november 2016

we like to play a little game every day called, “there are x days until we are getting married, and this is what we were doing x days ago!” guys. those “this is what we were doing x days ago” things used to be a glimmer in the past, but now they are days that happened in november! and that means i am really behind!

anyway, without further ado. NOVEMBER! aka, …still engaged. feeling like we might be engaged forever.

lots of fun things happened this month. we joined a gym (lol). we go to planet fitness and gym-timidate everyone there, especially when we coordinate our outfits. i got my engagement ring, which i am pretty obsessed with, so good job, tyler. wow that was a lot of commas. tyler had my ring custom made off a photo he found on one of my pinterest boards i showed him one time during the summer. he is the best. it is perfect. for thanksgiving we went to santa barbara to see tyler’s family and take our engagement photos. it was really fun to be somewhere warm again, and santa barbara is a great place. we hiked and went to the beach, heck, i even came home with a new car. we came back to utah with the harsh reality of snow and work and real life… but had fun nonetheless.

wait there’s MORE.

here’s a bunch of november-y photos. my phone is full of photos that need a place to live besides my icloud. Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preseti don’t always go to church… but when i do the carpet matches my outfit.Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetwashington, dc temple. not too shabby! IMG_0036if you’re a male and you want women to hang on your every word, move to dc. good work, tyler. Processed with VSCOcam with b5 presetfirst annual fakesgivingProcessed with VSCOcam with c1 presetwelcome to our mini-kitchen. yes, this is it.Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetwelcome to our mini-oven. used to want an easy bake oven as a child…. never thought i’d get the chance as a 23 year old woman. all i have to say is, “be careful what you wish for”Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetfakesgiving would not be complete without a tofurkey!  Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetour spread. not too bad for a bunch of people with mini kitchens! i made sweet potatoes. (i also ate about all of them)Processed with VSCOcam with b1 presetthey were real happy with my self timer desires. i like this picture for andrea’s death glare and tyler’s and eliza’s profilesIMG_0026logan circle is my favorite part of my bike ride to work and school.IMG_3508my other favorite part? passing all the cars in traffic.IMG_3507brookland bridge (lol)

IMG_3500if you were wondering, this is what the metro looks like at 6:55 am.

Processed with VSCOcam with m5 presetbike feetIMG_3486work feetIMG_3485daylight savings really puts a cramp in my style but i do live for the golden hourProcessed with VSCOcam with g3 preseta perfect photographic representation of my state of mind this whole semester. “who am i?” “what am i doing here?” “why am i wearing a bike helmet in the middle of this grocery store and eating chips from the bag?”Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetbest sandwich ever at taylor gourmet. cauliflower and pesto with arugula and white bean hummus, i will be back for YOU! IMG_3600the first snow as seen from my cave six feet below the earth. now you know why we call it the bombshell-ter! IMG_3605more first snow/slushIMG_3612folks! this was november! there’s more coming at you december-wise. stay put.


hi welcome.

i lived my thanksgiving dream this year of doing things are completely atypical of the day. my roommate and i started the day off with a trip to anapolis, then scrapped the idea completely when we couldn’t find any good restaurants open. instead, we headed to the ethiopian place down the street, zenebech, if you were wondering, and feasted. it might not have been turkey and mashed potatoes, but the food coma was the same.


this year i have a lot to be thankful for, mostly things that haven’t really been on my list in years prior that come with my new life; things like catching the metro at the precise moment it arrives, miraculously fitting all my groceries into my backpack, not having my bike stolen, countless good restaurants that have become my very favorites, rats staying on the street and out of my apartment, trader joe’s frozen meals, roommates and friends who are more like family, group text for keeping my far away family a little closer, and having the conclusion of my first semester of nursing school on the horizon. #BLESSED

the year without a turkey.

i’ve always dreamed of making my very own vegetarian thanksgiving dinner. NO turkey, NO bacon grease, and NO “cream of” soups allowed! well, yesterday it happened. initially i was going to just make a pumpkin pie because, well, it is just something i believe in. but then after i’d decided to go that far, my mind started wandering to other wonderful dishes, and well, the rest is history.yesterday morning was dedicated to sheer food preparation,  chopping vegetables,and using pilar’s crazy mixing machine to craft quite the meal of shepherd’s pie, sweet potato soufflebrussel sprout & apple salad (said no to tofu), ginger pumpkin pie, and pumpkin cookies. it was by no means traditional, but seeing as there was no precedent, i took full advantage of my thanksgiving virgins and just ran with it!

as i was putting the last item into the tiny toaster oven (yes, let it be known that i used a toaster oven to cook thanksgiving dinner), pilar came into the kitchen proclaiming, “que bien huele!!”. she grabbed a pretty tablecloth, and dusted off the christmas china. we all sat down, i explained my dishes, and then i taught the family how to eat “potlluck style” and actually put more than one food item on their plate at a time. i made fernando turn down the volume so i could pray, then we dug in and didn’t look back.

i told them the only requirement for thanksgiving dinner is to stuff you’re face until you can’t eat anymore. just that happened. but between bites i was definitely nervously stealing glances at everybody to try to read minds because  cooking for people is nerve wracking. i love it, i hate it, but ah, it was worth it.

tonight we pulled out the leftovers for second dinner.

“quieres saber lo que pienso de tu comida?” “wanna know what i think of your cooking?” fernando asked me, as he dove in.

“NUMBER ONE!” he exclaimed, in english.

and that is all i needed. thanksgiving 2012, consider yourself down in history!

to family and friends, i hope you have a good one! (& please don’t get black friday trampled!)

some spanish thankfuls

well feliz día de la acción de dar gracias! it is sort of strange being in a place that doesn’t celebrate one of my favorite days of the year, but actually kind of exciting because for once i am the one who gets to teach everybody about my traditions.  to make today as authentic as possible i’m taking command of the kitchen and yes, i do plan on streaming the macy’s thanksgiving day parade, thanks for asking!

so a little side story before i jump right into my list. there is this store in alcalá called “taste of america”. it is full of american novelty items, and all the spaniards like to go visit “tah-stay” to look around like it is a foreign museum, then buy overpriced milano cookies. it’s great…. (but if america just tastes like froot loops, poptarts, and easy cheez…. well, i’m embarrassed.)

pilar has been telling me for the last two months that she wanted me to go with her to the store so i could tell her what was good to buy. yesterday we made our way over to buy some canned pumpkin so i could make that foreign thanksgiving meal. as we walked through the store, pilar marveled over everything as i tried to explain maple syrup, bagels, cream of mushroom soup, and canned fruit filling to her.

as we shopped, i sensed the owner following us around (his american sense tingling, i’m sure)… probably hating me as i bashed his selection and prices. (a bag of chocolate chips for 6 euros? that’s like 8 usd! get outta town!)

we managed to make it out with four cans of pumpkins (pilar REALLY likes those magical pumpkin cookies i made), curry powder, ground ginger, milano cookies, and frozen bagels (which she just can’t quite figure out how to prepare…).

as we were checking out, the owner came right up to me carrying a box labelled THANKSGIVING DAY, and tried to sell me an all inclusive thanksgiving dinner complete with a turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and gravy. i just smiled and told him that we didn’t need enough food for eight people- there were only three of us! but really in my mind i wanted to say, “no thanks, dude- i don’t want your freeze dried turkey, granulated potatoes, and powdered gravy. and no, we don’t want to save it for christmas, either.”

ANYWAY that was a major tangent! what i’m trying to say is that i love thanksgiving, and i’m especially grateful this time of year for a some really great things. so here’s my thankful list: spain edition.

1. i am thankful for public transportation. sure the waiting sucks, but i wish it was a thing world-over. being able to just jump on t

he bus, the train, or the metro to get places and not have to worry about parking, losing keys, buying gas… it is awesome.

2. i am thankful for a host family who cater to my every want. fernando and pilar. i can’t even begin to talk about how great they are! pilar is always coming up with some new vegetarian thing for me to eat, fernando is always scolding me for eating to fast, then  then telling some saying or joke that i only half understand (but laugh anyway). they love teaching me about spain, learning new things about america, and buy me anything i want. it is like being an only child, and i am spoiled. (but then again… i did pay them over two grand to do so… ha!) i will be really sad to leave them when the time comes (pilar just tells me not to think about it).

3. i am thankful for my church and the youth program. it is the same the world over, and for this i am thankful. i am so thankful for the institute program, the youth program, and people who serve in callings to teach and put up with this random american girl who comes to class every week. i’m so grateful for all the cool kids i’ve met, and they’re friendly, even when i can’t figure out how to draw a mousepad during pictionary (we won anyway! i’m a good luck charm, ya see).

4. i am thankful for pilar’s expert laundry skills. she washes my laundry every few days, then folds it meticulously. it is like a work of art- i mean, i don’t even want to wear it it’s so pretty! not only that, but she sews up holes in my leggings and changes my sheets all the time… the lady knows what is up.

5. i am thankful that my brain can understand this language. sometimes it is really hard and a lot of times i mess up royally, but overall people understand me and i understand them. we can joke together. i can explain myself. i can curse when i can’t figure out anything else to say. it is great.

6. i am thankful to be able to hang out with my best friend in spain. seriously though. having no one who really gets you and understands your american jokes would be tough! spain wouldn’t be fun without diana. i mean, who can say they went all over europe with their best friend? not many…

7. i am thankful for the opportunity to travel. i look at myself near every day and think, “alyssa you are dang lucky to have this opportunity!” being able to live in a foreign country, do what i want, study what i want, and live this culture… there are not many people that get to do this, and even less that get to do so twice!

8. i am thankful for parks to run in and vases i can use as kettlebells. so not having a gym membership here makes for some really interesting workouts… so for that i am thankful for the bountiful parks and places to run here in spain, as well as the falling leaves and beautiful fall weather. also, i owe my life to body weight workouts, burpees, and pilar’s vases, which i like to swing as kettlebells when she isn’t home. (and my biggest fear is that one day she’ll walk in and see me doing so. i mean, i don’t think i could even find the words to explain myself in english!)

9. i am thankful for my iphone. seriously, i don’t know how i could live without this thing. the other day at church we were doing some activity where everyone shouted what things you’d want on a desert island. people shouted out things like: books! a compass! a telephone! music! friends! i just wanted to shout out IPHONE! because, really that little contraption has everything. heck, right now it doesn’t even have any service, but the fact that i can use it to read my books, to listen to my podcasts, communicate with my family at home via facetime, chat with friends via imessage… i love technology.

10. i am thankful for my american citizenship. so…in my humble opinion, the national government here is a joke. a joke! there! i said it! watching the news every day and seeing the dysfunctional leaders and unrest really just makes me happy that i come from a place with some degree of stability. i’m thankful to come from a country that tries to help others and serve as a model of freedom. say what you want about our president, but everyone here thinks he is great and envies our ability to run a democracy. i am often told that things would be better if “presidente obama” would come over and govern for a little bit. ha. but really.