Month: August 2012

Thank you Granola

Tomorrow is the big race! All the preparation has been done and I think I am ready. Ready as I will ever be! It won’t be the fastest swim but I’ll get it done.  It will be super exciting when I finish but also a huge relief.  I wonder if I will ever be 100% confident that I can do these great things? Until I am every finish will mean excitement and relief.

Anyway, my trainer has kindly agreed to paddle for me and as it is somewhat of a thankless task I wanted to do something to say thank you.  But what do you get your trainer as a gift?  Tough question.  Certainly I couldn’t make her cookies or brownies! She also has a pretty strict diet (gluten and dairy free etc).

So after some thought I decided to make homemade granola for her.  I looked at a bunch of recipes online and then added my own tweaks. Next time I will probably make it a little bit sweeter but I think that is better for my trainer because she isn’t a big sweet fan.  Its a super easy process.

Homemade Vanilla Granola

Heat to 350

2 c rolled oats

1/4 c flax seed

1/4 c honey (I would probably put in more next time because it wasn’t quite sweet enough)

1 c diced almonds

3.5 tbsp canola oil

2 tbsp vanilla (I used my homemade vanilla)

1 tsp cinnamon

If you have dried fruit or coconut that would be good.

Mix all ingredients.  Lay out on cookie sheet with silpat or parchment.  Stir the granola every 5 minutes and cook until it looks golden brown.


It’s honestly as easy as that and to think how much people can charge for it!

spread them out on a cookie sheet and then bake
Finished granola (this batch had some dried cherries)
The finished package



I’m Building on Up!

The big purchase. Earnest money paid!

As everyone on facebook and twitter knows today I took the brave step and decided to sign a contract for a new build townhouse in Draper.  I about had an anxiety attack before signing the papers but I knew deep down inside that it was the right decision.  I had thought about it from nearly every angle and I think it will be a good move.  For only a $100 plus more a month I will own a home as opposed to renting.  It is viewable from where I currently live so no real transition there and will be much bigger.

The key determining factor for me (aside from liking the layout and space) was that I looked at worst case scenarios and it still seemed like a good choice.  If I were to say lose my job than I could get 2 roommates, 3 if I finish the basement and that could cover most if not all of my lease. Knowing it could work out even if things turned south really helped me make the decision.

The condo I had offered on was smaller and does not have the roommate potential of the townhouse.  The only real benefit of the condo is the kitchen was bigger but still the townhouse is a better choice. The resale value will be better than a condo and I can get most of the nice features of the condo.  One thing I liked about the model home is that everything I liked seems to be included in the basic package.  Things like granite countertops, wood laminate, upgraded carpet, 2 tone paint, large garage, soaking tub, etc are all included with the purchase.  Other model homes I’ve been in everything seems an addition.

I am surprised how quickly I made the decision but I had a limited time period to decide.  In fact, they may have had another interested buyer this morning and it was the last lot left! Phew! But in reality I don’t think the decision takes that long.  There is only so much data to look over and then the decision has to be made.  Sitting and stewing over it only makes me more neurotic and anxious.  Plus, its just the reservation so you have time to mull over little decisions like any upgrades or little financing decisions.

In some ways building is perfect for me because it allows me to take each step in small doses and it gives me the house I want (or at least mostly want).  Aside from approval process I don’t have to close on the loan right away, not until it is done (scheduled to be finished 12/31/2012.  Should be my biggest Christmas gift ever!).

Today I feel proud of myself.  I am officially a grown up (only took me 31 years!).  I’m a super independent person but for some reason I never thought I would buy a house by myself.  It just seems so big for one person but I’m doing it! Hurray! It just makes me feel like I can do anything if I can do something this big.

I’m actually excited for the next part of the process, picking finishes, and watching it get built.  How fun! If anyone wants to see the model I’d love to show it to you.  Thanks to all my friends for your love and support during this fairly anxious process.

One nice thing is the mortgage broker I was working with, referred to me by my uncle Tom, works for the same company as the builder’s broker.  That saves me applying to 2 brokers (I’ve already applied for 2 others, so 3 total and I think I have the best rates).   They will have my preapproval to the builder by Monday.  One less thing to worry about!

So there it is.  I am a homeowner in training.  Should be a fun 6 months!

Now on to my open water swim.  What a week!

Not Smiling All the Time

Sometimes I’ve wondered if I am doing myself a disservice by declaring myself as a ‘smiling lds girl’. Some who do not know me very well think I am perpetually cheerful but the truth is much more complicated.

The germ of the name started when I set up an email after my mission.  I was on such a high then that I really was smiling all the time.  I felt like nothing could be harder, nothing more intense than my mission, and I had done it, done it for God.  In many ways I felt invisible.

But such bubbles are made to be burst and they sure were.  It took just 2 years to get to one of the lowest times of my life.  I’ve talked about it many times but in 2007 I left a job that was like a black cloud in my life.  The details don’t really matter. All that matters is I was in a low spot and I had the courage to claw myself out of it.

With a renewed vision of my potential for happiness a smile was back on my face.  All of the sudden the moniker of ‘smiling lds girl’ seemed appropriate.  I also had a bit of time and decided to join the blogging world and gave it my email name smilingldsgirl.  My first entry was in May of 2008. The freedom of Joblessness.  Back then I said:

“my first foray into the world of blogging…It is hard to describe my last 6 months but let me just say that I am in the job hunt and I couldn’t be happier. I honestly think I will be a bit sad when I have to go back into the work force. There is something wonderful about living my life the way I want to without regards to supervisors, bosses or routines. I have always been a big one for planning but after a bit of a breakdown last year I needed a change more than anything.”

It was so strange because in the eyes of most people my situation might have appeared quite pitiable (no job, no man, overweight, etc) but I was happy as can be.  I knew that I had done what God wanted me to do.  In many ways it was the same feeling I felt after my mission.  I had survived and new adventures awaited me.

So I was smiling again.

I had a period of peace and then in 2010 the crazy health challenges started and really I spent a lot of the next 2 years surviving again.  I don’t mean to seem ungrateful because I have been incredibly blessed during this time but let’s just say it was harder to smile for a little while.   It was rough and I remember going to Hawaii and just thinking ‘ why can’t I be this happy all the time?’.  But I kept pressing forward and smiling in spite of it all.

Then I found open water swimming and boxing and started smiling again.  Now I can hardly envision my life without it.  What did I do with all my time before?  It takes up so much of my time and yet I do most everything (with the exception of grad school) I did before. I wish that everyone could feel the way I feel when I’m in the water.  It is joy.  It is smiling.

Honestly it makes me a little nervous because I feel like I’m smiling again.  What does God have in store for me? I am certainly going to enjoy every season of joy I get and try to store it up for the testing that will inevitably come my way.

I suppose I had my mind on this because I am thinking of buying/building a house.  It is overwhelming and I can’t help but feel it will make my life more complicated.  It’s just one of those seminal moments of life so it seems appropriate to feel a bit introspective.  I never thought I would buy a house by myself. It makes me excited and nervous for the future.  Can I do it?  Will I keep smiling?

The answer is yes, but it will be interrupted by periods of tears; and, I believe that is how God wants it.  If we think about Jesus and His life He was not always smiling.  He wept with his followers.  He mourned with those that mourned and comforted those that stood in need of comfort.  He even got angry on occasion when it was appropriate.

We are told to have a broken heart and contrite spirit.  I’ve had broken hearts in my life and each time I have come out of it smiling because I learned in those crucible experiences that God loved me.  That is why you need a broken heart and a contrite spirit because you simply need Him more in those moments than ever before.

So in the end, I am smiling deep down inside even in the tender moments because I know God is turning me into what He knows I can be.

Thank you to everyone who has loved me in the low times. Kept me smiling. 🙂

Grown Up Movies

So today I’m going to give you a few recommendations that might surprise you.  For years I had a no R rated movie rule. That was when I still had faith in the MPAA.  Now I have a different approach, I use to find out what is in the movie no matter the rating.  There are many movies that only make an R rating because of language and while profanity is unfortunate I think it can be an authentic way of representing a character because let’s be honest some people kuss like sailors.  It just doesn’t bother me the way violence or sensuality does. I realize this is rationalization but there you go.

I think there are movies made for adults and are appropriate for just adults.  That doesn’t mean they are gratuitous or gross but just mature.

So 2 movies I would classify for mature audiences that I’ve really enjoyed lately are:

Friends with Kids- There is an unfortunate amount of profanity in this movie and some mild sensuality but I thought it captured quite well the changes that happens in adult relationships when children come into the picture.  Every couple seems to handle the stress and pressure differently.  Some need more support of friends, others find maintaining adult friendships to be a burden that they can’t deal with once the children come along.  This can be challenging for all involved.

Last year there was this article floating around facebook of a single woman complaining to an advice columnist about how her friend with kids never had time for her any more.  This letter made me mad because it was so over-the-top that any legitimate concerns the single woman (or other women in her situation) might have had  felt petty, selfish, cold and inconsiderate.  Surely they could have found a more nuanced letter expressing the same concerns?  I felt like the woman was a devil and all Moms were innocent angels.  Made me mad.  I felt marginalized by it and that the worst possible example of my lifestyle had been used to tar and feather us all.  After about the 30th read through I couldn’t take it any more and finally said something.

Quickly I started one of my longest facebook threads yet.  It was clear this change from urban tribes to having friends with kids is hard on both sides.  Each couple must deal with questions of how to manage their time, resources, love, and new families.  As a single woman,  I’ve had moments of true grieving when a friend seemingly moves on from me to their new family lifestyle.   I know young Moms have felt the same about their single counterparts. At the very least it can be suddenly hard to relate to people that were so relatable for years.  The problems of raising an infant can seem like another world from the problems of a single man or woman.  I’ve adapted and learned over the years but it can still be a challenge.

Even if there is no change in attitudes the differing time schedules can force a change in the friendship.  A friend you saw everyday or weekly may only be available for birthdays or special occasions.  This is reality and it has be adjusted to.  Certainly keeping the friendship is more important than anything else and worth any sacrifice but it can still be difficult for both sides.  So few movies or books really touch upon these transitions in a meaningful and enriching way.  In the end, I believe strongly that relationships can thrive after this transition and be even stronger as a result.

Anyway, that’s why I liked this movie.  I thought it  had a lot of good dialogue about the adjustment to parenthood or lack there of.  The story centers around Adam Scott and Jennifer Westfeld who are friends that decide they want to have a baby and still date other people. They are tired of being left out of the parenting world that all of their friends are participating in (any singles or childless over 30 can relate to that feeling!).  They figure they can get all the benefits of raising a child without the messiness of dating, romance, divorce etc.  This is obviously a foolish idea but it works to get the plot rolling.

There are 2 other couples  that communicate with each other and with the group in a realistic manner, like I can actually picture all of them as real couples.  I particularly liked Maya Rudolph and Chris O’Dowd. They are the most functional of  the couples and handle the stress of child-rearing with a lot of humor laden chaos.  Jon Hamm and Kristin Wig are both good as a couple that begins to burden their friends with their marital problems, risking the happiness of the whole group.

I can’t say  I have a cohesive group of friends as shown in the film (at this time at least) but I have lots of married and single friends, and I felt like I could relate to the dialogue.  It is a dialogue based movie  with many scenes  set in one apartment but it worked.  It’s also very funny, with humor coming from realistic situations, not silly slapstick.

My only wish is that they had included a truly happy single within the group but you can’t have everything in the movie. I think Hollywood doesn’t believe the truly happy single can exist.  (We think we’ve come so far from the days of Pride and Prejudice but look at the mopey ladies of rom coms and I don’t know!).   Megan Fox plays a girl who has no interest in having children and it is as if she wants to kill puppies.  A woman not wanting to have children, how can that be! 🙂

It is also a bit predictable.  We all know that Adam and Jennifer’s platonic plan isn’t going to end well but I just found the dialogue so engaging that I didn’t care if the plot followed a formula.

In the end, I really enjoyed it and for adults (particularly adults in their early 30’s going through this transition) I think it is a great pick.

Descendents- I know everyone saw this last year before the Oscars but I didn’t get around to seeing it until recently.  It stars George Clooney as a man who finds out his wife, who is in a coma, was having an affair (who would have an affair on George Clooney but it works).   George has been trying to raise his children carefully but they have turned into selfish brats anyway.  He is also the descendant of a massive plot of land on Maui island and he along with his cousins must decide whether to sell the property.  So, basically poor George is having a tough patch.

Everything in this movie felt authentic to me.  It felt like an authentic version of Hawaii, one where people actually live and don’t just surf.  It felt like actual father/daughter conversations.  The teenage daughter felt like a real teenage daughter.  Not overly rebellious or overly cute.  Just a real person.

Judy Greer is also in the movie with a small but impactful part and Matthew Lillard plays a believable and cowardly other man (again who would pick Matthew Lillard over George Clooney but it works).

Part of what makes the Descendants so good is that none of the drama is over-done.  Really not a ton happens but at the same time everything happens.  There is no last minute conversation with the wife.  No over-the-top moment of truth.  Everything is subtle, soft and perfect.  At least in my life most of the things that should have loud music accompanying it in my eyes, most observers would think ‘that’s no big deal. Just an ordinary life’.  That’s the point.  The drama of ordinary life.

The thing that is amazing is with all of that sadness the movie is quite funny.  It doesn’t feel drab or depressing.  I’m going to give some of that credit to the beauty of the islands but the script is good enough to portray real life with all its mixture of laughs and tears- sometimes all at the same time.

The Descendants is only for adults as it does have a fair amount of profanity but again it did feel authentic to the characters and how they would probably talk when going through such difficult situations.  None of it was for show or to be shocking.  There isn’t anything else offensive that I can remember but if you want to check look at

For both of these movies go to read the content and decide if it is something you want to see.

So, there you go.  2 movie recommendations.  Let me know what you think.  And if you hate them.  Sorry!

Medals for Everyone!

US Swimmers!

How amazing has this swim Olympics been?  I’m honestly sorry to see it go (with the open water and triathlon coming next week but I don’t know if they will be broadcast).  I know I feel inspired.

Micheal Phelps has always said one of his main goals “is getting new faces into the sport. Getting kids who could be afraid of water to feel comfortable in the pool.”

As amazing as Beijing was for Phelps, Lochte and Coughlin it was practically a 3 member team.  In London we have seen an incredible variety of medalists.  By my count the US has 20 different swimmers that have medaled in races (not counting prelim swimmers like Coughlin).   14 gold, 8 silver, 6 bronze with more to come tomorrow.

The thing about this that excites me as a complete amateur swimmer there are 20 athletes to look to and be inspired by.  It’s like the dream team of swimming! It really does inspire me to want to try harder and be as great as I can be.  To see so many people succeed makes it feel more likely that I can succeed in my goals, small as they might be.

I also greatly admire the Olympic spirit I’ve seen in the US swimmers.  Everyone is always talking about the egos of Lochte and Phelps but all I’ve seen is graciousness and smiles even in defeat.  What else can you ask for in an Olympian?

If I compare Phelps’ response to getting silver in the 200 to the Russian women in their silver in gymnastics, I don’t know how you can not see that he handled himself pretty darn well?  True with Lochte too even after losing to Phelps and getting bronze in his 200 back he was gracious and a complete gentleman.

The American women have done so much better than anyone would have thought.  I think everyone expected to see golds for Franklin but to have Vollmer, Soni, Shmitt and today Ledecky  (and the relay) all gold is  awesome!

Everyone of their stories amazes and excites me.  I want to be more like an Olympian.  Sometimes I can be so undisciplined.  I’m doing this wellness challenge and going without sugar for 21 days is seeming like the hardest thing in the world.  Surely if Michael Phelps can win 20+ medals I can go without sugar for 21 days :).

I’d like to meet an Olympian someday.  Find out what it’s really like.  I’ve also set a goal to start saving my money so I can go to the games in Rio. I’ve got 4 years to save and I think it is going to be awesome.  (Plus, you get to go to Rio. Win, win!).

Amazing relay!

Anyway, I hope all of you have enjoyed watching the Olympics as much as me.  Not only swimming has inspired me. I’ve loved watching the water polo, volleyball, gymnastics, rowing, kayaking, basketball, everything.   I’m inspired by every Olympic athlete, especially the Americans.  And how fun this year to get to follow the athletes on twitter and read their responses and ‘feel’ like you are having a conversation with them!  I can wish Ryan Lochte happy birthday or congratulate Michael Phelps on his wins.   I feel like I’m practically there cheering them on!  It makes it feel all the more real.  It’s so cool!

The only people I feel sorry for in these Olympics is all the poor saps in Vegas who tried to predict these games.  Not so much! For example, nobody at the swimswam prediction game put Manaudou as even a medalist on the 50 free, let alone gold.  Not one ballot!  It’s so great!

Thank you to all the amazing athletes.  Now we will be on to track and field.  Not quite as compelling as swimming for me, but still it’s going to be awesome.  I hope Lolo Jones can pull out a miracle. Rooting for her!

You know how with gymnastics and ice skating they have tours that go around the country and you can see all the Olympians?  I wish you could do that with swimming but might not work as nicely for a show. ;).  Still it’d be so cool to see them swim someday.

Well, better pull myself away from Olympic viewing and try to sleep.  I can’t believe my race is next week.  Ahhh! I don’t feel ready even though I did my practice 5k a month ago.  I don’t feel ready.  Still, I’m going to take a lesson from these amazing athletes and try my hardest and finish the race. 🙂 (and I have a new goal to get an Olympian to tweet me after my race! I love living in 2012!)

Lochte, Phelps, Cseh winners of 200 IM. What a great race that was. I will miss watching this rivalry.
Go USA Swimming!
Gold medal in 4 by 200 relay. So great!

Still my favorite story of the games.  Double gold for Dana Vollmer after facing failure and succeeding.  So awesome!  Makes me want to confront my failures and not give up.

Goings on

So I’m doing this awesome Wellness challenge started by old friend Heather.  The challenge is based on a point system where you get points for healthy eating, exercise and spiritual reading/goal setting.  I like that it isn’t solely focused on weight because as I well know sometimes the lbs can be out of your control.

“This challenge is based on a daily point system with each of the following categories awarding one point per day. At the end of the 21 days two winners will be chosen: the person who lost the greatest percentage of their total body weight and the person who has the highest total number of points. Be HONEST!!!

1. Drink 48 ounces of water a day.
2. 45 minutes of exercise (doesn’t have to be consecutive)
3. No soda or alcohol
4. No sweets a.k.a. desserts, pastries, candy, etc. (Sugar-free alternatives are okay)
5. No fast food or unhealthy snacks
6. Consume two servings of fruits and veggies each day
7. No eating after 8 p.m.
8. Read 15 minutes of spiritual or motivational text
9. Write in your journal or blog.
10. Make a personal goal everyday (getting 8 hours of sleep, organizing a closet, reading to your kids each night, etc.)

**You get ONE FREE POINT PER AREA, PER WEEK. For example, you can skip exercise for one day a week and still get your point or you can have one whole free day!

Pretty cool hah,
Well, the challenge #9 means I will be blogging a lot in the next 21 days.  Gotta get my points. 🙂

Luckily I have a lot going on.

As I said yesterday I made an offer on a condo but the sellers have been strange in counter offering.   At first they offered too high and included a bizarre contingency that they had to buy a house or the offer was void.  I thought that was crazy.  There is no way I would do something like that.  Forget it.  I could end up without a house.  Then they sent a counter offer that was less without the nuts clause but they took out closing costs so it was basically the same.

The truth is the sellers over-improved their house for the neighborhood and now they are expecting me to pay for it.  They said in their offer that they couldn’t go any lower because they would lose money.  I said I’m sorry but what they have into the house is not my problem.  I am concerned with what the house is worth.  I can’t pay more because they have over-spent.

I’ve gotten a lot of advice and am okay if I lose the house.  I love it but there are other homes, other days.  We will see if the sellers wake up and get it together.  Nerve wracking!

The other craziness in my life is next Saturday is my swim!!!  My practice 5k seems like decades ago.  I can’t even believe it. Lately I’ve felt weak in the water.  I felt really strong after my Great Salt Lake swim but lately I’ve been dragging.  I can’t explain it but its been very frustrating and makes me nervous for next week.  I wish I had time to do a practice 5k next week to feel more confident but there is just no time.

I’ve been trying to change my breathing so I’m taking shorter breaths but in the meantime it leaves me feeling weak.  Just frustrating and nerve wracking.

I wish it was this weekend, and I could just be done. 2 weeks before any goal is done is the worst.  It just about makes me crazy.


At least I have end of the month next week so I should be kept hopping and hopefully the week will zoom by and I will be a finisher at a 5k swim!

So, that’s my rambling post for the day.  Let me just end by saying what a crazy Olympics this has been.  Great job Gabby Douglas, Rebecca Soni, Tyler Clary, Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps.  Wow!!! Its interesting because in Beijing Lochte and Phelps won everything but in London a lot of different swimmers have made gold.  It’s like they all just met together and said ‘let’s give everyone a gold’.  Pretty fun to watch.

I was watching Phelps race today on BBC and with about 15 meters left the coverage stopped! Talk about leaving me hanging! So I’m watching it now.  He did it!  Hurray! What an amazing accomplishment.  3 time gold medal winner in 200 IM.  So great!

They are all so amazing and inspire me to be awesome in my little effort next Saturday.

Let’s do it!

Ok.  So that’s my ramblings for the day.  More to come tomorrow.




So just want to announce that today I made an offer on a house!!!  Well, its a townhouse.  I can’t believe it but I really feel good about it.  I’m shocked that I found a place I liked so fast but I went in and felt at home and I really think I can get a good deal.  We will see how they respond! I can’t believe I am buying a house by myself.  I’m pretty comfortable being by myself but I never thought I would buy a house by myself.

Have any of you out there purchased homes by yourself? Any tips for the process? I still have 21 days to review and rescind.  Work out financing and we’ll see.  They may not even accept my offer but we’ve had communication with them so I’m hopeful.

I just never would have thought I would have found a place so fast but as soon as I got inside I knew it was special.  I love the spacing of it and just everything about it.  The only sacrifice I’m making is it doesn’t have a gas range but other than that it is perfect.   It felt like home and I don’t know if I will find anything that is as good for as good a price.

I’m excited and nervous and thrilled at the same time.  We will see what happens but I couldn’t believe I even did it.

The good thing is I made this decision.  I took other’s advice and am still doing so but the real decision was mine and I think I needed that.  I feel confident and at peace.

I know the offer was the right thing to do.  We’ll see what happens!!!!



Olympic Bites

As I mentioned in my last post I had a little gathering today to celebrate the Olympics and watch some great athletics with my friends.  We decided to make healthy appetizers for the party and I think we came up with a pretty good spread:

the spread. 3 different hummus!

Have you ever seen the movie Mermaids?  Not a great movie but in it the mother cooks only appetizers.  I think that would not be a bad way to live. You can pack so much flavor into a little bite.  The 2 appetizers I made were cucumbers with lentil spicy hummus and apricots with goat cheese and almonds.  The recipe for the apricots I got from the blog The Reluctant Entertainer.  A simple but delicious recipe.

Recipe: Apricots and Goat Cheese Bites

Summary: Makes about 20 bites. I always double the recipe.


  • 2 oz. goat cheese at room temperature
  • 1 tsp. milk or cream
  • 20 dried apricots (preferably from Trader Joe’s for the best flavor and tartness)
  • 20 almonds
  • 1-2 tsp. honey


  1. Place the apricots on a platter.
  2. Mix the goat cheese and milk or cream until smooth.
  3. Put a spoonful on each apricot.
  4. Top with a whole almond.
  5. Drizzle with honey.

Preparation time: 5 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 6


The cucumbers are just sliced cucumbers with spicy lentil hummus from Eat Well Enjoy Life Hummus.  It is expensive but very delicious and good for you! I like they say ‘a new hummus experience’ on the label.  I didn’t know you could have a hummus experience but there you go!

My pictures of the group turned out fuzzy but here’s some of the girls:

Thanks everyone for coming! So fun to cheer on the US team in all their success today.  🙂