Saturday, December 22, 2012

Happiness is...

I may not always be happy, but when I am there's usually Reeses involved. Or Ice Cream (which, yes, does deserved to be capitalized). Or just any sugary treat in general. Quite honestly, I believe I will always be happy so long as there is something to munch on in this world, because Happiness is something that I cherish - just like food.
But I cannot for the life of me understand it.
It is as fleeting as the Reeses I have so heartily enjoyed.
One second, they are being delightfully enjoyed!
The next, they are hopelessly lost somewhere in the depressing confines of your digestive system.
But the lingering joy of what you have just experience can sometimes linger for a moment or two - and those moments are usually rather nice.

Sure, you could argue that I have no authority to speak about such things...that my life has been practically perfect in every way...
And you would be right.
But only because I really really like chocolate.

I would like to point out - however - that like Reeses, all packages of happiness are wrapped in the same golden foil. and that also like Reeses, taking off that foiled wrapping (as is the usual custom with candy) tends to unlock that happiness.

Sure some of us are luckier than others. We get the stars on our lollipop wrappers, and the double lined chocolate sweets. I even got a triple lined one today. But really the chocolate will taste just about as good as you mind makes it up to be. I'm pretty sure Abraham Lincoln said that once. Word for word.

Really, what I'm trying to say is - we should just smile more.

And girls - when you are sad from time to time, as usually happens from being female - just blame the Dementors.
They're ugly and have no soul anyway - so they wont mind.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

To all the Hesstons, Axels and Pajenis in the world...I'm sorry.

No matter how bad a week can get - I can always take comfort in the fact that my name is not Gracelynn.

Price, Utah, where my dad grew up, is a delightful little town, and I love spending time with family there...But there are a few things that are just downright ridiculous about this place - namely their local town newspaper.
The Sun Advocate, with its big headliners of "Squirrel Electrocuted!", "Traffic Light Installed in Wellington!" and "Creekview 5th Grader wins Scooter with Helmet!", is quite famous in our household. My dad gets it sent to him in the mail, and we spend many an hour laughing over its 'deep news' articles.

As fun as it is to read that "a lone squirrel single-handedly paralyzed Wellington Monday by knocking out power across town...not much of the squirrel left to identify" or that little Kendra Woods is being commended for "walking safely to school", above all our favorite to read is the birth announcement section.

Oh these poor children...

Apparently it's the norm in Price to name your child after both parents (probably what happened to poor Tylee there...), so my parents always joked that if they had a girl they could name her Mattilyn (for Matt+Marilyn), but thankfully, when the time came and I showed up, they chose to leave out the extra t's, and I was saved from the ridicule that these poor children will doubtlessly receive over the coming years.

Or maybe, growing up where they are, we should be more concerned for the Emma's and Luke's...
Seems they're the odd ones out in Price.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

"Why the Sea is Boiling Hot, and Whether Pigs have Wings."

I keep getting sidetracked with other posts, but such is the way with me. I'm afraid I'm not much different in person, as I can not long be talking about one subject before I am quickly diverted with another.

But as the Walrus once said, the time has come "to talk of many things: Of shoes, and ships, and sealing wax, of cabbages and kings.

The day after our beautiful trip to the Aran Islands, we traveled an hour northwest from Galway toward the beautiful Connemara National Park, where just around the bend was the fun sight of Kylemore Abbey.

While many girls in our group really loved the castle itself (and with little wonder - as there is an incredibly mushy and Gothic-ly romantic tale that surrounds it), I found myself feeling more as if I was entering a Disney park than a historical site.  Maybe I was just sore from biking the day before (indeed, my shoes did move slower, as I had a major bruise on my left knee and an even uglier one on my right thigh from a nasty crash I had on my way back to the ferry), but I found myself not as enthralled with the sight as most others seemed to be. It was pretty, no doubt, but the building felt fake to me, and I found myself enjoying the beautiful nature that surrounded it far more.

(photo does the place no justice - but really, even being there wasn't enough. My eyes can't even remember the grandeur. The closest thing to its magnificence I could find was a painting inside the castle itself, but even taking a photo of that was in vain. Really, the only way to experience it would be to go there yourself.)
It was little wonder that the captivated Mitchell Henry chose a spot such as this to build his wife her castle, but I must say that I think I would have enjoyed it more, had the residence not been there - and just the nature instead.

I was deeply tempted to join the men out fishing in their boats. While not the grand ships we had been used to thus far in our trip, it would have been very relaxing indeed to venture out on such a small vessel: Just man and the sea...

As I was moving rather slowly, I spent most of our time there by myself, simply roaming through the landscape, enjoying the fun formation of the trees,

or the small beauties of the intricate nature that was at my feet.

If you can imagine it - it was ten times greener than even these photos portray.

One of my favorite things about this place were the small paths and hidden gates that seemed to be just off the beaten path. Unfortunately they were closed areas, so I couldn't go investigate - and my sense told me that they were probably just private areas that used to belong to the girls school that once resided here - but my imagination ran wild with stories of secret gardens, and hidden wonderlands...

Oh, if only I could have gone exploring...that would have been the icing on the cake! But perhaps I would have just been disappointed to find out that it was nothing more than a private car park, or an out of order loo.
Sometimes imagination is better left undisturbed.

The inside of the 'Disnified' castle was pretty cool. I really enjoyed the books and the old piano they had in the main room. But there was a rope block way towards the bookcase, and the piano was off limits, of course. I would have enjoyed them each much more if I could have either read a book, or played a piece of music.

There was also a church just a short walk away from the castle - no doubt the 'Abbey' part of the name - that was rather nice. It was very simple inside, which only added to its appeal, but my favorite was the multicolored columns on each wall.

Of course, the nature outside the church was just as spectacular as that which surrounded the castle.

The water that surrounded the building began to quite literally sparkle at one point during the sunlit day, and though I was almost able to capture it in this photo - the effect was beyond description. It honestly looked as if some clumsy angel had spilled a vat of glitter on the sea.

It was really fun walking back down from the church to the castle. Though it was probably only a 5 minute walk, it took me nearly 15 to pass all that nature, and I probably looked like a horrendously silly tourist as I had both my cameras around my neck. But I found it hard to care. The only down side of me taking so long is that I didn't have time to walk to the garden on the other end of the park.

But there was enough to enjoy right where I was. I even ran into this hilarious little German boy who was jabbering away with such speed that I could only catch one or two of his words - and was no where near piecing together what he might be about when his parents urged him back toward the group. So naturally, just like any creeper - I grabbed a quick shot of him as he played with some relatives cane.

If his parents, by some strange coincidence  happen to read this blog and are horrified that I have put this picture up - Es tut mir leid, und ich werde auf Wunsch entfernen.

Until they make their sentiments known however, it's staying up - because this kid is just too cool.

Now while this post has already gone on longer than I had intended, I am set to finish off my days in Ireland before the hour is done, so I will quickly sum up the last two events of that week.

After Kylemore we simply spent some time be quite honest I can't remember exactly where it was - but it was part of the Connemara National Park, I'm pretty sure.

What matters most is that it was beautiful. I'll just let the pictures tell you of its beauty themselves...

Our last day in Ireland we spent driving north to Sligo, where the famous author/poet William Butler Yeats is buried. There was a cool kind of modernish sculpture and monument in honor of Yeats before you even entered the church or graveyard.

 His tomb was simple and quite new in comparison to some of the others that stood there, and Kay Shaeffer, Madison Pilling and I had a very good time walking from headstone to headstone trying to make out some of the very old inscriptions. Others were not so old, but I liked just the same, and as always I found myself having much too much fun in a graveyard. I suppose my father has rubbed off on me - but I really do enjoy cemeteries more than one should.

 After Sligo, we traveled farther north still, until we reached Northern Ireland, where we spent only an hour or so - most of us using it as a bathroom and/or re-hydration break - before clambering onto the ferry that would take us across the Irish Sea and toward Scotland!

But that'll have to wait until the next post...

Monday, December 3, 2012

Supper Time, Dreams and Paranoia...

One of the blessings of a getting a mission call is the assurance you have of receiving continual mail. Last week (or was it two weeks ago? I'm loosing track of time) I received a letter from none other than my totally awesome (who I can't wait to meet) mission president!
And it wasn't just any letter.
It was a jam PACKED letter!
Like 12 pages.
With really cool stamps.

See? ^ 

Anywho, in this letter was a whole slew of things I need to be working on before I leave for the MTC - shots to get, clothes to buy, lessons to read, videos to watch, visas to apply for, etc. etc...but apart from the necessities there was also a list of suggested things to work of which was COOKING!

Any of you who have ever been to my house, or been one of my roommates, know that I love to cook. I've been known to walk out of the house completely forgetting I still have an apron on.

In reality though, I am also rather horrible at cooking, so I tend to pick really simply items to make, and just go crazy on the spices, so no one will be any the wiser.

This past week I made some simple items: BBQ chicken pizza, breakfast burritos, taco salad, chicken parmesan...

Okay - so the chicken parmesan was not simple. But as my dear friend Carole can no doubt tell you (since she helped me make it) - I was a mess in the kitchen! If she hadn't shown up I probably would have butchered it.

Anywatsit, I decided that this week I'm going to go all out and try my hand at some German cuisine! So if any of you foodites have a suggested meal to try - let me know! Because so far my foodgawker searches have come up a bit dry...

Cooking aside - it was also suggested that I work on what I'd like to call 'the basic skills of survival'; things such as cleaning, organization, first-aid, superhero awesomeness, nunchuck skills, Kung Fu fighting...HUH!
Okay, so maybe not those last few...but still. I have a lot of work to do.

There are not that many things that I can mark off in the survival skill department.
Though I might be okay in the superhero awesomeness category.
I've got superhero talking at least.
I've always been adept at the monologue (though maybe that's more of a villainous quality), and ever since I got my new watch I swear I have super sonic hearing too. It doesn't matter if I have the thing right next to my ear, or ten miles away, I can hear it ticking as if someone was pounding an anvil to my head.

But maybe that's just what you get from buying a watch on clearance.

And maybe it's not superhero skills I've adapted, but a bit of a paranoia when it comes to sound.

I hate my mindless babble (one reason I started a blog - so I could mindlessly write instead), and the ticking sound of my watch drives me crazy when there's no other sound to drown it out.
I also hate the sound of people chewing their food.
I always keep the flow of conversation going at the dinner table, so I don't have to hear it. It's absurd how much it annoys me - I'll even leave the room if it's just me and one other person, because the sound of their chewing makes me want to hear the anvils again.

These are things I'm not proud of, so I'm working on overcoming them. That's why we've got weakness, right?

This past week or so I've discovered a few other things I'm terrible at as well: Things like sewing, and picking out cute missionary-approved outfits (again, basic survival skills).

But I'm not going to let those things defeat me!
I recently spent a generous amount of time at the Hilton's homestead working on my sewing (though I won't go into particulars, as it was a Christmas present that I was practicing on), and while I may still have a somewhat fractured sense of style, I have started dreaming about clothes.
All the time.

Like...I can't stop.

The only thing I dream about more than clothes right now is weddings, babies and future trips around the world. And even the most common of those are about wedding clothes, babies in clothes, and future trips around the world in clothes...(it'd be kind of creepy if I weren't in clothes...)

Seriously though, can I be any more of a girl?

Though one of my latest dreams about travel involved a rather unorthodox airport station in which I had to make my way through a highly intricate obstacle course with some mad ninja skills in order to make it to my flight on time. And the plane itself kind of resembled those half finished ones that are in those EDS commercials...

I've also learned how to knit recently! 

(note the parenting magazine? Just another reason for the babies in clothes dreams...)

Carole came over and taught me how to do it while we watched some Sherlock.
Cause nothing makes you more self conscious about your skill level then seeing Sherlock and Watson solve crime.

Speaking of beautiful men - Martin Freeman and The Hobbit part 1!

I was so excited for this, I actually watched the live stream for the red carpet event online. I've only done this once before - for The Hunger Games premiere.
BOTH times there was only one person I really wanted to see, and BOTH times I missed that person because of a bathroom run.
Soon I'll be developing a red carpet/bathroom paranoia too.

Anywho, the stream was super fun to watch, but other than it suddenly making me realize how hairy my feet are (though by no means on the scale of a Hobbits), it mostly just made me wish I lived in Wellington.

I probably should have ended this post a long time I'll do it now.