You have arrived!

Going along with the last post, on Saturday we headed to Zion National Park to hike the Narrows about 30 minutes away from St. George.

T.J.’s aunt and uncle told us the directions the night before, but just to be sure, we used Sean’s phone that gave the directions out loud.

Before we got into Springdale (which is the city right before the park), the phone suspiciously told us to take a left. The road was kind of gravely and I had my doubts. But who am I to question the phone?

We entered the Kolab Canyons, which is a part of the national park, but it didn’t look too familiar from the past time I went down there. But once again, who am I to question the phone?

The drive was absolutely beautiful. I was amazed by the many trees on the red rock canyons.

We drove for about a half an hour or so and then Sean said, “Guys, I’ve got some bad news.”

“What?”

“You have arrived!” said the phone.

“That….”

We were in the middle of no where. There was a small dirt road forking to the right, but it definitely was not the entrance to the Narrows.

Needless to say, we weren’t supposed to take that suspicious left a ways back, but we eventually found our way and got to the park entrance.

It wasn’t a loss though, because the drive was so beautiful and we got to see a lot more of the park than we had planned.

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Scavenger Hunt in St. George

This past weekend, T.J. and I drove down to St. George with our friends Heidi and Sean. Friday night, we wanted to go to the St. George temple, but we got to town too late. Instead, we drove around the whole town searching for a place to eat. Sean brought one of those coupon entertainment books, so we wanted to find a restaurant with a coupon.

The first place we went to was supposed to have scones or something, which sounded wonderful. But it went out of business. Then the next restaurant was supposed to have 30 types of cheesecakes. I was thrilled about this place and was picturing something like the Cheesecake factory. It turned out to be a bar attached to a bowling alley. It wasn’t a bar and grille though, it was just a bar with a few bar stools around pool tables. We stuck out like sore thumbs as BYU students.

Next, we tried to hit this Italian place where we had a coupon for a pizza. The restaurant it was supposed to be had a different name, so we thought we might as well give it a shot, but the boys were too embarrassed to ask if the coupon would work.

Like I said in a previous post, I really am turning into my mom because I obviously was not embarrassed to ask about the coupon, especially if we would get a discount from asking. So Heidi and I went in and asked if the coupon was still valid even though the name of the restaurant changed. The hostess told me no and I got kind of embarrassed and said while walking out the door,

“Oh, sorry, it was just for a scavenger hunt.”

(It’s like the time my mom said, “Oh, sorry, we’re from Kentucky…” But that’s another story…..)

Anyway, we ended up at this great Thai place called Benja Thai. I highly recommend it, especially the sticky rice dessert with mango and coconut sauce on top. Delicious. Also, it inspired me to learn how to make curry. Does anyone have any good curry recipes?

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The Narrows

Two years ago, I hiked the Narrows in Zion National Park with my family. 

This weekend, T.J. and I are hiking it with another couple in our ward.

Gotta live it up while we can, right?

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Firepits and Stargazing

On Friday, T.J. took me to Macaroni Grille, which is my favorite restaurant.  I am not the type of person to order the same thing when I’m out, except for when I go there. We always order their Mediterranean olives. They’re truly amazing. And then I get my favorite dish: Chicken Cannellonni, made with their homemade pasta. I ate a little more than usual because I hadn’t eaten all day.

Mistake.

After dinner, we were going to head to a park up the canyon. My stomach felt a bit uneasy so I popped a half dozen tums (I’m exaggerating, Mom, I didn’t really take 6 pills) and took a swig of the pepto hoping that would be the end of it.

It wasn’t.

We got up to the park, made a nice fire, but then the stomach volcano was getting pretty intense inside of me. I’ll spare you the deets. But I was very blessed that we chose a park with a bathroom and that the bathroom was unlocked.

A half hour later… I was back at the fire, watching people eat s’mores and having a blast.

Once it got pretty dark and the fire faded, our buddies Heidi and Sean stargazed with us. We found a little, open field perfect to see the stars. We saw a bunch of meteors that put the shooting stars to shame as they crossed the entire sky, with a long tail. We also saw two lights traveling fast that eventually disappeared, which Heidi believed was a UFO.

Anyway, the night was a success and a great summer memory, gotta live it up while we can!

Perseid Meteors

The Perseid Meteor Shower is happening through August 24th. Although last night was the peak, with about 60 meteors every hour, T, a few friends, and I are all going up to the canyon to watch for the meteors and shooting stars tonight. I can’t wait. It will be epic.

Give me a call if you want to come.

Bang!

T.J. and I went to a Cowboy party last night where we played the game Bang! (It’s like the game Mafia, but more organized and with one thousand rules plus exceptions.)  There was a chili cookoff, which I got second place and won that cool knife I’m holding in the picture.  It was a fun night, a couple in our ward threw it at their apartment complex and at least 30 people from our ward came, including our Bishop and his wife.

If you would like to try a really good and easy chili recipe, here is mine.  My sister Mary Beth gave it to me a few years ago, and I make it a few times a year.  It makes A LOT so freeze it or share it, or else you’ll get sick of chili really fast.

2 lb ground beef
2 c diced onions
2 15 oz cans pinto beans
1 15 oz can pink kidney beans
1 15 oz can whole kernal corn, drained
1 14 oz can mexican style stewed tomatoes
1 14 oz can diced tomatoes
1 14 oz can tomatoes with chilies
2 (4.5 oz) can diced green chilies
1 (4.6 oz) can black olives, drained and sliced, optional
1/2 C green olives, sliced, optional
1 (1.25 oz) package taco seasoning mix
1 (1 oz) package ranch salad dressing mix
corn chips for serving
sour cream, grated cheese, chopped onions, pickeled jalapenos for garnish

Brown the ground beef and onions in a large skillet; drain the excess fat, then transfer the browned beef and onions to a large slow cooker or a stockpot. Add the beans, corn, tomatoes, chilies, olives, taco seasoning and ranch dressing mix and cook in a slow cooker on low for 6-8 hours OR simmer over low heat on the stove for about 1 hour in a pot. Serve with chips and the garnish ingredients.

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21 days

21 days, or 504 hours, or 30,240 minutes left of summer.

Where did it go?  Remember one of my posts way back in June when I listed some summer goals for the weekend?  Did I do them that weekend? No.  Did I do them this summer? NO!

So, now it’s crunch time!  I made a list of ten things I’m going to do them in this short time that I have left.  Please hold me up to it, so I really do it.

  1. Read Hunger Games.  I’m going to sit up on the couch so I don’t fall asleep like I usually do when I try to read.
  2. Hike Mount Timp, the whole thing. I want to be able to say I’ve done it!
  3. Go camping with T.J.’s siblings and their spouses
  4. Visit the Springville hot springs
  5. Have one more snow cone
  6. Go swimming at least one more time
  7. Play a round of tennis without throwing a tantrum
  8. Take the moonlight sundance ski lift ride with T.J.
  9. Play laser tag with Ryan and our old friends up in the canyon.
  10. Go to 7 Peaks with Hannah
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Flash Back

So, I finally wrote in my journal yesterday with all the deets of our engagement story.  I know it’s late.  But better late than never right?

Since I didn’t have this blog when we were engaged, I thought I’d share the story with you.

Background: We had talked about marriage, but hadn’t set any dates or planned anything. We also didn’t want that long of an engagement, and T.J. said he didn’t have money for a ring, so I figured he wouldn’t propose for a month or so.  But back in December, we had looked at rings and I just was so eager to get engaged and start the planning! Oh and one last thing, since we had talked about marriage, I wanted to the proposal to be a complete surprise.  I’m not a fan of the cheese.  I just wanted it to be all of a sudden and out of the blue.

It was Friday January 8th, T.J. took me to Red Robin for dinner.  While we were waiting to be seated, we walked through mall (I bought an amazing down coat–another awesome thing from the night) and when we were in Gap, I saw T.J.’s feet dancing in the dressing room and heard him snapping and singing. I asked him,

“T, are you dancing?”

“Uh… yeah… I just had a good day at work.”  (Really he was excited for the rest of the evening.)

Strange, but that’s why I love him.

I was pretty tired after dinner so we just went home for a while and watched The Office. All night he talked about how he wanted to go to Chili’s to get our favorite lava cake dessert.  I was kind of confused why we would go to another restaurant that night, especially after eating a lot of dinner, but he was so persistent.  He just said he was craving it and so I went along.

When we got to Chili’s, we ordered and he left to go the restroom (he actually went and arranged with the waiter what he wanted to happen).  When our cake came out, there was a note addressed to me.  I looked around thinking someone “sent me a note” like a mormon version of “sending over a drink” or something flirtatious like that.  Then I looked at T.J. and asked,

“Wait, is this from you.”

He nodded.  I opened it up and thought he was just being cute like normal.  Sometimes he writes me notes and poems, so I didn’t think anything was up.

There was a poem inside (his Grandpa used it to propose as well), but I couldn’t finish reading because I noticed T.J. reaching in his coat pocket.

“T.J. what are you doing?  WHAT are you doing?!?”

He didn’t say anything back, he just nervously smiled, eyes wide, eyebrows raised.

Kneeling down on one knee, he asked if I would marry him… Or something like that, we don’t really remember the wording.  And I don’t remember if I said yes right away, I just met him on the ground, kissed and hugged him.

We were so excited/anxious/nervous to eat our cake.  I couldn’t get the fork to my mouth without making a mess.

Anyway, it was great.  I was completely surprised and loved how it was out of the blue and random.   Oh and he arranged with his coworker, Abby, so she could take pictures of the whole thing.  I didn’t even realize she was there until after he proposed!

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Some Must Push and Some Must [Shove] – Day 2

I knew it was time to wake up when I heard the rooster cock-a-doodle-doodling. I’m not kidding.  I literally woke up to the sound of chickens!  I absolutely loved it!  It annoyed T.J. to death, but I loved the feel of being out in the country on a farm.

We headed to town to watch the Pioneer Day Parade.  The most special part of the parade was to have T.J.’s Great-Grandfather lead the parade in a horse and buggy.  He had his cute little cowboy hat on and waved to the crowd. One word: adorable.

The rest of the parade was filled with the city’s 3 wards (there is a WHOLE stake in this city of 1000!) and their different floats for Relief Societies, Primaries, and even the Stake President!  Families dressed as pioneers and pushed/pulled hand carts down the street in memory of their ancestors who made the trek across the plains.  My favorite float had their ancestry tree drawn out against the side of the truck.  Grandparents sat in the middle and were accompanied by their huge family.  Who knew a parade could be so sweet?

After the parade, we checked out the national park a few miles away with these cool rock formations called “Honeycomb Rocks.”  We weren’t dressed for exploring, so we didn’t stay too long.

For the rest of the day, we hung out with family, had a huge barbeque, ate so much sugar I thought my teeth were going to fall out immediately, and laughed till we cried while listening to the stories his Grandpa, Aunts, and Uncles told.

The town held races for the children which were pretty entertaining, but it was over a 100 degrees so I couldn’t stay outside for too long.  T.J.’s Aunt Karen also threw some games for the kids to keep all of them entertained.  We played “Name that Tune” with the adults and won an iHome for our iPod.  (Eliesa, about have of the songs you put on that CD for us were in the game, so I owe it to you.)

When the day was drawing to an end and the house was calming down a little bit, we headed to St. George to stay with Karen and her family.  They were a blast to be with, not to mention had the biggest TV I’ve ever seen, so clearly my love for them grew instantly. They also had a great pool with a hot tub, so we finished the night off with a swim and then a movie.

Well.  I’m sure you really didn’t care about what I did every waking moment this past weekend, so I apologize for these past two posts!  I really just wrote them because I’m counting my blog as writing in my journal so my mom doesn’t get at me for not writing memories down.

Anyway, thanks to T.J.’s parents, uncles, aunts, cousins and grandparents for making this weekend a great one.  It really was a dream to be a part of such a large family who all share the same values as we do.  Love you all!

[slideshow]

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Some Must Push and Some Must [Shove] – Day 1

As you may or may not know, I had been looking forward to this past weekend for quite a while.  We had been planning for on going to Enterprise, Utah (near St. George) for Pioneer Day-Weekend since May or so.

Seeing as it is my first summer in Utah, I’ve never had what some may call, a traditional Pioneer Day experience.  But let me tell ya folks, this weekend was incredible. Now, I am going to warn you, I’m going to write a lot of details, simply because I want to remember every bit of it.

Friday afternoon T.J. and I packed up the car and headed on down to the little town in the middle of nowhere.  T.J. was tired from working, so as he slept, I rocked out to my new playlist that I downloaded for the drive.  You know how some days you just want to hop in the car and drive with your windows down and music playing loud?  That’s exactly how I felt.  The last stretch of the drive from Cedar City to Enterprise was the best.  It was a scenic little route through the mountains with windy roads and a beautiful sunset.

{sidebar: a post coming shortly with the list of songs in my summer series playlist}

As soon as we got there, I fell in love with the town.  There were a bunch of old buildings that looked like they were straight from an old western movie.  Ya know what I mean? Like the classic post office building?  I don’t know how to describe it… Also, everyone kept such great care of their lawns, the houses were beautiful and whole place gave off a great “small town vibe.”

When we got to T.J.’s grandparents house, the house was filled with people.  If my family were to have that many present, it would have been a huge family reunion that had been planned out for years, but it was completely normal for all of his family. Most of them I had met but I couldn’t quite match them to the right names.  But one person I noticed immediately was his Great-Grandfather, Leland. Leland is 100 years old, soon to be 101.  He looks healthy and bright.  He always has a quaint smile on his face, although he doesn’t say too much any more.  I gave him a hug, along with T.J.’s grandpa Lyman who is a blunt. hilarious, and down-to-earth farmer.

We got there just in time to head over to the rodeo with his parents, cousins, aunts and uncles.  We listened to his Uncle Brian play with his band beforehand, which was a lot of fun to meet another member of Kelly’s (my mother-in-law’s) family.

The rodeo was a blast.  It was my first one ever.  Although I felt bad for some of the calfs that were lassoed and tied up, I was always amazed when they would just run away like nothing happened! The bull riders were so intense too.  I screamed at the top of my lungs over and over because I was so scared for the people when the bull would come after them.  What crazy person would ever want to do that?  One guy even got pretty beat up and had to be taken out by EMTs.

Probably the most fun part to watch was the chicken catch.  All the little kids tried to catch chickens that were running around the grounds.  It was hilarious to see the little boys walking away triumphantly, chicken in hand.  All night long, they held there chickens under there arms.  I saw one little girl tie a rope to her chicken’s leg.

Precious girl, poor chicken.

After the rodeo was a town dance.  A town dance. How cute is that??  I actually didn’t go though because I was so tired and knew we had a big day ahead of us on Saturday, so I hit the hay pretty early that night at Wade and Angel’s house (another one of T.J.’s Uncles).

So that ends day one of the weekend.  More to come…