Month: April 2015

Atlanta Fun Day 3: Steak n Shake and Coca Cola

My final day in Atlanta was a pretty simple one but I enjoyed it.  For nostalgic sake I went to a mission favorite Steak n’ Shake.  I think it is the best ‘fast food’ place because the food is carefully made with quality ingredients and you can actually get seated with a menu if you want.

I enjoyed the 3 way chili which is like a spaghetti bolognese but with chili and it is yummy! I need to make this one day at home.  It’s simple but delicious.

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And then I had the brownie fudge shake and I will be dreaming about it until they come to Utah!  It isn’t thick like an iceberg or dairy queen shake or too thin like an In n Out shake.  It’s perfectly sippable and spoonable at the same time.

steak n shakeSo that brought me back to the mission and was a lot of fun.  With my remaining afternoon I decided to check out The World of Coca Cola which is kind of like Hershey Park in Pennsylvania but without the rides.coke plant4It was strange to spend an entire day in basically a big advertisement but it is such an American icon that it was interesting and I was entertained.  I am not a big coke drinker any more because of my insomnia but I love seeing how things are made so the plant was cool.

coke plantIt was also fun to try 100 different kinds of soda!  I don’t think I had that many but it was a lot.

coke plant2coke plant3And then I was off to the airport and go to enjoy first class because of a mileage upgrade (greatest thing ever!).

first classI put together some tips from my experiences in Georgia and other solo traveling I’ve done and made a video for my youtube channel.  I would really appreciate you checking it out and subscribing if you haven’t already.  The focusing did some weird things but I think you will enjoy the content nonetheless.

Atlanta Fun Day 2: MLK, Southern Food, Botanical Gardens

If you are someone who doesn’t like to read travelogues of other peoples vacations this post is not for you! I recently returned from a half business/half fun trip and it was a great experience. The work part was very effective and rewarding and the vacation part super fun.  I posted on Thursday about my food tour of Atlanta which was a wonderful way to be introduced to the city.

This trip was a solo trip which some people find very intimidating and it can be but it has its advantages.  First of all, you can do whatever you want.  If you want to eat at the same place for all 3 meals you can.  If you want to sleep in till noon you can.  It’s your trip and you don’t have to worry about anyone else’s opinion or tastes.  You can also go at your own pace which for me is a huge advantage.  I’m a tough person to travel with because I am slow and need to rest frequently. Sometimes if I’m with others I feel guilty holding them back but by myself I can just walk in my way and savor the experience.

Traveling solo can be very rejuvenating when with others it can be more exhausting but still fun.  Either way I encourage you to take advantage of what opportunities come your way.   I’m so glad I stretched a business trip into a little solo trip.  There was no option to travel with another person so I took advantage of the chance I had and I’d encourage you to do the same.

breakfast meSo day 2 started out sleeping in and enjoying a leisurely morning.  Then I went to a popular breakfast spot called West Egg and got a southern breakfast.

southern breakfastI had a pimento cheese omelet with bacon, grits, biscuit and fried green tomatoes.  It was good but I kind of wished I had ordered the pancakes.  I figured I could order pancakes anywhere but they looked so good.  I try to get local flavors when I visit new places and I’m glad I did.  This was my second time eating fried green tomatoes and I’m not a huge fan of the dish.  Something about the texture of big warm tomatoes isn’t my favorite.  Live and learn!

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Always got to have your orange juice.

After a pleasant brunch I went to the Martin Luther King historic site.  It was a neat place and I left feeling inspired by the words of Dr King and the courage the Civil Rights movement showed.   The site is very large with 5 buildings including visitors center, Ebenezer Baptist Church (MLK’s first church), Auburn St restored firehouse, MLK tomb and Freedom Walk, and MLK birthplace.  It was all put together very well with lots of volunteers which I feel gives a heart to the tours you don’t get with paid tour guides.

In the visitors center they have a recreation of the Selma bridge march and you can stand amongst the figures and feel a little bit of what it might have been like.  All the exhibits were very well done with a mixture of video, memorabilia and more hands on like the statues.

selma

 

I was very moved by this plaque with Dr King describing his calling to the movement.  “I could hear the quiet assurance of an inner voice saying ‘stand up for righteousness, stand up for truth.  God will be on your side forever”.  I can relate to that experience of receiving a call from the Lord and the reassurance I am up for the task (nothing like what Dr King was asked to do but I could relate on a smaller level).  I know that Dr King wasn’t a perfect man but God works through imperfect people to do great things and we can certainly see that with him.  This calling reminded me a little bit of Joseph Smith’s communion with God in liberty jail where he worried and turned to God receiving the guidance to go on serving boldly to the end of his life.

 

 

king calling This quote also touched my heart.  It was written by Dr King from jail in 1963.  “when you are…living constantly at tiptoe stance never quite knowing what to expect next, and plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you are forever fighting a denigrating sense of ‘nobodiness’; than you will understand why we find it difficult to wait”.   I can’t begin to understand what that kind of hate and persecution must have been like but  I can relate to small moments of being ‘plagued with inner fears and outer resentments’. Again nothing like what they went through but I guess finding some part of my own life that could relate to these feelings helped the experience at the site feel real and less like a textbook. It certainly took great courage to do what they did and I was humbled to be immersed in their stories for an afternoon.

freedomLeading up to MLK’s tomb there is a long freedom walk with a fountain that goes 4 or 5 levels.  Considering it was in the middle of the city it felt contemplative and peaceful.  freedom walkwayAt Ebenezer Baptist Church they have stained glass, which I love, and a recording by Dr King called The Drum Major Instinct.  It’s long but I was really moved by his words about the dangers of envy, enmity and selfishness.  That if we must fight the temptation to vault ourselves up higher than anyone else.  It was just a neat experience to be in the room, hear his voice preaching and think about what I could do to be less selfish and envious. If you are looking for a good listen for your morning devotionals or scripture studies this would be a very good one.

https://smilingldsgirl.files.wordpress.com/2015/04/01-26-the-drum-major-instinct-february-4-1968.mp3ebenezer3

ebenezer2After all the MLK sites it was time for dinner and since I had been dreaming about it after the sample on the food tour I decided to go and get a full size portion of fried chicken at Max’s Wine Dive.  As I said in my tour review this is the perfect place to go on a tour for me because I would never have gone into such a place on my own because I don’t drink alcohol and wine is in the name.  This fried chicken is the best I’ve ever had.  It was so moist and yet still very crispy.  It has a little bit of heat from jalapenos in the soak and they give you a chipotle honey which undercuts the heat..  So good!  They serve it with mashed potatoes and greens that are also to die for.

chickenI guess the key to the chicken is to fry it on low heat for a long period of time.  The waitress said 285 for like 20 minutes.   I’m going to try it one of these days because unfortunately Atlanta is too far away for me to get it again anytime soon.  One of the yummiest things I’ve ever eaten bar none!

After my dinner I still had time and was feeling pretty energetic so I went to the Atlanta Botanical Gardens.  I have never been to a botanical gardens like this but it was huge and featured an outdoor walkway with lush trees.

botanical gardensA pond with a ‘Earth Goddess’ statue.

earth goddess 1A Japanese garden

japanese gardenA edible vegetable garden with a wall of herbs

veggie garden truthsI loved this covered walkway.

walkwayThen there was a large indoor section with an orchid garden that was stunning ( I love orchids!)

orchidsA rainforest section with all these vines hanging everywhere.  The photo doesn’t really do it justice.  It was so beautiful.

rain forestIt was such a stunning place and may have even been the highlight of the trip.  I spent about 3 hours there just walking at my own pace, enjoying how beautiful it was.   In fact, I even got to meet a frog friend…

frog prince2
It’s like the garden variety of a mascot like Mickey or Minnie.
Will I get my prince?
Will I get my prince?

All in all it was a fantastic day and for all that I did it didn’t feel rushed or crammed in.  Just a fun leisurely day with good history, nature and food.  My kind of vacation!

Peachtree Food Tours

P1070018Today I had a lot of fun on my first day of traveling here in Atlanta.  I went on a food tour called Peachtree Food Tours.  It was something new and different and a very pleasant way to get to see Atlanta and eat some very yummy food!

The tour is led by John Hannula and he lives on Peachstreet in Midtown and is very well versed in the neighborhood, history, architecture and everything else.  We ended up going to 6 different spots and one bonus and while it was a little more walking than I had at first thought I had a very good time.

It started at the Varsity Diner a massive local hot spot where we tried some orange shake and peach pies.

P1050994 P1050992Then we walked about 4 blocks to a beautiful old building that houses the Georgian Terrace Hotel and a restaurant called Livingston.  We got to enjoy the southern classic shrimp and grits.

P1070004 P1070003I was with 2 other patrons and the tour guide Daschelle and Doug and our tour guide.  They were all very friendly and I enjoyed spending the afternoon with them.  There were some beautiful buildings on our way to the various stops including a couple lovely churches and the Margaret Mitchell house.

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Fox theater is an Atlanta landmark
margaret mitchell
Margaret Mitchell house
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This was a very pretty church
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Fed reserve

Then we went to Cyprus Street Pint and Pub for a wild hamburger tasting with a burger with a donut for a roll.   That was pretty nuts to have a donut on a burger but it did add a layer of flavor that was pretty delicious.

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P1070009Next up was a little bit healthy at a place called the Hi-Five we had a kale salad.  This wasn’t my favorite item or stop. It didn’t feel Atlanta enough and since I am so in love with the kale and quinoa salad in Utah I didn’t think this was as good. They had alcohol at most of the stops but I of course did not partake of that portion of the tour.

P1070017 P1070013We learned that Georgians like to have peanuts in their cokes.

P1070016Next stop was Max’s Wine Bar where we had the best bite of the meal this amazing fried chicken.  It was so crispy and there was a chipotle honey that was delicious. Mashed potatoes were creamy and the greens weren’t too bitter.  Very good and the kind of place I would never have gone on my own being it is called Max’s Wine Bar

P1070026 P1070025Final stop was Cafe Intermezzo which was an Italian coffee and dessert type restaurant with a dramatic pastry case and like 82 different types of coffee/tea.  I had a drink called Island punch that was a mixture of different juices with club soda and a red velvet cake with whipped cream which is perfect for a Southern day.

P1070044 P1070043Like I said it was a little bit more walking than I thought it would be but that was good to work off some of that food! Overall it was a great way to spend an afternoon in Atlanta.  I got yummy food, visited with some nice people and learned a little bit about a new city.  It makes me want to look up food tours at other cities I go to and have a similar experience.

To learn more about the food tour go to http://peachtreefoodtours.com/

rwagner

 

500 Channel Subscribers and Next Week

500subs2

Very excited to tell you that I have 500 subscribers to my channel.  Thank you to any of you that have subscribed.  I really appreciate all the support I have gotten from this blog in so many ways. You have no idea what it has and will continue to mean to me.

Just wanted to let you guys know that I am going to be going on a business trip tomorrow. It’s the first time I will be meeting my boss and coworkers in person and I am really excited (and a little nervous if I’m honest!).  I got new suitcoats so hopefully I will fit right in.

business suitsAnyway, I am not sure how much I will be able to post but I will do my best.  If I go a week to 10 days sorry!  Love you guys and wish me luck.  I am so grateful for this blog that really gave me this job.  It got the ball rolling and has helped me reach my dreams so thank you to all of you!

We will talk next week!!

Pegs and My First Interview

I’m really excited to share with you my first interview I’ve done on my youtube channel!  My friend Heidi was kind enough to let me interview her for my channel.  She is an artist that paints these peg dolls that are so adorable.  I am really proud of the video so would LOVE if you checked it out and gave me a thumbs up if you think it is a good effort.

I’ve certainly learned a lot and will continue to learn about videography, speaking before a camera, editing, creating thumbnails in photoshop etc.  Still, I think it is a good effort and anything you could do to promote it I would be so grateful.

To learn more about Heidi’s pegs you can follow her at instagram https://instagram.com/pegsinasquarehole/

If you know of other local artists that might be interested in a profile or anyone who would make a good interview please let me know.  I’m also at 499 subscribers so if you aren’t subscribed you could be 500!  Please subscribe! Thanks so much!

My Favorite Cereal

I thought it would be fun to do something different.  I love cereal.  It wasn’t something we got often growing up, especially sugar cereal.  So I guess like any denied food group I grew a taste for it and I still just love a bowl of cereal.  I don’t think there is a kind of cereal I don’t like.  There’s just something about that combination of cold milk and cereal that always hits the spot for me.  In a spirit of fun I thought I would share with you my favorite cereals.

10.Capn Crunch Crunchberries- If you are going to go off the deep end and pretend you are 5 again this is the cereal to go with. The combination of flavors is delish. Definitely a treat but yummy.

crunch berries

9. Frosted Flakes- deliciousness of corn flakes with a little sweetness.

frosted flakes8. Cocoa/ Fruity Pebbles- the best of the sugar cereals.

cocoa and fruity7. Cracklin Oat Bran- delicious on yogurt and just with milk. Love the coconut.

cracklin oat bran

6.  Grape Nuts- Especially great with chopped up apples. Will make you feel healthy but still tasty.

grape nuts

5. Quaker Oak Squares- a brown sugar taste and it doesn’t get soggy very fast

oat squares4. Frosted Mini Wheats- kind of similar to frosted flakes.  You’ve got your healthy wheat square with a little bit of frosting.

frosted mini wheats3. Honey Nut Cheerios- Got to go with name brand on this one.  The generic isn’t nearly as good.  A little bit of sweetness with the oats of cheerioshoney nut cheerios2.  Honey Bunches of Oats with Almonds- this would be the perfect cereal if it didn’t get soggy so fast. Got to have the almonds.  The others are no good.  But the combination of the flakes and oat clusters delish!

honey bunches1. Crispix- Perfect combination of corn and rice. Like 2 kinds of Chex in one.

crispix

Freetown Review

My review of the new film about Mormon missionaries escaping out of Liberia in 1990 called Freetown. Great movie!

Rachel's Reviews

freetownAs most of my readership is not Mormon you probably haven’t heard of the film Freetown which opens this week.  It is the story of missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (or Mormons) in Liberia in 1990.  At the time there was a brutal Civil War and a group called the krahn was systematically eliminated by the rebel forces.

This of course makes for a tense situation for the missionaries some of whom are krahn and it is determined by local leadership they must be taken to Freetown in Sierra Leone where the mission president is and things are safer.  There are 6 missionaries and a member named Brother Abubakar played by Henry Adofo.

freetown5

Abubakar is a man you don’t see often in faith based films. He has a strong faith but he is also extremely practical which makes him less optimistic than some of the naive…

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Next Project

Please take my poll over on my movie blog and let me know what you would like me to focus on next.

Rachel's Reviews

opinion

It’s now April and since I finished watching the Oscar films, Scrooge Month series in December and my Disney Canon reviews in the Fall, I’ve been contemplating my next project.  It doesn’t look like there will be that many movies in April I want to see and aside from a certain comic book movie in May I don’t know how many reviews I will get then either.   So a new project seems like a good idea.

I am curious for your feedback.  I have had a few ideas that might be fun but would like to know what you would like to see me pontificate on.  Please select your top 3 choices out of the list below or add your own idea and I will consider it.

Thanks in advance for help and for reading my silly posts. I really appreciate every comment even if we disagree.  Sometimes I might…

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General Conference, Easter and Complacency

This is more a post for my Mormon readers.  Thanks.

What a marvelous weekend I just experienced.  It’s not that often when LDS General Conference and Easter line up but it happened this year.  This adds a special spirit to the  meeting beyond what is normally felt.  A special focus on Christ and his teachings that I was very moved by.

It was a low key Easter/Conference weekend for me. I had to get some work done for projects this week.  (Very stressful week at work because my supervisor is quitting on Thursday!).

But I started out the day making waffles and having a yummy brunch all to myself.

brunchMy cousin  Danielle and her husband Cory then came over for dinner Sunday night which was a lot of fun.  They are two of my favorite people and I love spending time with them.  I made split pea soup out of ham I had served last time they had come to visit.   This is the soup before it was cooked.  I added real peas this time for the first time and it was very yummy and healthy for an Easter dinner.

split pea soup

I had hardly any candy this Easter which I guess was a good thing but felt a little strange.  We did have brownies with dinner but no Easter baskets or treats this year (I’m 34 so I suppose that should be expected).  In a way it kind of reminds me of my recent Christmas where I was alone and had a low key, kind of ordinary day.  I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a little bit sad because I’d love to have a partner to share things with but it’s just not what God has seen for me at this time.

Anyway, at least I got to see my cousins which was great and hear from my church’s prophet President Monson and apostles for 2 days.

conference tweetingI also tweeted during conference as I have done for several years.  I tried to keep it a little smaller than in previous years but I enjoyed reading others insights into talks and formulating my own.  Tweeting helps me because it involves multiple senses than if I was simply listening to the talks.

It was an immensely gratifying conference and I feel inspired to improve. One of the big themes of conference which struck me is to avoid complacency in gospel living.  To be anxiously engaged in good causes and increasing your testimony of light and truth.

This talk by my Mother’s cousin Kevin W Pearson was very moving.  Stay close to the tree:

I also loved Elder Nielson where he shared the story of his sister who left the church and for many years was disaffected but came back.  It was moving on many levels.

President Eyring spoke on fasting and reminded me to try harder to live that principle. It’s a principle that I have never had a great testimony of so I know I need to work on it.

Elder Holland told a moving story about 2 brothers rock climbing and how they were able to rescue each other.  He brought home powerfully our need to reach out to those around us and offer love, support and rescue.

Finally we got to hear from the prophet.

There were some dissenters at the sustaining on Sunday which I found extremely distasteful.  These people don’t seem to understand the church they are a part of.  This is not a democracy but a church led by revelation from God. They had their moment in the sun and got their interviews with media I am sure so good for them but it doesn’t mean it wasn’t extremely rude and disrespectful.

Anyway, I do believe President Monson is a prophet just like Moses and Abraham were prophets who spoke for God.  I believe in Jesus Christ and His great Easter gift for all of us.  That He alone as the Son of God could suffer and die and free us from sin and death.  I know because I have felt the holy witness reaffirm it to me again and again.  It has given me everything in my life and even on those lonely afternoons when I wish I could be surrounded by a family of my own I know that Jesus loves me and has given me His truths. For that I am so grateful.

On a totally random note I went to see Furious 7 on Saturday and the review came out pretty good.  Check it out.

Did any of you get to listen to Conference?  I hope you all had a lovely Easter/Passover weekend.

Foolishness: My Favorite Comedies

I thought you guys might enjoy the list I did on my other blog of my favorite comedies in honor of April Fools

Rachel's Reviews

Happy April Fools!  I’m honestly not a big fan of practical jokes but I do enjoy a good laugh.  I thought given the day I would share with all of you 10 of my favorite comedies.

For these 10 I tried to pick all out comedies, not romantic comedies, dark comedies or movies like the Apartment that have comedic elements.  These are roll on the ground, laugh out loud, make me laugh every time films.  Humor is completely subjective (all films are but especially comedies) so these are just what I find most funny.  You may not and that’s cool.  Instead of just critiquing my list (easy to do) share with me your favorites and what makes you laugh.

1. Monty Python and the Holy Grail- Almost everyone I know thinks this is funny. There are so many jokes and the script is so well written. Some highlights are the…

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