Friday, July 25, 2014

I'm not going to my 20th reunion and I am perfectly okay with that. Also, how has it already been 20 years since high school?

My 20th high school reunion is tomorrow night.

Which is impossible, because 1994 was only 10 years ago.

But, they tell me the reunion is this weekend and I really battled within myself over whether or not I would attend.

I didn't have a bad high school experience. I don't look back on those four years and shudder. And I haven't really had to work through my high school years with my therapist.

But I didn't have an awesome experience either.

For me, high school was just four compulsory years of endurance. I had great teachers and awful ones. I had friends. I went to the pep rallies and sometimes to the football and basketball games.

When I attended the 10 year reunion in 2004, I spent it much the way I spent high school. Sitting in the corner with some people I kind of knew and watching everyone else have fun. It wasn't a miserable night. It wasn't even a bad night. It just wasn't anything I particularly enjoyed.

And so, when the information began flowing about plans for our 20th reunion, I hemmed and hawed over what to do. It would be nice to see people. A lot more change happens in twenty years than in ten. It could be a lot of fun.

The deadline for buying tickets was fast approaching and I still hadn't made a decision.

And then the photos started showing up all over the Facebook page. Nostalgic photos from the time our cross country team won the CIF championship and some club or another's big activities, and just random pictures people had from lazy lunch periods in the sunny quad.

I'm not in a single photo.

Not because people disliked me.

But because I really wasn't involved.

My life revolved around church and Job's Daughters. My life wasn't at school. My friends attended other schools. I saw them on weekends. I saw them EVERY weekend.

And so when I realized that a) I wasn't in anyone else's photos and b) I didn't have any of my own to share, I made the decision that skipping the reunion was the right choice for me.

Because it COULD be fun.

But it might not be.

And I don't particularly care.

Perhaps I will in another ten years.

If reunions are still a thing.
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Thursday, July 24, 2014

London, I love you.

The first five days of my trip were spent in Paris. Then it was on to Jolly Ole England!

We were in London for three days, followed by three days a few hours north in Sheffield, where we still managed to see some really great things.

Here are ten of my favorite pictures from my six days in England.

One: Buckingham Palace.

Two: A castle in York.

Three: Chatsworth House.

This is the house they used for Pemberley in the Keira Knightley version of Pride and Prejudice. Totally looks like Pemberley, doesn't it?

Four: Yorkminster.

You aren't allowed to take photos inside Westminster Abbey or St. Paul's Cathedral in London, but Yorkminster was just fine with it. Look at how grand it is!

Five: NOT the TARDIS.

I tried to find it. But the doctor must be on some glorious adventure in another place or time right now.

Six: Obligatory Phone Booth Photo.

Because you just have to.

Seven: Platform 9 3/4.

Oh yes I did. I had to wait in line like half an hour for this picture, but it was totally worth it.

Eight: Standing on the Prime Meridian.

This was such a long day, but visiting the Royal Observatory and getting a photo at 0 degrees longitude was pretty awesome.

Nine: The Tower of London.

This is one of my favorite pictures from the entire trip. The weather cooperated, the angle is great. Also? The Tower of London was one of my favorite things about the entire visit to England. SO MUCH HISTORY. Major nerdgasm.

Ten: Westminster Abbey.

They don't let you take pictures inside the Abbey, but I managed to get this shot just outside the exit and it, miraculously, didn't have a bunch of people in it.

I've got some stories coming up next week, so I hope you're ready for more pictures and more details about this epic adventure. Because it really was made of awesome.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Paris, je t'aime

I took 733 pictures on my trip to Europe.

Only about 600 more than the last time I went, when I had a camera that had FILM in it and had to use my rolls of film wisely and without the benefit of a delete button.

And, of course, when I was snapping away and thinking about how exciting it was going to be to share my adventures with all of you upon my return, I never paid any attention to the fact that I was going to have to SORT through 733 photos to find ones worthy of sharing.

I have no idea how I'm going to tell you about my trip AND share pictures AND make it consistently interesting.

Because I have about 7 or 8 posts rattling around in my head right now. And who really wants to read 7 or 8 posts about someone else's vacation?


So there are probably a few stories I won't get around to telling you, and I'm sure you'll be just fine if I don't.

But for today, I decided to put together my Ten Favorite Pictures from Paris.

These aren't necessarily my favorite places/events/stories/activities. But just pictures that I really love and that, I think, give a nice snapshot of what we saw and did in the City of Lights.

(And yes, I know I should have watermarked them, but I didn't because laziness. People are going to steal them if they're going to steal them and it sucks, but that's just the way it goes.)

Oh, and these are not in order of preference or anything. Just in the order they came up when I uploaded them.

First: The Lips at Centre Pompidou.

I don't know what these fountains are actually called because, again, laziness. I could find out with a quick Google search, but I don't feel like it. Anyway, I just love the way the colors turned out in this photo, and the fountains are just something so fun to behold.

Second: The Eiffel Tower

What's not to love about this picture, amiright?

Third: This is from our dinner at the Eiffel Tower restaurant, 58. 

The first course? Lobster Bisque. Hells yeah.

Fourth: The Catacombes.

The only place I didn't get to see on my first visit to Paris that I was sorely disappointed about missing. Super creepy and amazing.

Fifth: La Jaconde, as she's known in French.

I fought hard for this photo. She's not easy to approach.

Sixth: Notre Dame de Paris.

The only picture I got of Notre Dame that doesn't have 7000 people in it.

Seventh: The view of Paris from Père LaChaise Cemetery.

There's just something I love about the contrast in this picture. I could try to come up with something profound about the dead watching over the living or something, but I'm sick and not brilliant today.

Eight: Sacré Coeur at dusk.

This is from our failed attempt to watch the fireworks off the Eiffel Tower from up at Sacré Coeur. It didn't work out so well and I'll probably tell you about that particular adventure, but it was a fun night and I love seeing all the people in this photo because it reminds me I'm not the only idiot who thought that would be a good idea.

Ninth: The Stained Glass at Sainte Chapelle.

The pictures don't even do justice to this 800 year old chapel and its incredible stained glass depiction of the Bible. But looking at this photo reminds me of what it felt like to stand in that space and take it all in. Breathtaking.

Tenth: Sleeping Beauty's Castle at Disneyland Paris.

Yes. I know. It made my list. But look at this picture. Doesn't it just look like a painting??

So what do you think? How am I doing so far on this whole recap dealio? Are you bored yet?

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Sunday, July 20, 2014

Homeward Bound


As I write this, I'm sitting in a train station waiting for the Underground to start running so that I can catch the tube to the airport where I will wait a few more hours before finally boarding a plane to sit in the sky for some eleven hours, after which I will catch a shuttle back to Anaheim where I will finally be home.

I'm exhausted just thinking about it.

Or maybe that's because it's 1:20 in the morning here in jolly old England.

It's been an amazing trip full of adventures and I can't wait to share them. I can't wait to sift through my 700+ photos and pick out my favorites. And mostly, I can't wait to sleep in my own bed again.

I love traveling, but I always miss my bed so much.

Anyway, here are a couple of pictures to tide you over until the barrage starts.

First, Kelli and I hanging out at the Eiffel Tower:

Second, a non-selfie in front of Westminster Abbey:

I'm so excited to get home. But I already can't wait to come back.


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Friday, July 18, 2014

Flashback Fridays: Family Vacation

While I'm off vacationing for the first time in I-can't-remember-how-long-but-probably-not-as-long-as-I-think, decided to dust off this post from a couple of years ago about family vacations.

I'm not with actual family. I'm with friends. Which are sometimes better than family because they CHOOSE to relate themselves to you rather than just being forced to by genetics.

So, anyway, enjoy:

There were two completely separate trips I was supposed to have to choose between last weekend.

One was to Northern California with some old friends I haven't seen in more than ten years.

The other was to Texas to hang out with Jennee.

(Yes, she lives in Ohio, but it turns out that Dallas is almost exactly halfway between us. Isn't that weird?)

Instead, I stayed in Southern California. At home. Doing responsible and important stuff. Which is good and even fun. But it was not the out-of-towning that the weekend was supposed to entail.

Center of the World--Felicity, California 
This summer has been the busiest and most productive I've spent in a very, very long time. Possibly even ever. And it's starting to show in the bags under my eyes, the constantly disheveled hair, and the fact that I've worn flip flops to work every single day for the past three weeks even though I almost never wear flip flops anywhere except to the pool.

Somewhere in the Anza-Borego Desert, California
I'm in desperate need of an excursion. Just a little getaway. Somewhere. Anywhere.

Lake Tahoe, California 
Well, maybe not quite anywhere...

Reno, Nevada
In addition to the crazy and exhausting work load in which I've become so thoroughly immersed, my few minutes of free time now and then has been spent glaring with envy at Facebook statuses and Instagram photos because practically everyone I've ever met is on freaking vacation.  

Blaine, Washington
And here I am, working. Not a single bit of vacation planification in sight.

Asuncion, Paraguay
One thing I've really been thinking about A LOT, though, is that it's not just about vacation. It's not just about getting away, exploring new places, visiting old stomping grounds, and taking lots of cool photos while doing really relaxing/crazy/adventurous/stupid things.

Las Vegas Strip--Las Vegas, Nevada
Last week, as I gazed longingly at photos of my brother's family trip to Hawaii and one friend's family trip to Disney World and another friend's family trip to the Midwest and two other friends' family reunions, I was caught up by an unexpected sadness. I couldn't figure out where it was coming from. Why looking at pictures of other peoples' family vacations full of joy and joyness would make me feel so down.

And then it hit me.

St. George, Utah
It has been YEARS since I've been on a family vacation.

In fact, the last time I can remember going on anything even resembling a family vacation was the time we all flew out to Missouri for my mom's wedding in 2003. And since it was full of weddingness, there was very little vacationing and quite a lot of not-quite-family.

Northern Utah
I have some truly great memories of family vacations from my childhood. Memories of camping trips and road trips and cozy mountain cabins and a pilgrimage to Utah. Memories of hours spent in the car, reading books and writing books and playing the Alphabet Game and taking turns choosing what cassette tape to listen to next.

In my adult life, I've been on some amazing adventures too. I've traveled to foreign countries and different states. Mostly with friends. Almost never with my family. And once or twice by myself. There's a lot of good about traveling with friends. There's a lot of good about traveling alone.

But there was just something extra special about those old family vacations. Even when we were fighting about elbow room and scaring each other with stories of bears in the woods. 

Vacationing with friends is fantastic. When the trip is over and you've had just about enough of each other, you get to go to your separate houses and take a break. With family, it's not quite like that. You're stuck seeing those very same faces tomorrow morning when you wake up. Or on the weekend. Or whatever. 

(Unless your family is like mine and we see each other about once every three months even though we live within 30 miles of each other.)

Pismo Beach, California
So...yeah. I want a vacation. I NEED a vacation.

But what I need even more is some quality family time.

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Thursday, July 17, 2014

Karen's Well-Oiled World

Hey, friends! 

Today I'm searching for Mr. Darcy at Pemberley, and my friend Allena is here to help introduce something I started awhile ago: Essential Oils!

Essential oils are all natural oils derived from mainly plants.  There are hundreds of single oils and blends and they date back to biblical days (think Frankincense and Myrrh) to help heal and cure all sorts of illnesses and ailments.  The oil is taken from the most important part of the plant, its "blood" basically.  It is the part of the plant that, for example, protected it from disease or insects and healed it when the plant was injured.  Without this part of the plant, it would die, and so it is compared to our blood.   It is SUPER concentrated, anywhere from 10,000-100,000 times more concentrated than herbs!  So, one drop can
do amazing things.  Some people can put a drop of essential oil on their feet and taste it within 30 seconds.  Pretty impressive stuff!  

Young Living oils are 100% pure, and we control the process from seed to seal insuring that there are no chemicals used, the oil passes quality standards etc.  Because of this, you can ingest Young Living oils, where other brands they don't recommend it.  So, you can use essential oils diffused, applied topically or by ingestion.  

Essential oils can be used for everything!  I’m going to highlight a few of my favorite oils that all come in the premium starter kit (which I’ll talk about more below).

To avoid sickness and help get well faster, I use Thieves, which is highly anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-microbial.  It goes on topically (the feet usually) to help boost the immune system and can be diffused to kill 99.96% of airborne bacteria in 20 minutes!  Anytime there is a party at my house, Thieves is diffusing to keep germs at bay.  There is also a cleaning product line made of Thieves oil that is non-toxic {perfect for those babies that want to lick everything} and as effective as Clorox wipes!

You can diffuse oils to improve your mood {think aromatherapy without the chemicals in candles}, even helping people get off anti-depressants just by using essential oils!  Peace & Calming is a great oil for
this.  It is awesome at helping people fall asleep faster and sleep longer.  It’s also been shown to help people stop snoring and others with teeth grinding!

One of the most well-known essential oils is Lavender.  If you look in the baby aisle at Target, lots of lotions and baby washes include Lavender to help with sleep and relaxation.  But Lavender is great for so much more.  A friend cancelled her daughter’s tear duct surgery because using Lavender unclogged her tear duct! And it is amazing at knocking out allergies too!

Peppermint is another great one for lots of uses.  It lowers fevers naturally and helps with nausea, headaches and congestion.

I have found essential oils so helpful because they are a virtually risk free way to help sicknesses especially before you try conventional meds.   These oils have changed my life and so many others that have bought these oils.  

But, of course, we don't expect you to just take our word for how amazing these oils are. We want you to try them for yourself! So, we're having ourselves a little giveaway!

There are several ways to enter, and you can follow the directions in the rafflecopter at the bottom of this post. The winner will receive a set of three of our favorite oils.

If you are interested in learning more about essential oils, we will also be hosting a webcast on Wednesday, July 23 at 7:00PDT.

Click here to register – there is no cost to join, and I promise it will be 1 hour or less!  Joining the webcast
will also earn you 5 extra entries into the giveaway!

However, there is even a better deal if you sign up now.  For the first 10 people that sign up, I will send you a free bottle of lime essential oil.  Think margarita, yum.  The smell of lime and lavender in that new diffuser of yours is also heavenly.  Sign up now to get this free oil!

Happy oiling! 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Things I'll Never Do: A Guest Post

Hi, friends!

As you read this I am either in jail for attempting to steal the Crown Jewels or am riding on the London Eye. Either way, I'm having a great time!

Today's guest post comes from one of my recent new favorite bloggers, Lauren from Lot 48. She's awesome and I know you will love her too!

good morning my dear!!! how was your fourth of july weekend??? mine was great.  i swam in the lake, played with alllllll of my nieces and nephew, did fireworks, an, of course, good food!! i even got to spend some time with my best friends to catch up.  if you follow my instagram you will know what how much seeing them meant to me!  it really was just such perfect weekend. 

so i know that i am a little late to the party, but i am really loving this whole "blog everyday in july" linkup {more on that later} and wanted to join in on the fun!!! so here are some things that i will never ever do.

ok, you guys, feel free to hate me, but i just really, really hate nature.  it is beauty and God created that for us and that is really beautiful and everything, but i just really hate it.  i don't enjoy it at all.  maybe i'm a princess?? i just really hate camping and the outdoors.  so! you will NEVER find me camping. just, no. ever.

I'm not sure where it all started, but i really don't like cheese.  the taste has just never tempted me before, i just don't want to eat it.  maybe i'm allergic to it or any something?? i don't know.  whatever its just something that you will never find me eating.

totally not basing on anyone right know i promise!! i just find all that stuff boring  and i have never read comic books and i just don't care.  but if you do, good for you! i just will never be found at conicon.  just never. no. sorry!   can we still be friends???

its like that part on Parks and Rec when Ann was talking to Chris about their relationship and about how much she hated it when he made her run with him and his response was "it's healthy!" and ann said "i know it makes you healthy chris, but man, at what cost?" 
that is exactly how i feel about running.  i just don't get it! please, someone explain to me why other people love it so much! so i can get it! because i just don't.
but can still be friends, right???
be sure to linkup with FaithJuliette, and Allie to join in on the fun!!!