Monday, June 24, 2013

Round Two: Deja Vu?

So I promise that I don't go to many concerts. The last week has been an exception. Last Friday I saw Tim McGraw with Michelle and it was amazing. Then the next Thursday I was back in the same venue with Brett and some friends to see the most random groups of bands you could imagine. Guster, Ben Folds Five, and Barenaked Ladies. Ya that's right, I went to a Barenaked Ladies concert, and they were headlining. Weird right? Who would have known that they were still touring. When they first got on stage they said that this year is the 25th year that they have been playing together. Crazy! Anyway, enjoy some pictures!

Brett, me, Stephanie, and Brad. Thanks so much to these two for inviting us to come along! Brad even found us some tickets that were even cheaper than my lawn tickets the week before. I totally had to swipe the pic from Stephanie's Facebook though, apparently I didn't get a group picture of us all.

Sorry about the waitress, I didn't notice that she was there until now. I really need to just work on taking more pictures. Anyway, this picture serves two purposes. First, hey look..its Guster! I recognized most of their songs from Brett listening to them all the time, but don't know them super well. Second, this is the closest I have ever been to the stage in a concert. 

Ben Folds here with Ben Folds Five. Honestly, he isn't my favorite but Brett really likes some of his stuff. Check out that power stance at the piano though. 

Between Ben Folds and Barenaked Ladies we walked out to the sidewalk and saw Guster just standing their and playing more songs. For me, this was the coolest part of the night. It's hard not to enjoy it when you are standing six feet away. As you can see, Brett was pretty excited.

Funny story. When we agreed to go with Stephanie and Brad we had already turned down the option to go with a couple other groups,  and I'm glad we did end up going with them. In such a relatively smallish venue (I mean its only one side of a hill, not a whole NBA arena) it was possible for us to run and say hi to everyone during one of the breaks. First was some college friends Alex, his brother in law, and his sister Kayla.

Second was with Brett's siblings. Michelle was the only girl to represent, but Scott and Matt rounded up the numbers for 4 of the 6 Lee kids. 

And of course, Barenaked Ladies. They were great performers. Nothing flashy, just true old entertainment. Singing, joking, laughing and having a great time. The best part of the night was when they did their cover number. Before I knew it I was listening to a  90s band play Macklemore, Taylor Swift, Brittney and Will.I.Am, and others. It seriously made me laugh so hard.

Overall it was a great night. It was fun to see friends, family, and listen to some great music

Monday, June 17, 2013

The Blogging World

Two weeks ago I began a journey to discover the blogging world. At the time my biggest questions had not fully developed. In my mind I was thinking "What is this and do I want to do it?" Little did I know that this seemingly simple question would create so many more as I looked for an answer. As I searched for other bloggers, read their ‘About Me’ pages, and got lost in the webs of connected posts, networking, tutorials, and how-to’s, I got a little overwhelmed. How does anyone break into this world? How do you create your own ‘voice’ like everyone keeps mentioning? Experts say you should specialize in a topic, but what if you are just a 20-something married student who doesn't know anything about the world? If I don’t specialize are people even going to want to know what I have to say? Are my writing and photography skills even strong enough for this? The questions kept pouring on and on.

Then I changed my point of research. Instead of just going from blog to blog and perusing sites while looking up complicated how-to articles, I narrowed my focus down to ‘lifestyle’ or ‘personal’ blogs. From there I also changed what I was looking at. While I enjoy sitting at my table and discovering people and how they are living their life, I still needed answers about what this (now more defined) world means and why it is as popular as it is. I had previously stumbled on a personal blog that had both an ‘About Me’ page and a post somewhere that talked about why they blog. Searching out these posts from bloggers was more insightful than what I had found in all of the ‘blog how-to’s’ I had found earlier. These posts didn't concern how to make the most money, receive sponsors as fast as possible, or have your content picked up by larger publications. These bloggers began to open up to why they were personally driven to blogging, which I found to be interesting.

I decided to start with 20 personal blogs chosen at random. As I read their 'About Me' and 'Why I Blog' posts I kept a tally of common trends between bloggers. In these 20 blogs I found 25 individual reasons why people do it. The very fact that I discovered more reasons for blogging in this controlled number of blogs than the number of blogs I looked at, shows the individuality of each writer and the number of ways their blog can impact themselves and their readers. Some of these reasons can be wrapped into similar categories in order to easier explain their application, while all of them work together to paint a picture of the blogging world, both from a blogger perspective and a reader perspective. These were the three most common trends I found:

To Share Experiences
Nearly every blogger I studied has the goal to share their experiences with the world around them. Making their daily/weekly/monthly lives public on the internet makes this easy to share. While these bloggers desired to share their lives in a similar outlet (blogging), their individuality comes out when you learn of their motivations for sharing. Some share as a way of keeping distant family up to date on their lives. Some share in order to stay connected with long lost friends. Another blogger might be sharing a religious testimony. Others share as a way to inspire others who may be struggling with similar trials. Still others may selectively share in a way to acknowledge and breed optimism through a trial. By sharing with others what you do/believe/desire you create a common ground that has the ability to influence others and build relationships and a community.

To Connect with Others
By reading through all the information in the dozens of overall blogs I studied I realized that the blogging community is strong. Not only is it strong in the sense that there are millions of bloggers out there, but strong in their sense of unity. Just as strong as the desire to share, the desire to connect drives the content bloggers create. They create worlds where anyone with a shared experience or desire for this shared experience can gather to have virtual conversations about a common thread. Bloggers are constantly referencing and directing traffic to each other in a way that is mutually beneficial. Another growing trend in the blogging world is the practice of bloggers responding to any reader who comments on their blog. Through the past couple of weeks, as I dove into this world I would leave comments, pin things to Pinterest, and participated in contests. Quite often my participation would be rewarded with a follow-up comment, email, or page view to my own part of the internet. It is easy to see that the unity between participants in the blogging world is a major reason for its popularity and growth.

As a Personal Outlet
Whether as an outlet for creativity, a desire to write, a love of recipes or do-it-yourself projects, personal bloggers find a way to create a part of the world that they love and enjoy building on. Some blogs are written in prose, others as bullet points, and others as personable conversation. A blog may have a simple design in a way to showcase the writing, or it could be full of pictures and graphics with only a few lines of description. A blogger might choose to develop a hobby or they may choose to specifically document one part of their life. Others use the blogging itself as a hobby to take their mind off their responsibilities or trials. A blog is as helpful to the blogger who creates it as the reader who benefits from the hard work.

If these are the three most common reasons to build a blog then it is easy to see why this world of blogs is increasing so steadily. As humans we all have a desire to share our lives in a way that will connect us with others and a blog seems like a natural way to reach out to the world. A blog also seems to be a safe place to venture. There is a certain standard in the blogging world where anything you write (unless you are purposefully looking for a fight) is responded to with positivity. This positivity builds up more of the unity and feeling of community that draws in even more people. All this considered, I have decided that the blogging world is not as intimidating as it may originally have seemed. There is no right or wrong way to create your own part of the internet. Once you decide what you want to accomplish or not accomplish with your blog you are then able to determine how much work/time/effort you want to put into building your own network and community of readers and fellow bloggers.

Sorry this is so long. To be totally honest, this study and write-up was also part of an Anthropology assignment, and therefore had length requirements. It made it easier to do since I was already interested in this topic. It was nice to be able to spend time looking at blogs for the sake of homework!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Tin McGraw at Usana

Back in March Brett and I spent some time in St. George with his sister Michelle and her family. One of the nights that we were hanging around the house I made the impromptu decision to go to this summer's Tim McGraw concert with Michelle. It was one of those deals where she mentioned that she wanted to go and didn't want to do it alone and I jumped in saying I'd go before even knowing how much it cost, or when it was. Luckily we got a screaming deal (mainly because we are fine with sitting on the grass hill).

It was a great night. The drive up and back took about 3 hours total and we were able to spend great time together just talking and laughing. Tim sang after Love & Theft and Brantly Gilbert. They were good, but their stages are just not as great. I took some pictures just to cover everything, but you can't even tell that there is anything going on.

Tim was amazing. Its hard not to wonder if it is going to be worth it to see someone live, and let me tell you, this was. His voice is so clear and unique. His performance was everything you would ever want from a concert. Even more impressive considering it was an outdoor concert.

On the way to the concert one of the many topics of conversation between Michelle and I was about boys in tanks and how we don't like them. So then when Tim's button up came off to reveal these arms we both turned to each other and made a tank exception. Understandable right?

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Good Weather and Good Friends

When the weather starts to get warm I think there is nothing better to do than to spend time outside. Utah evenings are my favorite time for this. During the day might hit 90 degrees, but the time from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm is perfect. Naturally we needed  an excuse to do something that only takes a couple hours, so we voted for going shooting! We brought another couple with us and between the two couples we had a shotgun and 3 handguns so it was a great time.

Missy, Jason, and Brett. The learning curve for hand throwing a clay pigeon is somewhat large, and it increases when your thrower is brand new. We probably went through as many pigeons trying to throw them as we shot at.

Look at my husband shooting like a boss. Also, I give you one guess as to what university he attends based off the shirt he is wearing. Brett is a big believer in the idea that if a piece of clothing is cheap and comfortable he will wear it. Not necessarily a bad thing, but this shirt is a little ridiculous.

Monday, June 10, 2013

An Inexpensive Space Date

A few weeks ago Brett and I actually planned out a date night. It started a few days beforehand when he emailed me that the planetarium on BYU campus was doing a show on planets and that we were going. At only two dollars a person, it was a small price to pay to make my dear husband happy.

Going to the planetarium evolved into an entire evening of space-related activities. One of our favorite bands, 30 Seconds to Mars, just came out with a new album and they fit perfectly into the date. Anywhere we drove that evening, including to Cold Stone to use up a gift card, we had them playing.

Following another craving from Brett, we watched E.T. Neither of us had seen it since we were kids and it was so much fun to see what we used to think was so amazing.

This just goes to show how easy it is to create a date night for cheap, in this case it was only four dollars and 2 miles worth of gas!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Onion Strings and a Side of Hamburger

Among many other fantastic things, my mom has passed to me her love of onion rings. I remember when a local chain finally arrived in my hometown that was known for its onion rings, my dad went and picked up some flowers and an order of onion rings. Looking back I honestly don't know which present she was more excited for. That aside, I stand firm with my love of a deep-fried, battered onion. I will not even begin to pretend that this delicious snack is not bad for you, but at least I use a recipe that isn't battered, so that helps a little right? This recipe just uses a dry flour mixture and then straight into the oil. I also love cutting them so thin, it makes them perfect to eat in bunches, or on a burger, like we did yesterday. Just like my love of onion rings, my mom also told me where to find the recipe from The Pioneer Woman. Check out this wonderfully easy recipe below!

Onion Strings

  • 1 whole large onion
  • 2 cups buttermilk (I also just use regular milk sometimes and it is fine)
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 T salt
  • 1/4 t cayenne pepper
  • black pepper to taste

  1. Slice onion very thin. Place in a baking dish and cover with buttermilk and soak for at least an hour
  2. Combine dry ingredients and set aside
  3. Heat oil to 375 degrees
  4. Grab a handful of onions, throw into the four mixture, tap to shake off excess, and put in hot oil. Fry for a few minutes and remove as soon as golden brown.
  5. Repeat until all onions are done

Enjoy your onion strings! Seriously, once you start eating them you will not want to stop. I am always amazed at how quickly I can eat an entire onion. Good thing this is a no-judgement zone. 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Blog or Not?

So I am trying to make a decision. Some of my friends and people I interact with are really into what I call "this blogging thing" and I am trying to decide if I want to also. For the past month or so I have been following blogs and reading about it, but I just don't know if it is something that I want to spend time doing. What's holding me back? A few little things.

  • Do I really have the time to put an effort in? I fully believe that if I am going to do something I am going to make sure I can do it right.
  • That interesting catch-22 where you have to have followers to get followers. Do I have enough confidence to push my blog into social media?
  • Do I even have the confidence to do this? What in would I write about, and will it even be interesting?

This is where I'm at. Honestly I will probably keep playing around with the idea for the next month or so. I will do some more thinking and research as well as see if I can come up with things to do.