Saturday, February 12, 2011

2010 Year In Review

Ok... so I know it's already February, but we'll just let that slide.

2010 was a fast year. Every year is a fast year--at least in retrospect. Some of the things I'll remember most about 2010 (in semi-chronological order):

A new roommate: In the beginning of the year, my roommate, Jill, got a cat, and so I had my first experiences of living with a feline and being the "cool aunt." Mrs. Kittles is a pretty great cat. I'm not gonna lie, kitty litter is not too amazing, nor were her early morning wake-up calls, but Mrs. K definitely keeps us entertained with her inquisitive, playful nature, her love of the laser pointer, and her sweet disposition.

(She loves resting on my bed)

Weddings: I had the opportunity to attend several weddings this year. Can I just say that I love weddings? I know that's pretty cliche for a woman to say, but oh well :) What's not to love about watching two people declare their love, celebrating with them and getting fed delicious food? The weddings were in Los Angeles, Athens, GA, Las Vegas, Boston and Salt Lake City. It was great to spend time with old friends (3 of the weddings were friends from high school), make new friends (I didn't know anyone at one of the weddings, so I made a lot of friends that weekend in Georgia), and family. Here are a couple of pics:

(In the photo booth at Jan's wedding in LA in February. We had the best time in the photo booth! I look a little crazy in that last pic, but I think I was halfway between open eyes and blinking.)

Marci (my cousin) and Shane's wedding Las Vegas in July. They got married at the Mandalay Bay Hotel, under a pretty pavilion with a waterfall in the background (which seriously helped keep us cool since it misted us with water during the ceremony).

First half marathon: In the first half of the year, I had the chance to train for and run my first half marathon. The whole thing was a great experience. It's pretty cool to start from being able to run 3 miles to slowly adding more and more. It was nice to have such a tangible, time-sensitive goal. The actual race was really fun, too. You're with all of these people who have been training for the same thing--you have lots of people cheering you on, handing you water, etc. And then, at the end, you get a bunch of free stuff, lots of people congratulating you, a medal... few times in life we get such treatment! Then again, you pay for this experience (who pays to run 13.1 miles? :)) My goal was to finish and to run (without walking) the entire time, which I was able to do. My time was not incredible, at all, but I finished and I'll definitely have something to try to beat for next time. If you're thinking of doing a half, I definitely recommend it! No immediate plans for the next one, but we'll see... maybe sometime in 2011.
(About halfway through the race--by the end I was looking more grim)
(Afterwards with the best "Pit Crew" ever--Aunt Joan, Jill and Mom)

Church Tour Milwaukee 2010: This was something my friend Steven and I did during the summer. Steve gave me the idea. "We ask people to come to our church, but I haven't really gone much to other people's churches," he said. "I think attending a church in an area gives you a feel for the city." I really liked the idea, so we decided that along with going to our local LDS singles ward in the afternoon on Sundays, we'd also attend different churches in the Milwaukee area in the mornings. We only went 3 different times, but each time was a great experience. We attended a United Methodist Church, a predominantly African-American Christian church, and St. Sava, a Serbian Orthodox Church. Each was unique, and I gained/appreciated different things from each experience. And people were welcoming to us. "We hope you'll come back again soon," said one nice older lady at the United Methodist Church. There are a lot of good people in Milwaukee, and in the world, for that matter.

(Steven in front of St. Sava. The mosaics and stained glass inside were beautiful)

Church activities: I had the opportunity to plan a lot of activities for my singles ward at church throughout the whole year. Dances, camping trips... I've had many great memories over the years from my time in Milwaukee. I was released from this calling towards the end of the year, but I still help out with activities and I'm sure there will be many more fun times to come in 2011.

(Nate at our Door County camping trip in September)

Goodbye to Wilderness Court: In the fall, my parents sold their house in Mequon, WI... meaning that they were officially no longer residents of Wisconsin. I'm the lone Major in Wisconsin now! Hard to believe, but it was a blessing that they were able to sell the house in such a tough housing market. I lived in that house from the end of seventh grade through high school and for a few years at different points after high school. Lots of great memories, of course, making it a sentimental experience to help Mom and Dad prep the house for the sell.

Mom especially did a lot to get the house ready... all day, everyday, for a month, she cleaned, packed, ran errands, etc. By the end, she was exhausted, but we had some great times together in the house before we left it to the new owners. Bye, house!

A niece! In December I went to Utah to see my family for Christmas. It was the longest vacation I've had since starting my job at Kohl's Corporate... and it was great to relax and spend time with the family. And... the most exciting part of the trip was to meet my niece, Cate Major! Cate came into the world on Dec. 22. I met her for the first time on Christmas Eve--her first day home from the hospital. She's the first grandkid on both sides of her family, and she didn't disappoint her adoring fans. Congrats, Sam and Nancy! She's certainly a doll and we're all pretty smitten. I'm excited to work on being a "cool aunt" for this sweet girl...

('Proud Aunt' picture)

Thanks, 2010!

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Library Saturday

Nothing like spending a Saturday afternoon at the library. I've spent a lot of time in libraries this last year, due to my lack of internet at my apartment. Yes, I know. How do I live like that? You wouldn't survive long without internet, yes I know. :) Can you tell I've answered that question a lot? Surprisingly, living without the internet isn't as bad as it sounds. I've spent a lot more time in libraries, coffee shops (lots of hot chocolate :)), and McDonald's (free wi-fi there) than I might have otherwise, and yes, it's annoying not to be able to research or look up things right away, but it's been sort of liberating to be free from the constant presence of facebook, google, etc. I kind of enjoy just thinking, or picking up a book. The experiment is soon coming to a close, however. I've realized that despite my new-found freedom from technology, it's probably more work in the long-run to have to go to coffee shops and libraries all the time when I just need to "look something up." But, I hope that I can take some of the things I learned during this time with me as I step back into the land of 24/7 internet access and retain some of that quiet time.

But I digress.

This post was really supposed to be about how much I love the library. Right now I'm in the Milwaukee Public Library, and the building is pretty impressive in and of itself. But no matter the place, libraries just have some pretty great things in common.

1. Random, interesting books that I never would have thought to write or read, but now I want to. I love finding books on anything and everything. And I love how the librarians seems to know exactly which books to display that I'll want to browse through. A book on green jobs? Surfboards? Why not?

2. Interesting people. There seems to be a nice cross-section of humanity in a library, and I enjoy seeing everyone here, whatever their reasons. I like being with the people.

3. Quiet. I love that it's some sort of unspoken rule to keep quiet in the library. A guy walked by a few minutes ago, loudly talking on his cell, but generally, it's pretty darn quiet in here. I love it. A place you can read and think and just be.

4. The way time seems to stand still. I'm not sure what it is about a library or a museum, but when I'm in them, it seems as if I've stepped into some sort of timeless place, where I'm free to ponder the world, my life, ideas, places . . . without interruption. I don't seem to notice the hours go by—I could spend a whole day in a library and not really tire. Yet, after about an hour doing just about anything else, I'm totally ready to move on to something different. Strange.

I used to think it was pretty nerdy to love libraries, and it still might be, but I can't help it. Go to the library :)

Saturday, October 09, 2010


Yay! The $18 Parmesan cheese paid off. I won the "Veggie" dip category, and here's a pic of me with my "trophy" (a bucket filled with fake plastic veggies). There were a lot of delicious dips (20-30) and 4 categories... Tailgate, Veggie, TBD (To Be Determined... a mix of random dips), and Sweet. I didn't have time to prepare the entire dip that morning, so I brought my supplies to work, and I had to get out a cutting board and chop some artichoke hearts at my desk.

I can't take too much credit--this recipe was one that my aunt Catherine made at our house once several years ago, and I used a modification of the following recipe for the contest:

I add a clove of crushed garlic, too. Yum... so simple, but very tasty. Thanks Aunt Cate for your inspiration!

Also, I might post the other dip winners, stay tuned.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Parmesan on my mind...

Tonight I ventured to the east side of Milwaukee and made a stop at Whole Foods. And I was out of groceries. And I happened to be hungry. A dangerous combination. I grabbed a plate of hot food from their carry-out area and ate a tasty meal (I even tried a cube of tofu--not my favorite, I discovered) and set out to get some groceries. I walked up and down aisle after beautiful aisle, admiring the sparkling floors and neatly stocked shelves and eyeing all of the delicious food options. I did pretty well--in terms of holding myself back--mostly buying produce and some lactose-free milk (I think I might be lactose intolerant, but that's another story). 

But, I made one ridiculous splurge. $18 for a wedge of aged Parmesan. The reason? Well, for one, it looked beautiful. I didn't know Parmesan could look beautiful until I saw this table stocked with Parmesan the last time I was in the store. Imported from Italy, aged for over 24 months, a warm, pale yellow... I knew it was just what I needed.

You see, this week is the "Dip-Off" at work. We're each submitting our best dip recipe for the masses to sample and then deem the winner. I signed up with determination, with last February's chili cook-off in mind. It had been a disaster. I tried to make a white chicken chili, but I didn't have a recipe--I just winged it, and it was much more like soup than chili. I was the only one I know of who received no votes. Sad. I knew that I hadn't put my best effort into the chili cook-off, and feeling humbled, I knew next time I'd have to bring my A-game.

And thus, the $18 Parmesan. This time, I'm making an artichoke dip, and I'm determined to prove myself to my co-workers. I even invested in a crock pot (a good excuse to buy one anyway) and best yet, I'm actually following a tried-and-true recipe (with a little bit of modifying, of course). All I have to say is that this Parmesan better be good.

I'll keep you posted.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Day Off

Today I am taking a much-needed day off of work. I have so much I've been meaning to catch up on... you know, those things that have to get done but you're always too tired to do when you get home from work? I'm going to marathon-it for the next day and try to get my life as much in order as possible. And, at some point during the day, I will give you guys a decent post. My blog, unfortunately, has been one of the neglected parts of my life. Not that ya'll are waiting on pins and needles anyway :-) Ha, there are plenty of other things to do than read my random thoughts and life experiences. But, for those I don't see much, and just for fun, I do want to get back in the habit again. Have a great Monday, everyone!

Monday, November 30, 2009

BLT Redefined

I'm sad that my digital camera is broken--this picture from my phone doesn't do this delicious sandwich justice. I'm not reinventing the wheel here, but tonight I made what I thought was a fun and slightly healthier update to the traditional BLT.

I call it... The Open Face TBST (Turkey Bacon, Spinach & Tomato) Sandwich.

And here's the recipe in case you'd like to replicate it!


2 slices of a multi-grain baguette (I got mine from Trader Joe's--very good!)
Several leaves of raw spinach, washed and dried
Several slices of fresh tomato
1 string cheese (that's all I had in the house, but slices of fresh mozzarella would be best)
3-4 slices of turkey bacon
Olive oil (optional)
Balsamic vinegar
A dash of pepper


1. Prepare the turkey bacon according to the package. I just cooked it on the stove at medium heat in a skillet (slightly greased with oil). (Even healthier would be to use a nonstick skillet.)
2. Turn on the oven to broiler mode.
3. Place the bread (inside facing up) on a cookie sheet. Pull the string cheese apart into several strings and place on the bread (or, place slices of mozzarella on the bread).
4. Place the cookie sheet with bread and cheese in the oven and watch like a hawk (seriously, otherwise it'll burn if you're not careful) until the edges of the bread are toasted and the cheese begins to bubble and brown.
5. Remove the bread from the oven and layer the turkey bacon, raw spinach and tomatoes on the bread.
6. Drizzle a tiny bit of olive oil (optional) and balsamic vinegar on top of the sandwich. Add black pepper (cracked would be best :-)) to taste.
7. Enjoy!

I can't believe I'm recommending a sandwich that contains two ingredients I avoided as a kid: spinach and tomatoes. But, I realized a few years back that raw spinach tastes pretty much like lettuce... I'm just not as much of a fan of cooked spinach (unless it's mixed in with something else that's tasty). Plus, spinach has more nutrients than regular lettuce, so take the plunge and try it!

As for tomatoes, I think my tastes have finally grown up a bit. My recommendation is to splurge for the really good tomatoes. Otherwise, they're tasteless and kind of gross. I love grape tomatoes, plum tomatoes... the really red, smaller varieties that are packed with deliciousness. So, if you've not liked tomatoes in the past, perhaps you've just had the large, tasteless variety that they slap onto your burger at a fast food joint. Try them again!

Turkey bacon is also key. 20 calories a slice... not bad! I'm sure any form of bacon is slightly less healthy than fresh sliced turkey, but for that bacon taste, I'm a fan of the turkey bacon (which tastes a lot like regular bacon, by the way).


Sunday, November 01, 2009

I love Sunday.

It's been a great Sunday. I've just been feeling very grateful today for all of the blessings in my life! One thing I'm grateful for is the fact that God still calls apostles and prophets in our day. I went to the CES fireside for young adults tonight and Elder Uchtdorf spoke. It's incredible to think that anyone around the world could watch an apostle of Jesus Christ speak (via satellite or the Internet). I realize this is nothing new... satellites and internet streaming have been available for a while. But still, when I think of how much has changed in the last 150 years for members of the Church, I am very grateful for all of the resources that we have to study the gospel.

Elder Uchtdorf gave a great talk. I realized, they're all great talks! Seriously, if we're in the right frame of mind, we can gain something from any gospel talk.

And, speaking of gospel talks, I'm also grateful for the Mormon Messages on YouTube. I think it's awesome that the Church takes advantage of new technologies to reach out to people across the world. These messages are short, sweet, and full of truth.

Click here to watch "Lifting Burdens: The Atonement of Jesus Christ."

I know that the atonement of Jesus Christ is real. It has expanded my heart with joy that I have found in no other form. I know that it cannot be found in any other form. It cleanses us of our impurities, expands our capacity and our abilities, increases our love, and gives us hope. I still have a lot to learn, but that's what life is for, and I can't wait to see what the future brings.

God bless and goodnight, everyone! Have a great week.