Sunday, July 20, 2014

Life Lately

Life lately has been wonderful, stressful, and utterly exhausting.

1. My birthday was spent in the theater, rehearsing my student's Summer Performance. It actually was a fun way to spend a birthday because they really are great kids. But I was sick and taught more classes that night and I basically came home and slept.

2. The next night, Mr. Branflake and I went to dinner with our friends, Abbey and Joseph, to celebrate my birthday and they surprised me with the most amazing birthday gift ever: two pounds of chips and two quarts of salsa from my favorite Mexican restaurant and a tortilla warmer because we once made them homemade tortillas. It was so darn thoughtful I almost cried. (They also bought me a s'mores Blizzard so we all know they're BFFs for life.)

3. Classes are over until August, so I'm basically going to spend the rest of the Summer reading, writing, and eating.

4. I bought a flight to California! I'll be there for ten days to see friends and my mama. I've been missing California pretty bad and I can't wait to see my peeps and the ocean.

5. Last night Mr. Branflake and I stumbled upon a new forest where we saw a total of eleven (eleven!) deer. I managed to get some photos and I can't wait to share them with you. There were even baby dear and I might have chased one.

6. One of my students got me sunflowers (it was the sweetest thing ever, really) and I swear these beauties are the biggest sunflowers I've ever seen. So beautiful and perfect for Summer.

7. Mr. Branflake and I have been taking more walks to explore our new neighborhood and I love all the streams and forests we find.

8. That lemon cream pie above was so delicious. Just whip one cup of whipping cream, add a cup of sour cream, one box of instant lemon pudding, and put in a pie dish. It's light and summery and delicious.

9. We found a pho place. This is the best news.

10. Thank you for the birthday wishes. Birthdays are so tough for me (hello insecurities) but hearing all your messages and comments made it so much more fun. Thank you.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

31 Years Ago Today I Looked Like This....

Now it's your turn to tell me how I haven't aged a day.

Can we take a moment to appreciate that sassy hand and those kissy lips. Don't tell me my mother didn't know what kind of high maintenance, feisty daughter she was going to have. Oh, and thanks, Mom, for birthing me. I'm sure you were feeling marvelous when this picture was taken.

Now excuse me while I eat s'mores all day.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

I am a feminist.

I'm sure if you know me, you know I'm a feminist. I don't outwardly talk about it or label it as so, but it should be fairly obvious. I don't necessarily believe men and women should have the same roles in society or that women should be tough and masculine to be considered equals with men, but I do believe in honoring what makes a woman a woman and that a woman's opinions, positions, and purposes should be respected as much as a man's.

Wait, hold on.... I believe a woman's opinions, positions, and purposes should be respected for what they are. Period. Regardless of men. Let's take men out of the equation, for feminism should not be based on what men have or don't have, but what women deserve.

For me, feminism is valuing the traits and achievements of a woman instead of merely taking advantage of them. It's not special treatment of women I'm after, but a change in attitude on how we honor the traits of womanhood. That's why I love the quote above.

To be quite honest (and I almost hate admitting this for I know it's judgy), I watch how men treat their wives and girlfriends. I see their actions and hear their words and I cringe as it becomes apparent they think their opinions, positions, and purposes are more important than their female counterparts. Sometimes I call them out, sometimes I just fume quietly, but I always make it clear to Mr. Branflake that we will never allow our future daughters to assume a man is better than them because he is a man. And we will teach our future sons to never believe they are better than women because they are men.

I do believe in encouraging young women to be leaders and to teach them honest leadership skills. I teach them that they don't have to lead like a man to be successful, for why would they want to? Their strength, their own singular and unique strength, should not change to mimic another's in order to be a successful leader (or person) simply because of gender.

Yes, I'm a feminist. I want to teach my future daughters and sons to be feminists, too. Maybe by then, the strength of womanhood will be respected and not feared or shunned and the term will have fulfilled its use. But, if not, I hope they see the value of it and of women.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Things I'm Loving

Sometimes I think I should do commercials because of how inordinately excited I get over things. For instance, a simple walk with Mr. Branflake in the neighborhood turns into, "Ohhh look! Fireflies! Oooh look! The sun is setting over the clouds! Oooh look! An open field! Oooh look! Grass!"

Anyway, here are some things I've been loving lately:

~Twitter. Am I allowed to say I love a social networking site? Oh, good because I do. Mr. Branflake calls me the "Twitter Administrator" because why else could a person be on Twitter for so much if they weren't?

~My new iPhone. I'm sucked in. Real bad. 

~Quinoa. I resisted this ultra trendy food, but oh my I crave red quinoa in ways I shouldn't. I add just salt, pepper, and Parmesan and it's my favorite side dish. And it's extraordinarily healthy for you.

~Puffs has the most stylish facial tissues and I had to stop myself from buying every single pattern. 
So pretty. So so pretty.

~Simply Balanced (the brand sold at Target) makes fruit leathers that are so good, I had one on the plane for the first time and gasped out loud in the middle of a red eye. I've only had a strawberry one and it's everything I could ever ask for in a fruit leather. They're a little sticky, but worth it. 

~ Avocados pan fried in coconut oil and seasoned with salt and pepper is my favorite way to eat breakfast. Or lunch. Or dinner.

~ Walks on Summer nights. 

~ Wearing dresses everyday.

~ Playing the ukulele on my balcony underneath the tree.

~ Fireflies.

~ Open fields

~ Dancing barefoot in the grass.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

A Wedding!!!

Last weekend I made a quick trip to California to be a bridesmaid to my beautiful friend, Caitlin. I didn't get to take as many photos as I wanted (there was a lot of running around trying to make sure people were fed and dishes were washed), but I managed to take a few shots before the sun went down.

The ceremony took place in the LDS Temple and the reception was outdoor with adorable old doors, burlap, doilies, and blush decorating the area. Guests ate burgers, hot dogs, and salads then indulged in the most delicious two layered blush cake of poppy seed on bottom and red velvet on top. We all danced, laughed, and took home s'mores favors on our way home.

Oh, and do you know what's really neat? Caitlin and I met blogging. She was interested in the LDS religion, I answered some questions, we met, kindred spirits were found, she converted, and almost three years later she's now married to an awesome guy. Don't you love how amazing life can be?

*first five photos by Kristen
the rest by me

Monday, July 7, 2014

The Best 4th of July

Watching the fireworks on The National Mall has always been on my bucket list, but going there with the tens of thousands of people crowded around each other never appealed to me. Thankfully, a good friend invited us to a fabulous rooftop party for Independence Day. Not only could we see the display without being squished by throngs of people, it'll probably be the only time I'll be on a rooftop in DC (they have strict laws about that). It was prime real estate to watch the fireworks over the city, situated a few block from The White House, and it was so much fun to just sit, eat delicious food, and chat with good friends.

How was your Independence Day?

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Mini-dresses Part II

I think one piece suits can be so classy. I love thinking of them as mini-dresses and I especially love Anthropologie's (let's not talk about the price), as they remind me why being a woman is just so lovely in the Summer. They're a perfect way to show your impeccable style and elegant neckline and I want all of these in dress form for every occasion of the year. 

Thank you for your comments on yesterday's post.
I really just wanted to show off my teddy bear sweater.