I've decided that Photography is my all-time favorite art medium. I love the contrast of light & dark. I love the realistic subjects. Mostly I enjoy photos of buildings and nature (especially clouds).

I use Google Reader to send me links of photographs from a variety of sites. Every now and again, I come across one that I really enjoy. I've decided that maybe I would share these with everyone who reads my blog, so that they can enjoy them, too. I'll include a link to the original post as well.



Baby, it's COLD outside!

When I was getting ready for work this morning, the radio kept saying it was 5-degrees outside. Brrrrrr...

So I got all bundled up--winter coat, hat, gloves, scarf, warm clothes underneath--for my 1 block walk to the train. 5-degrees is cold, any way you look at it. My cheeks tingled, and my eyes burned. I don't think it was that windy, just cold, bitter, bitter cold. It's gonna be a fun winter.

Of course, the best part is when I get downtown. I'm all bundled up, remember? Well, I have a 5+ block walk to work. Minneapolis has this incredible skyway system,so I have the option of walking that 5+ blocks inside. Yeah!
Except....I'm all bundled up for the walk to the train. By the time I get to work, I've generally worked up a pretty good sweat. Today was no exception!

Here's to winter!


My Sister's Keeper

Well, I finally got around to reading the book my friend recommended to me.

My Sister's Keeper is a very touching story that really makes you think about how you would handle having your child diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia and how your actions would affect the entire family.

The way that Picoult writes this story is very intriguing. Each section is written in the 1st person of one of the characters. This can be a little confusing at times, but mostly it allows the reader to really get into the thoughts of each of the characters.

I enjoyed reading this book; although the language in it was, at times, not stellar. I understand that the situations this family had to faced would probably elicit such language, but in a fictional book, why can't we just pretend that those words wouldn't fall so easily off our tongues?

All in all, though, I would definitely recommend this book. It is heartfelt and inspiring. It will definitely make you think; it will definitely make you cry.


Freedom Writers

Jeff and I just watched one of the most powerful movies I've seen in a long time. If you haven't seen Freedom Writers, I highly recommend it.

This movie explores racism in today's society and how everyone has their own battles to fight. It shows the power and influence a good teacher can have in the lives of teenagers.

This movie made me cry, but mostly it made me think. It spurred discussion about public schools and the holocaust and parenthood.

Seriously this movie is a definite must-see!


Fall Leaves at Minnehaha Falls

Living so close to Minnehaha Park, I couldn't resist going on a little photo shoot one Saturday evening.

Here are my 5 favorites:

If you'd like to see more, you can visit my entire album on Picasa: Minnehaha Falls


Where I've Been

A friend of mine put up a map of all the places she'd visited. I thought I'd do the same. Mine isn't nearly as impressive as hers, but here it is...

I only included states that I have actually done something in (not just driven through).

create your own visited states map

Outside of the U.S., I've only been to Canada and the Bahamas, so my world map is even less impressive. I'm not even going to bother posting something like that.


Reading & Crying

Recently, my old friend, Jill, recommended a book for me to read. She said it would make me “think, laugh, and cry.” I have not had a chance to read that book yet, but her recommendation made me think about another book and a funny story about reading & crying in public.

Some background…

When I was a teenager, there was one book, Charly by Jack Weyland, which I read over and over again. It was a very quick read. I loved this book and would read it whenever I felt a little down and needed a good cry. It has a very sad ending.

Fast forward to 2006…

When I was living in New York, I was working closely with one of the senior missionaries, Sister Scott. She told me that Jack Weyland and his wife were coming to NYC to serve a mission. I was SO excited!! I bought a new copy of Charly—hoping that I would have the opportunity to meet him and get a signed copy of this cherished book.

Jeff and I were taking a trip somewhere. I can’t remember where, but I know we were flying out of JFK. We were getting comfortable in our seats, and I pulled out this book to read during our flight. I had forgotten how funny the bulk of the book was; I had only remembered the sad ending. I was really getting into it when we were de-boarded because of a mechanical (I think) problem with the plane.

We were told to wait in the gate area. So, I continued reading my book—laughing quietly to myself.

Like I said, it was a quick read. Before I knew it, I was at the last chapter. This is where it gets really sad. Even though, I’d read the book many, many times before, and I totally knew what was coming, the tears still began to fall as soon as I turned the page to that final chapter.

It’s a lot more difficult for me to cry quietly to myself, because my eyes get all red and puffy, and my face gets a little blotchy. It’s pretty obvious to onlookers that I’m crying—even if I’m not making a lot of noise.

As I’m reading, Jeff leaned over to me and asked me if I was almost finished.

When I asked him why, he told me that there was a little girl that was just staring at us. Maybe she had never been as engaged in a book as I currently was, but the situation as she saw it was:

Here is a woman who is very clearly in tears because our flight was delayed and maybe there was something going on between her and her husband because she is trying to hide her tears behind that book.

Of course, I don’t know exactly what this girl was thinking, but I do know that she kept staring. She also whispered something to her mother and pointed in our direction.

Maybe next time I ought to read Charly in the comfort of my own home.

I never did end up meeting Jack Weyland, but I did get my copy of Charly signed. Now the book has become even more special to me.


Tag...I'm it!!

I've been tagged by my old friend, Lara. She didn't seem very confident that those she tagged would follow through, so I thought I'd show her. Plus...I thought it would be fun.

What I Was Doing 10 Years Ago: Living in Rochester, NY, adjusting to life as a film student at Rochester Institute of Technology; probably working on a student film. I think this was about midterm.

What I Was Doing 5 Years Ago: Recuperating from my first marathon. It was the last Sunday in September that year, but I bet my body was still a little in recovery mode.

One Year Ago: Adjusting to life in Oregon with my husband as a student and living with my mother-in-law. Also enjoying a relaxing life without a full-time job--just trying to promote my PartyLite business and working part-time as a Classified Substitute in a few area school districts.

Yesterday: Attempted to watch General Conference, scanned in some old photos and memorabilia, napped, read scriptures, enjoyed dinner and good conversation with my family.

Five Snacks I Enjoy:
1. Homemade cookies
2. Doritos with cottage cheese
3. Chips & salsa
4. Pudding
5. Celery/Carrot sticks

Five Things I Would Do With A Million Dollars:
1. Travel the world with Jeff
2. Buy my sister a new house
3. Pay off all our debt (it's not anywhere near a million dollars, but any extra $$ right now goes to that).
4. Fight for custody/visitation rights enforcement for my step-son
5. Create savings accounts for my future children's college

Five TV Shows I Like:
1. How I Met Your Mother
2. General Hospital
3. Big Bang Theory
4. Rules of Engagement
5. Carpoolers
Those are just the ones I watch with any frequency. There are many more I would enjoy watching...but who has the time??

Five Things I Hate Doing:
1. Cleaning the shower
2. Driving
3. Listing things I hate doing
4. Making phone calls
5. Eating leftovers

Five Biggest Joys of the Moment:
1. Learning new things at my job
2. My fabulous studio apartment
3. My fabulous husband, Jeff
4. Relaxing with candlelight
5. Hearing exciting news from old friends/hanging out with new friends

Five People I Tag: Ooohh....this is a tough one... I don't think that I really get all that many visitors. Here are some random friends of mine with blogs, so maybe, just maybe, one of them will read this and respond to being tagged.
1. Rob
2. Sariah
3. Jeff
4. Jill
5. Staci

I did it!!

I just wanted to let everyone know that on Sept 30th, I fulfilled my goal to read the Book of Mormon in 3 months.

What a blessing it was in my life!

And now I am in the habit of reading/studying the scriptures each morning before work.

I am trying to get caught up on my Sunday School lessons. It's the New Testament this year, and I'm way behind in studying. Here's to getting caught up and staying caught up.

Seems like there is always so much to read...



I think I have found true happiness.

Not sure how it happened, but I've found myself smiling for no apparent reason a lot lately.

Maybe it's because of my rocking new apartment...

Or my fabulous temp assignment...

Or the fact that I've been reading from the Book of Mormon every morning for nearly 3 months...

Or maybe it's that I have a wonderful husband...

I don't care the reason...it just feels so great to have found it!


Another smoothie...

I used milk as my liquid base for today's smoothie. I wasn't sure how it would turn out, but it is delicious! It is much creamier than when I use OJ.

Today's smoothie:
1 peach
1 kiwi
small handful of frozen strawberries
2 packets of Splenda



Mmmm...Yummy Smoothies...

The kitchen at my temp position at SC Johnson is a full kitchen. One of the many appliances it has is a blender. I've taken to blending up a yummy smoothie for breakfast each morning.

Today's is particularly hitting the spot.

Orange Juice
1 Banana
Frozen mixed berries
2 packets of Splenda



Old Pictures

When Jeff and I were packing up to move out to NYC nearly 2 years ago, I came across two rolls of undeveloped film.

Well, after carrying them around from 2 more years, I finally got them developed.

I was pleasantly surprised by what I found when I picked them up from Ritz Camera. They chronicled some events that I had all but forgotten. The pictures are all from the summer of 2004.

The next 5 posts are pictures from these rolls of film.

Christopherson Clan

These pics were really fun to come across. I had totally forgotten about this pit stop!

When Brian and family moved out to Boston, they made a pit stop for a couple of hours in Minneapolis. Treva and Trevor couldn't join us because of work, but Tony and Ana brought out all the kids. I think everyone had a lot of fun meeting their cousins and playing by the lake.

At the time, I lived in Minneapolis only a couple of blocks from Lake Calhoun, so we walked down to the lake and played around until Brian and Nancy and clan had to
continue on their journey.

Beth & Jose Angel's wedding

I was really excited to see these pics in the batch.

Beth had quite a few Cottey girls come up for her wedding. It was a fun little reunion.

Lynn (Cook) McGovern came up from AZ. She actually stayed with me, and we drove down to Owatonna (about an hour) for the nuptials. Unfortunately, we arrived late. :-( We missed the entire ceremony--arriving just as they were leaving the chapel. We, of course, stayed for the reception. It was a lot of fun. I remember the food was really good. They had a mariachi band. That was pretty cool. I remember they did this traditional Mexican dance where all the single women were supposed to dance around the bride. I think there were only two of us that were single of all the Cottey girls, so the married ones joined us in the dancing.

After the reception, we hung out for awhile at Beth's parent's home. It was a really good day.

A Few Cottey Girls

I think it might have been Labor Day weekend in 2004. I received a phone call from Jenny Murray asking what I was up to. Apparently, her and Nancy Eddie and Susie Stolberg were stranded in Fargo due to inclement weather. They were going to rent a car and drive to Minneapolis to catch their connecting flights the next morning. They wanted to know if I would be up for a few visitors the the night.


It was so much fun to see all of them again. We stayed up late into the night talking.
It was just a brief reunion but so worth it. :-)
L to R: Jen Murray, Nancy Eddie, Susie Stolberg, Me

Denise, Treva, Jen & Me

I can't remember exactly the occasion of these photos, but Treva and I met Denise & Jennifer at a Famous Dave's. I do remember getting a birthday gift, so maybe that was the occasion.

Treva & Denise Jennifer & Me
The Girls

Me & Catherine Cook

I do not remember the occasion of this picture, but I imagine it was just after church one Sunday afternoon. I think it's a really good picture of the two of us.


Today I AM 30!

Well, my big day is finally here! I've been counting down for well over a month.

I have high hopes for this day, but I have no concrete plans as of yet...

As I walked from the train station to work this morning, I couldn't help but walking tall. Today IS special.

I love birthdays! But my 30th...well, that's something to celebrate!

Check out this fun, delicious looking cake! I found it doing a Google Image search. I probably won't get a cake this fancy-schmancy, but a girl can dream. :-)


I cut my bangs!

I cut my bangs yesterday morning!

It wasn't exactly the look I was going for, but I do think they turned out pretty cute. Of course, now I need to get the rest of my hair cut. I think the bangs make the rest of my hair look (and feel) heavy! I'm thinking something kinda short and complementary of the bangs.

Now I'm just debating as to whether I should try cutting it myself or going to a professional.



Kudos to ME!

August marks my 2nd anniversary with PartyLite!! Yeah, ME!!
PartyLite in August is terrific for Hostesses AND Guests, too!
  • First, of course, is the NEW Fall/Holiday catalog!
  • All votives on sale for $10/dozen!
  • Hostesses can buy 6 dozen votives for only $9.95!
  • Plus Hostesses earn a Fast $50 for only $9.95 when you hold a show in 30 days and another Fast $50 for only $9.95 for EVERY show booked and held from yours!
  • Guests can purchase a Bestburn Barrel jar for only $9.95 (with a $40 purchase)

Let me know if you'd like to see a catalog or host a show!!

Book Review

I was inspired to read this book after watching the movie, My Dog Skip. The movie was a sad story about a boy and his dog. Willie was a lonely boys with no friends, so his Mom bought him a puppy for his 9th birthday, in the hopes that he would become his best friend. It worked, of course, and Willie and Skip became inseparable!
The book, however, tells quite a different story! The book, by the way, is a true story while the movie is merely based on the book.
In actuality, the Willie in the book, was quite a popular kid. True, Skip became his best friend, but certainly not his only friend.
Once you get past the completely different portrayal of Willie Morris, this book was actually quite good.
It primarily takes place in a small town in Mississippi during WWII. The description of the adventures that Willie and Skip embarked on is quite vivid. I really felt that I was a part of this quiet little town.
It also was very interesting to read about this particular period of time. A time before video games and the Internet. A time when boys and dogs were free to roam around town. A time when everyone knew everyone in town. It was a very reminiscent account of a time that I am so removed from and that I will never experience.


Working in the IDS Center

I've spent the past few weeks working on the 39th floor of the IDS Center in Minneapolis. Some of you may not know this, but IDS is the tallest building in Minneapolis. The view out of the conference center is spectacular! You can see for miles! You can see 394 and Lake Calhoun and lots of downtown buildings. Gorgeous!

Today there is a storm brewing. It's incredible to watch the storm slowly making its way into downtown. Less than 5 minutes ago, we could clearly see Lake Calhoun off in the distance. Now it is completely gone...lost in the rain...

The rain hasn't hit downtown yet, but it will very, very soon...

I've never watched a storm come in from up so high.


Torchlight 5K--July 18, 2007

This is one of my favorite races of all time! It is always the first Wednesday evening of the Minneapolis Aquatennial--the 10 Best Days of Summer--and kicks off the Torchlight Parade.

This is the third time I've run this race, and it has always been a different route. I really enjoyed the route this year.

It always starts at the Basilica in downtown Minneapolis. The first year, it ended on Boom Island; the second year, it ended at Loring Park; this year, it ended on Nicollet Island.

The race started off bit a rocky.
  • I hadn't been able to get a hold of Marla all day, and we were supposed to run this together.
  • Around 4:30 or so, the sky opened up and the rains came pouring down. The rain was much, much worse out in Eagan, so Jeff and I decided that he didn't need to come down and cheer me on. He would just pick me up at the train station when I was finished.
  • After loafing around the library until a little before 6, I changed into my running clothes. It was then that I realized how much I needed Jeff--to hold my purse and my bag. I certainly didn't want to run a 5K carrying all of that.
  • I remember that Jeff mentioned Dave was going to be running the race, so I gave him a call.
  • I finally got a hold of Marla! She had just arrived from Denver and was driving into downtown.
  • The rains started to fall once again!!
  • I registered, got my t-shirt, and finally met up with Dave, John, and Lindsay Christianson.
  • Yeah! I got to put all my stuff in their car.
  • We met up with Emily Kucera!!
  • Brian Hogan and Andy Howard (I think) joined our pre-race crowd.
  • Marla finally found the Basilica, parking, and joined our group! Yeah!

As we made our way to the starting line, I set my Garmin to run the 5K in 32:00. Marla and I paced together pretty well...we only missed my goal by 39 seconds!! Also the race turned out to be 3.2 miles (.1 miles longer than a 5K).

I had to stop a walk twice during the race--once during the water stop and once a little further on in the race.

My shins hurt a little during the race, but it was okay. Marla was concerned that I didn't push myself too much.

But you just can't help yourself but to run a little faster and harder during a race!

The race was exhilarating!

The post-race party was fun, too! There was a cheese scupture of Mt Rushmore. Cheez-It(R) was one of the sponsors. Plus, there was a lot of fun food. I had to convince Dave to walk through the food tent, but one he saw the free food, I think it was worth it to him.

I also won tickets for two to the Acme Comedy Club, so I'm excited for Jeff and I to go to a comedy show.


This is a talk I gave in Sacrament on July 15, 2007.

I love to see the temple.
I’m going there someday to feel the Holy Spirit, to listen and to pray.
For the temple is a house of God, a place of love and beauty.
I’ll prepare myself while I am young; this is my sacred duty.[1]

I love this Primary song! Last Sunday when the bishop asked me to speak on temples, the words to this song immediately began running through my mind. As I have reflected on these words this past week, I have realized how much they resonate truth to me now—even after having been through the temple for myself. Today I would like to share some of my own personal experiences of the temple as well as some words from a few General Authorities to illustrate the principles found in the first verse of this song.

I love to see the temple.[2]

I have had the opportunity to travel around the country a little. At nearly every destination, I try to squeeze in a visit to the temple—if only to walk the grounds—because I love to see the temple. I love knowing that they are in many cities around the world.

Jeff and I recently moved back to MN from the Portland, Oregon area. It wasn’t that frequent, but on occasion, we would find ourselves driving along I-5. I loved it when we would crest the hill and could see the majestic spires of the temple. It was such a wonderful sight to behold; it always brought me a sense of comfort.

We are taught that the Lord’s people are a temple-building people. Many temples have been erected throughout time, and I would imagine that they have always been a sight to behold. I imagine that many have marveled at their beauty—whether they be the temples of ancient times, the smaller temples of today or the larger temples that were built at the beginning of the Restoration.

One such temple was the Nauvoo temple. In an Ensign article in 1994, President Hinckley had the following to say about the Nauvoo temple.

The temple which rose [in Nauvoo] was to be the crowning jewel of [the] city. When it was completed in 1846, a year and a half after the Martyrdom, it was looked upon as perhaps the finest building then in the state of Illinois. … Its tower reached 165 feet in the air, and it could be seen for many miles up and down the river, from the far interior of Illinois, and from far into Iowa. It was the last thing that our people saw as they began their long journey west."[3]

The Nauvoo temple was glorious. I remember when I was little we would often visit Nauvoo. Back then there was only the footprint of the temple, as it had not been rebuilt. Even though I could not actually see the temple on those visits, I could still feel of its presence and imagine what it must have been like to see it up on the hill overlooking the city.

Seeing temples in my daily life, whether in person or in photographs, has helped to instill in me a desire to attend the temple and do the Lord’s work.

I’m going there someday to feel the Holy Spirit, to listen and to pray.[4]

When the children in Primary sing this song, they are making plans to someday enter the temple. Many of us, as adults, have already had the privilege of attending the temple, but it doesn’t stop there. Whether or not we have been through the temple for ourselves, we should always sing this song with the resolution of “I’m going there someday,” because we should continually be desirous to return to the temple to feel of the Spirit, to listen to the counsel of the Lord and to pray to our Heavenly Father. Going to the temple is not a one-time deal. Every time we attend, we can receive these blessings.

Joseph B Wirthlin, in a conference talk, in 1998, said,

The ideals of faith, hope, and charity are most evident in the holy temples. There we learn the purpose of life, strengthen our commitment as disciples of Christ by entering into sacred covenants with Him, and seal our families together for eternity across generations. Receiving our own endowment in a temple and returning frequently to perform sacred ordinances for our kindred dead increases our faith, strengthens our hope, and deepens our charity. We receive our own endowment with faith and hope that we will understand the Lord's plan for His children, will recognize the divine potential within each of us as children of our Heavenly Father, and will be faithful to the end in keeping the covenants we make. Performing temple ordinances for the dead is a manifestation of charity, offering essential blessings to those who have preceded us, blessings that were not available to them during their mortal lives. We have the privilege of doing for them what they are unable to do for themselves."[5]

Faith, hope and charity are wonderful blessings that we can receive through frequent temple attendance. I think these attributes are developed when we feel the Holy Spirit, when we listen and when we pray.

In Psalms 27:4, David says, “One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple.[6]

There is no place on earth where we can do this more fully than in the temples. I believe that it was for this purpose that the Lord gave us temples—as a place for us to go and be edified in Him.

The temple is a house of God, a place of love and beauty.[7]

In October 2003, my sister, step-mom and I went on a trip to Las Vegas. One of the sights that I definitely wanted to see was the Las Vegas temple. It took a bit of determination and a lot of map consulting, but we finally found it! It was beautiful! As my sister and I walked around the grounds that day, I could feel the spirit so strongly; it was overwhelming. I could feel the love of my Heavenly Father envelope me, and I knew that I was his daughter—a daughter of God.

The beauty of the temples is striking. Even those who are not of our faith recognize the beauty of the temples. Back in February of 2006, I read an article in the Ensign that really left an impression on me. I’d like to read an excerpt to you now.

“Picturing Myself in the Temple” by John Cox, as told to Janine Simons Craeger

Never did I think that by putting myself in a picture of the temple, I would also put myself in the temple.

I grew up in Godstone, England, and was 17 years old when the London England Temple was dedicated in 1958. As a member of another church, I went through the temple open house with my parents. Although this left a great impression on me, I went back to my life as it had been before.

A year later, I joined a photographic club and chose the London temple as a suitable subject for a photograph to enter in a competition. As I set up the camera that day, I thought, “This needs something else. I need to put somebody in there looking at the temple.” So I used a timer and took the shot across the reflecting pool with me sitting in the foreground. That photograph took first place.

My father informed the temple president, Selvoy J. Boyer, of my award. He wanted to see the picture, so I made a print and presented it to him. He gave me a copy of the Book of Mormon. I read it and obtained a conviction that it was scripture.

On April 1, 1960, President Boyer baptized me. Throughout my life, I’ve had a special feeling about the temple, and it all started with a photograph. The temple was there from the beginning and has been with me ever since. Indeed, it continues to be the central focus of my life.[8]

I love this story because this brother was attracted to the beauty of the temple and was able to feel of the love that abides there and came to know that it was a house of God. No one can deny the beauty of the temple.

I’ll prepare myself while I am young; this is my sacred duty.[9]

You might hear these words and think that they do not apply to you because you are no longer in Primary; however, aren’t we taught that when we have humility before the Lord, we become as little children? We are also taught that this life is a probationary period where we can prepare to return to our Heavenly Father. Preparation is never-ending; no matter our age, we still should always be in a state of preparation to enter the temple.

Elaine S Dalton, in a conference talk in 2006, said

Personal worthiness is essential to enter His holy temples and to ultimately become heirs to 'all [the] Father hath' (D&C 84:38). The Lord has said, 'Let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God' (D&C 121:45). When we do this, we can confidently enter the holy temples of God with a knowledge that we are worthy to go where the Lord Himself goes. When we are worthy, we cannot only enter the temple, the temple can enter us. The Lord's promises of salvation and happiness become ours—and our earthly mission becomes His. . . .

To the youth of the noble birthright, look into the windows of eternity! See yourselves in the Lord's holy temples. See yourselves living worthy and pure lives. Generations are depending on you! I testify that worthiness is possible because of the redeeming and enabling power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.[10]

I love it when she says, “When we are worthy, we cannot only enter the temple, the temple can enter us. The Lord’s promises of salvation and happiness become ours—and our earthly mission becomes His.”[11]

The temple and the work we do there become intermingled with our daily lives. As we do the Lord’s work, He will bless us with salvation and happiness.

Sister Dalton directs this statement to the youth of the noble birthright. I would like to extend that to everyone here today because, again no matter our age, we are all youth of a noble birthright and generations are depending upon each of us! Are we doing all that we can to live worthily, to enter the temple of the Lord, to abide with Him?

I would like to read a story that Jeffrey R Holland shared in a conference talk in 2004.

The Punta Arenas Chile Stake is the Church's southernmost stake anywhere on this planet, its outermost borders stretching toward Antarctica. Any stake farther south would have to be staffed by penguins. For the Punta Arenas Saints it is a 4,200-mile round-trip bus ride to the Santiago temple. For a husband and wife it can take up to 20 percent of an annual local income just for the transportation alone. Only 50 people can be accommodated on the bus, but for every excursion 250 others come out to hold a brief service with them the morning of their departure.

Pause for a minute and ask yourself when was the last time you stood on a cold, windswept parking lot adjacent to the Strait of Magellan just to sing with, pray for, and cheer on their way those who were going to the temple, hoping your savings would allow you to go next time? One hundred ten hours, 70 of those on dusty, bumpy, unfinished roads looping out through Argentina's wild Patagonia. What does 110 hours on a bus feel like? I honestly don't know, but I do know that some of us get nervous if we live more than 110 miles from a temple or if the services there take more than 110 minutes. While we are teaching the principle of tithing to, praying with, and building ever more temples for just such distant Latter-day Saints, perhaps the rest of us can do more to enjoy the blessings and wonder of the temple regularly when so many temples are increasingly within our reach.[12]

Two things strike me about this story: 1) The faith and diligence of those saints who are able to make the long trip is incredible, and 2) The faith and diligence of those saints who gather to cheer them on is equally as incredible.

What a sacrifice it would be to make this trip—110 hours, that’s more than 4 ½ days, and more than 20% of your annual income! Do we take our minimal sacrifice of less than an hour travel time and just the price of gas in our cars as seriously as these saints? Do we attend the temple as often as we are able? No matter the sacrifice, attending the temple takes faith.

I would like to touch briefly on those saints that came out to a brief service on the morning of the departure of the temple-goers. Imagine the love these saints had for their brothers and sisters. Think for a minute about our brothers and sisters in this ward, in our families, and in our circle of friends. Are we doing all we can to encourage them to attend the temple? Are we helping to ease their sacrifice of going to the temple? It is not only personal worthiness that can keep someone from attending the temple. There are many ways in which we can help our brothers and sisters attend the temple in addition to sharing our testimonies. We can personally extend an invitation. We can offer our time and our service so that they might attend.

We need to not only encourage ourselves to prepare to enter the temple and to keep our covenants with the Lord, but we also need to do as these saints in Chile did, and sing with, pray for, and cheer on their way those around us who are able to attend the temple; we need to encourage everyone to receive of the blessings of the temple.

I would like to close with the following words from Russell M Nelson:

The temple is the house of the Lord. The basis for every temple ordinance and covenant—the heart of the plan of salvation—is the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Every activity, every lesson, all we do in the Church, point to the Lord and His holy house. Our efforts to proclaim the gospel, perfect the Saints, and redeem the dead all lead to the temple. Each holy temple stands as a symbol of our membership in the Church, as a sign of our faith in life after death, and as a sacred step toward eternal glory for us and our families.[13]

I love this quotation because it is so very true. The temple is at the heart of the gospel. Everything we do, everything we learn, points to the temple, and it is all because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I am so grateful for all the many temples that dot the earth today. It is my prayer that we will all be more desirous to attend the temple more frequently and to feel of the love of our Savior more fully that as we enter the temple, we may allow the temple to enter us as well.

In Jesus’ name. Amen.

[1] Children’s Songbook #95
[2] Children’s Songbook #95
[3] Gordon B. Hinckley, "Nauvoo's Holy Temple," Ensign, Sept. 1994, 60
[4] Children’s Songbook #95
[5] Joseph B. Wirthlin, "Cultivating Divine Attributes," Ensign, Nov. 1998, 27
[6] Psalms 27:4
[7] Children’s Songbook #95
[8] John Cox and Janine Simons Creager, “Picturing Myself in the Temple,” Ensign, Feb 2006, 11
[9] Children’s Songbook #95
[10] Elaine S. Dalton, "Look toward Eternity!" Ensign, Nov. 2006, 32
[11] Elaine S. Dalton, "Look toward Eternity!" Ensign, Nov. 2006, 32
[12] Jeffrey R. Holland, "Abide in Me," Ensign, May 2004, 31
[13] Russell M. Nelson, “Personal Preparation for Temple Blessings,” Ensign, May 2001, 32

Valleyfair for Emillio's birthday

It is a tradition with my family for us to go to Valleyfair for my nephew's birthday. It used to be the entire family, but as the years have gone by, it has dwindled to only those who truly enjoy going on all the rides.

This year it was Treva, Emillio, AJ, Selena, and I who went. Dan and Jessica came out for a little while as well. It was so much fun! We went on all the scary rides!

The new ride this year was Renegade: Outlaw Coaster. It was phenomenal! It was exhilarating! We rode it twice. We went on a Saturday, so the lines were really long. Renegade was the only ride we were able to go on twice. :-(

While standing in line for Steel Venom, I played around with my camera phone. I discovered some really cool features. My favorite was the sketch feature.

Watch the slideshow below for a few shots from our day at Valleyfair--including some that I took as sketches.


The Peña kids spent the night after Selena's birthday.

When AJ woke up, the two of us went out and picked some raspberries and rhubarb. When I asked AJ what he thought we should make with the raspberries we'd picked. Without hesitation, he said, "Pie!" By this time, Selena was awake, and the three of us made one raspberry and one raspberry-rhubarb pie.

The pies were tasty! And it was a lot of fun to spend quality time baking with my niece and nephew. :-)

Here is a pic of the pies we made.



A Challenge...

I had an epiphany today. And not a good epiphany.

I realized that I am not doing all that I can to nourish myself spiritually. I have become bogged down by the stresses of daily life and have neglected my prayers and scripture study.

It all ends today.

I am challenging myself to read the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Christ in 3 months, beginning today.

"And the first came and stood before my father, and gave unto him a book, and bade him that he should read.

And it came to pass that as he read, he was filled with the Spirit of the Lord."
1 Nephi 1: 11-12

As I began my challenge, this scriptural passage really struck me. I know that as I read and study the scriptures, I too, will be filled with the Spirit of the Lord. I know that I am a daughter of God and that He loves me very much. I know that true happiness comes when we strive to keep His commandments.

I invite all who read this post to join me in this challenge to read the Book of Mormon, to be edified, and to feel of our Savior's love.


MN Running


It's good to be back in the land of the running. :-)

It's been awhile. Back in April, I posted a blog about my running plans for the summer. They fell by the wayside quickly.

Then came our decision to move back to MN, and running became even more of a challenge.

Now, that I'm back and things aren't quite so hectic, I can resume my running. I'm starting out slow--just 1 mile a day--but I hope to kick that up a notch soon.

You can read all about my progress by clicking on the link below:

My first race will be July 19th--the Lifetime Fitness Torchlight 5k. I LOVE this race and am so happy to be able to run it this year.

Top 10 Reasons to Host a PartyLite show in July

1. Great excuse to get together with friends & family
2. Earn up to 25% in FREE credit
3. Learn what's HOT for summer decorating
4. Exclusive booking gifts
5. Buy awesome products before they're discontinued
6. Candlelight is very relaxing
7. ½ price items
8. Earn $150 extra Hostess credit for only $20
9. Shop the July customer sale
10. Amazing GAB for your guests (2 doz. votives for just $9.95 with a $40 purchase)

If you're interested in learning more about our hostess program, visit my website: www.partylite.biz/clarinda

If you're interested in hosting a show, please don't hesitate to give me a call (651-808-5486) or send me an email (passionforwaxnyc@gmail.com).

I can do shows anywhere in the Mpls/St Paul metro area OR if you're out of this area, I'd be happy to help you do a catalog show and receive all the benefits of a home show.


Last Day...

Today was my last day at Hartmann & Forbes.

It was with mixed feelings that I said good-bye to those that I worked closely with for the past 3 months.

My first two months at H&F were a bit rocky, but when our receptionist left last month, and I got a few more responsibilites handed to me, I began to really enjoy my job. I felt a lot better about my job! Now the past week, I spent training others to take over all those responsibilites and more!

I learned a few things about myself while working at H&F:
1) I really dislike working in HR. This was at least my 3rd HR position, and I've never been satisfied working in this field.
2) I do not enjoy have open-ended tasks.
3) I love maintaining systems, but am not so good and creating new ones.
4) I love working with Excel and learning new functions using that software.

I'm sure there are more things that I learned, but that's it for now.

H&F turned out to be a great learning experience for you. I'm grateful for the things I learned and the people I was able to work with.


The Weepies

I first heard The Weepies while watching the movie Because I Say So. Their song World Spins Madly On was featured not only in the movie, but there is also a music video in the special features .

Jeff and I fell in love with their sound!

You can listen to a lot of their songs on their website... www.theweepies.com. One of my favorites is Nobody Knows Me At All. Their sound is very unique, and there is a lot of variety to their songs. Some are sad, some are happy, all are full of energy!

Check them out!!


Back to School??

I always swore that once I finished my B.S. I'd never be a student again.

Now 6+ years later, my husband is pursuing his undergraduate work, and I'm going to go back for more.

We're going to be living the "poor, suffering college student" lifestyle, and oddly, I'm really looking forward to it.

There is a lot to figure out financial aid-wise, but we're both very excited about this next adventure in our lives.

Now, we just need to apply...

Oh, I'm intending on getting a 2nd bachelor's degree. This time in French or Romance languages. I know it will be tough, but hopefully the 6 years of French I took in high school and early college will come back to me easily.


My new toy...

It's raining today. I know, I know...I live in Oregon!

Anyway...instead of taking a walk in the rain, I thought I'd blog a bit about my new toy.

To assist me in my running goals, I found a great deal on a Garmin Forerunner 101 on www.ebay.com. These normally run at least $100, and I got mine for $67 (including shipping). I was so excited. It was the first time I'd ever bid for something on eBay, so I was nervous, but I really LOVE my new toy.

The Forerunner 101 is a bit outdated as there are at least 4 newer versions, but it is more than sufficient for my needs.

Basically, what it does is link up with 3 (of the 24) satellites, and tells you how far you've run/walked and how fast you did it! You can set up training intervals. It even comes with a Virtual training partner. I haven't explored this option yet, but I'm pretty excited about it.

There are a lot more functions that I haven't explored yet, but all in due time...


A New Reputation...

I've got a new reputation at work!

At AFP, I was always known to never turn down food--chocolate, donuts, pizza...you name it. If it was offered, I ate it. I would even make special trips to HR, where I knew there was a jar of candy--usually chocolate--just waiting for consumption.

At H&F, I'm now known as the girl trying to be good. It's been kind of good for me. It makes the temptation for snagging a free donut so much easier to resist. :-)

I'm currently in Week 3 of the ChangeOne (R) diet--snacks. Snacking has always been my downfall, but I've been very good this week. Each day so far, I've only had my 2 (100-calorie) snacks.

If you don't know what ChangeOne is, check out this website: www.changeone.com. Basically it's a 12-week program that focuses not only on weight loss, but on making healthier choices. You start off tackling Breakfast, then lunch, then snacks, then dinner. I've never made it past Week 4, so I don't know exactly what the focus is of each of the following weeks. I know there is one on eating out, one on exercise, one on keeping off the weight (I think). I know that so far, I've really learned a lot about how much I should be eating.

I haven't lost any weight yet, but I think it will come in time. Hopefully by the end of the 12-week program...


The 2007 Running Season Is Quickly Approaching

I am getting excited to start a regular schedule of running. I've only been getting in 1-2 runs (if that) each week since February. Last week, I finally got in 3 runs. Yippee!! Soon I'll be able to very comfortably run 3 miles. I've been doing 2.26 miles--with a combination of both running and walking.

I'm still experiencing pain in my shins during my runs, but I'm hoping that as I get more consistent (and lose some weight), the hurt will subside.

I was hoping to run my first race of the season on Saturday, but there are too many conflicts. The biggest, of course, is that Tax Day is quickly approaching, and we still need to get ours done.

My first 5K of the season will hopefully be on April 21st...that is, if I can convince Jeff to come cheer me on in Salem--the armpit of Oregon.

I track all of my training runs (and even my walking) on CoolRunning.com. You can view my running log. Just click the link below.


To all the runners out there reading my blog...HAPPY RUNNING! Be safe and have fun. :-)


New from PartyLite

Most of you know that I am a part-time PartyLite consultant. Unfortunately, since I started with this more than a year and a half ago, I haven't really had the opportunity to see my business grow.

That is all going to change... (i hope)

I am so excited about the new Summer products that are available. Now, in addition to our fabulous scented candles, PartyLite had introduced a new line called Fresh Home. It includes fragrant candles (of course), but in order to provide more ways to add fragrance to your home, it also includes reed diffusers, fabric sachets, and room fragrances.

And the scents are so fresh and clean...Sun-Kissed Cotton(tm), New Leaf & Aloe(tm), and Mandarin Basil(tm)!

PartyLite truly has something for everyone.

Please let me know if you'd like to try Fresh Home in your home. I can tell you how you can get it all for FREE! :-) Nothing beats free...

Shoot me an e-mail at passionforwaxnyc@gmail.com, if you'd be interested in ordering or booking a show.


Day Two

I went to bed about three hours earlier last night than Sunday night. I still had some difficulty waking up this morning, but I had a lot more energy throughout the day. I still got a little bit tired, but I was pretty deep into one project that I didn't really notice it too much.

I did go on a short walk today. I have been eating my lunch and then going for a walk, but I think I'll try walking first tomorrow. That way, I'll be sure to get in 20 min. I think that my walk today was only 10 or 15 minutes.

In addition to my lunchtime jaunts, I've also started running again. I'm hoping to go out Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. I've penciled in a few races I'd like to do this summer, so I need to get training.

Tomorrow, my computer will be all set up. I'm been using the former HR Coordinator's log-in and e-mail accounts. It will be nice to have my own. I still have access to all her files, so I can find everything that I need. They tell me she was very organized, but there is a lot of information in multiple files. One more project for me to tackle in my spare time. :-)

I had to commute on my own today. :-( It wasn't bad, but I really do enjoy the extra 90 minutes (45 minutes each way) a day with Jeff. Next term, we'll commute together 4 times each week; right now it's only twice a week.

Time to get ready for bed! Good-night. :-)


Day One

Whew! It will definitely take some time for my body to get used to my new work schedule...BUT it will be worth it.

My first day was great--besides being a little tiring. There are so many functions and processes and projects. I'm excited to be busy, and I know that I am going to learn so much in my new position.

To help my body adjust, I've decided I need to go to bed earlier, eat healthier and EXERCISE. I'm going to try to get in a 10-20 min walk each day during lunch. Today I went for about 10 min. It's all I could take because my shoes began tearing a little tiny hole in each of my ankles. Tomorrow, I need to remember to bring some good walking shoes.

If I learn nothing else (which is quite doubtful), at least I hope to develop some good personal habits.

I am so grateful for this wonderful opportunity!


Human Resources Coordinator/Office Support Manager

What's that you might ask?? It's my brand-spanking new job title.

Yesterday around 4:30 p.m. I accepted a position with Hartmann & Forbes. They are a high-end window coverings manufacturer and one of the top 500 fastest growing companies in the country.

Check out our website: www.hfshades.com

I am very excited about this new opportunity! I will be doing a lot of HR functions plus helping out in the office where needed. It is a very small company--about 50 employees only. 30 of which work on the production floor. I know this will be a challenging yet very rewarding position.

Most likely, I will begin work on Monday, March 5th. Wish me luck!! :-)


How Many of Me??

Clarinda Dodson

LogoThere are:
people with my name
in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

Clarinda Wilson (This was surprising to me.)

LogoThere are:
people with my name
in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

There are 1,500 people in the U.S. with the first name Clarinda.
There are 50,995 people in the U.S. with the last name Dodson.
There are 1,016,894 people in the U.S. with the last name Wilson.

I honestly was surprised at how many Clarindas there were. I've never met another one (besides my Great-grandma) and most people I meet have never heard the name before.

Of course there is that small town in Iowa...


Book Review: Things Not Seen

Things Not Seen by Andrew Clements

If you're looking for an easy read with lots of twists, this is a great book to add to your list.

One of the classes that I've been helping out in when I sub at Duniway Middle School is a 7th grade Language Arts class. They are reading this title for class, and the teacher recommended it to me. She lent me one of her copies, and I read it all in just a few shorts days. I think I started reading it on Thursday and finished it on Saturday.

This story is quite unique. It's about a 15-year old boy who wakes up one morning and finds himself invisible. The rest of the book is about him and his family trying to make sense of all this--and trying to make it right. He certainly doesn't want to live out the rest of his life like this!! At first this might not seem like a very intriguing book, but Clements add enough surprise elements that it is really a joy to read.

**Side note: If your dreams at night have a tendency to incorporate things you've read or watched, I don't recommend reading this before bedtime. I did, and I had a tough time convincing myself that I had not woken up the next morning invisible. As I laid in bed struggling to come to grips with the fact that it was morning and time to get up, I had to keep looking at my arm to ensure myself that it was, in fact, still visible. :-)

Winter in Oregon

Winter in Oregon is unlike winter anywhere else (at least in my experiences).

Growing up in Minnesota (and living in Missouri and New York), I am used to cold weather, snow, and underneath the snow...dead grass.

Here the winter is the beginning of the rainy season, so the grass is a very vibrant green! It is so beautiful! Sometimes I just can't get over it, and I stare out the window at the rich colors of winter. The green grass is complemented by all the evergreen trees. It is truly a sight to see. I should really take some pictures.

Of course it does get cold here and it does snow as well.

I think it has snowed twice this winter so far. It is kind of funny, because it might snow over night and a little in the morning--possibly accumulating 1-inch (tops), and the schools will shut down. By the afternoon, almost all of the snow will have melted, and we'll be left with the brilliant grass peaking through. Gorgeous!!

This is usually accompanied by a cold spell where the temperatures might dip down to the teens--usually just the 20s.

All is all the cold and snow don't seem to last very long (knock on wood as I type, and hopefully as you read, this), which is perfect for me because I only like the cold and snow in small doses.

I have to admit...so far this winter has been quite enjoyable--with the brilliant colors (rainbows, grass, trees, etc) and relatively mild temperatures (remember I'm a MN girl).


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