Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Witches Night Out at Gardner Village


 Happy Halloween!

I heard years ago how much fun Witches night is at Gardner Village in West Jordan Utah.  I thought it was going to be some small thing, but I was curious, so my sister-in-law Kirsta and I thought a girls night out would be a lot of fun.



 It was so much fun!  And big!  I couldn't believe how many people were there.  Everyone was dressed up, or at least had witches hats; some hats were decorated in the most elaborate, wonderful ways.  My favorite were these three older women dressed up as the three Sleeping Beauty fairies.  That was cool. 

The evening was like spending a night at Hogsmeade!


 Then we wandered into the Christmas Celebrate store and I saw this.


Now I'm ready for Christmas . . . minus the snow.  Okay, one day I'm going to buy this set.  I love the peanuts!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Save the Christa McAuliffe Space Center


What is the Christa McAuliffe Space Center?  It's an amazing program in Utah that teaches leadership, teamwork, creativity, imagination, and problem-solving by immersing students in space-ship simulations a la Star Trek style.  The center is located on the Pleasant Grove Central Elementary School campus where Mr. Williamson literally turned classrooms into a first-class space experience.

Unfortunately the Alpine School District has closed the center, because of safety concerns, but at least 2 of the 5 ships are safe: the Magellan and Galileo.  But the school district has chosen to close the entire center.

I didn't grow up in Utah (moving here when I was 19), but I did grow up on Star Trek, and would have loved a place like this to visit (never imagining that such a place excisted, let alone in Utah.)

A few years ago my Mom worked as a substitute teacher, and she was subbing at Central Elementary school in PG.  She came home all excited, eager to tell my brothers and I about the space center.  She got a personal tour and explained how the rooms were converted to look like the inside of space-ships.  I kinda laughed inwardly a little, because nothing could be as cool as my Mom explained.

I was a BYU student at the time working a full-time job, but for fun I did the preliminary volunteer requirement where I helped with each of the 5 ship similators, either on the computer, on the ship phone, or going into the ship and pretending to be an alien (once I got to try and take over a ship which was pretty Epic.)  I completed the first stage and was ready to become a full-time volunteer, but school and work was too demanding.  But I did fall in love with the place.  The ships were as Epic as my Mom described!  Personally, Voyager is just awesome.

Then a couple years ago I went with a group of friends to do a two-hour mission.  It was fun actually being in a mission instead of working behind-the-scenes.  Quite a different experience, and all of a sudden I could see how positive and amazing the center would be for kids.

I was working communications, calling the different decks to get information, calling out for help, to talk to someone who just recieved an airborn illness via food, help evacuate levels, etc.  Meanwhile our captain, first in command, security, etc, were performing their jobs helping evacuate a civilization threatened with extinction and relocate them to another planet.  The whole experience was complete with lights, sounds, music, and great volunteers using fun accents to make the whole thing feel real.  And it did feel real.  For those two hours I was a kid again, transported in space.

There are so many stories I've been reading on how the Space Center, which has been openned for 22 years, has positively influenced and changed the lives of hundreds of kids for the better.  Some have engenerring/computer/mechanical jobs thanks to their experiences.

Below is a video by Kristi Bradford who actually became a NASA Student Ambassador:


There is a Facebook page you can join to help in the fight: https://www.facebook.com/SaveTheSpaceCenter They need "likes"!  And they need us to spread the message of how great this center is, and how it should be saved and continued.  All's not over yet.

Below is a fantastic documentary following a group of students as they embark on a mission.  I dare you to watch and not be impressed.


Here's a good article from the Salt Lake Tribune: http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/news/55144332-78/center-space-district-bromley.html.csp?page=1

Hopefully something will be done, and the school district will realize the good this center brings.  In an age where learning is now geared towards tests and root memorization, we need to save learning that teaches a love for the sciences, cooperation, ingenuity, and working-together.

"Imagination is more important than knowledge.  For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand."

~ Albert Einstein

Please help us save the Christa McAuliffe Space Education Center.
____________

Edit: 10-30-2012.  A friend just sent me a link to an article named "ASD Will Continue Space Center Program."  It's promising, but it seems all's not sure.  I'm definitely going to stay on top on the progress of the new facility, hoping it will pull through, and not get canned due to expenses.     

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Studio is Finished!!


 Finally, after a few months, the studio is now finished.  There are still some details and little things that needs to be done, but our studio is finally at a stage where we can start working in it.

The last major step was applying acoustical foam squares, which we got from next acoustics, to the wall; It helps dampen the sound, creating what is called dead sound (the most desirable when recording.) 


 My brother Steven and Dad trying to match up the squares.  You're supposed to be able to arrange them so that the pattern is continuous.


 Above is my attempt.  I couldn't figure out the puzzle.


 So instead of stressing over lining up the acoustic squares right, we took the easy route: putting a nice amount of space between each one.  It still works, and the acoustic squares has greatly reduced the echo.


I'm so excited!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Cerulean Jade Update 10-23-2012

(An old picture of Steven working on Dream Maze)

I hope everyone has had a chance to hear Steven and my cover song "Someone Like You" on Youtube; we're so close to getting 200 views.  I can't remember how fast it took "Payphone" to hit that mark, but Payphone is inching closer to 1,000.  That's exciting!

We've decided that our next major song is going to be original, complete with a snazzy music video.  We're hoping to have two original songs out by the end of the year.  The first, an Electric Pop style song, is a definite.  The second is a more jazz/pop like song I wrote a little while back that just happens to be my Grandma's favorite song I've written.  The second is going to be interesting, because even though there's a jazz influence, we're going to have the base of the arrangement be the guitalele/ukalele.  Thing is, these are new instruments to the both of us!  So I'm working through the chords now.

And to help me get comfortable with the guitalele I'm doing a Jason Mraz cover song to "Living in the Moment."  I picked that song for two reasons: one, it helps me learn the instrument, and two, the lyrics are helping me stay focused!  It's a great song.

Also, Steven, Robbie (my brother who just got home from his mission), and I are going to start a movie review web series!  We're all obsessed with going to, and then analyzing, movies.  My brother Robbie is getting his degree in Digital Media: T.V. and Film from UVU.  Steven got his degree in Digital Media: Gaming and Animation.  So movies are something we're all passionate about.  It's going to be a lot of fun.  

Sarah

Monday, October 22, 2012

One Moment at a Time

(Picture taken Winter of 2012)

I can't take credit for what is found below.  This popped up on Facebook one day, and I loved it so much I wish to share it here as well.  It's my new motto.  Something to wake up to and take note of.  So much to do in so little time!  The only way to get through life is by taking it one moment at a time.

My To-Do List For Today

* Count My Blessings
* Practice Kindness
* Let Go of What I Can't Control
* Listen to My Heart
* Be Productive Yet Calm
* Just Breathe

I find the third one the hardest to follow.  It's hard accepting what can and can't be controlled, and then being okay with it.  And "Be productive yet calm" is great too.

Have an awesome day!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Sunshine

(On the way home from the Airport)

"Those who bring sunshine into the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves."

~ James M. Barrie

(In honor of Captain Hook making his first appearance on Once Upon a Time, the best show on T.V., I found a quote from the Peter Pan creator himself.)

Friday, October 19, 2012

Stratos Jump Lego Style

(Image info, above the clouds)

History was made this last week.  Felix Baumgartner is the first man to break the sound barrier by skydiving.  By way of a helium balloon he soared 24.26 miles above the Earth and then jumped out.  Along with breaking the record of being the first man (without a plane) to break the sound barrier, he also broke two other records: highest free fall and highest maned balloon flight.  A video of his accomplishment is below.  I'm absolutely amazed by it.  He didn't black out!!


And below is Lego performing a reenactment.  It's pretty epic too :0)


I personally love the face plant at the end.  Have a great weekend!!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Argentinian Momentos

When Steven came home from serving in the Kobe Japan mission, he brought back some awesome souvenirs, so I was really excited to see what Robbie would bring back from the Mendoza Argentina mission.  Below are my new favorite trinkets.


A favorite traditional drink in many South American countries is mate.  No, not to be someones mate, but mate (pronounced like mahtay.)  It's made by steeping dried yerba mate leaves in hot water.  Many years ago when a friend of mine returned from a study abroad in Argentina, she served the drink. To me it tastes like wheat in hot water, but it's been awhile.  Now that I have a nifty mate cup complete with an epic looking mate straw, called a bombilladesigned to filter the leaves, I need to track down some mate and give it another try.



While Robbie was in Argentina, they celebrated their 200th anniversary, which began with the May Revolution, dated May 25, 1810 in Buenos Aires.  To commemorate the occasion Argentina released five 1 Peso coins with different backs, showing locals special to Argentina:  El Palmar, Cerro Aconcagua, Mar del Plata, Pucara de Tilcara, and Glaciar Perito Moreno.  Robbie said the Cerro Aconcagua coin was the hardest to get, because it was in the area he served, and the locals tended to keep it.  I'm lucky Robbie was able to collect three sets: one for him, me, and my Mom.


Above is one of Robbie's favorite snacks called Aguila, which means eagle.  I've tasted it, and it's quite good.  I actually prefer coconut to chocolate.


A precious stone necklace charm given to Robbie from and member, and a copper wire bracelet Robbie bought.

These are definitely mementos I'll treasure always.

So, while searching for links for this blog post, I found out Robbie's Mission has a blog!  And I found a couple  pictures of him right before he came home.


(From the Mendoza Argentina Blogspot blog)

Steven's mission had a blog too while he was serving, but I haven't dug through it to see if he's in it anywhere.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

My Brother is Home at Last!


It's crazy to think that my brother Robbie came home from his Argentinian mission just last week.  It's still sinking in.  Here are some photos from his homecoming.



Lizzie with the Orange Guy.


Sharing a good laugh.




Home at last!!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Behind the Scenes on "Someone Like You"


Yesterday my brother Steven and I posted a cover of Adele's "Someone Like You" on Youtube. And, in the same fashion as "Payphone," a Maroon 5 cover we did a couple months ago, we put an electronic twist to the arrangement, in good ol' Cerulean Jade style.

Several months ago we considered doing a cover of this song, but changed our minds. In all honesty the song is super depressive. It's a song about a girl who can't move on and is lamenting over a failed romance. Of course, as a girl I understand the sentiment; us women are expert at over analyzing relationships, much to our detriment. And so, when Steven and I were originally working on "Someone Like You" we switched to a more upbeat song. Of course the romantic lamenting is ever present in "Payphone" as well, only it's a little more happy about it.

One day I was talking to my Mom, and she recommended doing a cover of "Someone Like You." After some thought I realized a second go was in order.

From our "Payphone" experience, Steven decided to start working on an electronic track for the arrangement instead of focusing on the piano. The tone automatically changed. Then, as I was working on the characterization, I realized that by singing it differently the song took on a new meaning.

Instead of this song being "I still love you! Notice me!!" it becomes "Yeah, you gave me up. Who says this fling of yours will last." I wanted:

"I hate to turn up out of the blue, uninvited
But I couldn't stay away, I couldn't fight it
I had hoped you'd see my face and that you'd be reminded
That for me, it isn't over."

To not mean the girl is desperate, but instead shows up to taunt. "For me, it isn't over" means "life, for me, will continue to go on. This isn't the end."

"Don't forget me, I begged, I remember you said
Sometimes it lasts in love, but sometimes it hurts instead"

Turns into "Don't forget me, remember what you lost. You'll end up hurting, not me."
I hope you all have given the new cover a listen, and that you enjoyed it. Stay tuned for more music!

Sarah


Monday, October 15, 2012

Cerulean Jade's latest Cover Song "Someone Like You" is now online!



After much ado, and a whole lot of patients, Adele's "Someone Like You" is now online!  I'm going to talk more about it tomorrow.  Hope you like it :0)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Long Two Year Wait is Over


 It's strange to think that two years has come and gone; 
It's surreal how fast time flows.

My brother is coming home today from his mission.  Two years ago he headed into the MTC, barely knowing any Spanish, to serve in the Mendoza Argentina mission.  Right now, as I write this, he is on a plane.

Two years of little communication: We only get to speak to him via phone on Mothers day and Christmas.  All other communication is email and hand written letters only, and he only has a few minutes on Mondays to write back, so sometimes we only got a sentence back.  It's especially hard for the Mothers.  Last night my Mom started choking up, trying to hold back the tears with the realization that she gets to hold her son today.  We're all so excited:0)

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Warbreaker, a Fantastic book you can legally get free


"Readers can ALREADY get their books for free; I went to the library often myself as a youth. And yet, I still bought books. I often bought the very books I'd checked out from the library, as I liked them so much I wanted to read them again and loan them out to others. What do I really believe? In resenting libraries and used bookstores because they share my books without any direct profit to me? Or, would I rather look at all of that as free publicity?" ~ Brandon Sanderson

Back when I was still a student at BYU, I started hearing a lot about up-and-coming Fantasy writer Brandon Sanderson.  Of course, back then he lived just down the street from me (he was rooming with some guys who were in my singles ward, though I never understood why Brandon didn't go to the singles ward.  Was he going to the Family ward?  A BYU ward?  I never found out . . . )  Anyway, I heard about his book called Elantris.  I found out the BYU Library was out of the published copy, but his Master Thesis version of Elantris was available for checkout.  Off to the Library I went, and after neglecting my studies I finished the book in no time.  That book still has the single best opening to any book I have ever read.  Brilliant . . . and I later bought it, because I knew my brothers would love to read it.

Then my Brother Steven bought the softcover to Sanderson's Warbreaker.  He read it, Robbie read it, they raved, tried to get me to read it . . . but I kept putting it off.  Last October, a year ago, Steven brought the book into my room and set it on my desk, once again singing the books praise.  Again I neglected.  Then I got a kindle and downloaded the ebook from Amazon . . . and finally read it.

I love the book!  It's so much fun, and creative.  His use of magic through colors is imaginative.  And, as always, Sanderson's able to create vibrant, distinct characters who you quickly fall in love with. 

What's even more amazing is that on Brandon Sanderson's website you can download the book for free as a PDF, and he also has a lot of other free content: Annotations, deleted scenes, and other details.  His entire site has fun interesting stuff to read.

So if you're in need of a good read, give Warbreaker a try.

Sarah

http://www.brandonsanderson.com/portal/Warbreaker

Monday, October 8, 2012

Greatness

(Up in the mountains a couple years ago)


“Be not afraid of greatness. Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and others have greatness thrust upon them.” 

~ William Shakespeare 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

In which I get to Sing Happy Birthday to Elder Scott


With this being General Conference Weekend (always a big deal for us Latter-Day Saints) I thought I'd share a fun little story.

On November 7th, 2008 I was at a Relief Society retreat with my ward, which was then called the Aspen 12th YSA.  We were staying at the BYU cabins, just up the mountain, like a mile or less, from Sundance Resort.

It was night and we had just finished eating dinner and I was sitting on a coach facing the windows.  Suddenly a car pulled up right next to our cabin, in front of our window in full view.  Three men got out and went to the trunk.  Watching, and recognizing the man in the suit, I shamefully asked the girl next to me if that was Elder Holland.  Then she looked and said, "No, I believe that is Elder Scott."  ( I know!  I should have known!  How can I confuse the Apostles?)  It was him, and this caused all the girls to take notice and look out the window.  Our bishop walked next door and asked if we could meet him, and Elder Scott came right over.

We learned that it was his birthday, and he was staying with his family that night as a celebration.  We sang Happy Birthday to him, and then gave him a famous BYU Mint Brownie.  (I wonder if he ever ate it).  We all got to shake his hand, and we were all amazed at the chance experience.  The next morning Elder Scott was constantly in and out of the cabin with one of his family members, looking at the scenery and walking around.  When us girls were leaving, a few girls walked over and started talking with him.  I could have gone and listened!  But his family was sitting on the porch, and I hate being intrusive (technically he was already being intruded upon, though he's the kind of guy who would never think, nor feel it.  I'm sure he's very used to it.)  So I stood from the distance with another girl and watched.  I so regret that now!!  Oh well, I'm still thankful for the experience :0)

Sarah    

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Cerulean Jade Update: 10-06-2012

(Image Info)

As the Cover song "Someone Like You" from Adele goes, the plan is to record it this Monday.  During the progress of the Studio my family has been working on, the music room suddenly got switched up as well.  Needless to say, we're putting it back together again, but the new layout is more efficient.  The end is near!!!  What should have taken a month has taken two, because of unforseen things that have popped up, and so forth, but it's all coming together :0)

Yesterday we picked up a Guitalele from layaway at Bert Murdock Music.  What is a Guitalele?  It's 1/4 the size of a guitar (they're so small when you compare the sizes) and is a cross between and guitar and a Ukalele.  A Guitalele is played with nylon strings, so it's more similar to a classical guitar then a steal, and sounds similar to a lute.  I love it!  

Yamaha invented it back in 1997, so it's a really new instrument.  The sound and tone of the Guitalele GL-1 is really nice.  You have to rethink the chords (it's a Perfect 4th up from the Guitar, as if you're playing the guitar on the 5th fret, but it's not that bad).  And it's perfect for my small hands . . . and it's only $100.  Super great price for a great instrument.  

A video of a Guitalele being played.



A video of what a lute sounds like.


Not the same, of course, but it's fun.

Have a great day!!     
Sarah

Friday, October 5, 2012

Best in Music Giveaway


A couple weeks ago Best in Music, a fantastic, locally owned music store had their 23rd anniversary, fan appreciation night.  They gave away fantastic prizes, which can be seen on their blog.  I was hoping for a Ukulele (I've got a tenor on layaway) but luck wasn't in my corner.  Instead this keychain guitar pick holder, made of leather by Levy's, fell into my lap as one of the many small items that was thrown into the audience. 

These Marvel picks didn't come with it, but they've found a happy home, and a place by my side wherever I go.  Next year I hope to win big!!  (Fingers crossed)

Sarah

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Death to my Coolpix


My Nikon Coolpix s8100 digital camera is official dead. 

Date of death: October 2, 2012
Time of death: 7:00 pm
Death location: Institute parking lot at UVU
Cause of death: Accidently dropping it from a height of 1 1/2 feet
Proof of Death:  Lens error

 My camera gave me the dreaded "lens error" a couple days ago!  Of course dropping a camera is never a good idea, I don't recommend it, but it wasn't that far of a drop, and it was in its case.  Depressing.  This isn't the first time I've been through this.  A few years ago I had an earlier version of the Nikon Coolpix.  The camera was laying on my desk, lens down, when I went to pick it up.  My finger graced the "on/off" button, and the camera turned on, pushing the lens out, only to come back in.  Refusing to work.  Needless to say, I'm never getting a Nikon again.  They're fragile.

Now I'm going through "I don't have a camera with me at all times" anxiety.  My cell phone is an old, basic model, and takes really bad pictures.  Someday I'll be able to afford a nifty smartphone complete with a great data plan.

R.I.P my poor camera.

Some of the websites I visited that had good tips, just none that helped me.  It's nice realizing I'm not the only one fated with the ill "lens error":

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

A Trip to Scotland? Yes, Please.


Ah, man.  Being the Disney freak that I am, I'm on their mailing list.  So, every so often I'm sent something that takes my breath away . . . as in, "That's so cool!"  A couple years ago Disney opened a family hotel retreat in Hawaii called Aulani, a paradise every family can enjoy.  For a while there it seemed I was getting a mailing a month for it.  That took my breath away.  Someday I'll make it to Hawaii.

And sometime ago, back in 2005, the company started "Adventures by Disney."  Last year I got a mailing for their Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos vacation that looked amazing.  Though, Italy sounds nice too.  Then last weekend I got this:     


An Adventure in Scotland, inspired by Pixar's Brave!!!  Beside Japan, and Paris . . . and Italy, Scotland is a country I've been dreaming of visiting for years.  It's not just beautiful with amazing ruins and castles, but I've got deep ancestry there as well. 


So I've been dreaming, and drolling, over this all weekend!  "Happy thoughts!" as Peter Pan would say . . . though he seemed to prefer London, despite his American accent. 

Sarah

Monday, October 1, 2012

October, the Lull before the Storm

(Nanowrimo.org)
Happy October!  I can't believe there are only 3 months left in the year.  Where has the time gone?  The leaves are changing, which I haven't had a chance to see--I need to go into the mountains and take some pictures--and Halloween costumes, decorations, and candy are on full display in all stores.

But there's something else that's fantastic about October.  It's the month before November!  And what's so great about that?  November is National Novel Writing Month!  For one month you lock yourself away and devote yourself to the insane task of writing a 50,000 word novel.  And October is the month you get to prepare for said task.

Of course, you can't start writing the actual novel (dialogue and prose), but you can outline, plan, and create detailed character profiles.

Nanowrimo (which is National Novel Writing Month broken down) started in 1999, and I first attempted my first nano novel in 2003, failing, then again in 2004 and 2005, failing again.  But last year, 2011, I decided to give nano another go, this time finishing a very raw, rough draft.  But I finished!

What do you win?  A printable certificate and bragging rights, naturally.  All you have to do is complete the task to win.

Anyway, I'm going to do it again this year, only I'm taking a different route.  On a couple previous posts I've mentioned a Graphic Novel I'm working on with my brothers.  I've worked quite a bit on it, but I thought it would be cool if each chapter is a mini short-story where I continue to flesh out the plot and allow the craziness of speed writing to bring me so many great ideas.  When you sit and write for the sake and love of writing, it's amazing what your imagination will throw out at you.  Unexpected.  Characters you never thought up will appear before you, ready for action.  And plot ideas and twists will write themselves.  Of course, it is all rough . . . so December is nation novel revision month :0)

Besides working on the graphic novel this month, I've got a couple books on writing I'm going to read, and a goal of reading a short-story a day.  (I have issues of "Realms of Fantasy," which has now gone out of business, and "The Magazine of Science-Fiction and Fantasy," which is still going strong, laying around with 100's of stories I still need to read.)  This months is going to be fun.   

Sarah