Thursday, December 31, 2009

20 Things I Didn't Expect This Decade

1. I didn't expect to find out I was pregnant at 19 (at least I was married!)
2. I didn't expect to have complications with Rosie's delivery, which left me on life support for 3 weeks.

3. I didn't expect to get divorced
4. I didn't expect my ex-husband to go to prison

5. I didn't expect to meet my (2nd) husband on the internet. Thanks !
6. I didn't expect to attend 4 different college and STILL not be done with my bachelor degree

7. I didn't expect to own so many cars

8. I didn't expect to "go under the knife," but I'm glad I did

9. I didn't expect to live in 4 different states (Utah, California, Michigan, Georgia)

10. I didn't expect to develop sleep apnea or PCOS

11. I didn't expect to go into so much student loan debt

12. I didn't expect to develop a love affair with all things BBQ

13. I didn't expect to be in a hurricane

14. I didn't expect to fly on an airplane so much

15. I didn't expect my dad's leg to be amputated
after a horrible car crash
16. I didn't expect to own so many tech devices

17. I didn't expect so many gray hairs so young

18. I didn't expect 80's Pop Culture to come back with such a vengeance

19. I didn't expect to go to so many concerts

20. I didn't expect to become a Diet Coke-aholic

P.S. What exactly has this decade been dubbed? The "Noughties?" The "Aughts?" The "Tenties?" The "Milennial Decade?"

Ten Goals for 2010

Rediscover my musical talents, particularly piano, voice, and bass guitar

Give up texting while driving

Give up 32+ ounce diet sodas

Lose at least 10% of my body weight

Visit 2 states I've never been to (Currently need to hit AK, AL, LA, NC, DE, VA, WV, MD, ME, ND, SD, VT, NH, OK and NM) and a new country (Hoping for Mexico, Japan, or Australia)

Complete my CPC medical coding certification

Read the Book of Mormon cover-to-cover

Learn MAD PhotoShop Skillz

Be SOMEBODY's bridesmaid

Be in control of my finances, with an acceptable debt-to-income ratio

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Not a pain in the neck, more like a pain in the butt!

Two weeks ago, I was shoveling snow in my driveway. We'd gotten about 11 inches of snow, and had let it sit for a day. Once I picked up a scarf, hat, gloves and some snow boots from DI, I went to work clearing a path for my car in the driveway. After about 45 minutes, I mightily thrust my shovel into a section of snow that was actually rock hard ice. The shovel didn't move from the point of impact, but I wrenched my back in the process. Ironically, this happened while my husband was in the warm house playing XBOX.

I've been pretty miserable since, utilizing ice packs, heat, and lots of Motrin. A few days ago I decided to try shoveling again, and my back flared up even more. I happened to find out that my neighbor is a physical therapist, and he evaluated me. It appears I have a "bulging L4-L5" with "S1 dysfunction." He poked and prodded me while ordering me into uncomfortable positions, gave me a lengthy list of exercises, and forbade me from shoveling snow, loading a dishwasher, vacuuming, or any other rotating repetitive movement for 4-6 weeks. should I bribe a Deacon to shovel my driveway for the next 6 weeks?

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Spartan Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band

During my Junior year at Murray High School, I was a part of the school's television production crew, SpartanVision (aka SVTV). Each morning we had to be in Mr. Pond's room at 6:30 am to prepare for the broadcast at the end of 1st period. We had rotating responsibilities each week: camera, editing, script writing, commercials, footage, and talent (aka host, on-camera personality, anchor) My favorite part was when I was on talent, being the bright and smiling face of MHS, before and after Channel 1.

While I was in HS, I was OBSESSED with the Beatles. It was the mid-90's and The Beatles released their three-part Anthology. I knew all their songs, incorporated song lyrics within my normal daily conversation, watched "Help!" at least once a month, and learned many of their songs on piano and guitar. My nickname was the "Beatles Guru" and I always made sure to request a Beatles song at stomps and stake dances.

In the summer before my Junior year, the SVTV crew spent a week at the school getting acquainted with the production equipment. I had come up with an idea to make a Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club band intro, but to replace the heads of the people in the picture to students and teachers from MHS. I had talked to some other people on the crew about it, but nobody seemed very excited. This was in the very early days of Photoshop, which I had no idea how to make it happen electronically. I was, however, an major scrapbooker. I used my dad's archaic copy machine, made numerous photo prints at Costco, copied, pasted, and tried to make a replica worth sharing.
It ended up being a big waste of time, and I eventually gave it up (despite my many hours of valiant effort.) My senior year, I decided to become involved in MHS's handbell choir, which meant that I had to take early morning seminary. Early morning seminary meant no Spartanvision. I was really bummed, but c'est la vie.

During my senior year, a photo showed up on SVTV and my jaw dropped to the floor. A replica had been made of Sgt Peppers with MHS faces. I couldn't believe my excitement...until I realized that I wasn't included in the photo. Mathew, a SVTV member, had worked on this tirelessly, and did a pretty awesome job (especially for 1998 photo editing standards) But to be honest...I was really upset with him. Not only had I endured a variety of cruel teasing by Mathew and the rest of the SVTV guys, I was mad that he stole my idea. For 11 years, I'd harbored a grudge against Mathew. With all the teasing, I thought he'd specifically omitted me from the picture. When I uploaded a bunch of high school photos onto Facebook last month, I'd left a snarky comment about Mathew leaving me out. After a few emails, he did agree that the concept had originally been my idea, but he didn't think I'd taken much interest in the project. I ate my words as he had no idea how much the project had meant to me. Mathew apologized and created a new version of SVTV Peppers, just for me. Can you find me?

Thanks, Mashew. You totally made my decade.

Bonus Photos: Abbey Road

Abbey Road: SVTV Style

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Yet Another Moving Fiasco

The storage unit in Decatur, GA that has held our earthly possessions since June

When Rosie and I headed out to Utah in June, all we brought with us was what fit into my Camry. We packed pretty creatively, so we haven't been totally barren. Unfortunately, most of the clothes we brought with us were capris, tees, sandals, and light jackets. Now that it's Winter, fleece jackets just don't cut it! We've found some amazing finds online and at thrift stores. We've received calls from neighbors and family members when they were getting rid of something we might be able to use. But after 6 months of shelling out $100 bucks per month to Public Storage, we knew we had to get our stuff out to Utah sooner rather than later.

Over the past few months, I've gotten about 20 different price quotes from traditional moving companies, freight companies, cube storage/shipping, U-Pack, U-Haul, etc. We had chosen a broker called Moving 1 (who we did ultimately use this week) and we told them we weren't sure when it would happen because we didn't have the funds to pay yet. Once we got a quote lower than Moving 1's quote, we asked them to match it. They DID match the total, but not the rate per cubic foot. We had reserved 800 cu ft (10x10x8 storage unit) but they way they scammed us was to only give us 560 cu ft for the $1820. When we used 720 cu ft, we got slammed with a higher price for that "extra" 190 cu ft.

In all, they charged us $3.75 per CF, and $5.75 for the extra CF (when all other CF quotes were between $2.15-$3.00 per CF.) Also, they charged us $530 for packing materials which consisted of 12 boxes and packaging tape, and a "dish packing fee" to put our bagged pots and pans into a box. When the truck was all packed, they movers said that the price was now $3200, not the "binding estimate" of $1800. We then found out was binding for matter how much it weighed, it would cost the same...but we'd have to pay extra for added volume. While at the storage unit as the movers packed, we tossed out dressers, mattresses, garbage bags full of linens and clothes, etc to make take down the amount of space used. We were supposed to pay half in cash at pick up, and half on delivery. We only had $1100 available to pay, so we have to wire them another $700 before they will ship it out to Utah. Our treasures will sit in a warehouse in Arkansas until we have paid half of the balance. Then we have to figure out the other half upon delivery. Hopefully we'll get some cash for Christmas.

I have already submitted several comparable quotes I had obtained from various other companies to the manager at Moving 1 (and the "going rate" per CF obviously is nowhere near as expensive as Moving 1). I've also spoken with the manager of the dispatching trucking company to request an itemized bill for packaging materials, and will get rates from other movers to see how much our crew overcharged us. If the trucking company doesn't help resolve this fiasco, we can go to small claims court over it. If we win, we'll only have to pay about $200 out of what we recover. I am willing to fight, because I have no other choice.

With all of our interstate moves over the last 5 years, we've had varying luck with companies. We had something similar happen to us when we moved from California to Michigan, and luckily my in-laws bailed us out. Our Utah to California move was spot on with ABF U-Pack, and I wish we'd gone with them again. Our Michigan to Georgia move was fairly close to the estimate, but the movers took so long to move it out that we talked them into hiring a crew to unpack the truck for us for free. I'll post an update on what happens with the GA to UT move as soon as we have any answers.

Merry Christmas, right?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Twilight Years

Twilight Years from Tom on Vimeo.

For all you Twi-hard YSA's that are reaching that "cut off point" soon...or who have been that age for a while. 18 and 33...can their worlds collide?

"You don't have roommates. You propose impossibly fast. You got your mission call from Howard W. Hunter. I know what you are."

"Say it. Out loud. Say it."

"You're in the family ward. How old are you?"


"How long have you been eighteen?"

"Fifteen years. Are you afraid?"


"My friends and I, we're not like your kind. I moved out of the singles' ward years ago."

"I'd rather die than not be with you in your ward. I want to be with you forever."

"You don't know how long I've waited for you. I've loved you ever since you left the Laurels."

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

My absolute favorite musical: The Pirates of Penzance

Last year, my friend Liz and I spent many conversations gushing over our favorite movie musical adaptation, the 1983 HBO version of "The Pirates of Penzance." We talked about how lame it was to watch it on VHS, which prompted my Christmas shopping quest of 2008: to find a DVD copy as her Christmas gift. After many hours of searching obscure media websites all over the world, I finally secured a copy for each of us. It was horribly overpriced, as it was a VHS-to-DVD transfer of questionable quality, but it was SO WORTH IT. Because of my success, she dubbed me "The Eternal Undisputed Queen of Awesomeness."

And now, a year later, a much better version is available for free on Hulu. I could have asked for no better gift myself.

And now, time for some of my favorite quotes:

"Individually, I love you all with affection unspeakable; but, collectively, I look upon you with a disgust that amounts to absolute detestation. Oh! pity me, my beloved friends, for such is my sense of duty that, once out of my indentures, I shall feel myself bound to devote myself heart and soul to your extermination!" Frederic

"A sad mistake it was to make
And doom him to a vile lot.
I bound him to a pirate – you!
Instead of to a pilot." Ruth

"Every moment brings a treasure
Of its own especial pleasure;
Though the moments quickly die,
Greet them gaily as they fly" Edith

"Here, in this our rocky den,
Far away from mortal men,
We’ll be queens, and make decrees –
They may honour them who please." Kate

"Oh, is there not one maiden here
Whose homely face and bad complexion
Have caused all hope to disappear
Of ever winning man’s affection?
To such an one, if such there be,
I swear by Heaven’s arch above you,
If you will cast your eyes on me,
However plain you be – I’ll love you!" Frederic

"For my military knowledge, though I’m plucky and adventury,
Has only been brought down to the beginning of the century;
But still, in matters vegetable, animal, and mineral,
I am the very model of a modern Major-General!" The Major General

"Hail, Poetry, thou heav’n-born maid!
Thou gildest e’en the pirate’s trade.
Hail, flowing fount of sentiment!
All hail! All hail! Divine emollient!" All Cast

"Go, ye heroes, go to glory,
Though you die in combat gory!
Ye shall live in song and story.
Go to immortality!
Go to death, and go to slaughter;
Die, and every Cornish daughter
With her tears your grave shall water.
Go, ye heroes, go and die!" Mabel

"No matter. Our course is clear: we must do our best to capture these pirates alone. It is most distressing to us to be the agents whereby our erring fellow-creatures are deprived of that liberty which is so dear to us all – but we should have thought of that before we joined the force. Well, too late now!" Police Sergeant

"Come, friends, who plough the sea!
Truce to navigation, Take another station;
Let’s vary piracee with a little burglaree!" All Pirates

Monday, December 7, 2009

Winner! iPod Tune Juice 2!

The results are in... Congrats to Evonne at ! She is the winner of the Griffin iPod Tune Juice 2. Although I can't recall ever meeting Evonne specifically, I have been hearing about her for years because she is my cousin Emily's BFF. Then I started seeing her name pop up on Twitter, then I started following her blog, and she in turn started following mine. Von - Tweet me and we'll figure out the delivery details (preferably over a heavily frosted cupcake at Sweet Tooth Fairy)

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Tweeting on a Jet Plane

Tipped off by Someday. Brilliant!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

1997 Yahoo! Personals Ads

photo blurred to protect the innocent

The summer before my senior year, my boyfriend was getting ready to leave on his mission. We were coming to terms with the fact that I wasn't going to "put myself in cold storage for two years." So we thought it would be fun to put up an online personal ad for me on Yahoo (back when dating on the internet was SO faux pas). While we were at it, we did one for him too.

Woman seeks Man: I'm just a Girl!

Salt Lake City, UT

Seeking: Short-term relationship, activity partner, pen pal

Age: 17 Ethnicity: Caucasian Religion: Christian

Profile: Athletic/fit, 5'9", non-smoker, non-drinker, no children

Description: If you're rich, I'm single! Shower me with money and gifts if you wish, but I'd be just as happy going dutch. I am looking for some new friends, preferably LDS, to spend my short abundance of free time with this summer. I consider myself to beautiful, but not fake; Serious, but I know how to have a rockin' good time; Intelligent, but I'm still working on my Nobel Peace Prize; Mega-feminine, but good luck playing sports against me. Affectionate, but I never kiss on a first date. I love to sing, act, learn, and make the most out of life. You'll have to get used to me singing along with the radio in the car, but I sing like a pro! I enjoy anything outdoors, especially hiking, swimming, repelling, camping, and sometimes even gardening! There's a lot more to me than can fit into one paragraph, so if I strike your fancy, "Leave me a message at the beep and I'll get right back to you" <>

Contact: Citrusfruit

Man seeks Woman: I am in a fishing mood
Salt Lake City, UT

Age: 19 Ethnicity: White Religion: Christian

Education: College Employment: Full time
Profile: Slim/Waifish, 6'1", non-smoker, non-drinker, no children

Description: So you want to be a wizard. Looking for a little magic? Well search no further. I enjoy long conversations, as long as I am the one talking. I enjoy a variety of interests as long as I choose. I will go out with anyone as long as you pay. If I sound like your archangel, I am. Time and all eternity as long as I control the remote. Being carried across the threshold?...if you insist but don't hurt your back. If you enjoy a whole 100 pound man, I am your Fabio. If you are looking for an eternal flame, I am your heavenly match. Cuddle on the couch, as long as my team isn't playing. So write me and if I am impressed enough I will think about responding. I take great pride in my humility.

Contact: okiiniwatori

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Dainty Wildflower

The Dainty Wildflower*

When it comes to youthful affairs of the heart
Though my loves have been but a few
It doesn't take prideful impressing by him
A sweet romance will always do

When I reflect upon the wildflowers
On the path on which I go
Makes me ponder much of simple times
When hearts would let young lovers know

"To determine the worth of a goodly man"
Said the lass with a delicate air
"A dozen long-stemmed roses from he
will determine the perfect pair"

One shan't judge a book by its cover
but in roses the belief isn't so thought
Crimson passion, pink child-life fashion,
Gold-flamed petals be eternally sought

If I were to discern a future fellow
by a flower yellow stained
For a life of selfless giving
Only a friend could I take his name

The most delicate rose, it's white shining remains
the pure, untouched bloom could very well claim
Loving devotion for a righteous eternity's bliss
Temple covenants pledged with no shame

Yet as I admire on this heavenly day
God's creations well aged and fresh new
I yearn for devoted companionship
A worthy mate living life, loving true

My eyes don't need sight of rare flowers
Money has only Earthly concern
I gaze at each delicate wildflower bud
Simplicity has caused my wild heart to turn

Sincerity's flower will win my true heart
To a man whose devotion's unmarred
As we walk down the path of the rest of our lives
He will pluck me up dainty wildflowers

July 1, 1996
Nicole Marie Watson

There is a very specific reason I chose a waterfall instead of a wildflower for this post. It was written when I was 16, while hiking around Silver Falls State Park in Silverton, Oregon. It was an incredibly gorgeous day, and despite all my jaunts to Silver Falls....I recall this day as the most beautiful. I walked off the beaten path a bit near South Falls, sat on a large mossy rock, pulled out my notebook, and was immediately touched with the inspiration for this poem.

I am a certifiable hopeless romantic. I can't remember ANY time in my life where I wasn't "in love" or had a crush. I idealize relationships, foolishly look past faults, and let my heart grow attached very quickly. I love seeing people in love...the tender glances, the affection, the chivalry, the exploding smiles and blushing cheeks. When I played kissing tag in elementary school, kissing wasn't gross to me...I liked it because it gave me the chance to be kissed. I love to be "in love." I am completely in love my husband, but that does not diminish the emotion that I have felt in the past for other men. While some girls grow up dreaming of their ideal fairy-tale weddings, I didn't really put much thought into the actual wedding. I just wanted a man to love and cherish me for the rest of my life.

I wrote this poem intending to give it to my future husband on my wedding day. But the notebook got tucked away in a box at some point, and I forgot about it. I quickly married in my first year of college, and five years later it ended in divorce. All the hopes and dreams of eternity that I'd idealized for years were splintered, and I wondered if I'd ever find a man that would make me as happy as those dreams.

Around the time I met Taylor, I found the poem and let him read it. His response was so generic....something to the effect of "Yeah, that's pretty good." Taylor's sweet and romantic in his own way, like the numerous love mix CDs he made while we were dating, but it wasn't the response I expected. He probably didn't realize how important this poem was to me. I was upset, so back into a box it went until I uncovered it again this week.

I think I now dedicate this poem to the IDEA of the love I wanted for my future; the idea that inspired me to hold fast to my chastity. There have been many bumps along the road, many selfish jerks and users. I've been a selfish user. I've had my heart broken and I've broken hearts. As an adult, I believe that the sum of all the love from those broken hearts has given me the capacity to love more.Tennyson said, " 'Tis better to have loved and lost Than never to have loved at all." To this thought, I heartily agree.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Twelve Utah Christmases

On my first Utah Christmas, my true love gave to me
Popcorn popping on the apricot tree

On my second Utah Christmas, my true love gave to me
Two years on a mission
And the Smart family on my TV

On my third Utah Christmas, my true love gave to me
Three Degrees of Glory
Two years in Australia
And a First Amendment controver-sy

On my fourth Utah Christmas, my true love gave to me
4-A high school roundball
Three Sunday meetings
Two years in Korea
And that business with the SLOC

On my fifth Utah Christmas, my true love gave to me
Four firing squads
Three scrapbooks
Two years in Peru
And a movie that's G or PG

On my sixth Utah Christmas, my true love gave to me
Six kids and counting
Four quilting bees
Three meth labs
Two years in Japan
And a reservoir that's almost emp-ty

On my seventh Utah Christmas, my true love gave to me
Seven singing Osmonds
Six kids and counting
Forbidden love
Three spudnuts
Two years in Brazil
And a single poli-tickle par-ty

On my eighth Utah Christmas, my true love gave to me
Eight cups of Postum
Seven kids and counting
Six beehive hairdos
Forty private clubs (for members)
Three-two beer
Two years in Taiwan
And a salty lake that's really stink-y

On my ninth Utah Christmas, my true love gave to me
Nine percent minorities
Eight kids and counting
Seventies in Conference
Sixteen to start dating
FIVE FEET OF SLUSH (Oh my heck!)
Forgeries for sale
Three-piece suits
Two years in Ukraine
And a fiancée in Happy Vall-ey

On my tenth Utah Christmas, my true love gave to me
Ten bucks for parking
Nine kids and counting
Eight missing off-ramps
Seven guns per person
Six famous golfers
Fourteen ski resorts
Three fault lines
Two years in Detroit
And a minivan or SUV (or both, plus a station wagon)

On my eleventh Utah Christmas, my true love gave to me
Eleven Mormon temples
Ten kids and counting
Nine NuSkin neighbors
Ate at Chuck-a-Rama
Theven thpecial thpiritth
Six Jell-o salads
Forecast is cold
Three Eubanks (three?)
Two years in Tibet
And an uncompleted Lega-cy (Highway)

On my twelfth Utah Christmas, my true love gave to me
Twelve-year-old deacons
Eleven kids and counting
Ten percent tithing
Nine zillion seagulls
Ate a bunch of crickets
Seven Peaks in Provo
Six hours to Vegas
FIVE PRO SPORTS TEAMS (if you count indoor football)
Four standard works
Three Nephites
Tooele sucks!
And a Tabernacle Choir CD !!!!!

(This truly is my 12th Christmas in Utah, by the way)
Mad props to for this "peculiar" parody

Trader Joe's Bread Pudding

Trader Joe's Bread Pudding

1 loaf sliced White Bread
1 c TJ’s semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 c Coarsely chopped dried apricots (optional)
---OR coarsely chopped Uncrystallized Ginger OR dried cranberries OR cherries OR. . .
1 pint TJ’s heavy cream
½ c milk
½ c sugar
3 whole eggs plus 1 yolk
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350º. Lightly butter an 8” sq pan.
Whisk together cream, milk, sugar, eggs & yolk and van lla. Set aside.
Trim crusts from 12 slices of bread, and cut slices diagonally into 4 triangles.
Place bread triangles haphazardly in pan with points sticking up; doesn’ t need to be neat.
Sprinkle with chocolate chips (and fruit) - work chips between the slices with your fingers.
Stir the cream mixture & pour over the bread;
use fingers or a fork to work the liquid down between the bread.
Bake for about 45 min. or until the bread pudding is dark golden brown and the center no longer jiggles but is not quite hard.
Allow to cool forabout 30 min. before “breaking through.”


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Anonymous Compliments

Okay. I admit it. I sometimes fish for compliments. One of my favorite ego-boosting activities is as follows: Everyone in the room writes their name at the top of a blank sheet of paper, and passes it around the room for others to write an anonymous compliment. I've done it at choir retreats, during seminary classes, and even done it with my Activity Days girls in ATL. Another admission? I keep every single one. I read them when I have a bad day. Of course, some of them are pretty obvious by handwriting or context of message, but there are a few I've never figured out who the comments are from. Some are less compliments and more funny comments and inside jokes. Here are some of the highlights of what people said about/to me 1996-1998:

I love sitting by you in choir. I can actually stay on pitch...sort of. You're awesome.

You've got gorgeous hair and I'm glad that I sit behind you so I can play with it.

You are really talented in acting. You should keep doing what you do. See you on Broadway.

You are so cool. I love your style. You seem to know who you are, and I admire that.

I am not trying to steal your boyfriend. You're a good singer.

Your personality is great, and you give all the people in the room a positive feeling.

You are very intelligent and have phenomenal taste in music. Can I borrow some CDs?

Talent is prevalent where you are. I can't believe how special you are.

I never really knew you until this year, but I like what I see. Wanna go out? Oh wait, this is anonymous. How about a blind date?

Your hair clip matches perfectly to the twinkle in your eye. Blue eyes, black hair. HOT.

You're always cheerful and a big SPAZ! I love to talk w/you Nicole. Altos be buff!

What an awesome friend. I'm really glad to know you. You have an awesome sense of humor and you make me shout WHOOPIE! See you at your wedding 2 weeks after we graduate.

You are so hilarious. You are so boy crazy. I just laugh and laugh and laugh when I'm with you.

Nickie - you maneater! Use 'em and lose 'em. You are so fun to be around with. I can't see what I would do without you to keep my spirits up. Oh yeah, I'd drink more Mtn. Dew.

You're a babe, through and through. Thanks for the compliments and smiles. I'm a better person because I know you. How on earth can you be so nice to everyone all the time?

You always write the coolest quotes in your dayplanner. I like to steal it and look through your pictures. I'm glad we're in seminary together, cuz you're more than just a "sweet spirit" to me.

Your boyfriend is a VERY LUCKY guy. Can I date you next?

And my absolute favorite, written much like every yearbook entry he wrote to me...always something about making out with his friend (visible in the above image is from this guy)

Nicole - You should go for Joey. He's a stud + very available. Ask him out on a date. He'll love you cuz you're a babe! Make out with him and tell me how it goes.

(If I've tagged you on Facebook, it means that I'm certain one of these quotes is from you. Do you remember what you said about me?)

The Ultimate High School Stalker Letter

I have been having a blast going through my old boxes of high school stuff. Pictures, ticket stubs, notes, old research papers, choir programs, mixtapes, and more. I'm an admitted pack rat when it comes to nostalgia, but there were some true gems in this box.

My favorite find was this letter from a boy that REALLY REALLY REALLY liked me. As in creepy-stalker-like. We met over the summer at an extra-curricular service project, and subsequently attended a leadership conference at USU. The next weekend, I accepted an invitation for a pity date. He took me to Stansbury Park Observatory, in which we sat in the back seat of an old pimped out Cadillac, driven by a Hispanic buddy. It was a courtesy date in the first place, even creepier when he showed up with a chauffeur, and creepiest when he lunged toward me and started sucking on my neck on the way home. This letter was in response to the event.

Dear Nicole,
In case you were wondering, that letter that I wrote for Larry*, I also wrote a letter to you, though not nearly as gaudy. Within it were questions, that I felt only you could answer, concerning that night at the observatory!! But, I was talking to Larry* about the note, and he said that he let you read it. Don't be mad at Larry*, he still hasn't told me about "skinny dippers," but he said you told him not to tell me, though he told me anyways.

He said that when you found out that the letter was written by me, you rolled your eyes, when he told me this, it triggered an emotional spark, I thought that you were disgusted by my work, and thus tore the note to you into pieces innumerable, and threw them away. I regret that action, for the note was serious, and I have been in a downward spiral ever since that event, in fact, as I write this, I am almost certain that you are disgusted by the fact that I wrote you, and also feel that you will never read this note, due to the fact that you have shreddid it, and then probably incinerated it. So, I am probably wasting my time.

But if you've actually succumbed to your curiosity about what is written in these pages, then I will ask the questions that I meant to ask.
I was wondering why, suddenly, I have gone from intriguing to revolting. I felt that you used to enjoy my presence, I felt that there was a sense, if only a little, of loss when I was absent. But after that night, things changed, dramatically. I have several theories on the matter. One is, when I kissed you, you found it disturbing, even the thought of such a vile creature touching your face with it's mouth, revolting even to the point of nausea. Another might be, that you wanted me to kiss you, but sooner, and better, and more intensely. Which leads to the conclusion that my hesitance was the downfall of whatever we had built, my ignorance was the cause of it's destruction. And then the most unlikely, when I kissed you, it triggered an emotional response, which triggered a memory of your lost love, and you did not want that to happen between us, so you stopped us from going any further.

Anyway you look at it, I am the louse. but I truly need to know my mistakes, so that I don't destroy any more relationships.
You probably consider me a coward for not confronting you directly about these issues, the reason for that is, I didn't want to see me cry, and every time I think about my actions I feel guilt, and if I talk, my words stumble, and if I talk about it, I rain. I may actually confrunt you on these issues in hopes that you may answer. I need the knowledge that you have. I would also like to know, if we did it all over again, how would you want it to happen? And, if we were to try again, would you try to forget what had happened? I don't wish to WASTE anymore of your time with meaningless babble.

With love and apologies,


!!!Sorry to bring up bad memories

*names changed to protect the guilty. All spelling, punctuation, and grammar errors intact
(circa August 1996)

Monday, November 30, 2009

Giveaway! iPod Tune Juice 2

Ever on a plane ride, enjoying your flicks and tunes on your iPod...and it suddenly dies? And you are stuck with reading SkyMall for the rest of your flight? Don't let this happen to you again!

I am holding a giveaway for a Griffin TuneJuice2 backup battery for iPod. These electrical lifesavers retail for $31.99 at Best Buy, but now you have a chance to score one for free! It juices your iPod with AAA batteries, giving you extra hours of entertainment enjoyment. It is compatible with the iPod Classic, Nano, and Mini via the standard Apple USB connection jack. (The iPhone 2G gives you an "incompatible device" error message but still powers up. Doesn't work for iPhone 3G). I keep mine in my purse at all times, and it's gotten me out of a power pinch when my iPhone is almost dead and I don't have an outlet to charge it at.

I'm feeling the spirit of giving for this holiday season, and want to know what tunes put you in the merry mood. Give me some ideas of what to add to my Christmas playlist.

To enter:
Just comment on this post with your top 5 Christmas songs (title and artist), like this:

I want to win!!
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen - Barenaked Ladies + Sarah McLachlan
Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy - Bing Crosby + David Bowie
Wonderful Christmastime - Paul McCartney
The Christmas Song - Mel Torme
Grown Up Christmas List - Amy Grant

For extra entries:
Click on the sidebar and become a follower of
Head over to my review blog Nicole Rates It and become a follower
Follow me on Twitter at @cuteculturechic and tweet about the giveaway

(Gushing compliments will be accepted on a case-by-case basis)

Contest ends Monday, December 7, 2009 at 9:00 am.

Good luck!

DespairWear Shirts I want

All these shirts available at

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Tender Tennessee Christmas?

Since Taylor has been with his airline, he's had relatively good luck with having holidays off. Sometimes he'll miss an "eve" but make it for the "day," or part of the accompanying weekend. For Thanksgiving, he had three days off. He flew in to ONT Wednesday morning at 4 am, and flew out of LAX Friday morning at 4 am. It is difficult to spend so much time commuting, especially because it typically involves pickups/dropoffs at early and strange hours. Since he's been in MEM, he's had much better luck jumpseating on FedEx than on Delta....and those flights are usually during the inconvenient hours.

Last week he got his December schedule, which made us happy and sad. Happy because he has 16 days off (for the first time since he was domiciled at DTW). Sad because he is scheduled on 4-day trips over both Christmas and New Years. He'll be overnighting in Nashville Christmas Eve, and Knoxville New Years Eve. It doesn't make sense for Rosie and I to fly out to be with him....he's flying multiple legs December 24, 25, 31 and January 1. My first (sarcastic) thought was "Another tender Tennessee Christmas," a song I love off of Amy Grant's Christmas album. Amy makes it sound so idyllic...for Taylor it will mean nights alone in a Hampton Inn or Fairfield Inn.

Come on weatherman,give us a forecast snowy white.
Can't you hear the prayers of every childlike heart tonight?
Rockies are calling, Denver snow falling,
Somebody said it's four feet deep.
But it doesn't matter, give me the laughter;
I'm gonna choose to keep

Another tender Tennessee Christmas,
The only Christmas for me.
Where the love circles around us like the gift around our tree.
Well I know there's more snow up in Colorado
Than my roof will ever see,
But a tender Tennessee Christmas is the only Christmas for me.

Every now and then, I got a wanderin' urge to see
Maybe California, maybe tinsel town's for me.
There's a parade there, we'd have it made there;
Bring home a tan for New Year's Eve.
Sure sounds exciting, awfully inviting,
Still I think I'm gonna keep

Another tender Tennessee Christmas,
The only Christmas for me.
Where the love circles around us like the gift around our tree.
Well they say in's a warm holiday;
It's the only place to be.
But a tender Tennessee Christmas is the only Christmas for me.
(Ohh, you know I wanna be home.)

Friday, November 27, 2009


Thanksgiving Dinner with my in-laws was lovely. Especially the stuffing. And the jello. And the mashed potatoes and gravy. And the spinach souffle. And the glazed yams and apples. And the turkey. And the sweet rolls. And the pumpkin pie.

And the best part? My skinny pants still fit the morning after!

Hope all of you had a great holiday with your families. Now....bring on Christmas!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

HiChew Heaven

One of my fellow food blogger friends tipped me off on an Asian Market in Hacienda Heights, CA called Nijiya Market. They have a wide variety of HiChew flavors that I've been looking for (and have gotten impatient waiting for J-List's 6 week shipping delay) Reviews to follow on my other blog, Nicole Rates It.

What's your favorite HiChew flavor? Mine is now cotton candy. HOARD IT IF YOU FIND IT. I also love mango, yogurt, and melon. Chewable bliss!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Way to Go, Wahlee!

Today, one of my very best friends achieved one of the most significant accomplishments of her life. Emily (aka Wahlee) has been working on her masters degree at BYU, and after much travail has completed her thesis and passed her defense. I was on campus when she passed to give her a big hug. She's worked so hard...CONGRATS!

Emily and I have known each other since 1993. We met in our 8th grade science class. We were at the same table, and I was quickly intrigued by her last name Bytheway. She loved music (just like me) and was smart enough that I couldn't keep up with her. We became fast friends, and have been ever since. She adopted my quirky addiction to They Might be Giants music, and we created our own TMBG-land as partners in 9th grade Geography. We wrote intricately-folded notes to each other in a secret language. We planned things out in our Franklin Quest planners. We listened to Broadway music together. We were roommates for EFY, and attended BYU Education Week together for many years. We were in the same high school dance groups, went to plays together, studied like maniacs, and sang together in MHS's Womens Chorus, A'Cappella Choir, and Bel Canto. We memorized Scripture Masteries together. We both took French in high school, and still slip in words en francais without thinking. She put up with my boycraziness, which is a MAJOR feat.

Emily is a DIE HARD BYU Cougar fan. She's been attending BYU football games faithfully, and has even attended some of their womens' football clinics. After high school, she headed down to Provo as I headed up to Rexburg. We emailed each other often, and met up on the weekends we both were in Murray. She was one of the first people I introduced "my fiance" to, and was my maid of honor at my first wedding. She was my shoulder to cry on when my marriage dissolved. She got me into blogging. She hooked me on to Harry Potter (and I've never seen such a devoted HP fan). She shares my mad addictions to Keane, Donny Osmond, Disneyland, BYU bookstore fudge and chocolate-covered cinnamon bears. I'm really lucky to have such a great friend.

Je t'aime Em!

At my 17th Birthday party

Green Gables Girls on High School Choir Tour to British Columbia

Jello-suckaholics Anonymous

Emily with her Hogwart's-obsessed family

Me, Em, Rosie, and Dobby at WahleeCon 2004

At my (2nd) wedding reception

Chilling with old friends at Dana Point
In line for Star Tours at Disneyland

Em's Family has felt like my 2nd family for many years, especially her sisters

Chillin' in the SLC at Sam Weller's Bookstore
Out to eat...our favorite thing to do together

Nicole's White Bean Chicken Chili

This week I had a few friends over for dinner when my husband was in town. I decided to make one of my favorite comfort foods...homemade soup in bread bowls. This is one of my "throw together" soup recipes, which always ends up better than if I follow a recipe exactly as written. Here's my best approximation of what went in...feel free to spice it up to your liking.

1 pound of boneless/skinless chicken, cut into cubes
32 oz box of chicken broth
2 chicken bouillon cubes*
1/2 packet of taco seasoning mix
2 cans Great Northern Beans, drained
1 10 oz can RoTel diced tomatoes and green chilies (with liquid)
1 small can diced green chilies
2 cups frozen corn
1/2 cup whipping cream
2 T. cornstarch
Cumin, to taste
Chili Powder, to taste

Brown chicken cubes in frying pan, seasoned with cumin, chili powder, and a splash of chicken broth. In a large (8 quart) stockpot, combine chicken broth, taco seasoning mix, chicken cubes, diced tomatoes, green chilies and Great Northern Beans. Simmer until 10 minutes before serving, then add frozen corn, whipping cream, cumin and chili powder. Thicken with cornstarch till liquid is desirable consistency. Serve in bread bowls.

Garnish with sour cream, tortilla chips, and shredded pepper jack cheese

Preparation time: less than 30 minutes. Makes approximately 8 servings.

*Depending on what brand of chicken broth you use, the soup may have a weak chicken flavor once all ingredients are in. I dissolve 2 chicken bouillon cubes in a small cup of hot water to make a runny paste, and mix splashes of the thick bouillon into the pot until it's got the right chicken taste.

I have won two chili cook-off awards with this recipe: one for most original, and one for best non-beef chili. If you like it with more beans, throw in more beans (it's really good with black beans). You can spice it up as much as you want, such as a splash of Chipotle Tabasco, pico de gallo or diced jalapenos. For those faint of tastebuds, omit the small can of green chilies and garnish with cheddar cheese.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Pilot News

Pilots, planes and aviation have been in the news a lot this year. Let's go over the highlights:

Planes that crash just short of the runway in wintry conditions

Distracted pilots who overshoot their destination by 150 miles

A drunk pilot failing a breathalyzer test prior to a trans-oceanic flight from London

A flight landing on the taxiway instead of the runway at ATL

Air France flight 447 crashing into the Atlantic Ocean, killing all on board

It would be nice if there were more stories of successful "near misses" or "Miracles on the Hudson?" (well, obviously NO crash would be better, but if problems arise, I want my crew competent like Sully, Skiles, and their experienced flight crew) Crew payscales are ridiculously low compared to the last few years, and some crew members have resorted to living in an LAX airport parking lot.

But not all pilot news is bad. My favorite news is when I know that my husband is successfully assigned a non-rev or jumpseat and he's on his way home (even if it means picking him up at 5 am). It's been tough having him commute from Memphis, but I'm excited for the time DO get to spend with him. Even better is when he brings along my other favorite pilot for the ride. It can get a little zany with two pilots in the house, but it never feels more like home.

Oh My Darling Clementine!

Does anyone else get giddy when temperatures drop and clementines start showing up in grocery store produce sections? I do! Even more so when I find them on sale for $3.99 a bag. Here's to my favorite cold-weather fruit! Huzzah!

p.s. Are any of you reading my review blog, ? Click over and give me a follow. If you do, I'll share my precious clementines with you (but you'll have to come to my house to collect it...but that isn't so bad, is it?)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Right Now (1992 edition)

RIGHT NOW...I am watching my favorite music video of 1992.
And the Crystal Pepsi Super Bowl commercial that followed...

Don't wanna wait 'til tomorrow, why put it off another day?
One by one, little problems build up and stand in our way. Oh!

One step ahead, one step behind it
Now ya gotta run to get even
Make future plans I'll dream about yesterday, hey!
Come on turn, turn this thing around

(Right now) Hey! It's your tomorrow
(Right now) Come on, it's everything
(Right now) Catch your magic moment
Do it right here and now
It means everything

Miss a beat, you lose a rhythm and nothin' falls into place. No!
Only missed by a fraction
Slipped a little off your pace. Oh!

The more things you get, the more you want
Just trade in one for another
Workin' so hard to make it easy
Whoa, got to turn. Come on, turn this thing around

Did anyone else love this song? It was my pubescent theme song, empowering me until I discovered alternative music, and delved into Depeche Mode, The Cure, TMBG, INXS, U2, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and all those other bands I obsessed over. (I still considered it my theme song until I heard Cake's "The Distance.")

Just in Time...

Just as I was leaving for the Imogen Heap concert on Thursday night, I encountered an automotive obstacle. My car, which had been showing no symptoms of illness, wouldn't start. The battery seemed fine, as the radio and lights worked, but the engine wouldn't turn over. Since I was at my parents' house, they let me borrow their Civic for the night. My dad and Taylor did some diagnostics, and guessed the battery charge was low and hooked it up to charger overnight.

In the morning, the car still wouldn't start, so I picked up some jumper cables. Still no luck. We called up AAA to see if they had any ideas, and they had a repair shop on the line to listen to the squealing ignition noise. The car was towed off, and the repair shop had a diagnosis shortly thereafter. Timing belt and water pump. Luckily the timing belt was a non-invasive type, and the break didn't damage the engine. Hopefully it will be done this afternoon.

I'm grateful that the repair wasn't as bad as it could have been. I'm grateful I had my dad and husband there to help diagnose the problem. I'm grateful for AAA. I'm grateful that Taylor gets paid his "big check" on Monday (every other paycheck has his perdiem pay) I'm grateful that the repair shop is also fixing my AC adapter. But mostly, I'm grateful this didn't happen while on my way to California for Thanksgiving in 9 days. Heaven knows how bad it would be to get stuck needing repairs along the more desolate sections of I-15.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


Three weeks ago, Taylor and I signed up for a gym membership. My health's been better recently and I'm feeling motivated to lose weight again (especially looking at myself in all those London pictures). In the past 11 days, I've had 7 cardio workouts. I started out barely being able to hang on for 25 minutes, now I can make it through 40 minutes. I haven't done much weight training yet, but I'll incorporate it fairly soon. I got a freebie session with a personal trainer and went over some suggested exercises, and did a health profile. I've been feeling more energetic, my clothes fit a little better and am motivated to stick with this.

Despite the newfound motivation, I'm frustrated. I stepped on the scale and I've gained 7 pounds in two weeks. Everyone gives me the "gaining muscle mass" excuse (which I think is partially true) but it's still disappointing. On the whole, my eating has been really healthy; lean meats, fruits and veggies, whole grains, etc. I've splurged a few times, like cupcakes and sweet potato fries, but my portions have been MUCH smaller than the last few months. I hope I'll be able to take off weight (or at least not gain anymore) as the holidays (and holiday food) will be present for the rest of the year.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Yesterday's Verdict

The hearing was emotionally intense. I had not seen him in 4 years, and my first glimpse of him in the courtroom made my body lurch. His back was facing me so I never saw his face. Hearing his voice brought chills down my spine. Giving the victim impact statement was difficult and emotional, but I made it through. The hearing officer recommended another review in 15-18 months. So for now, I'm relieved.

(If you have any specific questions for me, feel free to email me. The details aren't anything that should be discussed in a public setting)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Justice and Mercy

Later on this morning, I will be here:
I will be making a victim impact statement. It's been 5 years since the crime, and the offender has been behind bars for 4 years. It's parole hearing time, and he could be out on the streets very soon. I'm nervous. Especially because I'm living in Utah again.

For a long time I hated him. The lives of my daughter and I were forever changed. It was a painful recovery process, riddled with insecurity, doubt, distrust, fear, and feelings of violation. But now, a few years later, I now feel like I've forgiven him. Forgiven, but I don't trust him. I don't know if more time behind bars will honestly be beneficial in the long run. I hope he can find a way to live a normal and productive life. I just want him to stay out of mine.

For weeks, I've been struggling with what I would say. I just finished editing and printing the document for the court record. Now it's time to gain my composure, drive up to "Point of the Mountain," and look him in the eye.

Pineapple Teriyaki Wheat Thins??? Seriously?

Last night I dreamed that I was asked by Nabisco to review their new (not real) Pineapple Teriyaki Wheat Thins on my new review blog, Nicole Rates It. In the dream (not in real life) I was pregnant and I thought they were the best cracker ever. I downed a whole box in one sitting. I gave them an overwhelmingly positive review on my blog, and Food Network caught news of the posting. Food Network was so impressed that they offered me a job as a host of my own show. On my first episode, a panel of judges decided to have a tasting of the Pineapple Teriyaki crackers, and everyone HATED them. I was laughed off the show, and the network gave me a large lump-sum check to never mention them in my blog again.

So strange!

What kind of crazy person would think this cracker flavor was marketable, let alone edible?

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