Today was more fun than I could have imagined! Christmas is the best! It's even more fun to give to a special someone and see their joy then it is to just get gifts on Christmas!

We got up at 7 am and started open opening presents! Travis got me a sweeeeet guitar because I have always wanted to learn :) I am so excited for him to teach me. I also got a bunch of clothes and perfume and make up from my parents. We got gift cards to Olive Garden, zupas, costco and costa vida as well. Travis really raked in the presents this year he got a day and 2 night skis at Brighton, soccer and golf gear, clothes, etc. he was most excited about kinetic sand (which he got from me and his parents) and his onesie pjs. 

He also seemed to love the scrapbook I made him. He said if he knew how to cry he totally would have been. Haha 

It was a success with my parents gift too, made them cry for the 3rd year in a row :) We bought them a beautiful wood picture of the Seattle temple (where they were married) and I made a book of all of our testimonies which also described how their examples helped to shape our testimonies. My mom lost it when she read Jake's (He is the favorite right now). 

We got to talk to Travis' brother Quintin who is serving a mission in Gilbert, Arizona and my brother who is serving in Malaga, Spain. It was awesome to get to talk to Jake. He seems like he has already changed so much. He talked a ton too, which is cool cuz he never talked before he left, especially to me. 

We are going with my family to a fancy dinner up at Sundanece later :) Christmas is so much fun!!! 


We got on early Christmas present this year! Some people in our neighborhood gave away all of their living room furniture. we were the recipients of a pretty red couch, nice entertainment center, and 45" tv. The lady giving it away sent out an email this morning about it and just happened to check her email. I was thrilled! It's cute, comfortable, and not 30 years old like all the stuff we found at secondhand stores. I feel so blessed! We don't have to buy any furniture now :) and our little apartment is going to be super cute :D

Travis steam cleaned the couch and I cleaned all of the glass pieces in the entertainment center (there were 20+)

We are now headed up to Travis grandparents for the first Half of our Christmas Eve celebration :) I can't believe it's Christmas Eve already!!! :) I'm exited for Travis to open all of his presents :) 

The second half of our celebration was a hit, pure joy on this boys face when he opened up his Christmas Jammie's, he's been begging for a onesie all Christmas season! 

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!


Today was such a good day. Travis and I went to church at our home ward! We sat in between our families, and lots of people congratulated us.

In relief society we talked about elder Hollands talk, lord I believe. It was an incredible lesson. "Doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith." 

We had dinner at Travis' families house. After we all played scum (which is a dope card game if you didn't know), I was dealt 7/8 aces haha. It was awesome. It was so fun :) then we went to my house and made yummy Christmas cookies with my family! We also watched a Christmas story, which Travis had never seen. 

Travis and I got some alone time after that and had the sweetest talk. I've never felt so appreciated and loved. I can't wait to marry him! Only 5 more days 


Yesterday Travis and I got to go skiing because we found a sweet night skiing deal at Brighton. It was fun once he helped me get over my fears.

I get married in a week!!!! Ah! I'm so excited its finally almost here :)

In other news, I went through the temple for the first time tonight! It was a wonderful experience. I was happy to have my fiancĂ© and parents there with me to help me and enjoy it with me. I just felt so good and happy throughout the entire thing. Questions came to my mind too, so I better go back to learn more! 

Then tonight Travis had a bachelor party. I accidentally interrupted right when Travis was eating some mixture of sour cream, easy cheese, and chocolate syrup. He burst out laughing and I think spit it out haha. Whoops. Me and Kate's went Christmas shopping and I finished a special someone's gift :) 


Today I was supposed to go into work at 8:30 on frontrunner for a 10am meeting. The weather decided to stop me, Ice storms are the worst!

I ended up running errands for my mom and doing a couple of hours of work. Travis came over and we ate dinner with my family. Then fell asleep on the couch for an hour (Remember before college when I didn't know how to nap? oh how things have changed). 

Travis found a great deal for skiing tomorrow night so we were on a quest to find me boots and poles to use with my little bros old skis. We ended up finding some in his basement that fit me perfectly!! He is so excited, which makes me happy :)

Now I'm doing a little running on the elliptical, multitasking at its finest ;)

Oh also, we created a budget tonight for the next 5 months... weird. It was actually kind of fun though. I like having a partner! 

Why reading is important

As most of you know, I am a huge advocate of reading. I was shocked to find out that 35% of adults don't read for pleasure

I’d like to talk about three things regarding reading
1.       Why it is important
2.       How to do it
3.       How a small change can make a big difference


Benefits for adults:
  • Reading strengthens brain connections and actually builds new connections.
  • Improves concentration.
  • General knowledge and vocabulary (e.g. Cunningham & Stanovich, 1998);
  • Better understanding of other cultures (Meek, 1991);
  • Community participation (e.g. Bus, van Ijzendoorm & Pellegrini, 1995);
  • A greater insight into human nature and decision-making (Bruner, 1996)
  • Increases in self confidence and motivation
  • Relaxes the body and calms the mind. 
  • Shown to combat feelings of loneliness in adults (Rane-Szostak & Herth, 1995).

Reading is easier now than it ever has been: Books are cheaper and more easily accessible
Books used to be written on tablets, scrolls, and codex’s. Books used to be only available in monataries or royalty and were hand copied by priests and monks. It wasn’t until the printing press was invented that the cost dropped significantly and widespread reading became an option

Today books can be free with the use of a library card or borrowing from a friend, and can be found at garage sales for 25 cents to a $1, or can be purchased nice and new from a bookstore at a still affordable price. Books can also be found online, or through ereaders or tablets. Cost really isn’t an issue these days with books.

Most people I talk to about reading say that they don’t really have time to read, and they don’t understand how I do. To those people I often say, you have time, its just not a priority. Tv shows, shopping, and other forms of entertainment often take precedence in peoples lives, which I am not saying is a bad thing, I just don’t like when it is used as an excuse for not picking up a book every once in a while. If you still feel like reading isn’t an option I have come up with a few ways to work reading into your life.

Here are some ideas I came up with:
First use reading as a multitasking activity. The invention of a more accessible audiobook (check out audible) is superb for accomplishing this. You can cook, clean, commute, and exercise all while learning something new.

Bring a book with you wherever you go. I am always amazed at the amounts of time I spend waiting for people or things to start where I have 10 minutes or so and I just stare at my phone and do nothing worthwhile.

And if none of these things work and you really do want to make reading a priority:
Watch one less tv show a week than normal (if show is an hour you will get 60 minutes for reading)
Spend less time on facebook or other social media sites

Another recommendation I have is to set a goal with reading, you will get a lot farther with it if you do.

How increasing can have a huge impact
 With this all in mind I decided to do some calculations to determine how much you could read if you add just 15 minutes of it per day.

the average adult reads prose text at 250 to 300 words per minute.
15, 000 to 18,000 words per hour
The average length of a novel is 70,000-150,000 words.
So to give you an idea of what this means:
Hunger games has 99,750 words= 5.5 hours for the average person
Pride and Prejudice has 123,880 words= 8.3 hours for the average person
191,000 words in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire= 10.6 hours for the average person

If you were to create an extra 15 (4,500 words) minutes per day for reading you would be able to finish Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire in 42 days. If you kept reading books this same length for the rest of the year you would finish around 9 books a year. And lets be honest you will more than likely be reading shorter books too.
If we changed these numbers to be the size of hunger games you could read about 17 books per year.
Isn’t that amazing! Just reading 15 minutes per day or 15 minutes more per day you can increase the books you read by that much!

But be careful though, one research paper I read said the following:  Indeed, reading amount and reading achievement are thought to be reciprocally related to each other – as reading amount increases, reading achievement increases, which in turn increases reading amount (Cunningham & Stanovich, 1998).

So you may just get sucked in J


I had an amazing bachelorette party thrown last night by three of my best friends from high school. I invited 10 girls and 8 showed up, which was a pretty high success rate considering its finals week! It was such a blast. I was laughing the entire time. My friend hailey was laughing so hard she was crying at one point.

Delicious tomato basil soup and mini grilled cheeses, and what's a bachelorette party without the bra shaped sugar cookies??

I'm so grateful for all of my supportive friends :) can't wait to party with all my bridesmaids on the 27th and 28th :)

Today was a pretty full day, I had interviews scheduled most of the day, and in between I was returning things. I also worked on a special someone's Christmas present in between interviews :) I love Christmas so much!!! I love giving people things that make their eyes light up, and it's even better with a fiancĂ© :) I'm so excited for him to open his presents from me! 

9 more days! We are in the single digits people! 


Today I had a bridal shower at work, which was a lot of fun. Everyone went around and asked me one question (about Travis and my excitements about marriage), and I opened some presents! I also got a huge new cubicle all to myself. I'm never going to want to leave

Then I worked on some Christmas presents, and hung out with Travis and my fam for the rest of the night. We finally got to watch our engagement video recording from the cop car cam. It was sweet and I am so glad we have it, but I hate hearing my recorded self, I sound so annoying! Haha 

Relief society challenge

Today I came to Travis' ward because we have a bishop appointment and stake president appointment during my wards meeting time. I really enjoyed the relief society lesson. It is weird, his ward does relief society and priesthood first, which I actually liked, because relief society is my favorite hour, so it was nice to start off church that way :) Sunday school was even bearable with Travis there :) I am excited to get to go to church with him every week!

The Relief Society Teacher challenged us to think about the times in which we have felt the Saviors love the strongest. During the discussion I thought of three major times where I have undeniably felt the Saviors.

The first time I felt a strong presence of the Lord was also the first time I really had an experience with a personal prayer being answered in which I recognized it. I was 13 years old and at my second year of girls camp. This year the stake had decided to split us up into cabins based on which year we were in camp attendance. This helped us to get to know more girls in the stake. I was not very happy about this because my two best friends in the stake were in the year ahead of me. I was stuck with one girl that really annoyed me from my ward and another one who was nice but I wasn't good friends with. About half way through the week I was bugged to death by the first girl, but we both ended up in the cabin during free time, we were alone and doing our own things. Suddenly a huge rainstorm hit and we had to put up these huge wooden windows to stop everyone's stuff from getting soaked. It was actually really hard and we had to work together to get it done. After this we got to talking and she let me know all of the hard things that were going on in her life. I felt awful for not giving her a chance, because I hadn't known what she was going through. That night before our devotional I prayed so hard for her to find someone at camp that she could relate to. I felt a love for her that I can only explain as being the Saviors love for her. We headed for devotional and towards the end the teacher asked for people to share some life experiences. One leader stood up and said, "I don't know why I feel like I need to share this right now, but I feel really strongly about it." She then talked about her life growing up, and it was an almost identical story to the girl who I prayed so hard for. I was blown away. I thought in my head, you dont know why you need to share this, but I do. I have no idea if that leaders story touched my friend, but it proved to me that God loves all of his children, and he listens to and answers our prayers.

Another time I felt the Saviors love was when I was repenting for something that had taken the spirit out of my life. I was lamenting over the mistakes I had made, and I couldn't forgive myself. I often felt the Saviors love through that process but couldn't get rid of my bad feelings towards myself. I received a blessing in which I was assured that the Lord had forgiven me, and loved me. I have never felt the spirit as strongly as I had during that  blessing. The resentment I had towards myself fell away as I realized more fully what the atonement was doing for me. The Saviors love healed my heart.

One more recent time where I felt the Saviors love was when I was praying to know if I should marry Travis. I was terrified to ask about this, because of the gravity of this decision. I had prayed about something like this before about someone else, and never received an answer. That experience had left me heartbroken. I was scared that the same thing would happen again. I didn't want it to happen, because I needed to be sure of my decision before I moved forward. I figured it would take a while for me to get an answer. As I knelt down to pray and told the Lord what I wanted and asked for a confirmation if it was right, I felt warmth and peace go through my mind. I stopped feeling worried, and felt confident. Knowing myself I made sure to write it down to keep that feeling with me when I felt nervous or scared. It took a another week for me to be 100% sure of what I wanted. I studied the scriptures, conference talks, and prayed a lot during that week. Finally, on a ward temple trip to the Manti Temple I was studying some talks on marriage and choosing an eternal companion, and was praying. I was asking for another confirmation of what I had felt the first night I prayed, the thought came to me, that I already knew what I should do , and I should stop questioning it. I knew that thought came from the Lord. He knows me, and my tendencies and he gave me the things I needed to hear and feel to make the right decision. 

These are 3 of the most dramatic times I felt his love, but it has happened many other times as well. I am grateful for reminders of the Saviors love for me. 


I was too tired to write last night, but yesterday was a blast :) I got all of my stuff done for the rest of the semester, hallelujah!

Travis and I went to my cohort Christmas party :) it was so fun. Love my mphers so much! We had a delightful potluck, I made Andes mint cookies, you can find the recipe here. I've made them two years in a row, and they were a total hit both times. We had a white elephant, in which my gift, awkward family photos, was the most popular! The we watched the movie the internship (in honor of all the internships we had over the summer) the movie was hilarious, I just didn't love when like 20 minutes of the movie were in a strip club.

Today Travis and I just hung out at my house until we went to see the movie the Saratov, which we have wanted to see for a while. It was amazing and crazy. The basic idea is that 2 LDS missionaries get kidnapped and ransomed in Russia. The craziest part is that it is a true story. In march of 1998 two LDS missionaries were kidnapped in Saratov Russia and held captive for 5 days. I can't even imagine what their families were feeling during that time. As a sister of a current LDS missionary serving in Spain, I was touched to say the least. I would break down if something like that happened to my own brother. 

2 weeks till me and Travis are married :D ahhhhh!!!!!!!


I did this really cool thing where I got paid to taste 4 different kinds of mashed potatoes from the BYU sensory lab. It felt super legit. I wish I could be a subject in more studies like this ;) 

Today was also the last day of classes! And my last class with all of the 2nd years in my program. It was soooo sad. My friend Dave in the middle of his final project presentation announced that. :( I love the people in my program so much. It will be so weird to not have classes with them anymore. Sad. And I only have one more class. EVER. (Unless I do a phd or another masters, which is likely but not for a lot of years)

I gave two presentations today in class! My first one was awesome but extremely nerve racking. The assignment was to come up with our own Ted talk idea. I was on the last day, so there had already been some pretty fabulous talks given! 

I was more nervous for this presentation than I have been for any others all semester because it was so personal. In case you were wondering, my talk was on reading! Haha I tried to tailor it to my audience and make it interesting to them, I think I did well because I got 5 questions after :) ill post the content tomorrow, cuz it's something I want people to see. 

After I went to an introductory meeting to be a mentor for the teen advocacy program OUTRAGE. Which address anti smoking related initiative locally and at the state level. I am excited to mentor students and the group (I definitely have the most advocacy experience, and probably the most tobacco experience out of everyone there) it'll be fun to get my feet wet in advocacy again :) 

Travis and I are going to his ward Christmas party tonight.... We don't have ugly Christmas sweaters tho :( I think I need to invest in some of those for next year! It's almost 2 weeks till we get married, ah! :) just gotta get past finals. 


Today has been an interesting day, I started off by doing some exercise (my parents got an elliptical, and I love it, I feel like the biggest reason I don't exercise as much in the winter is that I have to go outside in the cold to either run or get to a gym.

Then I got ready and met my mom at the distribution center to buy some stuff. My mom took me out to lunch at this delicious taco place called 180 street tacos or something! They were really pretty and pretty good :) 

Now I am at a facility waiting to work on my evaluation, I am here to do interviews. Unfortunately it is very slow today so I've been here for an hour and have seen no one, I have to get 10, gah! 

Tonight me and Travis are going to the BYU basketball game and might go to DI to try to find some used furniture. I've found that looking on Ksl gives me anxiety, I don't like not being able to see something before I buy it. Haha 


Today was such a wonderful day! The sun was out, we got a ton done on one of the final projects for my public health administration class, and in another class we gave mini Ted talks which were inspiring (there was a wide variety from smiling, laughter and comedy, to beat boxing and contraception. Haha I love my cohort, we are all so unique.

Travis and I also got our marriage license and our bridal session pictures back :) ill post some artistic non revealing shots 

Im in love with these pics!!! Check out more from Anna Gleave Photography

Tonight we went to dinner with my family and had my stake president interview. The stake president counseled us for about an hour on marriage, and the temple! It was seriously so good, I loved the spirit I felt the entire time. My stake president is also a seminary teacher, so he has basically spent his whole career searching the scriptures and learning about the gospel. The main council he gave me was to breathe through the entire temple process and he encouraged us to make it a very strong memory for the both of us! 

I can't wait till I go to the temple at least twice in the next two weeks, and I am so glad Travis gets to be with me both times :) 


I don't know why but it takes me FOREVER to finally get in my bed, like an hour. Haha every time it takes that long, I'm like what the heck have I been doing this whole time?!

Today I worked in my lab for 9 hours!!! And like actually was working the entire time!! This is a big deal, I usually get so distracted, but today I was just in the zone :) which is good, cuz it's the last week of classes and all my final projects are due. 

After working like a champ, I went over to Travis' apartment and we cooked some dinner, quick pasta mix. We totally botched it cuz we tried to mix in two different kinds so it would actually fill us both up. Anyways, we worked together to find a solution to Half of the packet power being lost in straining, and too much milk for the sauce, and it actually turned out pretty good. 

Travis and I cuddled a bit (one of our favorite pastimes, how could it not be when that was the big question that made me realize I needed to date Travis in the first place). Then we watched ironman 3, which I thought was really good!!! Robert Downy Junior as tony stark is like my favorite, especially since he has become a little more compassionate and human throughout the movies! 

Well I better get to bed before it hits an hour and a half ;) (oh wait already hit that) 

Ps my house is just straight Christmas right now, I guess there is one good thing about snow! 


Today I had the privilege of going to Travis' ward because he was giving a talk. He showed me his outline last night and asked me to check over it to make sure it made sense, which I told him it did. My only concern had been that he didn't seem to have a bullet point to wrap it up. He told me I'd have to wait to hear it. I'm always amazed by people who can give a talk and let the spirit guide them in the moment. When I give a talk, to feel confident I have to have every single word written out that I intend to say. Sometimes I go off book, but rarely.

Travis was an eloquent speaker. His message was powerful and understandable. He talked about the greatness of Christ at all stages of his being. I felt the spirit as he talked and testified of Christ. Lately I have not been feeling the spirit as much as I would like, and I know that is my fault, I'm not great with scriptures and morning prayers everyday, and the stress of these last few weeks before the semester ends and our wedding is here have been getting to me. 

I want to focus more on Christ during this Christmas season, especially because I am going to be entering into some very amazing and serious covenants in the next few weeks. I want to feel closer to him and ready to accept those ordinances and gifts he has made available to me. 


Why is it that Saturdays fly by so fast? I wish I could slow them down!

Today I had a hair appointment, I'm going darker these days to get back to my natural color which is brown.... I guess I am finally getting over the fact that I grew up a toehead. 

Then I met Travis at his friend Jeff's house for lunch and the REAL salt lake game (who thought I'd even be a soccer fan? Def not me haha) so it was the mls championship and REAL lost it in a sudden death shoot out! It was a bummer, especially cuz it made Trav so sad. 

After the game we went to my ward Christmas party which was fun :) I got to see my old roommates and devour an awesome free (being a poor grad student  I always capitalize on these opportunities)

Favorite line of the night: Amanda hey I wanna sit with you because I never see you, we'll actually I'd probly say the same thing even if we still lived together (I have the best friends) 

Then Travis had a soccer game for this indoor league he plays in, and he scored 7 goals!!!!!! He is pretty awesome, but he's taken ladies  ;) 

He dropped me off at home right after cuz he had to drive back to Provo and has early church tomorrow. He also gets to give a talk, his bishop called him at like 3 pm to tell him, perks of being the E.Q. President  (don't know how to spell, ill abbreviate for now). He dropped me off and handed me his snow scraper and was like here you need this more than I do. He looked at my car and was like you should probly do it tonight so the snow doesn't freeze to your car. Then Changed his mind and did it so I didn't have to be in the cold (swoon, I hate cold almost more than anything). He is so adorable, how did I get so lucky? 20 days till this guy is mine forever!!! 


Today I worked on a bunch of random school projects, met with our florist, and did some work. 

The meeting with our florist was difficult for me because my mom and the florist are both outspoken and opinionated. What I want gets contested a lot, so by the end I said whatever because neither of them were listening. It was frustrating. Afterwords my mom and I got into a little argument. we decided we both just need to be positive towards each other because we are both under a lot of stress. 

Travis texted me around 2pm asking me if tonight was date night, and I told him it is if he wants it to be! We decided to go to my favorite Asian food restraunt fongs in American fork and to a movie, the delivery man (pretty funny).

Then Travis scraped the ice out my wheel wells on my car. I love that boy, he is so helpful. I'd say all in all that equals a good night!   


Today was a pretty regular day, went to class, avoided work (the two projects I am working on right now are extremely tedious, I shouldn't complain tho I have two amazing and flexible jobs),  I watched an episode of Nashville, and picked up Travis.

We went to my parents house (where I am living right now) and cooked dinner for my family. We went to target to return a couple duplicated gifts that I received at my bridal showers, and we picked up thank you notes (gotta get a head start).

Next we went Christmas shopping for Travis' parents, he wanted to get them books, which I thought was an ambitious choice (but who am I to say no to a book store trip?). He picked out books for them, we will see how well received they are. haha Travis' parents read a lot, so who knows if we got the right genres for them or even books they haven't read yet.

Favorite comment of the night. Travis, "Jess you aren't allowed to buy any books." Me,"but why?" Travis,"you already have a ton at home that you haven't read." He's right but an $8 beautiful copy of Les Miserables was calling my name! (I let it go this time, but its going on my list!)

I realized today that I have only 2 weeks until I go to the temple. I am really excited, and feel somewhat inadequate, but I think that is normal. That is one thing I love about our church, we believe in effort, which is a good thing because I am extremely imperfect. I often make the same mistakes over and over again. I am so glad Travis will get to go with me :)

Till next time..

My reasons for blogging

The purpose of starting this blog is essentially to keep a record of my life and put down some of my thoughts. I have been a pretty avid journal writer since elementary school. Unfortunately for the past 2 years or so I have become lax about keeping this record up to date. I thought it might be easier to keep it up online, since I seem to be on a computer always. I also wanted to incorporate into my journals more pictures and this seemed like the easiest way to do that.

Mostly this blog is for me, but I hope other people who come across it will like it as well! I love writing down my thoughts, goals, and experiences. I have a really bad memory, so writing things down is essential for me. I also love going back through old journals (soon to be posts) and reminiscing. Some are hilarious: entries written when I was 15 about my fiance and how hott he was (he is even more attractive these days). Others are more serious: my entry from September 11,2001 with my first ever reaction to terrorism.

So here goes nothing! (this is a weird phrase)