Sunday, September 30, 2012

Spark

(Last 4th of July)

“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all - in which case, you fail by default.” 

~ J.K. Rowling

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Cerulean Jade Update: 09-29-2012


I took the above picture a couple weeks ago.  It's of the Payphone cover song Steven and I did, and I still find this hilarious.  666 views with 13 likes?  Crazy.

Our next cover song "Someone like you" from Adele is on track.  Steven's finished arranging the chorus and verses, and has the bridge left, which is super close.  Our goal is to record early next week, which means the song will be online by the end of the week, at the latest!!  We've decided the video is going to be super simple, as in I'm going to sing the song in one take with myself singing to the camera.  Good ol' non-complicated cover style.  The effect will be an emotionally raw video, which works well with the song . . . and the fact that it will help us get the song up sooner is a plus!

Steven and I have also discussed putting up the instrumental/karaoke videos of the songs we do.  So we'll soon be getting the instrumentals of our original song "Dream Maze," and cover songs "Payphone" and "Someone like you" up as well, so you can hear Steven's amazing arrangements :0)

More fun stuff in the works!  And our studio is soooooooooo close to finishing!!  Carpet in, electrical almost done, etc.  I can't wait to play with the green screen.

Sarah 

Friday, September 28, 2012

More Potter?


Maybe not, but in an interview by the London AP, J.K. Rowling is not closed to the idea of writing a story in the Harry Potter Universe.  She doesn't want to write more about Harry, stating she's finished his journey.  Personally I think it's a great idea, being a Harry Potter fan, and I love expanding creative universes (it's worked well for Marvel and D.C. after all.)  

"But ... if I did have a great idea for something else, I probably would do it. I am very averse to the prequel-sequel idea. A sidestep could maybe ... well, we'll see." J.K. Rowling said.  Talking about prequels, I would love a collection of short-stories centering around the Myriad Misadventures of the Mischievous Marauders; I'm sure there's a wealth of material that can be gleamed from Padfoot, Prongs, Moony, and Wormtail.  Personal wish.
 
This interview came per-release of Rowling's new book The Casual Vacancy which was released yesterday.  Have I read it?  No.  Will I?  Not anytime soon; I love my fiction steeped in fantasy, thank you very much.  And from the videos I've watched and reviews I've read about this new book, it's overwhelmingly adult in theme, language, material, etc, and for personal reasons I choose not to read such material.  Then there's the fact that the Kindle download is $17.99, which is disgustingly ridiculous.

The amazon reviewers, as of today, has given the book a 3 out of 5 stars, albeit true HP fans who haven't read The Casual Vacancy could have lowered the score out of spite.  Regardless, though I understand Rowling wanting to write what she wishes to write, I hope she returns to the magic we've all grown to love.        

Sarah

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Attack of the Flavor Grenade!!

(The Flavor Grenades my brother and sister brought over)

"Do you want a Flavor Grenade?" my brother asked me, 
setting a box on a the kitchen table.
"A what?"
"A Flavor Grenade," he simply repeated.
"Those things are actually called that?"

Even after my brother and sister left, nieces in tow, I thought they were making up the whole "flavor grenade" bit.  No fruit can actually be called that!  A short google search later proved that that was the literal name of the fruit. 

A Flavor Grenade is in the Pluot family of fruit, a cross hybrid of a plum and apricot.  I was surprised by the crisp, soft, yet firm, texture of the fruit, and the explosive flavor.  It's 10 thousand times better then a Grapple.   

You can buy the fruit trees off a couple of websites including Amazon and Nature Hills

Below is a farmer talking about the Fruit Grenade.  


I don't know where you can buy the fruit, but my brother and sister-in-law bought a box from the Shops at the Riverwoods farmers market last weekend.  Enjoy!

Sarah

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

K-Pop Invasion: Gangnam Style


Last night, on the way home from a class, I about died: On 103.9 FM (The Mix 107.9), a Utah radio station that plays adult pop/alternative favorites, I suddenly heard an Asian pop song.  At first I thought the song was called Gundam Style (if you know anything about Japanese culture, you'll know a little thing about the amazing giant mechas called Gundam . . . Gundam Wing, till this day, is my most favorite anime.)  And then it became a game of "what language is that?"  I'm addicted to J-pop (Japanese pop music), so that was out.  But halfway through the song he says "Korean," so that was a sure giveaway.
The name of the song is called Gangnam Style sung by K-pop (Korean Pop) artist PSY.  I've never heard this song before last night!  But Korean, on an American radio station, was being sung!  You know what a big deal this is?  Huge!

The music video (which is at the bottom of this post) has gone viral, and as I post this there are close to 284,000,000 hits.  Amazing.
I've been a fan of J-Pop/K-pop songs for years.  It's a J-pop song from the Escaflowne movie that gave me the desire to learn Japanese.  And a few years ago I started getting into K-pop after watching some Korean Drama's (which are very good, BTW.)
If you like this song, and want to hear some more Korean music, I recommend BoA's (Beat of Angel) album "Copy & Paste."  You can download this album off of iTunes along with many of her J-pop hits.  That album has some really cool beats, and "Implode" is such a sweet song.

Enjoy some Gangnam sytle!!

Okay, I have the station on right now, 12:43 PM, and the song is playing AGAIN!!!!!  Two times in less then 24 hours!!!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Chalk the Block Part 2


 Chalk the Block, at the Shops at Riverwood in Provo, was an incredibly fun festival celebrating street chalk art.  Here are some more great drawings.





 In case you ever wondered what a Hole to China looked like.





 This drawing made me wish Mary Poppins was real, so I could jump inside this world.





I had a great time and can't wait for the next chalk art festival.  Amazing.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Chalk the Block Part 1


Shops at the Riverwoods, located in Provo Utah, had their first Chalk Art festival named Chalk the Block this last week.

 Below is my Moms most favorite Chalk Art drawing.  It was done by artists Bailey and Rebecca who currently attend Timpanogos High School.  I wish them the best; they're both incredibly talented.




Some more amazing drawings.





 The Next piece is by featured artist Dawn Wagner.  She first got her start in Santa Barbara 24 years ago, and has since participated in about 80 chalk art festivals.


 The angle you view the piece affects the way it is seen.


Below is from another featured artist Rebecca Pletsch.


Amazing day!  Amazing works of art!  More pictures are coming tomorrow.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Look Up

(Rainbow after the last rainstorm.)
 
"A proud man is always looking down on things and people: and, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you. . ."

~ C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Friday, September 21, 2012

The Wisest Insect


So a couple days ago I was in the car with my Mom and brother Steven, who was sitting in the back seat.  He made a startled sound.  On his backpack was a large, tan colored praying mantis who had climbed up to let Steven know it was there.  My Mom rolled down the winder, and the mantis flew up, waiting for the window to be completely lowered.  Then it flew out of the window . . . where it hopefully wasn't squashed by a car.

How many times have you found a fly in your car buzzing every which way?  I have many times, and no matter how many of the windows are down, the fly magically manages to bounce off every surface, except where the window is down.  Fly's . . . Mantis, on the other hand, are a little more aware. 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

David McCullough at Utah Valley University


This week marked the opening of Utah Valley Universities Center for Constitutional Studies.  To celebrate the event UVU kicked off Constitution week with the guest speaker David McCullough


David McCullough is best known for his work on 1776 and John Adams, and he's a two time Pulitzer Prize winner, two time winner of the National Book Award, and has a Presidential Medal of Freedom.   

His talk was amazing.  He said we're raising a generation of spectators, which is true!  We spend our days on Facebook and watching television, watching others live while we sit back, listening to the sound of time whoosh by.  We need to get out and live!  Experience!  Learn!

And we need to remember how Human history is.  These are real people, living, making history in their present with no clue how things were going to work out.  When the Founders of the United States of America signed the Declaration of Independence, each one of them knew they were committing treason with England; As far as they knew, they were going to their death with this action.      

One thing I love about our founders is that each of them were lovers of knowledge and learning, many of them collecting books (it was Benjamin Franklin who invented the Library).  And they knew their history!  Classical history (much to our benefit).

And one final thought that McCullough said that I loved: "I don't know what I think until I write."   


I first developed my love of the Constitution through my Grandpa A.  He received his Juris Doctorate in Constitutional Studies.  He loved this country, deeply, and it's a love he's passed on to my family. 

Sarah

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Jargon to help you through Talk Like a Pirate Day


It's the tenth (10th!) anniversary of International Talk Like a Pirate Day

So what is talk like a pirate day?  September 19th is a day where you can get your Pirate on.

Somebody make you mad?
Tell them "It's to the gallows for you!"  or "I'll watch you hang."
Want to prevent someone from doing something?
Yell out "Avast!" (stop, hold on, wait.)
"Avast ye!  Don't ye be wearing that!"

Today you can call someone a rat, scallywag, or scum, and they might take it as a form of affection, or offer to duel you to the death.

And for fun you can even give someone the black spot.


 If you love all things Pirate I recommend The Pirate Primer by George Choundas.  It's a seriously awesome book filled with 469 pages of pirate commands, threats, oaths, retorts, parts of speech, grammar, etc.  And each page looks like old manuscript paper.  I own a hardback copy of the book, so I don't know if the pages in the paperback has the same detailing. 


There are also a lot of fun websites that get into Pirate lingo as well, and even a page that will translate a sentence into pirate speak if you need a little help (or have a few minutes to burn for amusements sake.) 


Here's luck and a fair wind to you,
Sarah

Monday, September 17, 2012

My Wild Escapades in French

(View of the Paris hotel from the Bellagio in Las Vegas)

"Sometimes we're so focused on where we're going
we forget how far we've come."
~ Sarah Stufflebeam

Yeah, I just quoted myself, and I'm sure someone else has said this too, but it's a thought and feeling that keeps running through my mind.  And this thought came to me after my wild escapades trying to learn French.

You see, Monsieur fran├žais et moi have never been on very good speaking terms.

Back in High School I took French for two years and didn't really learn much of the language, besides "ananas" meaning pineapple and the life history of my teacher.  Then at BYU, for my Bachelors of Arts: Music degree, I was required to take another two years in French.  This time I did learn something, but so overwhelmed I was in my music studies French suffered a little, and I managed a happy C- in both French 102 and 201.  I was really discouraged, overwhelmed, and terrified for the upcoming 202 class.

These fears didn't soften at all on the first day.  By 202 the professor speaks entirely in French (well, they really start you in on that in 101, but the vocabulary is so much richer), but that's not what startled me.  My fellow classmates were also speaking fluent French as well!  And I was still tripping over verb conjugations and tenses.  This went on for some time, with a couple other students freaked out like I was, until we realized all those other students were returned missionaries.  

Technically returned missionaries aren't supposed to take 202, but are supposed to start right in on the French 300 and above classes, but somehow many of them snuck into the class.  This didn't help my confedence any, but I did all the extra credit, and was studying between 2-4 hours a day, on top of my intense music training. Somehow I pulled an A- out of the hat after the final.  I earned it, but I was so discouraged by my fellow classmates, never managing to speak easily in the language, that I didn't feel I deserved this.

Of course after graduation I completely let French go, and have now forgotten most of it.  I still really want to be fluent!  So I've been going through my books and dictionaries, and I'm going to start at the basics and really learn this time.  Third times the charm!  But as I go through books, or hear a piece of French in a movie that I'm able to translate, I know it's still in my brain, and I realize how much I really did learn.  I was so busy comparing myself to others that I didn't realize how far I had come.  

And now, instead of focusing on becoming fluent, I'm going to have fun and rejoice over every little grammer fact and memorized vocab, because each step is a step towards my goal.  And going forward, albeit at a slow pace, is better then not moving at all. 

Sarah

Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Need for Fairy Tales

(Last Spring)

“If you want your children to be intelligent, 
read them fairy tales. 
If you want them to be more intelligent, 
read them more fairy tales.” 
 
~Albert Einstein 

Friday, September 14, 2012

The Amazing Frrrozen Hot Chocolate at Serendipity 3


When I watched the movie Serendipity (starring John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale) back in 2001, there was a scene when the two leads were at Serendipity 3 drinking the famous Frrrozen Hot Chocolate.  I wanted to try it!  Only problem was that the restaurant is located in New York.  Definitely a place I wont be able to visit in a long time, being a west coast girl and travel is expensive.

Then, on a stop in Las Vegas, I noticed that Caesars Palace had a Serendipity 3 sitting right in front!  Even then making time (when on a 13 hour drive) is hard to do, but this year I finally got to visit the restaurant and try the drink.        

Verdict?  Amazing.  It's a good thing I live so far away.  The Frrrozen Hot Chocolate is not a milkshake, but a blend of 20 exotic cocoas, ice, and milk.  The drink is a little pricey, but worth an occasional splurge.  Also, you can now buy the cocoa mix online at Amazon.  I've never tried the "make at home" version, but the reviews are positive, and I've even seen the drink made (with Serendipity 3 cocoa packets) on the Food Network.    

So worth the wait!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

101 Goals in 1001 Days, Take Two


Back in January my Sister-in-law Krista introduced me to the Day Zero website, where you aim to make 101 goals that you'll accomplish in 1001 days.  It's a 3 year bucket list.  Back then I spent several weeks planning out perfectly what my 101 goals should be.  I was meticulous, but overwhelmed, and not honest with myself with what I really wanted.  There was a problem of making some of the goals too big, like learn 500 Japanese Kanji.  So, in many ways, I didn't allow myself a chance for succuss.  I did complete 14 goals before giving up, so it wasn't all bad.

Recently I decided to reevaluate my list and start anew, and decided that my greatest chance for success was to keep many of my goals private, so that I can create a list more honest to what I need at this point in my life.  And I devised a way to keep myself on track.

This time around I typed out my goals into categories.  As I'm working on a goal I'll keep track of the details on regular lined paper, but as soon as I finish a goal, I'm going to type out a journal like entry about my experience, what I learned, and maybe include some pictures.  Even with all this I still may not be able to finish all the goals, but if that happens those goals will bump over to the next 1001 days, which will start June 2, 2015.

Some of the goals I'm working on:
Read 6 Young Adult/Young Reader book series
Read 100 Sci-fi/Fantasy Short-Stories
Learn Amigurumi
Learn Wire Art Jewelry
Compose an Original 8-bit Song
Learn to Edit Videos
Take a Cooking Class
Attend a New Exercise Class
Make a Visual Goal College
Have an Original Star Wars Marathon
Lean the JLPT N5 Kanji
Visit Another Country
Etc

This time around I'm going to have fun with this!  And learn a lot at the same time:0)

Sarah

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Remembering 9/11

(Photo Information)

It's always surreal when September 11th rolls around, because it feels like yesterday when we were honoring the 10th anniversary.  So many specials were on television last year, each showing the attacks (the Twin Towers/World Trade Center, Pentagon, and possible White House) from a different perspective.  There was a program that aired last year, two hours long, that took personal videos from those who experienced the event first hand and pieced it all together.  The result was a real time experience feeling a lot like the television series 24.  The show was eerie and brought back a lot of memories.

9/11 will go down in history in the same way the JFK assassination, Moon landing, and Pearl Harbor did.  For years people will be talking about "where they were" or "what they were doing" when they saw on television the towers get hit and then fall.  It's a unifying moment that everyone has a response to, and its still fresh on everyone's mind.  I was just on Facebook, and already many of my friends have posted "Never Forget" pictures and status updates of what they were doing that day.  11 years later we still remember and honor the fallen.

I will never forget.  I'll never forget getting ready for my three hour block of Institute of Religion classes at Utah Valley State College (now Utah Valley University), back when I was waiting for Utah residency status so I can attend college classes again.  It was about 7:45 am mountain time, and my Mom had just dropped my brothers off at school.  She came in screaming "Turn on the TV!  Turn on the TV!  We're under attack!"  Emotions poured through me, a mixture of disbelief and fear.       

The TV went on, and the two towers were on the screen, smoking and still standing.  Replays of the planes flying into the buildings on repeat.  And then, suddenly, the South Tower fell, and my Mom, Dad and I just stood there in disbelief, tears streaming down my face.  In between all this were reports that the Pentagon was hit earlier, and that a plane went down in Pennsylvania.  It was later discovered that the 4th plane, United 93, was filled with brave men and women who found out about the Twin Towers and Pentagon by family members, and they united to fight against the hijackers.  The target of 93 is assumed to have been either the US Capital Building or White House.  Around 8:30 my time the North Tower fell.  

Shortly after I was in the Institute building, and it was a surreal three hours.  Passing from class to class I saw that all the Instructors TV's were turned to the attack. And before each class the TV was focusing on the tragedy.  I remember walking around, feeling the moment as I watched each TV as I passed.  It was quiet and somber.  

But still, being that I was attending three religion classes, each class began first with a reading of the scriptures: Last day stuff, passages of hope and peace, what those in the Book of Mormon experienced, etc. I wish I could remember the scriptures, somewhere I have them written down, but what I do remember is the peace I felt, and that peace stayed with me throughout day.  

I will never forget 9/11 nor the brave men and women who became heroes.  

Sarah           

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Words: Movie Review


Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

The Words attempts to be Inception for book lovers.  Attempt being the operative word.

Clay Hammond (Dennis Quaid) is a successful novelist, and while on a whirlwind book tour he finds himself in New York where he manages to read out loud 2/3rds of his book.  Technically that would have taken quite a long time, but I deviate.  In the middle of his reading Daniella (Olivia Wilde) sits and listens amongst the large crowd.

The Story Hammond tells follows Rory (Bradley Cooper) and Dora (Zoe Saldana).  Rory is a struggling writer, and during a honeymoon in Paris Dora buys him a worn out briefcase.  He's pleased with the gift, but it isn't until he's at home and going through the pockets of the briefcase that he discovers a manuscript.

This manuscript that Rory reads, typed out on yellowing paper, is the story of a young man living in Paris during WWII.  Instead of wondering who wrote the story, Rory is transfixed by the masterful writing, overwhelmed with the need to feel the words through his fingers as he types them, word for word, into a word processor.  One thing leads to another and "The Window Tears" is a runaway success.  What Rory doesn't realize is that this novel is the autobiographical story of "the old man" (Jeremy Irons).

The Words is a story within a story within a story, and we get the chance to see each of these plot lines play out.

The problem with this movie is the way each of these plot lines are developed and balanced.  I was least interested in Hammond's storyline and found myself wanting to watch the other two parts.  And I wish more was shown of "The Window Tears."  That part was enchanting and interesting, but was skimmed over.

Without giving anything away, the ending is a little abrupt if you don't reason how the three stories are connected, leaving a somewhat empty feeling when the credits roll.  But unlike Inception you wont spend months theorizing and arguing over the endings meaning.

I did enjoy many elements of the movie, and I could see it again in the future, but not immediately.

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for brief strong language, smoking . . . and a whooooooole lot of kissing.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Hypothetical Ancestors

(Image I found on ancestry.com)

Last Summer I became obsessed with Ancestry.com.  The show "Who Do You Think You Are" helped with that, because I wanted to find historical stories that my family's connected to.  So on the Internet I went, and a few months later I came up for air.

During that time I found a lot of ancestors, but the further back I got, the more questions would pop up.  The problem? I was pulling from the research of other people, and the more people who are involved, and the more research being done, the more opportunity there is for disagreement and misinformation.  Now and then I would look at census records, but I was more concerned with how far back I could get without a thought of proving any of those names, or whether parents and great-grandparents of any name I was looking into were even right.  How many John Smiths are there?  And how do you know if that John Smith belongs to you or not?

So in the end I've managed to find a bunch of ancestors, 697 of them, complete with stories and pictures, that I may or may not actually be connected to.  But the problem is emotional investment!  There are individuals currently sitting happily on my tree that I've grown to love, and I don't want to push them off only to be replaced.

These particular individuals I lovingly call Hypothetical Ancestors.  I'm hypothetically related to them until further research is done to clarify or disprove the fact.

One such individual is a man by the name of James Patrick (1730 Virginia -1835 Kentucky).  Just looking at those dates makes you want to scratch your head.  Hypothetically I come into his line through his hypothetical grand-daughter Mary Polly Patrick who married a Richard H. Stufflebeam, and her father was a Hugh Patrick.  Tracing a Stufflebeam line isn't terribly hard. How many Stufflebeam's do you know?  I had to prove to google that Stufflebeam was a real surname!  They didn't believe me at first.  The problem comes from the way census records were kept in the 1700's and 1800's.  Head of households were mentioned, but the names of those living with the head of house, plus relationships were left out.  That makes tracking difficult.  So there is much debate on whether Mary, Hugh, and James are Grand-Daughter, Son, and Father/Grandfather.

Why do I even care?  Because James Patrick was heavily involved in the Revolutionary War, and claims in his pensions that he knew President George Washington long before the Rev. War, having fought with him in Braddock's Defeat near Fort Duquesne, and he served as one of Washington's scouts during the French and Indian War.  Then during the Revolution James was in and out of the war, constantly reenlisting, First joining March 2, 1776, and the last time February 12, 1781, with many enlistments in between.  It would be cool if I could call him my 5th Great-Grandfather, but I don't think I'll ever find the proof to do so. 

I can just hear all the true genealogist moaning out there!  Oh the sloppiness of my research!  It has been sloppy, and now I must start back with myself and question everything.    

Sarah

Research done on Ancestry.com
and Pension Record found on Fold3.com