Wednesday, June 27, 2012

10 Songs Part 2

A while back I did a post about 10 songs. These 10 songs were what played on my ipod when I put it on shuffle. Well I wanted to repeat that blog post with a new set of 10 songs. It's been more than a year and a half since my last post, so here is how my song taste has changed:

The first song that came up was Nothing is Written by Mumford and Sons. I have to say that I absolutely love this band. I love their vocals, unique instruments, and what they sing about. Really - they are just amazing musicians. I found this song just a few weeks ago - although I think I may have heard it before. It is kind of slow and really simple, but I love listening to it.

The next song that shuffled along was Come Away to the Water by Maroon 5. This song is on the Hunger Games soundtrack, although not featured in the movie (actually there are no songs featured in the movie). This song is slightly haunting - especially when you think about scenes of the Hunger Games. When Caitlin and I went to see the midnight showing of the movie we listened to this soundtrack as we drove to and from the theater (and maybe the whole week before and after we saw the movie).

The next song is called Simple Song and is by the Shins. The Shins are a hit and miss band for me. They always sound good, but I'm not always needing to listen to their music. BUT with that being said, I absolutely love this song. Every time it comes on the radio or my ipod I get a little excited. I think it's because it is just a simple song that I really enjoy it. Maybe I'm just a simple person. :)

The fourth song happened to be Lindsey Stirling and her version of We Found Love. Lindsey was a violinist featured on America's Got Talent a few years ago. She remakes songs with her violin and often includes vocalists or other musicians in her mixes. This song/video take place in Kenya (I think I posted the video earlier) and I LOVE that the lyrics change halfway through the song from "we found love in a hopeless place" to "we found love in a holy place." Not only is the song amazing, but the video will give you the ganas to go to Africa asap. 

The Civil Wars made an appearance as I shuffled through my songs with Poison and Wine. I love the Civil Wars - I even drove Caitlin nuts when I went through a Civil Wars phase. All of their music is really chill and low-key, so I can understand why some people might not like them, but they are extremely talented musicians. I've actually loved them for a long time without really knowing it. When I was on my mission a member gave us a Christmas song by Joy Williams (one of the members of the Civil Wars) and I fell in love with the song and her voice. This previous year I discovered the Civil Wars Christmas EP and still had no idea who the band was. Finally one day while I was listening to Pandora one of their songs popped up. Excitedly, I found the tab that had Pandora on it and found them on Itunes. Needless to say, we've been inseparable ever since. 

The next song is the Glee version of Florence + the Machine's song Shake it Out. I love the original version of this song, and I love the Glee version. I love it when Glee can take a song and make it sound completely different than the original. Also, Naya Rivera is featured in this song and she is by far my favorite singer on Glee. I could listen to her all day long. 

Rufus Wainright jumped into my list with his beautiful rendition of Across the Universe featured on the I Am Sam soundtrack. I love this entire soundtrack, I mean, who wouldn't love a soundtrack of Beatles remakes? But Across the Universe is one of the best tracks. I found Rufus Wainright shortly after graduating from high school (8 years ago) and although I don't listen to much of his new (or old) stuff anymore, this song is always making it's way onto my ipod.

Regina Spektor and her song Don't Leave Me (No Me Quitte Pas) was a delight to hear this morning. I love her and her weird vibe/sound. I especially love how this song sounds so much like summer to me. I love blasting it while driving in the car. Her unique lyrics, vocals, and instrument use makes her a truly unique type of artist. I remember listening to her before my mission and people would always ask me who this strange girl was. Now I think her sound has become more familiar with the masses and as she continues to make music she continues to spice things up.

Every Second by Vocal Few (one of our new favorite bands) was the 9th song shuffled through. I love this song (and every Vocal Few song) because of the lyrics. They have a way of writing songs that are motivational/powerful yet they are not anthems (sorry Kelly Clarkson, no offense to your endless array of anthems). They are just a husband/wife duo that sing together and sing about life - and always in a positive way. I absolutely love their music and can't wait to see them live in July.

The last song I decided to include on here in a video. Some Nights by Fun. is a fun upbeat song - kind of matches Regina Spektor because it feels like a summer song. I like to put it on loud and attempt to hit all the extremely high notes he shouts out in the song (thank you auto tune for making those notes sound pretty). 

And that is it! Here are my 10 songs revisited. What 10 songs come up when you hit shuffle on your ipod? I would love to hear. Maybe I'll post again with Caitlin's ipod. :)

Strawberry Days

On Saturday Caitlin and I went to Strawberry Days in Pleasant Grove, Utah. We weren't sure exactly what Strawberry Days would consist of, but we knew we would have fun being outside and enjoying the sunshine. 

We made it in time to see the (never ending) parade full of locals that we didn't know. Marching bands, cheerleaders, kids doing karate, and a lot of campaigners (voting started Tuesday) threw candy and wowed the crowd. We actually really like parades, but this one was a little too long for me - especially since it was so hot outside and we had zero shade where we were. Eventually we left and browsed through the boutique of hand made goods and fun crafts. 

Several of our coworkers recommended that we try the strawberries and cream. This was DELICIOUS. We were so happy to have tried it. It was so simple too - just cream poured over top of strawberries. Who would've guessed that the name described exactly what it consisted of? 

We also went on a few rides while we were there. Caitlin and I went on this one together, but since we were the only two on the rides we got our own cars. 

Caitlin went on this bad boy alone. The guy at our first ride only took half the tickets that he was supposed to, so we had a few extra. Caitlin wanted to try this one out so I cheered her on from the ground. 

Our last ride was the zipper one. Caitlin had never been on one and it is one of my favorite rides so we for sure had to experience it. 

Once we got inside, Caitlin started getting a little scared. You have no seatbelt, just a lap bar and your cage moves around out of your control. It is so great. 

The look of terror in Caitlin's eyes is real. :)

We both screamed so much and made funny noises. If anyone were listening to us I'm sure they would've busted up laughing. We sounded ridiculous. But once we were safe on the ground again we felt pretty good about life. 

After our adventures on the ride we got some carnival food. Hand dipped corndogs and fresh squeezed lemonade. It was exactly what we needed after a day at the carnival/Strawberry Days. 

I don't know if Strawberry Days is how Utah does fairs, but it was very similar. They even had a rodeo and carnival games. It was a bit smaller than a fair - but I haven't heard of many fairs going on in Utah this summer. In July there are a few other "days" that we want to explore - I'll be sure and post those in the blog if we do. 

Volunteering at the MTC

Lately I have been volunteering in the MTC in what is called the TRC or Teaching Resource Center. It has been so much fun hearing the missionaries teach (or attempt to teach) in Spanish and being able to feel of their spirit. And surprisingly, the MTC hasn't changed a whole lot since I was there nearly 6 years ago.
(Here is my volunteer sticker)

I spoke with Andre, my cousin Michelle's husband (he's a teacher at the MTC) about the new curriculum and how much the structure of the MTC has changed, and it seems as though it is completely different than when I was there - yet every time I walk through the front gates it seems as if nothing has changed. 

It still smells the same (I'm thinking the smell is mainly laundry detergent - but there are some other smells I can't quite pinpoint), the missionary look is the same, the horrid Spanish vocabulary and grammar hasn't improved. It is really like traveling back in time. It is a great reminder of the amazing two months I spent in the MTC with this group of guys/gals.

I loved the MTC and everything I was able to experience while I was there. And there could not have been a better group of young people to help me progress as a missionary. While at the MTC we had a crash course in Spanish, studied as much of the gospel as we could, learned to teach, and had a plethora of spiritual experiences.

I remember being in the MTC and thinking that I would never be able to learn Spanish or teach the gospel effectively, and many of the missionaries that teach me on Friday's look as though they have the same thoughts running through their minds. But it's crazy how the Lord can take a group of young men and women and turn them into powerful tools that He can use to further his work.

I love volunteering at the MTC and having the opportunity to reminisce about my experiences as a missionary. What an amazing opportunity it is to serve the Lord for 2 years. It is definitely something that has changed my life for the better. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Picking Wild Flowers

On Sunday our countdown told us we needed to go to a field and pick wild flowers to take home to put on our kitchen table. After driving around town for awhile there were no fields to be found but plenty of flowers that would be perfect for our bouquet. So we decided that we would go pick some flowers that technically were not in someone's yard because they were overgrown and on the city's property/sidewalk (hopefully that's legal).
 Our first stop we found some beautiful red rose looking flowers. As you can tell from the picture there is a house right behind me which is why I was kind of terrified to pick them, even though they were technically on city property but their house had a window facing the area of the flowers, but luckily there was a bush that I could hide behind as I picked away!

Our next stop was to a lonely little sunflower that was growing in the sidewalk cracks, just waiting to be picked and added to our collection.

We continued on picking all sorts of flowers, purple, white, orange ones, and even a cat tail (that was Devin's find).

The finished product looked amazing once we put all our "wild flowers" together. I tried my best at arranging them but as you can see I am no professional but we still had a good time doing it and now we are enjoying fresh wild flowers in our home (with a few bugs).

Singing in the Car

We may not be the best singers in the world, but when you're singing in your car it doesn't really matter. :) For our countdown we had to drive around Provo for 30 minutes blasting music ans singing as loud as we could. This task seemed almost too easy to accomplish for us.

It was a beautiful sunny day so we enjoyed having the windows down and since it was around 8:00 that we went there weren't very many onlookers as we serenaded Utah County.

We also took this opportunity to practice our Vocal Few song that we're learning. Did we sound amazing? Of course we did. :) Any time that you're in Provo, make sure you stop by and we'll take you for a drive. 

Monday, June 25, 2012

Hiking Y Mountain

Maybe I took a break from blogging for a while. We had a pretty low-key week. Caitlin was pretty sick so we stayed home almost every night. But she's feeling better and we had a crazy busy weekend to make up for our week of slacking.

On Saturday morning we woke up at 6:00 to hike Y Mountain. I had never hiked the Y before, but it is now one of my new favorite short hikes. The hike is only 1.2 miles but you climb over 1,000 feet. The elevation change is pretty intense but it's only hard on your lungs, not your body.

The hike to the Y starts out with this beautiful metal gate - gets you all sorts of prepared for a good hike. Did you know that the Y is bigger than the Hollywood sign? I learned that via Wikipedia. 

 6:00 was pretty early to be hiking, but we were pretty energetic. We made it up and down the mountain in less than an hour - including the 15 minute break we took once we got to the top. 

Since we had so much energy, we decided we had better run down to the base which was a great morning exercise. I loved it so much that I want to make it a regular weekend routine until we leave for Vermont. I'm not sure if I have Caitlin convinced yet... but I'll work on her.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Lacy & Jay Gonzalez

This past weekend my best friend got married and I was able to go out to North Carolina to celebrate with her and her friends/family. A lot of these pictures were stolen from Blue Frame Photography who did an amazing job on the wedding photography. You'll be able to tell which ones they took in an instant.

The weekend started off with a few cancelled flights, sleeping in the airport, and arriving 9 hours later than expected. But I did make it to North Carolina and finally the party could start!

I was Lacy's "Man of Honor" rather than having a maid of honor. I had never heard of one of those before, but the wedding planner said that it's becoming quite common. Even if I wasn't the designated MoH I wouldn't have missed her wedding for anything.

We spent a good long time getting everything ready at the event center and more importantly, getting the bride beautified before her grand entrance.

 I spent a lot of time hugging and sharing tears with my second mom. 

 Here is the bridal party. Lacy has two sisters (on the right) and two step sisters (on the left).

The handsome groom and the 4 bridesmaids.

I got to walk their husky Kota down the aisle. He was the ring bearer, and like all huskies, he is a puller. I'm surprised my face looks so calm in this photo cause it was not an easy job.
Lacy's dad Bill walked her down the aisle.
Where they exchanged their vows was gorgeous. There was a huge pond/small lake thing in the background and the beautiful Appalachian mountains. I love those!

They were simply adorable the entire day. A perfect match. 
And wasn't she a beautiful bride?

At the reception we all had a good time eating great food, dancing, and I got to give a toast as the MoH. It was the most difficult thing I had to do all weekend. Jay and Lacy are such a perfect match and I couldn't imagine someone better than Jay marrying my best friend. I had no reservations when Lacy told me they were getting married. Such a perfect couple. 

They had a tower of cupcakes in all sorts of flavors instead of a cake. All the cupcakes had different designs on them. A Colts logo, the shape of Oregon and Texas, Texans logo, puzzle piece, camping tent, guitar, soccer ball, football, video game controller, and I think there were a few more. Each one represented something about the bride and groom or their relationship. 

Caitlin couldn't come with us so I had to text her a picture of the bride and groom. It didn't turn out too bad considering it was from my phone. 
 And finally here I am with the bride and groom. They were so happy to finally be married!

The weekend was super short but seeing your best friend marry her new best friend was the perfect way to spend a weekend.

Getting to Twenty

Remember the last time I blogged and said that we weren't going to be able to complete our assignment for the day? Well... we accomplished it and then had a few difficulties in trying to do all 4 of the things we needed to do this weekend - but we're back on track and will be going full swing from here on out. The weekend was filled with travels (Caitlin to Bear Lake and me to North Carolina, which I'll talk about later) and since we were apart we couldn't do our countdown. But enough about our slacking, let's talk about our amazing goal of twenty!

Like I said previously, Caitlin is learning to play tennis and as with everyone learning to play tennis, she is still working on accuracy, and although I've played for a while, I'm not the best at this either. So to help us work on this element of the game I set a goal a few weeks back that we wouldn't leave the tennis court until we got twenty hits back and forth. Well... after it got so dark we couldn't see the ball anymore we finally left for the night - completely defeated. 

We attempted a few other times but could not get to that 20 mark. We got 19 a few times, but 20 seemed so elusive. But finally we made it! I don't know if it was because it was on our countdown or the fact that we were in a hurry while we played (it was before Caitlin took me to the airport) but we managed to not only hit twenty back and forth, but we made it all the way to 40! 


That's right, we're pretty much tennis pros. So as a treat we went and grabbed an ice cream cone  a well deserved ice cream cone!

Since we didn't take any pictures while we were playing we snapped a few of us with our rackets after our victory. 

Tonight we'll be hiking the Y here in Provo. We're also working on catching up on the few we slacked on. Get excited for some double posts coming soon!