Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Awkward & Awesome

There's something weird about reaching your last summer at home. Of course, I know I'll be coming back after college, but it's crazy to think that these are my last few weeks of actual childhood before I have to go out and brace the cold, hard, world of making my own doctor's appointments and cooking my own food. (Thank heavens for Macaroni & Cheese!) In an attempt to savor every last memory from this summer, here are some awkward and awesome happenings from the last few weeks that I want to make sure I remember. (Well, I could do without remembering the awkward ones, but I'll go ahead and throw them in just in case they're as entertaining 5 years from now as my old middle school journals are to me today.) 

Donning your fabulous new shorts, only to discover that you forgot to shave part of your knee cap. #pokyhairdon'tcare #butihavetocarebecauseititches

Getting called sir instead of ma'am. (Maybe my yoga pants and messy bun weren't as fashionable as I originally thought?)

Ordering a chicken sandwich at a nice restaurant and then realizing that the menu was referring to a dainty "chicken salad on a bun" concoction rather than the fried, crispy goodness that McDonald's has taught you to love and cherish. Thanks, Mom, for switching plates with your mayonnaise-hating child. Your hot dog was delicious.

Being super excited that your cat finally wants to cuddle with you and then realizing that she's only trying to remind you that it's time to feed her. 

Throwing up in public. (Need I say more?) 

Having to pay $7.00 for a tiny bottle of pancake syrup because the only store open is outrageously priced and girl has gotta have her pancakes.

Eating said pancakes.

The way the light hits the succulents on our kitchen sink each afternoon. (See photo above because swoon-worthy plants like this must be documented, am I right?)

Hearing 24 little voices cheer when you walk into the classroom where you volunteer. I'm sure going to miss those happy smiles, hugs, and high fives.

Getting to the point in my photography career that I'm booking regular clients. #bestjobever

Learning how to use a serger. I usually hate all things sewing, but I've been helping with Days for Girls lately and I'm totally hooked. I'll write a full post about it soon, but basically it's an organization that provides sustainable hygiene kits to girls in impoverished nations so they can still attend school during menstruation. There's something special about hearing that serger roar and knowing that I'm doing something to help a fellow sister be able to get an education.

Being outdoors (even thought mosquitos live there). I swear there is nothing more relaxing than a good book, a cool breeze, and a lawn chair.

Going on a surprise bike ride with your long lost BFF who went to college last year. (And not crashing your bicycle even once, I might add.) #newrecord

Watching Star Trek until midnight because school is out and the final frontier waits for no one.

And last, but most definitely not least, reading amazing comments and emails from my fabulous readers! Thank you all for letting me share my little sprinkles-laden corner of the universe with you. <3

Be it ever so simple, there's a glimpse at what's happening in my life right now. What's been Awkward and Awesome in your neck of the woods?
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Monday, June 22, 2015

25 Ideas for Divine Nature Personal Progress Value Projects

You've finished your Personal Progress* value experiences for Divine Nature. Now what? These 25 project ideas should get your creative juices flowing. 

1. Learn home improvement skills by remodeling a room in your house, building a piece of furniture, or revamping a thrift store find. 

2. Develop the divine trait of compassion by organizing a service project, volunteering in your community, or making a special effort to serve someone with whom you associate. (Some of my favorite projects have been doing recitals at local nursing homes, sewing for Days for Girls, and helping at a local science museum. See #6, 10, 14, 15, 18, 19, and 21 for more service ideas.)

3. Research or interview women who inspire you. Compile a scrapbook, video, or infographic about their divinely inherited gifts and strengths.

4. Cultivate a new talent that will benefit your future self and family such as car maintenance, sewing, couponing, knitting, interior decorating, pottery, photography, etc.

5. “As man now is, God once was; as God is now man may be.” - Lorenzo Snow 
Explore your divine heritag by learning more about the creation. Visit a local science museum, planetarium, zoo, or similar exhibit. Watch this Mormon Message and study Moses 6:63, Alma 30:44, Abraham 3:22-26, and the Education chapter of For the Strength of Youth. Record your feelings about God and your potential to become like Him by writing in your journal or by creating an art piece, song, poem, or other form of expression.

6. The Savior was the master teacher. Become more like Him by developing your teaching skills through tutoring at a local school, helping in Primary, assisting siblings/neighbors with homework, preparing and presenting a Sunday School lesson, or demonstrating how to do one of your favorite hobbies at mutual or in a YouTube video.

7.  Learn how to decorate cakes (Yum!) by taking a class, interning with a baker, or following online tutorials. Consider donating baked goods to nursing or Veteran's homes for residents' birthdays or providing refreshments for an upcoming youth activity.

8. Become pen or email pals with a grandmother, aunt, or elderly sister in your ward. (Grandmas love letters!) :) Learn about her life's experiences and ask her how she developed her divine traits. Save your letters and assemble them in a binder or scrapbook.

9. Study The Family: A Proclamation to the World and incorporate it into an artwork to hang in your home. (I love the examples here, here, here, and here.)

10. Develop kindness (and patience haha) by babysitting for someone in need.

11. Memorize your Patriarchal blessing. (This idea is from Bella Online, here but I loved it so much I had to share it.)

12. Help others remember their divine qualities by heart attacking their car/locker/home (see this post for more info), writing notes, or sending kind emails and Facebook messages (see this New Era article).

13. Gather old family recipes and preserve them by scanning, photographing, or typing them. Post them on a family blog, Facebook group, or print copies. (A family cookbook would be an awesome Christmas present!)

14. Choose an inactive young woman in your ward and make a special effort to reach out to her. Invite her to activities (both extracurricular and church related), text or write notes to her, and find ways to serve her. Record your experiences in your journal.

15. For two weeks, work extra hard to help out in your home. Look for tasks that need done and complete them without being asked. (Ideas include cooking a surprise dinner, doing a family member's chores for them, cleaning the family bathroom, making your siblings' beds, etc.)

16. Read the Christlike Attributes section of Preach My Gospel. Complete the Attribute Activity at the end of the chapter. Prayerfully choose one attribute you would like to develop more fully. Use the scriptures and General Conference talks suggested in the manual as well as other gospel resources to learn more about the character trait. Share what you have learned in a devotional, Sunday School, or FHE lesson. Then, apply what you have learned to your life by making specific goals and keeping them for two weeks.

17. Revamp your closet and hone a new skill by learning how to alter clothes. (I love the ideas here and here!)

18. Practice cooperation and responsibility by planning and executing Young Women in Excellence, New Beginnings, a joint mutual activity, or a birthday party for a child in need.

19. Develop charity by organizing a book drive. Record yourself (and other volunteers, if you wish) reading the stories. Download the recordings and donate the books and mp3s to a local children's hospital.

20.  Mentor a sibling or friend in a skill you excel at. (Great at basketball? Help the neighbor girl get ready for tryouts. Like to play the piano? Give free lessons to the neighbor kids. Got a knack for the computer? Volunteer to help a grandparent master emailing. etc.)

21. The Savior spent much of His time comforting the sick and afflicted. Follow His example by volunteering at your local hospital or retirement home. (From visiting patients to delivering popsicles and reading storybooks, a wide variety of positions are usually open.)

22. Read Happiness, Your Heritage by Dieter F. Uchtdorf (Oct. 2008 General Conference), paying particular attention to the section on creating. Learn a new talent (watercoloring, ceramics, stand-up comedy, jewelry making, poetry, etc.) and create something that reflects your divine nature.

23. Learn about how divine traits reflect true beauty by reading this General Conference talk. Study the articles on beautyredefined.net (a fabulous website written by two LDS girls with PhD's in communications dedicated to helping women free themselves from the pressures of the media). Start a real beauty campaign in your area (the sticky notes here might help). Make a special effort to see yourself as God sees you and commit to refraining from negative self talk for two weeks. Record your experiences in your journal.

24. Follow the guidance in Colossians 3:16 and learn how to use hymns to become closer to Christ. Volunteer to lead the music in Sacrament meeting, Seminary, or Young Womens, conduct a special choir number, play the piano or organ during meetings, practice and perform a special musical number, or compose and record your own piece of music.

25. Practice being a peacemaker by overcoming the habit of complaining. Read O Remember, Remember by Henry B. Eyring (October 2007). Design a special journal and develop the habit of recording your tender mercies each day like President Eyring does for one month.

What ideas do you have for Divine Nature?
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P.S. For more great ideas, check out these posts from other fab blogs around the web:

I Belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
Sugar Doodle
The Personal Progress Helper

* Personal Progress is part of the youth program of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. It is similar to an Eagle Scout award but is aimed at strengthening the faith of Young Women. Participants complete a series of value experiences and one ten-hour project for each of eight values (Faith, Divine Nature, Individual Worth, Knowledge, Choice & Accountability, Good Works, and Virtue). For more information, please visit personalprogress.lds.org.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

The Sweet Things in My Life: June Edition

Can I just state the obvious one more time? School is out for summer!!! <Insert crazy dance of happiness here> Obviously, that joyous occasion is pretty much holding the #1 spot on my Sweet Things list right now, but there are some close competitors. Let's dive in, shall we? (Can you tell the pool is on my mind?)


The photographer I interned for a couple summers ago also owns a dance studio. I was asked to be the official photographer for their spring recital and I loved every second! There is something magical about the the back stage flurry that comes right before a performance, not to mention the sheer beauty of the recital itself. I have to admit I was completely in awe of the dancers' grace. Maybe they could give me some tips for not tripping over nothing when I walk?


The classroom I volunteer in hatched chicken eggs for their lifecycle unit this spring. When the two chickies hatched, I got to babysit them for a few nights. The little squeaking sounds they make are beyond adorable! After a day or so, they even learned to recognize my voice and perch on my finger! (Heart = Melting) I am now convinced that I stand in need of a pet chicken. Do you think the housing department will let one stay in my dorm room?


My family took a leap of faith and attended our local Greek festival a few weeks ago. I have no idea what I was eating, but it was Ah. Maz. Ing. I am seriously mourning the fact that this glorious fiesta only happens once a year. I need more baklava. (Which, by the way, would be a delicious ice cream flavor. Ben & Jerry's, can you hear me?)


This quote has been on my mind a lot lately. It's amazing how our small daily decisions can have such a profound impact on the course of our lives.

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Remember when I blogged about that fantastic magazine for Mormon teens a few months ago? (In case you're forgetful like me and don't, here's the link.) Well, The Parable of the Porta-Potty was published in the June issue! I am over the moon excited about it! (Like more excited than the cow who jumped over the moon and made the little dog laugh while the dish ran away with the spoon. That excited.) #namethatnurseryrhyme I'm on Pg. 35 if you want to check it out. (And you should, because this magazine is seriously the best. I'm in love with all the modest fashion tips, gorgeous photography, and inspirational articles!) The best part is, if you're interested you can get a killer deal subscribing through their Kickstarter campaign right now! Yay for great reads at great prices!

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I know I usually only do 5 things, but I just can't help it. Chemistry Cat hits my funny bone.

What's making your life sweet right now?
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Thursday, June 11, 2015

Beautiful to Him

Aahhh, the Pinterest-Perfection Fever: it's been the subject of blogging debates and web reformations for centuries (jk . . . just since Pinterest was born in  2010). Have you heard of it? Maybe you've even been stricken by it. Though it's hard for me to admit, I recently was.

It all started with a simple quest for hair and makeup tutorials. My intentions were good. I was pretty much in a hair down, golden eyeshadow, and clear gloss rut and felt like changing up my beauty routine a bit.  I thought I would quickly find a few new hair ideas, grab a recommendation for a good mascara, and then be on my merry way. Unfortunately, within just a few minutes I found myself in a far less than merry mood.

I, like thousands of other people in the internet, came down with Pinterest Plague. You see, every photo I saw featured gorgeous girls with smooth, glowing skin, sleek hair, and chiseled contours. Their clothes were flawlessly fitting. Their teeth sparkled so bright that I'm pretty sure the models on dentist billboards were jealous. Their muscles were perfectly toned. Their locks were expertly highlighted.

You get the idea.

I possess none of these traits. My skin is anything but smooth and glowing (hi there, teenage acne). My frizzy hair is far from sleek. My rounded cheeks don't come anywhere close to being chiseled. My muscles could use some work. My pores are very much in existence. And the list could continue for ages.

As I compared myself to the models I saw on Pinterest, I started to feel like a failure. In the coming weeks, I found myself nourishing these crazy notions that success, happiness, and joy only come to people who look a certain way. Desperate to meet that outward criterial, I was soon drowning in a sea of YouTube videos and beauty blogs, hunting for the perfect remedy for the body of which I was so ashamed.

What I failed to recognize is that the happiness and beauty I was seeking does not come from a contour palette or new lip gloss. It's not found in a makeover or a tanning salon. It's found in the gospel. In truth, the only way we can discover our true beauty is if we stop looking in the mirror and start looking heavenward.

I once heard it explained that God is a perfect being who does not make mistakes. Thus, I --chubby cheeks, visible pores, acne, and all-- do not need to be altered by outward cosmetics to have worth and value.

I love this quote (and the entire Ensign article, here) by Elder Lynn G. Robbins:
Now, I'm not saying that makeup is sinful or bad. It is fun to play with and can really enhance out natural features. My point is, I think it is very important for us to recognize that our worth does not change based on our mascara or lack thereof. Our value is not depleted when we wash off our foundation. We are still the same people with and without the cosmetics and the glamour; the same people who are loved, valued, and cherished by the most powerful and all knowing being in the universe-- our Father in Heaven.

I don't want to spend so much time caught up in the skin deep hoopla that I miss chances to develop real, lasting beauty. I don't want to be so worried about how I look that I'm too afraid to reach out and serve a neighbor. I don't want to spend so much time fretting about what the world thinks that I forget to remember the infinite love Heavenly Father has for me. In short, I want to spend less time looking in my mirror and more time looking in God's.

I love this video clip from Carmen Rasmusen Herbert at Time Out for Girls. In it, she points out that while makeup helps her feel pretty, it does not add or detract from her innate worth and beauty. It is a must see for all ladies. (Like seriously, I have a habit of skipping videos in posts sometimes. If you are a skipper like me, you don't want to miss out on this one. Grab your earbuds and watch it now. It is a total game changer.)

As Carmen so eloquently states, the way we look does not define us. Our value is not dictated by the models on Pinterest or the magazines at the grocery store. It is not determined by what the critics and the haters (including our own, often harsh, selves) say. What truly matters is what God thinks of us.

Want to know how He feels?

As He says in Doctrine and Covenants, 18:10,  "the worth of souls (even those with crooked noses and frizzy hair) is great in the sight of God" (italicized commentary obviously added :P).

Notice He said great. Not just good or mediocre. Great. I think that is very significant. During the creation, we read in Genesis that after forming the stunning landscapes, animals, plants, and oceans, God "saw that it was good". I'm sure we can all recognize the majesty of the earth's beauty. From the mountains, to the prairies, to the oceans white with foam (name that song!), it's hard to deny that our planet is absolutely stunning. Yet, the Lord says it is good and describes us as great. Wowzers.

This principle is put into further light from an economic standpoint. (Get ready for some math, people.) 

The earth has an area of 196.9 million square miles. There are 640 acres in a square mile. Multiplying those together gets us 126 billion, 16 million acres. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, the average price per acre of land in the US is $2,950. Multiplying that by the 126 billion, 16 million acres of earth's total area, we get an estimated value of 371 trillion, 747 billion, 200 million dollars.

And that nearly incomprehensible number, is what God calls good. To him, we are great. What does that say about our infinite worth and potential?

Now we can quote scriptures and ramble off math facts all the live long day, but none of that will matter unless we know or the greatness of our individual worth for ourselves. What has made the biggest difference for me in my search for real beauty is praying to know how God feels about me.

If you haven't already done so, I challenge you to do the same. Ask Heavenly Father to help you see through His mirror. Pray for the ability to see yourself as He sees you and to know of His matchless love for you.

Truly, this love transcends any fashion emergency, bad hair day, or breakout.
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P.S. Since music tends to speak louder than writing, here are a two of my favorite songs about real beauty. xoxo

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