A Bit 'o Random Musings on Politics, Religion, and Anything Else That Passes Through My Crazy Head

Monday, December 31, 2018

Some Good Things Happened in 2018! (Didn't They?)

I have only posted six blog posts in 2018, which is probably a reflection of how much I hated politics this year. President Trump seems to suck up all the oxygen in the political atmosphere and turn it in to toxic smoke. Ugh. November's Blue Wave in the House of Representatives brought hope, but the Senate is still going to go along with Trump's agenda and the next two years will probably just be a proxy for 2020 presidential campaigns. Sigh.

A picture to sum up 2018 in a nutshell!
But, some good things did come of 2018! So, sit back and relax while we talk about something really important: Me. LOL. Here are my 18 good things from 2018.

18) Spent time at the Happiest Place on Earth (TM). I spent two weeks in January teaching a work training to college new hires for my company. Luckily, it took place in Orlando and on our partially free weekend the company gave us a "park hopper" pass to visit the Disney Parks. So, I got to ride Space Mountain and visit Epcot. It had been a long time since I visited Disney. Still need to make it to the Harry Potter park!
Me at Disney!!!!!!!!!!!
17) First trip to Nashville. I was in town for just over 24 hours for a work presentation - just enough time to try Hattie B's Hot Chicken, a Nashville staple.
16) Annual trip to see the Cherry Blossoms at the Tidal Basin in DC. This has become a yearly tradition - I usually go on a morning around sunrise to see all the blossoms without the huge crowds. It is so beautiful!
Cherry Blossoms at Tidal Basin
15) Got my culture on! Attempted to paint a watercolor at a Relief Society event. Don't be too impressed - they had us trace the picture in wax, which made it easy to fill in. Also made a centerpiece celebrating 10 years of the Best Book Club Ever!

Book Club Centerpiece, featuring books we've read over 10 years
14) Attended a live taping of my favorite podcast, The West Wing Weekly. This was so fun - they even had Bradley Whitford, an actor who plays one of my favorite characters, as a guest. #nerd
13) Tried new cooking skills. Made orange curd for the first time (as filling for a friend's requested birthday cake), baked chocolate baguettes for Cookbook Club, made chicken pot pie for a Pi Day celebration, and made Pastitsio (Greek Lasagna) for Father's Day. Also baked over 300 mini cupcakes for my brother and sister-in-law's wedding reception (first and last time I will ever do that!).
331 mini cupcakes, with six different flavors!
12) Visited the Frick Collection in NYC for the first time - it's a classy little museum, and we saw an exhibit of paintings of the twelve tribes of Israel by Zubaran.
Central Atrium at the Frick
11) Tried to appreciate nature more - visited a little rainwater pond near my house that I hadn't been to before and tried to capture the beauty.

Love the reflection of the clouds in the water!
10) Visited the Adams Memorial in Rock Creek Cemetery, which features a cast iron statute by Augustus Saint Gaudens commonly known as "Grief." It was a favorite place of Eleanor Roosevelt when she was first lady, and since I have been slowly reading her biography I wanted to visit. While I've lived in the DC area for a long time, I still love finding out about random and interesting places to see here.
9) Rediscovered the joys of ocean swimming. A trip to North Carolina for a co-worker's wedding provided an opportunity to swim in the ocean, something I enjoy but haven't done in years.

8) Participated in the "March for Our Lives" against gun violence and the "Families Belong Together" rally to protest separation of immigrant children from their parents. While both marches didn't really accomplish much in terms of concrete action, it was still great to see so many people committing to causes I strongly support.

7) Visited Portland for the first time to see my friend Jenny. So many things to love about this city, not least of which is Powell's Rare Book room and Voodoo doughnuts. Also made it out to Cannon Beach on the coast, which is magical. Oregon generally is green and beautiful - loved exploring near Multnomah Falls and the Japanese Gardens and Rose Garden in Portland.
Cannon Beach, Oregon
6) Went to my second Diner En Blanc. Though the venue wasn't ideal, it was still fun to see everyone and see all the great costumes.

Dinner En Blanc, Nats Stadium
5) Temple Tourism. Due to the closure of the DC temple for renovations, I visited some temples in other places as I traveled. Specifically, I did temple sessions at temples in Orlando, Philadelphia, Seattle, Birmingham, and Newport Beach. So glad that there are so many temples around the country that I can visit and feel the spirit there.

Birmingham, AL at night

Newport Beach, CA

Philadelphia, PA

Orlando, FL

4) Road trip to Alabama and Mississippi. I had intended to do a separate and complete post on how amazing this trip was, but never got around to it. Suffice it to say, you should really visit the civil rights sites in Birmingham and Montgomery, Alabama.
MLK's church in Montgomery, AL
3) Activity Days and Primary. I joined a family ward this year, and have enjoyed helping with Activity Days (weeknight activities for girls 8-11) and teaching a Primary class for the 10-12 year old girls. It's been fun to be around kids on a regular basis. They're fun and funny and unpredictably lovely.
2) Went to my brother's wedding in Newport Beach, California at the end of November. It was phenomenal to all be together as a family - first time in 2-3 years all my siblings and parents had all been in the same place at the same time. Plus, my brother and new sister-in-law were so happy and full of joy.
1) I got a dog! I've been wanting to do this for a while and am so glad that I finally did. She is cute and cuddly and wags her tail when I come home, which makes me feel happy. Unconditional love is where it's at, my friends.

I hope you each ring out 2018 with friends, family, fun, and food. Here's wishing you the best in 2019!