Thursday, February 24, 2011

Haunted Town

On this season's premiere of Ghost Hunters, my very own hometown of Alexandria, LA was the focus! It's been fun to watch and see all the video footage of local landmarks. These places I've been to and have grown up seeing throughout my childhood and into young adulthood. The stories are not that unfamiliar to me, but it's fun to relive little bits of my past and be reminded of my hometown's history, albeit paranormal. :)

One of the locations featured is the Hotel Bentley, a super old hotel that my dad used to take me and my brother to in the summers for lunch and just to hang out in its grand entryway.
Right across the street is Finnegan's Wake, a local pub, also claimed to be a haunted place. Then just down the block, there is a restaurant called Diamond Grill, which used to be Schnack's Fine Jewlery. I remember when it was renovated just a few years ago. I would walk right past it almost every day in my junior and senior years of high school on the way to my afterschool job in the law office where my mother also worked. (The office is right next door to the restaurant).

I've heard a few "ghost stories" here and there but actually never anything about the local pub. Even though I never watch the show and don't necessarily believe all the things they apparently hear, feel, and see; I still enjoy watching this episode about my hometown. Brings a little bit of the South back into my life here in Utah. Love it.

If you want to watch the episode, here's the link to the episode page. If you don't want to watch it, don't even worry, I won't mind. Just something fun to share with all of you!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Pollock with Avocado Relish

Made this yummy dinner last night! Michael and I try to include fish once a week into our diets, because it's really so good for us. Michael said he thought this wasn't going to be enough food for us, but as we finished our portions, we were pleasantly full. That just goes to show you that when you eat healthier and better foods for you, you become full faster than when eating junk.

Found the recipe in my REAL SIMPLE magazine, as well as the picture. Now, we didn't make the carrot purée as the recipe called for, instead we just roasted some carrots in the oven with a little olive oil and rosemary. They were très delish!

All in all, Michael liked the meal and it's going into our normal rotation. Success!
For the recipe, click here.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Quote of the Day

“Aren’t we rather prone to see the limitations and the weaknesses of our neighbors? Yet that is contrary to the teachings of the gospel of Jesus Christ. There is a class of people who find fault and criticize always in a destructive way. There is a difference in criticism. If we can criticize constructively under the influence of the Spirit of the Lord, we may change beneficially and properly some of the things that are being done. But if we have the spirit of faultfinding, of pointing out the weaknesses and failings of others in a destructive manner, that never comes as the result of the companionship of the Spirit of our Heavenly Father and is always harmful.”
-Elder George Albert Smith

This really made me think. It definitely speaks to me and my spirit as of right now. There is always something I need to be working toward, and reducing my negative thoughts toward others is my thought and goal for today. I love how he describes the differences in criticism, one being under the influence of the Spirit, and another which is destructive. I always want to govern my actions and responses to ill-fated events in my life by the counsel of my Heavenly Father. Reminds me of the classic counsel, "think before you speak". Although I think in some cases we should "PRAY before we speak". Never hurts to have the Lord on our side when tackling less than pleasant circumstances!

And here's a little addendum to the above quote, by a modern educator and author:

"If criticism is mistaken or mean-spirited, rise above it. Maintain the high ground when you're under fire. No victory is worth winning at the expense of picking up the mud that has been slung at you and throwing it back."
-Rubel Shelly

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Jar of Hearts

Basically all I can say is WOW.

I'm pumped. I'm on a high. I never thought I could feel this fulfilled after a music therapy session at Avalon.

I can barely even form all my thoughts and feelings into words right now, but I'm going to try. So, please bear with me.

The amazing Shaundra and I facilitated a session together this afternoon and it went so well! As Letha put it when we sat down for our de-briefing..."I have nothing to say. I couldn't...nobody could have done that session as well as the two of you did!" Booya! Letha also said she has never seen the staff react the way they did. They actually said to Letha, "Those two are GOOD! They made music therapeutic in a way we've never seen before!" (Fists pumping in the air)

I won't go into huge details about the session, but let's just say that we listened to what our clients wanted and had requested and then we created the therapeutic experience around that. Jar of Hearts by Christina Perri was our inspiration for the session, perfect theme for Valentine's Week. The girls opened up and talked alot about their eating disorders (now I'm not afraid to actually talk specifically about it with them). We then empowered them with their own Jar of Hearts that represented what they have to fight for, why they are on this journey to conquering their disorder. It was so cathartic.

Oh, and we had so much fun doing a hot-potato like game with the jar to Michael Jackson's "Beat It!". When the music stopped each girl had to share what she was going to do today to "beat" her challenge/eating disorder. The girls cheered, clapped, and were so pumped! They supported each other in a way I've never seen before. Wow....Wow....WOW.

It was real, it was amazing, and I can't believe I'm saying this, but I'm actually looking forward to the next 8 weeks of sessions. If we can accomplish such great things so early in therapy, then think of the possibilities for the rest of the semester! (Letha said that, not me.) It's so true!

It's legit. I love it.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

La vie en rose

Here's a little French-y love music that helps me get in the mood for Valentine's Day.

Paris is the City of Love, is it not?

What better way to spark that imagination and get those creative juices flowing for the Day of Lovers?

I know that we LOVE Valentine's Day around here. It helps me and Michael to remember to take that extra time to make things just a bit more special than the ordinary day. One must make time for those one loves. And this is the perfect opportunity!

Do you have any traditions or anything special planned for Valentine's Day this year?

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Lofthouse Cookies

I finally baked a homemade version of Lofthouse cookies! You know what I'm talking about right? Those amazing, almost doughy, super soft cookies you get in the grocery store...they are so addictive.

Making them from scratch does make me feel better about their calorie content and such because I really can control exactly what goes in them. Like low-far sour cream instead of regular... By the way, who knew that sour cream was the ticket?

These are seriously so good. I made them for Young Women's tonight because the girls were heart-attacking a couple less active young women and needed cookies. I humbly volunteered. Now I had an excuse to make them and then lots of people to shell them out to so I wasn't tempted to eat the entire plate by myself. Which would not have been a good idea. ;)

Anyway, here is the recipe for both the cookies and the icing I used. Very simple, you can't screw this up. Word to the wise though, when they say generously flour your surface for rolling, be generous! I'm pretty sure I threw at least another cup into the recipe because the dough is so sticky.

Lofthouse Cookies
1 stick butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, plus 1 yolk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup sour cream
3 cups flour, plus extra for desired consistency and rolling

  1. Cream together butter and sugar.
  2. Beat in eggs, sour cream, and vanilla.
  3. Mix baking soda, baking powder, and 3 cups flour in separate bowl. Combine dry ingredient mixture with wet ingredients.
  4. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  5. Preheat oven to 425 F. Roll out dough on generously floured surface to 1/4 inch thick.
  6. Cut out shapes (I used hearts!) and bake on ungreased cookie sheet for 8 minutes.
  7. Cool on wire rack. When completely cool, frost and decorate as desired.

Lofthouse Cookie Icing

4 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup shortening
5 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
food coloring (optional)

  1. In a large bowl, cream together the confectioners' sugar and shortening until smooth.
  2. Gradually mix in the milk and vanilla with an electric mixer until smooth and stiff, about 5 minutes.
  3. Color with food coloring if desired.
Another little tidbit of advice for the icing, you may want to halve the recipe because this makes ALOT. That's what I did and I had a nice little coating on each cookie. Plenty, but not too much so as to send one into a sugar coma. ;)

Monday, February 07, 2011

Love or Hate...

One of the great things about living in Cache Valley is that we are only 20 minutes away from the Pepperidge Farm thrift store which is attached to the manufacturing plant in Richmond, UT.

This is great because we get HUGE bags of goldfish for super cheap, not to mention all sorts of other Pepperidge Farm goodies for low prices as well. It's pretty much amazing.

This is bad, because Michael went with our friend, Hunter, a few weeks ago to the thrift store and bought 3 LARGE bags of goldfish. (They were having a "buy 2 get 1 free" sale) My body does not like me eating all of those goldfish, especially when I'm trying to be healthier.

But it's hard to resist, they are just too good. So it's a love-hate relationship thing we have going.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Okay, therapy time.

I'm learning so much about myself and my views on being a therapist are changing, so I need to write it down. Why not here? Some of you may not be interested or may not even understand what I'm going through or talking about, so I applaud you if you make it through this entire post. :)

First off, even though it has only been two weeks that I've been doing sessions at Avalon, I have realized, more than ever that I love geriatrics. That is for sure the place I want to go for my internship and the population I want to work with as a music therapist. I know I've said this before and I probably sound like a broken record, but it's so true. Not that I'm not learning so much from the girls at Avalon already, but geriatrics is where I want and NEED to be in the long term.

Second, I need therapy. I know how insane that sounds (a therapist needing therapy) and I'm chuckling just writing about it. But I now understand what Maureen (our department director) meant when she said that you need to do your own work while you're working with clients. You deal with so much from each client, hearing their stories and their struggles and it can really take a toll on you as a therapist if you do not have proper means in which to process it. So, meeting with a therapist would be a great way for me to process what I help my clients process.

Third, my views of the client-therapist relationship have been a bit skewed. While there are supposed to be boundaries between the client and therapist and lines that are not crossed, that does not translate into me being "rigid". I must be "authentic" and totally "me" when I am interacting with my clients. Showing my true self to my clients allows them to more fully trust me. It's how I build rapport with them. I used to have this vision of what a therapist is supposed to be...practically perfect in every way. What I forgot to remember is the "practically" part. Too much focus on the "perfect" is so not correct or even healthy for me or my clients. I'm so not even perfect and I will never be that way. I'm striving towards perfection and that is what's important. (Sound familiar? Relating to the gospel?) That brings me to my last realization...

Music Therapy is like the gospel. Every person is searching for something greater and higher in their lives, at least those that are in therapy. It is my responsibility to lead them to it. Now, that something may not be the gospel of Jesus Christ, but it is something just as important. Call it what you will, but I feel like being a therapist is a way to bring people closer to Christ, it just may be labeled as something else. I don't have to be afraid of associating the two together anymore. Now, there are boundaries involving religion and the therapeutic process and I can't and should never force my belief system on any of my clients, but in my own way I can help them come closer to finding that higher and greater power that fuels their lives. I can help them reach that cathartic moment when it all makes sense and change occurs. There is a reason for the Spiritual Domain being a part of assessment and treatment plans. Many times, it can and will fuel how, when, and where the client will lead the sessions. Absolutely beautiful I tell ya.

There it is. Thanks for listening folks.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Valentine Hearts Garland

I have seen Valentine Garland like this popping up all over this year. I'm dying to make this for our home. Seeing as I have a new sewing machine, this is a perfect excuse to put it to good use! I'm sure I'll change it up a bit based on personal preference, but generally it's adorable.

I love decorating our home for the holidays. It just makes everything so much more special.

I also have some great things planned for the actually event of Valentine's Day this year. But, I won't be able to share them until after the fact! Don't want Michael to see and then the big surprise will be given away! Just know that they are great.

Apparently he also has something fun and exciting planned, but I also have NO CLUE as to what he has up his sleeve. Knowing him, it'll be sweet, creative, and will probably knock my socks off. He's so good at surprises. Love that boy. He makes my life so much fun!