Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas everyone!  This year has been full of adventures, to say the least.  We've only been married for a year and a half, but we've already gone through a rather serious car accident, moved back and forth across the country (a number of times), and started graduate school! 

For those of you that don't know, Ben and I are currently living with his parents in California.  It's a party all the time here, because we're not the only ones living here - Darlene and Greg and their soon-to-be baby are living here as well!  Ben just finished his first semester of Law School and he's absolutely loving it!  Sometimes it's hard to talk to him because he's off in his own little "lawyer world" and analyzes everything with a lawyer perspective.  :)  I'm working part time as a mother's/teacher's helper and I absolutely love it!  I'm also heading back to school in January to finish up my Interior Design degree. 

We're enjoying this new phase in our lives and we're really excited to see where it takes us.

Love you all!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Nielsen Kitchen

Since moving to California, I've done a lot of cleaning, organizing and painting.   With Darlene's help, we've completely transformed the kitchen, giving it just a bit of an English Tea Room feel.  Here are a couple pictures, but there are a lot more on my design blog.  Enjoy!

I have one large wall space that I'm planning to put a plate collage on.  Here's the catch - I want input on the designs.  Click here and tell me what you think!  Thanks a million!  :)



For more before and after pictures, click here.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Wake me up when September ends...

Sorry I've been so neglectful lately. I can't believe I haven't updated in so long! It's been really busy, with family and parties almost every weekend. Also, I have to confess, I started a new Design blog, and I've been spending a little more time there lately.

So here's the condensed version of what's been happening lately:

With the help of a number of wonderful friends, Ben and I packed up our two bedroom apartment in Provo and moved to San Francisco. Now, before you go thinking "what fun! - they're living in the city!," let me inform you that we're not actually right in the city. We decided that it would be better to save some money and live with Ben's parents while he attends Law School. The funny thing is, that Greg and Darlene had that same thought, when Greg got a job in the city. So now we're re-living one of the shows from our childhood - Full House - and all living together under the same roof. I must say though, for roommates, the Swapps and the Nielsens are pretty awesome. (and no, I'm not just saying that because Darlene's sitting across from me on the sofa right now.) :)

Ben has successfully started Law School. He seems to be cut out for this stuff because he's doing so well, and loving his classes. I'm so proud of him! I'm looking for a job and planning to finish up school myself in January, as well as taking on the project of re-doing some of the rooms here at my in-law's home.

In other news, my awesome and gorgeous sister is in Jerusalem right now at the BYU Jerusalem Center! I'm so happy she gets to have this experience, even though I totally wish I could be there as well.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


When you're prepared, camping can be one of the most incredible experiences - turning off technology, slowing down the pace of life, and discovering some of the most beautiful things nature has to offer. If unprepared however, you probably won't ever want to try it again.

Since we got married, I've wanted to take Ben out camping, but lack of necessities like a tent and sleeping bag prevented us a number of times. I have to say though, part of me wondered if this city boy I married would even be able to handle the great outdoors.

Well, we finally had our chance to go camping a couple weeks ago. We went down near Goblin Valley with 3 other couples and had an awesome desert camp-out. After breakfast and breaking camp Saturday morning, we went on a beautiful hike and even found a cave! Unfortunately, I completely forgot that I had my camera until we were on our hike, so I don't have pictures of our camp site or anything. :(

On our drive to and from the camp site, we listened to some Louis L'Amour short stories. It was fun walking around the desert pretending we were in one of his stories, braving the harsh winds and searching for a desert oasis.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Enjoy Life

I recently ran across this blog post that totally made my day. The blog serves as just a little reminder to recognize all those great moments in life that we take for granted.

Why obsess over our appearance and weight? While I'm a firm believer that you should exercise and look your best, the key to it is looking YOUR best, not the photo-shopped-model-on-the-magazine-cover's best. Part of the wonderful blessing of having a body is getting to enjoy the pleasures of life. Enjoy that extra scoop of ice cream or that second (or sometimes third) slice of cake. Don't deprive yourself - Just remember to do it in moderation. Enjoy every moment in life - the exercise AND all of those yummy treats.

Monday, May 24, 2010

A little odd, don’t you think?

This morning I woke up to a blanket of snow. Typically, this is really exciting because I love the snow. In the last week of May though, things are a little different. I’m ready for sunshine and summertime.

While I was getting ready this morning, I decided to listen to Josh Groban. With five albums (one being Christmas), I decided to just turn it on to shuffle. When I do this, I always run the risk of an occasional Christmas song coming up in the mix. However, this has only ever happened once – maybe I’m just lucky. Today was different. After the original song that I turned on, every song after that was a Christmas song! I switched to Michael Buble (8 albums and only 4 Christmas songs) and the same thing happened! How does that even happen?

Monday, May 10, 2010

Great new singer!

Caro Emerald is a hot new jazz singer from Amsterdam. Her first album debuted last summer and is "a mix of 1950's inspired ballroom jazz, cinematic tangoes, groovin' jazz tracks, infectious mambo's and banging beats." Her accent, or lack thereof, is perfect. What a shock - I never would've guessed that she's not American! Most importantly, her voice is incredible!!

Enough talk - check out a couple of her songs and see for yourself!

Needless to say, she's my new favorite artist! (Thanks for introducing me to such a great singer Liesl!)

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!

I wanted to take just a minute to recognize two of the greatest mothers in my life: my mom and Debbie - my "mother-in-love."

My mom is an incredible woman and has been a wonderful inspiration to me in so many ways. I think service is one of the most important life lessons that she's taught me. She is so kind and loving and always looking for ways to help people. I can't begin to count the number of times she's gone out of her way to do something nice for someone that needs it, even if that just means being a listening ear for someone needing a friend. It's not that she has nothing better to do, or tons of free time on her hands - I can't think of anyone busier than my mom either - it's because she loves the Lord and is doing her best to take care of His children.

Growing up, I remember hearing people joking about the infamous "Mother-in-law". I never experienced this because my parents and grandparents all get along really well. My mom always told me that when I got married it was so important that I got along with his mother. That became one of the crucial things I looked for in the guys that I dated - we both needed to get along with each others' parents, especially our mothers.

Even with that as a priority, I never could have dreamed that I would get along so well with my mother-in-law, or love her so much. Debbie is another incredible woman and I am so grateful that she's a part of my life. Something that I've noticed and I really admire is her ability to be optimistic and upbeat about everything. Its seriously superhuman! While I try to be optimistic, there are definitely things that get me down or cause stress. I've never seen anything affect Debbie, and that is a quality that I would love to have. - Maybe she'll rub off on me more while we're staying with her during Law School. :)

Unfortunately, I don't really have any pictures that I would be "allowed" to share of my mom or Debbie, otherwise I'd post some.
(Note to self - take some more pictures!)

In lieu of those pictures, I wanted to share the chorus to a song,
"That Wonderful Mother of Mine."

"You are a wonderful mother,
Dear old Mother of mine.
You'll hold a spot down deep in my heart,
'Till the stars no longer shine.
Your soul shall live on forever,
On through the fields of time.
For there'll never be another to me,
Like that wonderful Mother of mine."

I love you Mom!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Life Lessons from Mother

I've taken a lot of classes recently where the main focus is on the home. We talked a lot about the kind of environment we grew up in, what our families were like, how we were taught, as well as learning good ways to do things. I really struggled while writing a paper on methods our parents used to teach us, and this concerned me. I've always felt that my parents taught me very well, but when asked to clarify how they did it, I was stumped. I felt like I "just knew" things and had a hard time figuring out how it was that I had been taught them.

Today in my Human Development class we watched three videos of childbirth; graphic videos that were not for the faint of heart... or stomach. My professor even gave us the option to leave the room while he was showing the videos! But I digress. As we watched the three mothers giving birth to their babies, I realized how incredibly blessed and lucky I am.

My mom taught me so many things and helped prepare me for life in what I feel was a pretty amazing way. I was there when my sister and my two brothers were born. I got to watch the whole, incredible thing. Watching those videos reminded me of those experiences and finally answered my question. My mom taught about life by letting us experience it! The reason I sometimes feel like I didn't "learn" things (in a traditional sense), but rather just "knew" them was because I had been there! I had seen it, touched it, experienced it! The reason I now feel so prepared for life is because it's not such a big unknown! While it's still scary to go out and do it by myself, I have an idea of what it is, so I'm not walking blindly into the dark. I have my mother's lessons to guide me. Thanks Mom!

Friday, April 30, 2010

Lowered Expectations... DENIED!!

This is a somewhat unorthodox move on my part in regards to what my experience has been with the world of "blogging" and posting and what have you, but I am posting this blog post, post-haste. The world of blogging has always been a female pastime and my sister, sisters-in-law and wife are all avid in their blog-nicity which perpetuates the misogynistic feeling I have towards the "web log." Why, you ask, am I willing to brave what I perceive as a cross-dress into my wife's world of online writing frenzies? Simple, I feel the need. The need for what, you ask? The need to sing out from my digital mountain top and let the world know of my happiness. What happiness, you ask (why are you asking so many questions)? The reason for my new-found joyousness is simple, but so very profound and empowering for me, personally. In summary, I am not a waste of space.

Before you laugh and think I'm funny, weird or silly, you should know that I am serious. While growing up I have dealt with a little complex I like to call, inferiority. I hate the fact that every accomplishment in my life has been bookended by feelings of being too stupid or inadequate for even thinking about trying to reach beyond me. So naturally, when I heard that I had been accepted to law school at the University of San Francisco School of Law, I was excited and relieved and so confident in myself. Now, as the initial "honeymoon" phase begins to wear off and I begin to feel inklings of inadequacy, I write this post to say that I refuse to go through it again.

I must be positive about my accomplishments from here on out. Which is why, with no remorse or exaggeration I say this: I am so awesome! I really rock, like, a lot! I love who I am and what I have become so far. I am in a great place, with my favorite person by my side (smoochy smoochy, honey :). I will do well in law school and prove myself again and again. And when I become a successful lawyer, I will not be surprised but reassured that I am a successful person.


Monday, April 26, 2010

One Year!

I can't believe it's already been a whole year since our wedding! Ben planned a wonderful week vacation for us down in Southern California, spending some time with Greg and Darlene and Seth, Becca, Hannah and Josh. We had a blast shopping, exploring and just relaxing. He also surprised me with a wonderful Italian dinner Saturday night and a hotel all to ourselves for our anniversary!
I have to admit that I was suspicious, but I definitely wasn't sure, so the hotel was a great surprise, and he tried so hard to keep it a secret from me. Isn't he great? :)
Looking back over this past year, we've moved back and forth across the country and met our quota for road trips for the next 5 years! We've already managed to live in 3 states (Utah, Ohio, and California), not to mention all the ones we've visited, especially on our trip out to Ohio! We've also had quite a bit of adventure, especially with Ben's accident. To say the least, it's sure been one exciting year!
Ben makes me happier than I could have imagined and I'm thankful every day that I married him. Here's to the first year, honey! I can't wait for the rest!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Marriage and Parenting - Part 1

This semester I'm taking a class entitled "Home and Family Living." To some people this seems a little odd - like I'm taking a class on how to be a housewife. On the contrary, in the discipline of Social Sciences, there have been somewhat recent studies showing the impact of different aspects of the home on family life. It's truly a fascinating class and my professor is amazing!
Anyway, we had a great lesson the other day on Marriage and Parenting that I just had to share. So as not to get too long, I'll post it in two parts. :)

In a quote by Gary Morson, the idea of a prosaic marriage is given form:
"Prosaic thinkers tend to be debunkers. They are hostile to the ideology of romantic love, which regards ordinary marriage as uninteresting and great passion as real life. That classic twentieth-century criticism, Rougement’s Love in the Western World contends that Eros and romantic passion render impossible the truest and most important kind of love, family love. One cannot marry Iseult (Mrs. Tristan?), nor can one imagine Romeo and Juliet routinely sitting down to breakfast. Romantic love comes complete with an ideology of transcendence and desire, and a utopian contempt for prosaic marriage, which it finds hopelessly boring and middle-class. But in fact “to love in the sense of passion-love is the contrary of to live.” Marriage cannot be based on passion, because marital love and romantic love are as contradictory as prose and poetry."

Now, don't take this the wrong way - it's not saying that marriage should be without romance. The idea is that marriage and real, true love, is not that thing that Hollywood portrays in it's countless 'chick-flicks.' That feeling you get when you watch Pride and Prejudice - you know the one: where you're wishing Mr. Darcy would come sweep you off your feet... is not what real love is! I'll admit, I do love a good chick-flick. However, when it's all over I also find myself wishing my life was more exciting, or that my husband would be more like the impossible character portrayed in the the movie, when in reality I have the most wonderful, loving husband I could dream of.

In class we discussed three principles of a strong and happy marriage. Let me just say that I was surprised by them! I'm sure we've all heard countless "tips and tricks for a good marriage," and I'm sure a lot of them are really good, but these are so simple and so true that I just love them!

Principle #1: Build Friendship
How great is that?! Build friendship! It's so basic! :) John Gottman said, “The simple truth is that happy marriages are based on a deep friendship. By this I mean a mutual respect for and enjoyment of each other’s company…When she orders him a salad, she knows to ask for the dressing on the side. If she works late, he’ll tape her favorite TV show because he knows which one it is and when it’s on…Without such a love map, you can’t really know your spouse…”
One thing to remember though, is that a marriage is a process, not an event and to truly build a solid friendship and in turn, a lasting relationship, it takes a great deal of patience, selflessness, and generosity.

Principle #2: Share in the Housework of the Home
What wife out there doesn't love this one? :) All joking aside, marriages are strengthened every time husbands and wives value each other during the “grind of everyday life.” This doesn't mean splitting up everything exactly equally and then getting upset when he isn't pulling his weight." Instead, do things together! Do the dishes together, with one of you washing and the other drying and putting away, or go grocery shopping together! "Romance actually grows when couples are in a supermarket and the wife says, ‘Are we out of bleach?’ and the husband says, ‘I don’t know. Let me go get some just in case,’ instead of shrugging apathetically.”
Life is not the big events that are few and far between, but rather all of the little "mundane" things you do everyday. In all of your talk of grand hopes and dreams and plans, make a little time to talk (and re-talk) about groceries, dust, and runny noses.

Principle #3): Nurture sexual intimacy that fits our real, prosaic lives
This goes back to that first quote that I mentioned. The world has created a pervasive myth, that sexual intimacy must be a romantic escape from life. It must take us, and take place, outside our real lives into a place with unlimited time, energy, and novelty.
Really though, who wants sex to be a stage-like performance; the whole purpose of a special evening? I can't think of a single woman who wants to feel like they have to live up to the steamy portrayals of sex in the media, and if they don't there's something wrong with them... and I'm willing to bet that men are the same way.
Instead, marital intimacy should be "robustly domestic and household sexuality, embedded in and transformed by daily married life..." Or in other words, we should be putting the emphasis on sex as a loving experience that fits comfortably into our homes and into the temporal rhythms of our daily lives. We have to "reclaim" intimacy from the Hollywood culture and place it squarely back into the home, within the walls of ordinary time.
Marriage really is so wonderful. You could read reasons why marriage is good for you all day, but just being married isn't all there is to it. It takes work on both sides. But you know, I can't think of anything else to which I would rather dedicate my time.

"The power of permanent male-female love is one of the strongest forces in human kind’s experience. Marriage has remarkable power…Something unique to married love gives us motivation and strength, as our urge to lift the person we love helps us to face conflict and to overcome our own weakness….Every noble impulse, every unselfish expression of love, every brave suffering for the right; every surrender of self to something higher than self; every loyalty
There is some kind of paradox, something about finding ourselves by losing ourselves, in the way genuine married love demands everything of us—even as it simultaneously brings fulfillment."

Friday, March 19, 2010

Catch up...

Ok... so I guess it's about time that I update this blog. The question is, where do I start?

This semester is flying by and there's only about a month until finals! That means I'm this much closer to graduation (hopefully in August), but I'm not quite sure I'm ready for finals yet. So, other than school, homework and grading papers, here's a little bit of what we've been up to lately.

Wednesday night was super busy, with class until 6:30 and then watching "Glory" for my American Heritage class at 7:30, so I didn't have much time to make my traditional St. Patrick's Day dinner. I was a little bit disappointed, since I am pretty much in love with corned beef. However, Thursday worked perfectly and Ben cooked the Corned Beef in the crock pot and I pulled out my cookbook from Dublin and made the very best, authentic Soda Bread and Colcannon. Yum!

Since baking my birthday cake, Ben has sort of adopted the Carrot Cake and he made another one a couple weeks ago. It was delightful, and seeing these pictures is making me want another one.

Ben's really becoming a chef these days. Not only is he cooking more, he even created his own recipe for a barbecued beef... and it's really good. :) I guess that's just what happens when you marry someone who loves to cook as much as I do.

For these recipes, check out Cookie and Foodie, here and here.

On another note, Ben was in a pretty severe car accident about two weeks ago. He had a green light when a "16 year old redhead," as he puts it, failed to yield and turned left right in front of him. He turned into it at the last second and took the full force of the hit on the front left corner of the car. The car was totaled and he suffered 2nd degree burns on his hands as well as a messed up back and a small fracture on the edge of one of the vertebra in his neck. Thankfully, he's going to be fine. We were very lucky that the accident wasn't his fault and he was actually on the job when it happened and in a work van. That means that, if nothing else, Ben has paid leave from work as well as all of his medical expenses covered. Thank goodness!

This is approximately where the fracture is.

These are his burns, about a week after the accident. The left hand and wrist looked a lot worse and was all red (you can still kind of see the line) when it happened, but has healed quite well. I'll post some more pictures later to show how well it's healing.

Friday, January 22, 2010