Saturday, February 25, 2012


Glad to report that I am feeling just 'whelmed' today rather than over or under. My health is improving, I got to sleep extra today, I didn't strain physically, and I think that is helping too. I spent 4 hours yesterday and 3 hours today catching up on homework and making up for what was lost. I feel pretty confident again that I can get the paper completed on time. I feel more myself this evening.

On a side note, that was the most amazing flan I've ever made! (which isn't hard since it was the first flan I've ever made) I'll share the recipe later, when I've got time to spare. But I wanted to let you all know...

the flan was worth it. :)

Friday, February 24, 2012

A wee bit overwhelmed (this might qualify as a complaining post--you are warned)

Do you ever feel compelled to make a post JUST to get comments and feel connected to the world? I suppose that is this post. I don't have any pictures or videos. I don't even have any exciting news. I just feel... a little overwhelmed with all that is on my plate right now... and why does that make me take time out from what I NEED to be doing to blog? I don't know. Post-poning the inevitable escapism? Giving myself a short mental break? (which this isn't really doing, in all honesty.) I feel like I need to talk, but I have a cold and I talked too much yesterday and now I don't ACTUALLY want to talk to anyone because my throat hurts, but I want to talk...see my dilemma?

I made a big oops on my computer yesterday afternoon and failed to save my week-long progress on my paper. All of this week's efforts are gone. have to start over. Not even an auto-save to recover. believe me, we looked. SOOOOO demoralizing. And frustrating. and I'm soooo mad at myself because I KNOW to be more careful. And now I've got to put in double time because the paper is due next Friday. I wouldn't have to rush if I'd saved properly.

and I'm sick. and tired. and I feel lousy. and maybe just a teensy bit grouchy, can ya tell?. :)

and I've got these weight loss goals that I REALLY want to achieve, but I'm too tired bc of being sick to work out like normal this week. and too mentally tired to be as disciplined as I need to be. and, if I'm honest about what I've got cut out for me next week homework-wise, I need to cut back next week too so I have energy for finishing this paper. So I feel torn between two goals that are very important to me: school and fitness. and I'm annoyed that I even have to make this choice (annoyed at both my computer-oops AND my cold).

and we're in the process of trying to take care of some financial-loan-maybe-we'll-get-a-house kind of things, which is just one more thing to keep me awake at night stewing (as if the non-drowsy decongestant wasn't enough to keep this already-confessed-insomniac awake at night), so I'm definitely not getting enough sleep.

and we're having friends over for dinner tonight. This is a reschedule because last month the girls had the flu. I don't want to have to cancel again, especially because of a stupid cold, so I'm just powering through all the food and cleaning prep. But I'm so tired already--and it is only 9:45 in the morning--and I know it will take energy to be excited and chatty and a good hostess in general. and I'm just a little overwhelmed by all the preparation (we're having Mexican fajitas and I've got to make flan and slice all those peppers and cook Spanish rice etc etc etc) and entertaining today. Don't get me wrong, I'm happy to have my friends over... but I just don't want the work that comes with it. At least not today.

and I'm just kind of overwhelmed with it all and want to cry sometimes but even that takes too much energy plus it makes my congestion worse. Sigh.

Thanks for listening. Just one of those days, I guess.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Uninvited Guest

I came upstairs Saturday morning after eating breakfast... and saw a silhouette of a bird. I first wondered to myself, 'how is that bird perched on our window outside, there's no ledge?' and then I noticed the 2 little feet showing underneath the blinds... on the inside of the window.

so I called Eric upstairs and a lil chase ensued. (Video forthcoming)

Turns out, this particular starling completed the work of boring a hole in the wall from the outside, pushed his nest into the girl's bedroom, and then realized he was inside and didn't like it so well after all.

Later that night, Eric was poking around in his hole and got startled by a bushy tail in his face! That squirrel didn't waste any time moving in to a vacant place of warmth! Currently the hole is corked with newspapers. The last thing we need is a rabid critter scampering around in our girls' beds.

between the termite damage, the 'oops'es from having little ones, and now the 2 inch hole connecting interior with exterior---I wonder if our management will hate us/our apartment when we move?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Again? Seriously?

Caroline's weeks long cough and 3 day temp necessitated yet another trip to the pediatrician today. And yet again, we've got an ear infection, this time a double whammy. Seriously? When will this girl stay healthy for longer than a week?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

#1 Eric Cameron Allan

I love my husband. I can't even express in words, really, because they don't measure up to what I feel and just start to sound like a sappy love song.
Suffice it to say, this man is THE best man I know.
He is patient, kind, compassionate, a good listener, a problem solver, talented, intelligent, hilarious, handsome, a handy man, curious, dedicated, and sensitive to the Spirit. He brings out the best in me. He brings out the best in pretty much everyone, I'd say, and is amazing at making people feel comfortable 1 on 1. He is a wonderful father, an amazing husband, my very best friend.
What more can I say? He is the best thing to come into my life besides the gospel of Jesus Christ. I am more in love today than I was when I married him 5 1/2 years ago... and we were pretty in love then too! In my estimation, this is what Valentine's Day is all about: LOVE.

And I LOVE ERIC with all my heart.

Monday, February 13, 2012

#2 Family History

Today while the girls napped (because, yes, they BOTH slept! Crankies...),
I worked on my family history.
I find this very exciting, totally addictive, and most of the time soooo frustrating, and yet sweetly rewarding.
So many times I am exhausted and know I need to call it quits... but I just think
'what if the next image has the marriage I'm looking for? Just one more...'....
I could do that to myself EVERY time. I have to set clear quotas and then put it off til next designated research time. Because I can't wait for those
thrilling, exciting, goose-bump-inducing moments
when you realize that you are staring at a screen providing
deeper insight into the life of an ancestor,
information you desperately needed to verify vitals like birth/death/marriage/parents,
and, of course, details providing a tantalizing lead for another piece of the puzzle.
It is never ending!

Last week I discovered that my maternal great grandmother was an illegitimate child, and that my great-great-grandfather showed up to acknowledge her as his own when she was 4 years old. I already knew that my great-great-grandmother was married before, but this explained why I just couldn't find a marriage for her and my g-g-gpa. Man, I'd like to read a journal or something. What kind of story did they have? That's what I'm talking about... lil details that are just so tantalizing...

Did you know that has updated their website and includes browsable image libraries now? So you don't have to order microfilms, pay money, wait wait wait, try and fannagle a time in your schedule to drive up to a family history library 20 minutes away, and then try to juggle kids while sitting in a dark room to examine the films on a reader... and then there was always the frustration if you ordered a film with no helpful info and then had to order another and wait some more... no no, my friends, the exciting news is that you can do it at home and online. Free. Convenient. Beautiful.

I am in love!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

#3 How Music Communes with the Soul

Really, actually, I love how powerful music is in conveying things that words cannot express. Including love, longing, determination, fear... I think music is truly powerful, the way it touches the soul, communes with it, and then moves it feel something significant. Today, what it conveyed was testimony.
I am the choir director in our ward (that is a church congregation) and we prepared a song called "I Feel My Savior's Love". I really enjoy this song, for 2 main reasons.

1) when I hear it, it takes me back to being a young girl in primary when I first had those inklings of the Spirit touch me and allow me to begin to recognize my Savior's love for me in all the world around me.

and 2) I love the lyrics even now that encourage me to think about the Savior's active part in my life to bless me constantly.

The arrangement was lovely, the choir did exceptionally well on the a Capella portion, the soloist really shared his testimony, and I had that wonderful feeling that tells me the music really did its job: I felt that communion in my soul, that gentle touch opening my heart to the warmth of the Spirit.

I love how music can do that, don't you?

Saturday, February 11, 2012

#4 Languages-- Especially Sign Language for Kids

I am nerdy that way, I suppose, because I love languages. I love the structure (it is so logical and formulaic), grammar, nuances (often so poetic and fun--like when you learn that 'happy birthday' in Korean is 'it's your life day, congratulations'), and how language seems like a window to culture (much in the same way food is, I think). I used to enjoy learning phrases and snippets from international friends. I envisioned myself teaching Korean or Spanish to my kiddos so I'd have bilingual or even trilingual kiddos...

that hasn't happened. For a number of reasons. The main two are that 1) Eric and I want to give our kids an edge in language development as it relates to the educational system. Reading and writing are paramount, so we've chosen to focus on English to really develop vocabulary and comprehension. 2) I am more interested in immediate communication with my kids and the delay of multiple tongues just, well, I was/am too impatient for the return. I can't stand the fits and tantrums when communication breaks down and I just want to cross as much territory as quickly as possible to remove the language barrier between me and my children.

Which explains why I've chosen to teach my girls sign language. Rather than delay the communication, it speeds it up. Frustrations subside when I know what they want and can give it to them rather than guessing wrong. Both parties are happier. And it also doesn't hamper vocabulary development (they can sign WHILE saying the English word, so there is really only 1 word to learn. Easier than trying to distinguish between a Spanish and English vocab word). Gwen had a huge vocabulary by 2 years thanks to signing... and Caroline is following in her footsteps.

We started signing with Caroline recently, about a week ago. Today, she started signing "ball". I know, that isn't much, but it has been SOOOOO exciting to see comprehension dawn on her face and to have her COMMUNICATE with us rather than just fuss, whine, and cry. I LOVE languages, but I really LOVE communication the most. And it is wonderfully rewarding to see Caroline witnessing the rewards first hand of using language to communicate (it sure beats the alternatives, I tell you what!) I'm excited for her to start telling me she wants food, drink, bath, bed, mommy, daddy... basically, I'm excited for real communication. And that, my friends, is why I LOVE languages.

Friday, February 10, 2012

#5 Weekends!!!!

I love that today is FRIDAY!!!

granted, that doesn't mean I am off the hook for any of my motherly/wifely duties, but somehow it just feels so much more free. Like I can play and relax a lil bit. I can take a break from studying without feeling like I'm slacking. I can watch movies, socialize, work on projects (though, I don't actually have any right now), have some date time with Eric or hang out together at home, and just enjoy the rewarding side of life. Yes, I am glad it is Friday.

Now what shall I do this weekend to make it fun?...hmmm...

Thursday, February 9, 2012

# 6 Libraries

I do, I LOVE libraries. Does that make me a nerd? Probably, but I'll own it. As a youth all the way through being a student at BYU, I loved how studious and intelligent I felt frequenting the library or going there for study. Like I was a member of some kind of exclusive club for intellectuals.
As an artist, I loved going to the library to draw or paint people absorbed in some textbook or novel, especially if they were content rather than stressed. :)
I love the quiet seated areas, endless aisles of books to browse, and resources for my schooling (I've saved hundreds of dollars by borrowing textbooks and research books from the library instead of having to buy my own.).
We try to go to the library every Thursday, but we have been known to go more than that for story times, sing-a-longs, programs, or events.
Gwen absorbed in a group story about gingerbread men.
making a skirt for her very own gingerbread...woman.
proud of her islander-inspired creation
and now she gets to eat
M and J, our neighbors and good friends, frequent library events regularly too
the masterpiece (before Gwen ate her). love the silver pearl necklace

and today's adventure. We actually got our photos taken for the local newspaper (which I usually recycle without reading--but now I'll have to look through it) today. probably because my girls are so cute. :)
she's blurry here because she is waving her arms like a crazy woman out of excitement
excitement for... BOOKS!!!!! She tried to pull every last one off the shelf!
Gwen showing off her caterpillar and Caroline's mouse
pretty cute, eh?
I love how much my kiddos love the library.
I love how it encourages them to read and explore the world.
I love that it is free.

I am in love.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

#7 Talents

In this case, not a talent of mine, but one of my Caroline's. See that tongue? Can YOU do that? I didn't think so. At least, I know I can't. I LOVE seeing my lil one's talents manifest, however inconsequential.
Btw, she is 10 months today, can you believe that? Sleep training is improving, now that cold # umpteenth-thousand is fading and her cough is subsiding. We've had 5 big throwups and 3 or so lil ones. But last night after crying for 1.5 hours, she proceeded to sleep for 9 1/2 hours. I'd say that is pretty awesome improvement! and she is getting better with solids, at least, she is more interested. She has started to spontaneously gag and throw up when foods she doesn't like are offered to her, even before the spoon hits her mouth. I hope this doesn't mean she's learning how to use the puking to get what she wants...
She IS a gal of many talents, no? Sleeping, puking, tongue-rolling, cute lil imp that she is. I sure LOVE her.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

#8 Dance

I LOVE to dance. Love it. This isn't me, but when I dance, I feel like this girl:
I recall being a lil girl in dance class and totally just goofing off. I missed an opportunity, I tell you what. Not that it would have really changed anything, even if I'd taken dance seriously, because I don't really have a dancer's physique or a dancer's talent.
But what I lack in skill, I definitely make up for in enthusiasm.
I've been told I'm entertaining to watch
(which is code for: you really look like a goof ball out there, but I can tell you're having a great time)
and I always throw myself into the music. Even if I stink at the style.
Hip hop is definitely the worst for me, closely followed by ballet.
But I really enjoy Latin, swing, folk, clog, dance wii, and basically anything that will push me to move my body to the max. I love how I feel while dancing: like a superstar. and I love how I feel when I'm finished: like an athlete.
High energy, exciting music, awesome bass, just letting myself go...

I'm in love!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Chinese Lantern Festival at the Allans

As mentioned in today's post for countdown to love, today is Chinese Lantern Festival. I thought it would be fun if we did a little lanterning for Family Home Evening. After a lesson about how Jesus Christ is the Light of the world and how we are supposed to be a light too, we did a lil crafting.
Gwen went to town with her new Fancy Nancy stickers (thanks Mama and Papa! She loves em!)
and Eric turned his into a puzzle-math-quandary. I love seeing how this man's brain works. I was perfectly content with the average lantern, but not Eric. He wanted to do something challenging.
the idea is for a spiral lantern...
you'll see how it turned out in a minute...
Gwen wanted to see the candles
and then when she realized I was taking pictures of her, she started posing... lol!...
the lantern lineup
with candles
my favorite: Eric's 'spiral' masterpiece! LOL!!!!
(I should add that the prettiest one, featured at the top, was also one of Eric's creations. But this one is still my favorite)
Caroline just wanted to play with the lanterns
what I mean is, she wanted to eat them. Surprise, surprise.

Happy Lantern Day!

#9 Exploring International Cuisines

I LOVE delving in to international cuisines because food can be such a beautiful window to culture.
This has been a great weekend for international flair. Friday was Japanese Setsubun, a festival celebrating the halfway point between winter and spring. My great friend, who knows a thing or two about Japanese traditions, hosted a fabulous lil get together. Since the girls were sick, Eric held down the fort and I represented the Allans (and our elk-antelope steak teriyaki, which was delish!). They got a plate of awesome food, which is Eric's favorite part anyway, but they missed out on the other fun activities.
Like eating an entire roll of sushi without stopping for good luck (I succeeded, in case you wondered)
the best part was being the demon, getting candy and peanuts thrown at me, and being chased outside. I had a blast!

Today (Monday) was also Chinese Lantern Festival, so we had a need for another chopstick meal. Can I just tell you that Gwen is pretty good at this? I was really impressed!

There is just something about exotic food that transports me: like a vacation. Only I never leave my house and I save a ton of money and I get to have fun in the kitchen.

I am in love.

ps. at Heather's suggestion, I've gone back and added the recipe for the garlic-butternut soup. so take another look if you'd like.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

#10 Honest Compliments

What I mean by honest is, I don't want obligatory compliments. But when someone acknowledges something good just because they SAW it and thought it worth mentioning, well. That makes me feel like a million bucks.

I had several people comment on my weightloss
(which is a blessed boon for those days when I am tired of the work and want to take the easy route)
and others comment on my cupcakes
(the only reason that is significant is because I literally told Eric the night before that they were ugly, I felt so bad, and I was embarrassed to bring them to the baby shower... I'll admit it seems so silly now)
thank you for your sincere compliments, because you know,
they really just make me feel like I could do anything.

And who doesn't love THAT feeling?

Saturday, February 4, 2012

#11 Lil Girls Playing Together

I LOVE when my girls make happy noises, whether it be Gwen's made up songs in a sweet airy soprano or Caroline's shrieks and giggles. I have beautiful children. They are sisters, for sure, with all that that entails: they get on each other's nerves, try to take each other's stuff, sometimes maybe even hurt each other (Caroline scratches and pulls hair, Gwen is consistently unaware of things that Caroline is holding on to to support her standing position)... but it is clear that they love each other too.Take a close look at this series of photos above. Notice Gwen starts off with the spoon, Caroline licks her lips with a plaintive expression, Gwen feeds her some, and then Caroline give a big ole grin for the camera. So funny!
Nothing makes me feel warm and content like watching them enjoy each other's company.

I am so in love with my girls.

Friday, February 3, 2012

#12 Everything Checked Off on the To-Do List

I LOVE it when the to-do list gets completed! Early enough in the day to enjoy the afternoon and evening without any guilt about things I should be doing instead... it just feels awesome! Today was one of those days (paper mailed off, bills paid, laundry done, dishes done, exercise done, scripture study done, dinner done, cupcakes done...EVERYTHING done!!!) when it all came together. And that basically just means that I can feel peaceful and free. and that, my friends, is something I love.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

#13 Soup in Winter

#13 I love soup on a cold day.
Perfect because it is warm and comforting, makes the entire house smell delicious, and fills you up.
ps. not my pic, just one I got off the internet. Basically what it looked like, though. Enjoy!

My current faves are pureed veggie soups, mostly because they are super healthy and filling without extra calories. They help me feel satisfied and confident that my 'indulgence' isn't going to destroy my goal. If anything, it will help it. Since we got back from vaca, I've instituted Wednesday night as soup night. We've had some awesome ones and more awesome ones scheduled... but the best was our soup last night:

Roasted Garlic and Butternut Squash
(from Soups, Starters, and Salads edited by Felicity Forster)
serves 4-5
  • 2 garlic bulbs, outer papery skin removed
  • 5 T olive oil (I used 2 and it was still awesome!)
  • a few thyme sprigs
  • 1 large butternut squash, halved and seeded
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 1t ground coriander
  • 2 pints/5 C chicken stock
  • 1-2 T fresh oregano (or t if using dried)
  • salt and ground black pepper
  1. preheat oven to 425
  2. place garlic bulbs on a piece of foil and pour over half the olive oil. add the thyme sprigs, fold foil around garlic so enclosed completely.
  3. place foil parcel on a baking sheet with the butternut squash and brush squash with the a T olive oil.
  4. roast the veggies for 25 minutes. reduce temp to 375 and cook 20-25 min more, or until the squash is tender.
  5. heat remaining oil in a pan, cook the onions and ground coriander gently for about 10 min, until softened.
  6. squeeze roasted garlic out of its papery skin into the onions and scoop the squash out of its skin, adding it to the pan. add the stock, 1 t salt and plenty of black pepper. Bring to a boil and simmer gently for 10 minutes.
  7. stir in the oregano, cool soup slightly, then puree in food processor or blender.
  8. reheat the soup without allowing it to boil. serve in bowls with salsa and oregano garnish if desired (but we didn't and I didn't miss them. the soup is plenty flavorful by itself!)

a smooth, creamy soup (without cream-- just the great creamy texture of veggies), the deep, nutty flavor of roasted garlic, the sweet subtlety of butternut squash-- absolutely amazing! Caroline thougth this was the best dinner ever!

I am in love!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Countdown to Love

Inspired by a friend's blog, I'm going to share a lil somethin somethin that I love every day leading up to Valentine's Day. I am not going to limit this to 'romantic' love alone, though I'm sure there will be some of that too. And to keep the scope narrow, I'm going to shoot for things
relevant to my day, not just something I adore in general.

#14 I love Chinese ink landscapes and nature paintings

I love the composition, the beautiful forms, the skilled portrayal of nature, and especially the provocative use of negative space. Gorgeous.
The current section of my class right now is on Chinese art... and even though I am positive I will not be able to remember names and dates of even the most famous Chinese artists (despite having to write a paper... due in 2 days, I might add), I am truly inspired. I've got some great ideas for my own versions of Chinese-inspired paintings that I want to do. Something with color, but still muted and subtle. Not quite as bold as this:
but with that same gorgeous use of line and silhouette.
For those of you artistically minded who might care: I'm planning a triptych of square paintings that together depict an entire plum blossom branch. I'll paint in oil for more texture and depth, but try to capture those gorgeous lines and perfect composition. My future dining room will thank me, I'm sure.

I am in love.