proud of the LDS church and their marketing/PR teams - this ad is hilarious to me.  Need we take ourselves so seriously?  Nope.

Previously, the only comment released on behalf of the church regarding the musical was in 2011: "The production may attempt to entertain audiences for an evening, but the Book of Mormon as a volume of scripture will change people's lives forever by bringing them closer to Christ."

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Cilantro vs. Parsley

Two weeks ago, I volunteered to make some fresh chunky salsa for my wonderful beau's family dinner.  I'd returned late from Cedar City, so I quickly ran to the gym and then to the store before the exhaustion set in. 

Chop. Chop. Chop.  That's kinda how it went with the vegetables without any incident.

I got to the cilantro last.  Chop. Chop.  What's that smell?  *sniff* 

I dug through the trash to find the tie that had been around the cilantro.  Nope - definitely not cilantro.  I'd somehow grabbed Parsley.  Back to the store I went at 11pm.

I was feeling somewhat silly about my mishap until last night when I was at the store with my beau. 
We decided to make a delicious-looking quinoa recipe to divide up for quick meals through the week and we needed cilantro.  He headed straight to the parsley. 


Can you tell which is which at first glance?

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Mystery Chunk

*Warning - Not for the easily nauseated*

As I was putting curlers in my hair on Sunday to get ready for church, I noticed something strange upon my finger.  I examined.  Blood.  Dripping off my finger.  What?  There was this deep chunk of skin just hanging and the blood wouldn't stop.  The first photo is about ten minutes after I had been nursing it and the second was a couple of hours later.

I literally have no idea what happened.  It didn't even hurt.  Weird, right?  I know it isn't large, but it was deep.

Thanks to Neosporin, the wound is healing over nicely and non-infected, but it is the strangest thing to see a rice-grain sized chunk out of my finger.