Valentine’s Day: is any holiday as simultaneously loved and hated? I think not. Valentine’s Day makes some giddy with anticipation and others overcome with dread. Its advocates love the gushing cheesiness and cliché romance it embodies. Its loathers despise all of thee above or they despise that their partner expects all of thee above from them on this day even if they are content with far less the rest of the time.
Jason brought these beautiful flowers to my work on Valentine's Day. All my coworkers were jealous that they didn't have a Jason to spoil them.
This year, instead of going on my usual tirade about how I hate Valentine’s Day haters, I am going to simply write about, in a very drawn-out manner, what made my valentine’s as spectacular as it always is. This will be as good of an explanation for why I am no hater as any. Because, although my holiday may have been stuffed with more cheese than a block of Velveeta, it was fun, it was romantic, it was full of expected surprises. It was everything Valentine’s Day should be.
I wrapped Jason's presents in the cutest wrapping paper. I'm not entirely sure he properly appreciated their cuteness.
It was Jason’s turn to plan out Valentine’s Day celebration this year. He isn’t the party organizing machine I am but he does alright for himself. He came up with a three-pronged plan for our festivities. The first part of the plan involved going out to dinner with our friends the Rowleys and the Ashleys to a new place in Salt Lake City called The Copper Onion. This restaurant’s niche is locally sourced food that is turned into made from scratch deliciousness. I very much enjoyed the beef stroganoff I ordered. How can you go wrong with fresh made noodles? And surprisingly, The Copper Onion was very economical. Dinner and deserts for both me and Jason only set us back $50.
Pago was scrumptious but I still can't figure out what the name refers to.
Part deux of Jason’s Valentine’s Day strategy had a very similar plot to part one. Another new restaurant specializing in local offerings was involved but this time the dinning was at a place called Pago and no friends were invited. V-Day dinner numbero dos was also yummy, pricier, but still yummy and spending some one-on-one time with my muy fantastico hubby was grand.
The adorable dress I wore to the dance came from my shopping spree in New York City. Good thing I decided to spend way to much money out there.
The last of our Valentine’s Day partying actually happened on the actual holiday. We went with our friends Dan and Raquel, and some of their acquaintances, to a dinner dance at Thanksgiving Point. I am a sucka for the dance floor so I was stoked about getting a chance to boogie. The food at the dance was decent but not noteworthy. However, the live band was terrific and the setting was lovely. I would recommend this event to anyone wanting to do something romantic on Valentine’s Day without having to fight the restaurant crowds; it always sells out though so make sure you plan ahead.
I gave Jason a new snowboard for Valentine's Day. He was totally shocked and so excited about it that he couldn't fall asleep that night.
Jason and I had another great love day but that’s not surprising; the two of us have a blast doing pretty much anything together. And those of you under the impression that I did all of the V-Day receiving and none of the giving are mistaken. I made sure Jason was bombarded by random flashy deliveries at work, a cookie bouquet and chocolate covered strawberries, because everyone needs some Valentine’s Day spousal embarrassment. His love was also effectively bought with lots of presents, including a new snowboard. So all you haters can ram that cheese right down your throats!
On New Year’s Day I did the stupid; I jumped into a freezing pond when the temperature outside was only a mere 12 degrees. It was fun. (Yes, I did just say it was fun.) Thanks to this ill-conceived dip my picture ended up in the newspaper and a clip of me showed up on TV. I was famous.
Unwilling to relinquish my newfound glory, I decided to participate in another frigid affair, a plunge to benefit the Special Olympics. This time the plunge was at a slightly larger pond: Utah Lake.
The Ice Queens needed crowns so I attached elastic strings to various cheesy tiaras for us to wear. That way the only jewels our team would have to worry about losing in the lake were the ones in their pants.
I assembled a team consisting of the brave and foolish to join me: Jason, Lauren, Jacob, and Jeremy Rowley. No need to point out which are the brave and which are the foolish. We named our team the Ice Queens and, because Lauren and I made some significant fundraising efforts, we managed to collect $600 for the Special Olympics and finish as one of the top 5 teams. (The boys were next to useless when it came to fundraising.) Thanks to everyone that gave generously to our group; you made my freezing hinny feel better about its lot in life.
As you stand at the edge of that icy precipice staring at the frosty water you are about to bound into you can't help but wonder why exactly you are doing this.
Jason’s brother Jeremy was also an event participant but not an Ice Queen. He didn’t want to be in our group because he thought he would be able to gather his own posse. Too bad all his friends are flakes or cowards. Out of all of the big talkers only one guy showed up to jump in with him. At least he had a swim buddy even if he totally missed out on his chance to be plunging royalty.
Here we are swimming to shore. That look on my face says it all. There's a lot of cursing lurking beneath that cringe.
The day of the plunge was really quite pleasant for the middle of February; it was just a few degrees below freezing. The ice in the Pelican Bay marina, where the plunge took place, still had to be hacked away though to make a spot for the jumpers to get into the water. Since there were 180 participants it was impossible for everyone to plunge in at once. Groups of up to six were allowed out onto the dock one at a time. From the dock they tottered over the frozen lake to the spot where the ice had been chipped away for them. After those on the brink had mustered the courage to hop into the water the next group was led out.
Looks like a nice day at the beach...or not.
By the time it was our team’s turn to dive in the ice had sunk a few inches near the dock from the heavy traffic so concerned officials decreased the number of plungers allowed on the ice at a time from six to four. This made it necessary for our 5 member team to jump in two shifts. Bummer.
Jason may look tough here but I think he was crying like a little girl inside.
Since our squad had to be split up just Lauren, Jason, and I plunged together. We grasped each other’s hands and leaped into the frigid lake before we had time to reconsider. Brr! Hitting that water took my breath away. The worst part about it all was that you couldn’t just jump back out after you realized what you had gotten yourself into; you had to swim to shore. It probably only took me a minute to reach the water’s edge but man, it felt like I was kicking my way through that glacial bay forever. On the plus side, the temperature of the air was only refrigerator cold, not freezer cold, so getting out of the lake wasn’t as miserable as being in it. Also, a hot tub had been set up near the shore for post-plungers to warm themselves in and it felt mighty good. I only put my feet in for a minute but amazingly that brief immersion defrosted me quite a bit.
This plunge was a great experience and it was all for a great cause. Sure, it was also a bit miserable but misery and fun make great companions. You are likely to find the Ice Queens out on the lake again next year ready for another frigid dip.
As I mentioned in a post over a year ago, I am the secretary for my local chapter of the Society of Cosmetic Chemists, a nerdy organization to which I belong. I have been the secretary for a couple of years now and it looks like I will continue to be the secretary into the indefinite future, as no one else seems anxious to volunteer for the position.
My obligations as secretary really haven’t been too demanding up to this point. I’ve attended board meetings here and there, given feedback on ideas, sent out invoices, etc. etc. etc. However, recently my secretarial duties have expanded and required me to become an ambassador of the beauty business. In an attempt to increase awareness of the career options in the cosmetic industry and spread the word about the SCC scholarship program, I have been giving 50 minute presentations at local universities along with two of my fellow board members. Trying to make our jobs look like pretty much the coolest occupations in the world (which of course they are) has been a challenge and molding our individual contributions into a cohesive presentation has also proved difficult.
Scientist or robot? You decide.
Our first presentation was at UVU. It was by no means disastrous but, due to our triangle of collaboration, the editing process took a while and we didn’t have the final final final presentation ready until the day before we had to give it. Therefore, the resulting lecture, although not too shabby, was a bit awkward and boring and had us all a little nervous. Jason was nice enough to come listen in with the 20 or 30 students present and he said that I started out talking like a robot for a few slides before I relaxed and sounded like a human being again. (Cosmetics make robots happy.) But, even with the presentation being not quite up to the standards of a hopeless perfectionist, we did get lots of questions afterward so we must not have bored the younglings into complete disinterest in the cosmetic industry.
Just a few days after our UVU presentation we had another one scheduled at BYU. Based off the questions we received at our UVU event we pretty much changed our whole spill and most of our slides to better incorporate the information that was of most interest to the students. We also added a number of interactive demonstrations to our lineup to inhibit widespread napping. The results of our presentation overhaul could have been disastrous given the limited timeframe we had to prepare for our glorious rework but things seemed to go pretty smoothly. Some nervous rambling, twitching, and uming went on during the lecturing but whether the cosmo robo made an appearance again remains unknown since my honest hubby wasn’t there to critique my performance. Either way, we didn’t have nearly as many students show up at BYU as we did at UVU. I think that UVU’s focus on the practical and applicable probably had something to do with that…and some extra credit bribing was most likely also involved.
Aaron, the chapter's chair, gave a demo on how to make lotion.
Though we have journeyed across the far reaches of the valley on our quest to bestow the crucial knowledge of how to become a perfumer or development chemist on the lucky few, our task is not yet complete. Surely there are more students out there (driven by an insatiable desire for extra credit) willing to ponder the wonders of cosmetics with us. Until all the scholastic masses have been offered the chance to fall asleep during our lecture we cannot rest. Next month we will be speaking at the U of U career center. If the thought of me shaping impressionable young minds scares you then you should be very afraid because our traveling cosmetic extravaganza might be coming soon to a campus near you.
A miracle occurred this year: Jason and I (or more accurately just I) remembered to buy our locals only passes to the Sundance Film Festival back in October and so we were able to get our tickets to this famous affair before the indie movie loving masses and the Hollywood wannabes. Praise be! For once we were actually able to attend almost all of our top show picks. Unbelievable! A number of our acquaintances also benefited from our good planning. We offered over half of the twenty tickets included in our package to friends and family; the end result was that we had different combinations of friends with us at every screening we went to. It was great to see so many of our buddies and get a chance to catch up with them while waiting in line or over a post-show dinner. The excellent company made our festival experience even more enjoyable.
Lauren, Jason, David, and I had to wait outside in the cold for a while to get into Being Elmo. It was completely worth it.
Kevin Clash, AKA Elmo, was a nice guy. I guess that's not surprising considering the adorable character he imagined into being.
As much as I loved chilling with our chums, they weren’t furry or red enough to make me smile until my cheek muscles hurt, that was all Elmo. One of the screenings Jason and I went to, along with our friends Lauren and David, was a documentary on Kevin Clash, the puppeteer that does Elmo, called Being Elmo. It was a fantastic show and afterward we got to meet the director, most of the crew, Kevin Clash, and Elmo. Being in Elmo’s presence made me feel like a little kid again; I don’t think you ever get too old to find joy in the innocence and love embodied in that little guy. Meeting Elmo was definitely the highlight of Sundance for me this year.
Although nothing could beat my Elmo encounter, all four of the films Jason and I attended were excellent. We saw a documentary on Ronald Reagan that was aptly named Reagan. I thought it was well done and it didn’t seem to have an obvious agenda besides providing a realistic view of Reagan, which pleased me greatly. I’m a facts girl; I have a very low tolerance for political propaganda or idealist portrayals so this documentary was right down my alley.
I bet you can't help but smile just looking at this guy. In Elmo's world other facial expressions are virtually impossible to make.
We also saw two non-documentaries: Salvation Boulevard and Perfect Sense. Salvation Boulevard, a satirical comedic mocking of the world of the megachurch, was perhaps a bit irreverent but absolutely hilarious and the acting was spot on. Perfect Sense was a thriller/drama based on the unique “what if” scenario of a global pandemic that slowly strips mankind of their ability to smell, taste, hear, and see. It made for an intriguing story. Sadly, none of the big name stars in either of these movies, such as Ewan McGregor, Pierce Brosnan, Greg Kinnear, Ed Harris, and Jennifer Connelly made an appearance at our screenings but we did get to meet the director and writer of Salvation Boulevard. As a side note, Salvation Boulevard has been bought by Sony Pictures and is scheduled to be released this August. I would definitely recommend checking it out; all its ridiculousness is sure to make you giggle.
Almost every screening at Sundance is preceded by a long wait in line; it's part of the experience. This crowd was waiting to get into Rose Wagner Theater to see Salvation Boulevard.
Salvation Boulevard's director and writer exuded sarcasm. I like sarcasm.
Sundance has never disappointed us and this year was no exception. We saw some great flicks, hung out with some awesome people, and met an adorable Muppet. Beat that.