Wednesday, December 31, 2008

peace out 2008

and here we are, another new year's eve. i'm a nostalgic sap so i always get a little reminiscent this time of year -- i love all the video montages on tv that show everything that happened in the world in the past year, and on a personal level i love to remember everything we did and tried and learned. i love looking back at where i've grown, and looking ahead to what's next.

so here's a little 2008 recap from the payzant-wells home:
  • we left our very first apartment in west LA and moved to lovely pasadena
  • i traveled to victorville, san diego, san diego, georgia, new york city, and georgia for work
  • brandon traveled to scottsdale, san francisco, austin, and san francisco (and got three hours of sleep a night while here in LA) for work
  • together, we traveled to germany, austria, switzerland, france, mexico, utah, arizona....whew!
  • my favorite sister married the fantastic jesse holdaway
  • my hero and one of the most amazing people ever, president hinckley (former pres of the LDS church) passed away at age 97
  • i was featured in the march issue of real simple magazine
  • my favorite brother turned 18
  • i chopped off all my hair
  • i got my first (and only) wisdom tooth pulled
  • brandon helped launch the ever-amazing wii fit
  • celebrated our two year anniversary! (i was away on a work trip, natch)
i really think this was one of our best years yet. life is never perfect or stress-free, but i feel truly lucky to have so many wonderful friends, a great family, an amazing husband and a fun life. thanks for all the love and support you've all given us throughout the past year... i can't wait to see what 2009 has in store for us!

happy new year from us to you! talk to you next year :)

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

all eyes are on pasadena

...or at least that's what the rose bowl commercials keep telling me.

despite this annoying semi-cold i have developed (it consists of nothing but a mild overall crappy feeling and an INCESSANT runny nose...ugh), we are in quite good spirits at the wells house.

a. we worked 1.5 days this week
b. we will be off for the next five days (thank you, workplace!)
c. the rose parade is coming!!!

i am so thrilled about all this free time, i hardly know what to do with myself. though i'm pretty sure it will involve house cleaning, some actual cooking, and checking all sorts of things off my to do list.

last night we went to the gym, which is located on colorado blvd -- aka the rose parade route. three days before the parade, there were THREE motor homes parked along the road. these people have staked out their spots 72 hours in advance to watch a parade. crazy? yes.

but you know we are waking up early on thursday to attend as well :)

Sunday, December 28, 2008


geez...i swear i'm almost done with the blog post catch up. sorry for the overload!

b's fam stayed a few extra days after the cruise to see our apartment and visit pasadena, so we spent the weekend playing tour guide.

friday after disembarking the boat, we showed them around paseo and saw valkyrie, which i was excited to watch. i've always been a huge fan of world war II movies, so that favoritism overruled the fact that i hate tom cruise. plus this is about germans! i love germans!

i thought the movie was pretty good. they did an awesome job of building up suspense, even though we have all known the ending for about 70 years. for a second i actually wondered if hitler was actually dead. and tom wasn't too bad.

yesterday we drove all over the greater los angeles area. usc, culver city, hollywood, beverly hills -- all the overpopulated places i try to avoid. oh well, at least i got some tito's out of it :)

and i gotta say, this has been a fabulous weekend for tv. last night sleepless in seattle was on tnt, and tonight is the sound of music! i don't usually need an excuse to watch these movies that i can quote verbatim, but it's always nice to not have to pull out the dvds :)

rock stars.

this cruise marked, among other things, my first karaoke experience! i just about threw up before my turn came, i was so nervous. but the rest of the fam got in on it after that and we had a blast.

and if you're wondering what my inaugural karaoke song was...."i wanna dance with somebody" by whitney houston. always good to have a crowd fave so you can dance around if your voice sucks :)

viva la karaoke!

ohhhh mexico

our cruise had two scheduled stops -- catalina and ensenada. unfortunately due to "dangerous swells" we didn't get to go to catalina. i had been there before so this wasn't a big deal -- the situation was made worse, however, when that turn of events meant all one thousand other cruise passengers were also stuck with nothing to do all day. tuesday was a rough day at sea.

but wednesday, christmas eve, we stuck to our schedule and docked in mexico. i'd never been before and was surprised at how much it (well, ensenada at least) looked just like long beach. plus a mexican flag, of course.

me and the sibs at our port. it was bright:

the adults (or perpetual tourists) decided to hire a sketchy-looking tour bus -- complete with a super nice mexican tour guide named gabriela, whom my mom adored -- to drive us around town.

first stop: la bufadora, or the blowhole. i had seen another blowhole in oahu (apparently there are only three in the world) and it was equally as boring as this one. oh well, tourist attractions usually aren't all they're cracked up to be anyway.

the gang at la bufadora. did i mention we were a party of eleven? :

the blowhole area usually looked like this:

until a wave would come, and then you got to see some foam shoot up:

like i said, very exciting. another appeal of this area is that the street leading to the blowhole is lined with shops selling all sorts of crap. i was over men yelling "hey pretty lady!" and "come inside, special deal for you" after about five seconds.

anyway, it was a good place for a few photo opps:

a chance to see this cool guy:

and eat some DELISH handmade tacos. i was nervous we'd get sick, but no one did. yay!

from there we took a ride around town. there was plenty of americana to be found:

we stopped at a roadside stand to buy tamales, at my mom's insistence (she's obsessed with tamales and made gabriela take us to her favorite venue). they were awesome and made from scratch by this cute little lady. again, no parasites! yay. (i told you we ate a lot on this trip.)

we ended with a drive through "downtown" and saw the uber popular papas & beer store. woo hoo. there were all sorts of sub-par christmas decorations was kinda cute.

and then it was back to our ginormous ship for a nap before dinner. my favorite thing to do all week was hole up on a window seat with my book and read, overlooking the water. nothing better than a little vacationing alone time!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

christmas cruise

last year my parents decided to try out a destination christmas. they reasoned rachel, grant and i are now old enough to buy our own presents, and there are no grandchildren to be had yet (every time that is mentioned i wonder if it is a hint...), so why not try something new while no one is tied down? last year we all went skiing, which as you may remember was not the best experience ever for me.

this year we decided on a cruise. (warmer region = much more favorable to lyndsey) it was my year to be w/ the fam, and rachel&jesse's year to be with them also. somehow brandon's family ended up in the gang as well and so all eleven of us schlepped it down to long beach last monday to board the carnival paradise cruise ship.

also i must note that this was everyone's present, which means that i had NO christmas shopping to do this year. that was a major plus -- i now understand why jehovah's witnesses are so cheerful in december, because they never worry about this stuff.

however it also gave me some naivete, as i went out shopping to get some new outfits for the cruise on the saturday before christmas and could not believe that it took me 20 min. to find a parking spot on colorado. then i realized it was the SATURDAY BEFORE CHRISTMAS. duh. let's just say it was a little crowded...i cut my shopping short and made a consolatory trip to pinkberry before retreating home. rough time.

i had never been on a cruise before and didn't know quite what to expect. but that's not entirely my fault because up until then my frame of reference regarding cruises consisted of poseidon, titanic, highly-publicized pirate attacks and viral disease outbreaks that could wipe out whole ships. all i knew was, if i saw fergie singing in the ballroom i was getting the heck off the boat.

i quickly discovered i had nothing to be afraid of. i was basically boarding a portable resort, quite similar in fact (food, especially) to the types of places i go for work. our room was bigger than expected -- i imagined a cabin like our hotel room in paris, where you couldn't open the bathroom door if another person was standing near the bed; THAT is cramped. cruise cabins are mansions in comparison. we even had portholes to see the ocean.

we participated in the mandatory evacuation drill, which was fun till i thought about all the nasty people who had worn my life jacket before i did. ten years of germs...grossssss.

it really was a relaxing trip, although it was freezing. no laying out for me! i did sit out in the sun one day on the deck with my book, but i was wearing a jacket. the only time i wore a bathing suit was to hop in the hot tub. but that's okay! it's christmas. who needs a tan?

i had been a little worried that the ship wouldn't look christmas-y enough, but carnival definitely delivered in the decoration area.

me & my seesta in the exquisitely-decorated atrium:

i did a lot of reading, a lot of sleeping, a LOT of eating (carnival motto: eat free, eat often). they had 24/7 pizza and ice cream (sadly, my definition of frozen yogurt differs from theirs. yuck) and a so-so buffet area for breakfast and lunch. our dining room was amazing -- breakfasts there were yummy, and dinners were amazing. these chocolate molten lava cakes made the WHOLE trip worth it -- and i've had quite a few chocolate molten lava cakes in my day:

one complaint i do have is their cookies. dry and hard. BOO!!! come on people. store bought is NOT the way to my heart.

we did have plenty of cute little towel creatures left in our room:

...but sadly, no ice sculptures or intricately carved melons. these were both more of my preconceived cruise notions, which unfortunately got shattered. maybe you have to go on the seven-day cruise to get those?

my two favorite nights were a) the formal night and b) christmas dinner. it's always fun to dress up -- behold, exhibit a:

i was a little worried about how christmas would turn out, being away from home (any home) and all. it's not really christmas to me unless i'm in my parent's house, running down the stairs w/ my sibs to see what santa brought. seeing as how that hasn't really happened in, oh, say six years, i guess it makes sense that i'm a little nostalgic for christmases past.

i feel like it's time for b and i to start making our own christmas traditions, which is hard when we're shuttling back and forth between families each year. hopefully expanding our little family will help that out in the future. but for now, i'm still figuring out how to make christmas feel more christmas-y.

being on a tropical cruise definitely made me feel like i was on summer vacation, not christmas break. there were perks, of course. we stopped in mexico on christmas eve and i ate real, authentic, handmade mexican tamales IN mexico. that is cool. (mexico post is forthcoming.) on christmas day, we had a big fancy breakfast and it was so fun to hear a thousand people saying "merry christmas" to each other on the stairs and in the hallways. christmas dinner was fantastic, and the cruise put on a special christmas show that day complete with christmas carols and santa and candy canes. and it was fun to be with my whole family.

but something was sort of still missing. i didn't quite miss all the materialism of christmas, but strangely enough i missed GIVING gifts. i like picking out individual presents for my family and watching them open things. and watching a decidedly non-religious christmas program on christmas day is a little weird. i guess i wanted more time to focus on the birth of christ, which to me is what this holiday is really all about. forget cruises, carols and presents -- my christmas means finding a quiet time to think about the miracle of my savior coming to earth.

and so, because i feel like i still need a little christmas spirit, i will leave you with my favorite christmas scripture from luke, chapter 2:

"and there were in the same country shepherds abiding in their field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
and, lo, the angel of the lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
and the angel said unto them, fear not: for behold, i bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
for unto you is born this day in the city of david a savior, which is christ the lord.
and this shall be a sign unto you; ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
and suddenly, there was with the angel a multitude of heavenly host praising God, and saying,
glory to god in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men."

luke 2: 8-15

merry christmas to all! hope you had a great christmas day.

Friday, December 26, 2008

old school

hello hello! we are back from the cruise and all is well...i love being home. i will get on with my massive christmas post soon enough, but for now please enjoy this little gift:

can you spot little seventh-grade lyndsey? hilarious, i know. a friend posted it on fb this week and i loved it. ahh, vineyard junior high band. good times.

Monday, December 22, 2008


last week was the second annual christmas cookie exchange...i invited some work friends, some la friends, some pasadena friends and i thought my apartment was going to explode. i wish we had more space so i could invite more friends! :(

anyway, as you can see -- we were def rolling in the dough, if you know what i'm sayin.

mmm. i'm still eating leftovers. bad news since i'm also going on a cruise (i.e. unlimited eating) in t-minus two hours...never been on one before, but i hear there is 24/7 frozen yogurt. i mean seriously. what else could i want for christmas??

merry christmas and feliz navidad to all! i'll be in mexico (and prob sans internet, but you never know...i get hives if i can't check google reader for more than a few days) till the end of the week.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

i love vacations

how fun is it that i don't have to go to work tomorrow? YAY.

it's even better that i get to embark on this tomorrow afternoon:

Friday, December 19, 2008

work presents

every year, i try to bake something delicious to give my co workers as a christmas gift. this year was no different...i start out the season with great intentions to manage my time adequately so the project didn't stress me out. this year was okay, but MAN. december is rough. between parties, gifts, baking, etc i am just booked solid.

but i digress. here's the tale of the 2008 work gifts.

every year brandon likes to make homemade toffee. it is a third-generation wells family recipe and it is TO DIE FOR. we've had some issues with the process (the first year we were married b bought a cheap candy thermometer and ended up destroying a pan, a spoon and a full batch of toffee) but he's really good at making it.

b is very particular about his craft. here's the secret family'll have to talk to him if you want details on making it.

homemade toffee

1 lb butter
2 cups sugar
4 tsp vanilla
4 cups chopped walnuts
4 tsp cold water
6 tsp Karo syrup
4 7-oz. Hershey bars

1. prepare pan with half nuts. place half chocolate over nuts. set aside.
2. combine butter, sugar, syrup and water in pot. bring to boil, stirring constantly. cook to 285 degrees while stirring. take off heat and add vanilla - keep stirring!
3. pour over nut/chocolate in rows. even out with spatula if necessary.
4. sprinkle last half of chocolate over toffee. do same with nuts over chocolate.
5. set on top of fridge overnight and break up in morning

i decided to also make a payzant family specialty -- reindeer eyeballs.

reindeer eyeballs

1 package powdered sugar
3 cups rice krispie
1 1/2 cubes butter
2 cups peanut butter

1. mix powdered sugar and rice krispies together
2. melt butter and add peanut butter
3. shape into balls and dip in chocolate

add some hand-dipped chocolate covered pretzels....

some cute holiday wrapping...

and voila! christmas gifts for everyone. took only a sunday afternoon and a monday night follow up to prepare them. not bad.