Monday, September 1, 2014

The First of a Hundred Happy Days

This morning I had a very timely reminder that I have so much to be grateful for.  That, coupled with the fact that I haven't written in my journal for over two years served as kind of a wake-up call. I've seen a few friends participate in the "100 Happy Days" challenge. I know it's normally an Instagram thing, but this is something that I really want to remember so blogosphere - sorry, but you're my captive audience. With my goal to start over, I've decided to stop with the junk food diet and start eating healthier. For the past little while I've been perfecting a copycat version of a strawberry smoothie bowl a la everyone's favorite smoothie shop. And today, I've perfected it.

Strawberry Smoothie Bowl

You'll Need:
1/3 cup vanilla Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons milk (I used 1%)
1 cup frozen strawberries
3 tablespoons peanut butter
1/4 cup granola (I used Nature's Path Pumpkin Flax Granola)
1 tablespoon Blue Agave Nectar
1/2 a banana


1. Place the Greek yogurt, milk, strawberries, peanut butter and 2 tablespoons of the granola in a food processor or blender.

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2. Pulse until all the ingredients are just combined. (Sorry that I don't have more pictures of this process. I had to go down to the garage to run the food processor since my roommate was still asleep.)

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3. Spoon the smoothie into a bowl. Top with remaining granola, sliced bananas, and drizzle with blue agave nectar.

Eat and enjoy an instantly happy day!

(BTW, this recipe gives you a full serving of fruits and almost 2/3 of your daily serving of protein. Ringing in at just under 400 calories, it's a deliciously awesome breakfast!)

Monday, August 25, 2014

Moving On and Starting Over

I walked out of my apartment at 9 AM on Saturday to a freshly-scrubbed world.. At first I attributed the crispness of the air to the heavy rainfall the night before, and then it dawned on me. Fall is coming.

Since I was little, fall has symbolized more of a new year than January 1st ever did. In January you open a new calendar, stay up really late and watch fireworks. But fall brought new classes, seeing everyone after the summer, and growing up in Tucson, relief from the insufferable heat. Once I got to college fall still meant new classes and reunions with friends, but it also came to mean pumpkin flavored everything, SPICED. CARAMEL. CIDER., and building my “light layers” wardrobe. As the years rolled by, it also came to mean one other thing. One short little word that stresses me out unlike any other. Moving. All in keeping with new starts and new years, how appropriate is it that I’m still keeping that tradition alive?

My life is in boxes. Overwhelmingly so.

And as stressed as that makes me, that early morning stroll in the crisp fall air I experienced something I hadn’t even realized I’d been missing for quite some time. Peace. That hope of a fresh start, of freeing myself from the past, has been a perspective I’ve been lacking for quite some time. As my herbal tea cautioned me this morning, "Those who live in the past limit their future."

So I’ve promised myself that I’m going to make the most of this new opportunity. I'm starting over. And that's a wonderful thing.

Monday, December 31, 2012

A Year Full of Fixing Things: 2012 in Review

This is just a little something that I usually do in my journal, but since I'm in the process of catching the blogging fever, I figured I'd do it on here for all to see.

2012 was as year of firsts, a year of lasts, a year of burning bridges and figuring out how to repair them. It was a year of discovery and a year of introspection. But above all, it was a year of things being broken...and me having to learn rather quickly how to repair them.

Pretty much everything in my possession broke at some point in 2012 - either figuratively or literally. So much so that I adopted a new theme song:

But really.

Among  the list of broken things were:
- my phone (x2)
- my laptop
- my car
- my spirit (I'm not being a Debby Downer, I'm just calling it how it was)
- my heart (as cheesy as it is, it was true)
- my plans (those were shattered, more like)

But across the board, as tried and tested as I was this year, I managed to overcome the pain, the surprise, and sometimes that absolute absurdity that accompanied some of these situations.

Example: My first phone fiasco of the year went a little something like this.  I had a cold, so I stopped off at the store to buy some DayQuil. I wanted to be environmentally conscious and not use a plastic bag for my one item so I just opened it, took a glug, and threw it in my purse. I got in my car, drove home, and lifted my purse up off the seat. And then saw a bright orange puddle on the seat. Let's just say my phone didn't make it, all of my cash was dyed bright orange, and my purse smelled like mentholated oranges for about two months. But a new phone was purchased, and promptly dropped down a flight of stairs, so an iPhone was then purchased with a 1-year idiot proof warranty and I have had no problems since.

My laptop breaking involves more clumsiness on my part, so I won't confess to that right now.

My car breaking is a rather sad story. I drove to Tucson to surprise my Pops for his bday...long story short, after driving 800 miles my transmission decided to forget how to shift gears. After deciding not to undergo a repair that cost almost twice as my car was worth, I instead bought my dream car. And I do have to say, driving is fun again!

No matter what has happened this year, and how many things have broken, I can tell you what was the most the hardest one to fix, and the hardest one to experience. I won't go into the details about how and why my heart was broken, as it will suffice to say that losing a friend you love is a truly awful experience. However, I will go into the details about the resolution. At the beginning of this year, I learned that I have some of the best friends on the planet. I learned that my back is thoroughly protected. And I learned that letting others love you is the fastest way to heal a broken heart.

I learned that playing laser tag is the fastest way to bond with people

I learned that Moab is a beautiful and amazing place

And that your real friends will take pictures of you falling asleep in the sun and getting the worst sunburn of your life, instead of waking you up.

I learned that going to concerts with some of your best friends can be some of the best memories you'll make

And that county fairs are SO MUCH FUN

 But the most important thing I learned about my friends, is that my real friends, the ones I will call my friends for life are the ones that have been there through it all. The ones that give me hugs when I'm down and the ones that patiently listen to me vent. The ones who make me laugh so hard I cry. They're the ones that I truly don't know what I'd do without. You know who you are ;)

And I learned that no matter what happens, my family will always be there for me

(Oh yeah. I graduated in 2012. That's another thing I did this year)

So I owe the fact that I not only got through this year, but loved this year to every single person who loved me and helped me along the way. And in case I didn't get around to telling you each individually, THANK YOU for that. I love you and I owe you!

So, in summary, get ready 2013. Wallis is back and better than ever!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Practicing What You Preach: Speaking of Christmas Miracles...

So with my last blog post in mind, I set out to work a little Christmas magic of my own. A friend of mine needed a ride to the Salt Lake airport on Christmas Eve, and knowing that I'm one of the very few people left in Provo this time of year, I quickly responded with "of course!" to his plea. Thus embarked a series of events that is truly nothing short of miraculous.

About two hours before the time that we had agreed that I would pick him up, I went down to my apartment's parking garage to rid my car of the abundance of old receipts, water bottles, and very random items (such as the necklace I had been searching for everywhere during the last two weeks) that always seem to form a nice, cozy blanket over my backseat. (Side note: this is one of the ways that you know when I consider you a really close friend...when I say I will give you a ride and I don't clean out my car. I just know that my close friends accept me as what I actually am - a closet hoarder/lazy slob. Well, either we've become close friends, or you caught me by surprise with your request for a ride. :) ) While I was in the middle of the Great Backseat Garbage Takedown of 2012, I happened to glance over to my dashboard to do what all of us hate doing - check the gas meter. I don't know about you, but  I happily live in denial as that little orange needle slowly creeps over to that unassuming little "E" that should be labeled "where there goes another $50." To my dismay, I realized that I most definitely did not have nearly enough gas to make the 90 mile round trip to and from SLC. So I ran back up the stairs to my apartment to bundle up, and off I went to the gas station.

I was about a mile away from home when all chaos broke loose. I started smelling burning rubber, which I was quick to blame on the ancient Datsun that had pulled up beside me at the stoplight. Once I had turned right, and the smell stuck with me, I was searching my rear-view mirror for another junker to blame, when all of a sudden I felt like I was on the Indiana Jones ride at Disneyland, or in other words, like I could feel every pebble out on the road. And then I knew - I had a flat. I looked up to see where the best place to pull over would be, and to my relief I saw that the gas station I had been headed towards was literally 10 feet away. So I pulled into the gas station parking lot, then got out to survey the damage. And this was the sight that greeted me:

(FYI: These pictures are hazy because there was smoke billowing from the general area of this tire)

So I went to my trunk to gather the necessary implements only to discover that I didn't have a lug wrench to remove the bolts securing the tires in place. So I said a quick prayer, hopped back in my car, and called AAA. They were there within 20 minutes, slapped my temporary spare on, and sent me on my way. 

There are two very important things I learned about temporary spares that day. 1.) It is called a TEMPORARY spare for a reason. It's a lot smaller than an actual tire, and isn't meant for driving long distances. 2.) It doesn't have the same  traction that normal tires do...especially on snow. I had the presence of mind to read the tire before I drove on it, so I knew that I needed to get to a tire store, and soon. I knew of one that was a couple miles away from where I was, so I started my car and turned out of the parking lot. And then I just kept turning. Remember what I said about zero traction? Mustangs have problems with fishtailing on icy roads anyway, but add a tire with no traction and suddenly I was doing donuts in the middle of University Parkway - arguably the biggest and busiest street in Provo.

Here's where my second miracle came into play - as noted in my ealier post, Provo is a ghost town this time of year. So at this particular moment when I learned that I have no desire to become a stunt car driver, there was nobody else on the road. There was nobody else on the road. On Univeristy Parkway. At 12:30 in the afternoon.  Had there been other cars on the road, I'm  fairly certain this story would have had a different ending. 

I gained control of the vehicle (Yeah, what you learned in Driver's Ed. about skidding on icy roads flies right out of your head when you need it the most. I at least had time to trial-and-error it. Turn the steering wheel in the direction that your car is going. If you try to force it to go the opposite way, you'll just start turning donuts in the opposite direction.) and made it to the tire shop with minimal fishtailing. I looked at their holiday hours as I went on in. I had pulled into the shop with only five minutes to spare (Miracle #3? I think yes).

At the tire shop, I was given some bad news. Buying only one new tire is not only bad for your car and your gas mileage, but is also really dangerous on snowy and icy roads given the varied treads (I knew this was true, having just barely  experienced it myself). After having bought Christmas presents and paid some unexpected bills, my finances were looking pretty meager compared to the price of four new snow tires. And then another miracle happened. As I was sitting there, staring at my mobile bank statement, the numbers literally grew before my eyes. Turns out Santa (a.k.a. my dad) deposited a check in my name at our family's bank at home as a Christmas present...right when I needed it.

I got the tires on my car, picked up my friend, and got him to the airport with more than enough time to spare. I then went home, changed, and went to work. I normally don't receive tips at work because I only answer phone so I don't run things up to the rooms. But our runner is currently on a cruise for the next three weeks, so I'm running the show all on my own. I tell you this, because it is my next (I lost count. Fourth? Fifth?) Christmas miracle. Over the last two days, people have been remarkably generous with their tipping. I think they took pity on me having to work over the holidays. No matter what their motivations, the fact of the matter is, in the past two days I have earned more than the tires cost me - so it's not going to set me back at all.

I hope that you all were filled by the love and light of Christ over the holidays. And even though Christmas is now over, I pray that we will all be blessed in this coming new year. He truly is the reason for this season, and for the miracles in our daily lives. As per tradition in my family, I read the Christmas story in the Bible on Christmas Eve. One verse in particular stood out to me in light of the previously recounted events.

"For with God nothing shall be impossible." 
- Luke 1:37

Sunday, December 23, 2012

It's a Christmas Miracle!

Well, this is officially my first Christmas flying solo. I'm learning the hard way that the hospitality industry never sleeps (well, technically, I guess our guests DO sleep...which is the whole purpose of the hospitality industry. But you know.), so what it boils down to is this: I'm spending my joyeux noel in P-town while my family is having their feliz navidad back in the Old Pueblo.

I've learned several things already from this lonely venture through the holidays. Firstly, I miss my family. That was a given, right? Though my mom and I are having concurrent baking marathons, it's just not the same when we're 735 miles away from each other. On a totally unrelated tangent, I've also learned that Provo at this time of year is spooky. And gorgeous. Kind of like what would happen if Chris Pine was a first you'd be like "AAAHHHH!" but then you'd be more like "Oh, hello there!(insert seductive wink here)" But I digress. Provo is spooky because it's a ghost town. I got a parking spot in the VERY FIRST ROW of spots in front of University Mall. If you've ever spent any time there, you know how unheard of that is! However, as mentioned before, it's also gorgeous (in a different way than Chris Pine). Here's an example:

Can you say winter wonderland? The best part? This picture was taken in the aforementioned mall parking lot!

But I think the most important lesson I've learned thus far came from my five-millionth viewing of my absolute favorite Christmas movie, It's a Wonderful Life. In fact, the lesson I learned came from this scene in particular

The true magic of Christmas comes from people going out of their way to perform random acts of kindness for each other. Some are as small and as common as buying gifts for our friends and family. Others are massive undertakings that are nothing short of a real-life Christmas miracle. 

I was talking to a coworker about all this and he shared this story with me. His dad is an ecclesiastical leader of a congregation in their hometown. His dad caught wind that there was a family in need among them. And then, filled with the Christmas spirit, he jumped into action. The CliffNotes version of the family's struggle is this: November sucked. The dad of the family was laid off from his job the same month that his wife gave birth to their first baby - four months early. We can all do the math. No job + astronomical hospital bills = the express route to bankruptcy. Oh, and did I mention that their car's engine blew?   So not only did they go broke, they now didn't have a means of transportation to get to and from the hospital to visit their child in the NICU. 

So the father of my co-worker decided that they could at least try and chip in for some bills and groceries to tide them over until the dad got hired again. He presented the idea to the congregation one Sunday morning. And then a miracle happened. By the end of the day, they hadn't collected enough money for the bills and the food. They had collected enough money for both of those things AND enough to buy a used car AND pay for a year of car insurance. Now for the best part of the story. The dad of the family who the funds were being collected for (who, by the way, had no idea this was being done for them) approached hesitantly with an envelope in hand. He said "we're in a pretty tight spot right now, and this isn't much, but if this family's need is as great as you say it is, they need this more than we do." The envelope was opened to reveal a $20 bill.

My faith in humanity has been restored. There are so many kind, caring people out there who are ready and willing to help. Want a specific example? Just go to Twitter and search #26acts. Go ahead, I dare you not to cry. 

Now that we've all bawled our eyes out, let me just leave you with a gorgeous, happy thought:

So Merry Christmas everyone! Enjoy your families, enjoy the holidays, and enjoy the Christmas miracles that don't seem to be that hard to find this time of year.