Wednesday, December 21, 2016

how we budget

perfect illustration by @jooleeloren. I laugh/cry at every single one of her drawings. She needs an award. 

The thing is ... being an adult is really expensive. Being an adult in dental school is also really expensive. Now, I'm no expert on adult-ing, but I do know that it helps a lot with financial stress if you know where your money is going and exactly how much you need every month to survive. Aka a budget. Shae and I came across this great budgeting tool called You Need a Budget, or YNAB, which has really helped us visualize and plan our finances better.

It's an app you can download to your phone, and it is also a tool that can be used in your web browser. We actually use it the most on our computer.

Basically, you link up all your bank accounts and cards, so you can see how much money you have and how much money you owe in credit/loans/etc. This is a really helpful thing for us since we each had different bank accounts from before we were married. Sometimes it's hard to know exactly how much we spend because sometimes I use my UCCU card and sometimes I use my Wells Fargo card. On YNAB, we can see everything in one place and we don't have to log in to a bunch of different websites and try to make sense of it all.
You then set up all the categories you need to budget for. I.e. groceries, transportation, clothing, rent, etc. Then you put in the amount you want to budget for each category. We kind of had to estimate the amounts on the first month. The longer you use it though the more you see your spending patterns.
Every transaction will show up on the main page of YNAB. You then categorize each transaction. So if I see a transaction for $100 at Walmart, I know that was my grocery trip and I categorize it as such. It helps so much to see exactly where your money goes, and even more helpful to see how much you have left to spend in each category!
Another thing I like about YNAB is that you can make categories for things like Christmas Gifts, Car Registration, and, in our case, investing. Let's say you want to spend $500 on Christmas gifts at the end of the year, YNAB helps you see how much you need to save every month throughout the year to make that happen, instead of arriving at December and trying to scrape that money together. If you know you need to save $42 dollars every month all year, you will save yourself a lot of stress at Christmas!
YNAB is free for students for the first year, and then $50 per year after that. We're still in our first year of usage, but I'm pretty sure we will keep using it in the future because it is an awesome tool.
Here is a link to use to create a YNAB account and earn $6 right off the bat:
Happy Budgeting! (Flying money emoji here)

Monday, December 12, 2016

big news

Shae and I found some music that we both enjoy! This is big news because we have really different tastes. Of course, we both like The Killers because that is kind of a prerequisite for being married to me. But normally he refers to my music as "weed smoker music," and he likes country and the more mainstream music that I don't care for. I also really only care about how things sound musically, and Shae only cares about lyrics.

Two bands we've found are a good combination of what we both like:
The Stray Birds and First Aid Kit 

They're twangy enough for Shae and "weed smoker" enough for me! So there's been some happy mutual music listening over here for a few days. Huzzah!

Sunday, December 11, 2016


Even though Shae and I served in the same mission, sometimes I think Shae's version of it was cooler than mine. He served like seven months on the Island of Malta. I mean, the man speaks Maltese for goodness sake! Wow, he's cool. Our mission included everything south of Rome, Italy, including the Islands of Sardegna, Sicily, and Malta. Between the two of us we served in all the islands. Sardegna (where I served) had flamingos and white sandy beaches, but idk Malta just looks the prettiest. 

Hi Elder Bryant! Nhobbok!

Thursday, December 8, 2016

The Impersonator by Mary Miley

photo by Jacques Henri Lartigue

This past week I read the book The Impersonator by Mary Miley. It was a super fun read! I really like murder mysteries, and this was one set in the 1920s. I've always been really into that era, so when I learned about this book I was excited to read it. It was like a mix between Anastasia and The Great Gatsby, with a little hint of The Lizzie McGuire Movie. 

Like I said, the book is set in the 1920s in a city near Portland, Oregon. Leah is a Vaudeville performer, and one night after a performance a man comes up to her and asks her to impersonate his niece, Jessie Carr, an heiress, who disappeared years earlier in order to help him claim her very large fortune. Does she do it? What are the implications of pretending to be someone else? Oh, and there's murder in it. Did I mention I like murder mysteries?

I was a little surprised because this book was actually really clean. Most murder books I like aren't so clean, and this one had nothing questionable in it and no f-words. So that was a cool side bonus. 

If anyone has read this book and wants to have a mini book club with me that would be welcomed.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

weekend playlist

I've been using Spotify for like ... 5 years probably. But I finally upgraded to Spotify Premium just to see if it is worth it. Is it worth it? I'm not sure yet. I kind of fell out of searching for new music in the last couple years, but maybe this will help me get back into it. Here's what I've listened to and like recently.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

some things never change.

My love for The Killers being one of them.
Here are all The Killers' Christmas songs in one place. Thank you!!!! 

Monday, November 14, 2016

free download

I made this pretty photo into a phone background for the holidays. 
Feel free to save it and/or share it!
(simply save the above image to your phone's camera roll and you're good to go!)

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

This week I totally blew through this book called Dark Matter by Blake Crouch. 
It. Was. Awesome. I think it's my favorite book of the year and it was probably the most interesting love-story-but-not-a-love-story I've ever read. It was so surprising and thrilling and heartbreaking and I wanted to scream a couple times! If Christopher Nolan reads this he is going to be all up on the movie version. 

Being VERY vague and not giving anything away, it's basically about the impact of our choices. The main character, Jason is abducted by a masked person and wakes up in a completely new life. He is still Jason, but everything around him is different. Does he like his new life? How does he get back to his old one?

I read it at a really appropriate time, as Shae and I are making decisions about where to go for dental school and all that, and really wanting to make the right decision because we know whatever side of the fork in the road we take will have a lasting impact. It's kind of exciting and kind of terrifying, and I just think this book has some interesting morals about decisions and what actually matters most.

Plus it's also such a crazy mind trip and it totally sucked me in. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2016


I went to World Market on my lunch break the other day. I love that store, and it's too far away from my house to justify going there. But now I work minutes away! While I was there I was looking through greeting cards, and I saw one with a quote from Charles Baudelaire on the front that said, 

"A multitude of small delights constitutes happiness."

I've posted a similar quote on this blog before, and I'm working really hard to internalize it. It's the small things. It's noticing. It's being grateful for tender mercies. It's about not comparing your bloopers to someone else's highlight reel. It's remembering that I'm infinitely harder on myself than God is. Every day is a mixture of sadness, anxiety, doubt, tiredness, and small happy moments. We have to try and focus on the happy, and not apologize for our other daily feelings. 

One of my favorite movies is called About Time. It's about a time traveling Domnhall Gleeson and it's so delightful. Something he talks about in the movie is that he lives every day as normal, and then he travels back in time and lives the same day all over again, but without the worries of the day because this time he knows the outcomes of every situation. He lives it again and enjoys the small delights that he didn't notice the first time because they were shadowed by worry and uncertainty.

It teaches kind of a deep principle, and it's my goal this November to time travel, in a way. To recognize that it's normal to have worries about the future, both short and long term, but to trust in an infinite God who knows the outcome, and who sent His Son to comfort me and reassure me that everything is going to be made right, and to be give more energy to the small joys.

So here's what I'm thankful for today: That cute neon "entrance" sign. Jacques Henri Lartigue photographs. Sparkling lemonade. The rainy day smell. Dark chocolate. The sound After Effects makes when it's done rendering a project. When a Killers song comes on the radio during my commute. When you accidentally press the button on your phone while talking and Siri grossly mishears what you said and you and your husband break into fits of giggles. Finding an important quote on a greeting card at World Market.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

how we met

This is mostly for posterity's sake, but here is how me and Shae met each other.

I was in the fourth transfer of my mission, so I had been out around six months. It was my first transfer in Catania (Sicily), and it was zone conference. Zone conference was kind of a big deal down there in Sicily because we literally never saw the mission president. Our mission is so big and includes islands etc so we really didn't get a lot of interaction. It was going to be a 2 day zone conference where we got to have interviews with the president, and then a day of the zone conference and probably arancini for lunch (woo!). 

We showed up to the Catania church in the evening (probably after doing finding) for interviews and naturally that place was packed with missionaries from the other cities in the zone. I was new to the mission and I had spent all my time on the island of Sardegna so I didn't really know many other missionaries. I was waiting in the entrance of the church for some sisters to finish their interviews, because I needed to take them back to our apartment where they'd be staying the night, and there were like four or five anziani I hadn't seen before waiting too. 

I walked up to one and it went something like this, "Hi Anziano..." (reads name tag) "Bryant."


"I'm Sorella Marquis."

"Yeah. I've heard of you. You were in Cagliari with Sorella Caramia."

"Yep. So where are you from?"

"Las Vegas."


"Are you in Malta right now?"

"No, but I served there."


Conversation over. I probably awkwardly backed away and started talking to someone else. Also I asked Shae about this and he literally has no memory of it. 

The next day was the zone conference so we all met back at the church to have training from the president and assistants and zone leaders and stuff.  Turns out Anziano Bryant wasn't in my zone, but he was one of the assistants. I remember he and his companion gave a really good training on commitments. Then it was over and everyone went back to their cities and we got our apartment back after it was overrun by a dozen sorelle. 

Fast forward a couple of weeks and we're getting our transfer calls. I was staying in Catania and getting a new companion, and we were getting a new Anziano in Catania to replace one who was finishing his mission if I remember correctly. I asked Anziano Hurlburt if he knew who his new companion was and he said, "Yeah, it's Anziano Bryant!" Me: "Is that the one who was the assistant just barely?" "Yeah, and he'll be the new zone leader."

Anziano Bryant showed up the next week, and for the next six weeks I don't think we really talked. We might have had a few transactional conversations about meetings and appointments but I literally knew nothing about him except that he was from Las Vegas and was really serious and walked fast with his hands in fists.

The next transfer, I stayed in Catania with another new companion, and Anziano Bryant stayed in Catania with his same companion. It was the transfer that included April General Conference, and it was also Anziano Bryant's birthday that week. I took it upon myself during my mission to make sure that everyone in my districts had a good birthday and got some kind of treat. So I made his birthday cake, and all the missionaries in Catania got to watch conference at the church together. That was probably the first time I ever had a non-business conversation with Anz Bryant. I don't remember it, but after that I could tell he was a lot more comfortable talking to me at district meetings and english course. 

Mainly, I admired him because he was a really good teacher and he was pretty serious about being the best missionary he could be. He was a good example and a good leader, and definitely made me want to be more thorough and obedient. 

We both stayed in Catania for one more transfer after that. That transfer was probably one of my favorites during my mission because our district was all really awesome missionaries and we were all good friends. We saw some really awesome things happen that transfer, including a baptism in our district, and Anz Bryant passing a golden investigator (who later got baptized) to me and my companion. Some also not awesome things happened that transfer, like me and my companion missing the last train way out in the boonies and having to call Anz Bryant to come pick us up in the car (I was SCARED to make that phone call haha), and I got some weird lung disease and had to call Anz Bryant again to take me to the hospital on the American Navy base. He was just always willing to serve and help everyone, and he was always really pumped about other people's successes more than his own. 

All the missionaries from Sicily who were getting transferred up to the mainland rode up on a train together. So it's kind of cool to say that we rode on a train all the way up the coast of Italy for 10 hours and it was really beautiful. Anz Bryant hopped off in Napoli and I was pretty sad to say goodbye to him. I really thought to myself, "Well, have a good life. I'll probably never see you again. Friendship over." But I was glad to have been able to serve with a really good example and friend.

He finished his mission six weeks after that, and since I was in Rome I got to see all the missionaries who were about to go home that P-day. Anz Bryant was there and seemed happy to see me, which was a nice surprise! I kind of imagined that our friendship was more meaningful to me than it was to him. But he took the time to talk to me and to listen to how things were going in my new area.

After he'd been home for a week or two and I was still serving up in the Rome zone, I got an email one P-day from Shae Bryant. Whaaa? We were still going to be friends without being plopped in the same city by chance and required to work together? I have to say I was pretty happy about that.

As I was writing this, Shae leaned over and hugged me and said, "I'm so glad we can hug now!!!" I am too.

To be continued sometime ...

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

happy moments

I went through my phone pictures the other day, and couldn't help but share some of my favorite moments here. Photos really don't deserve to just sit on our camera roll or our hard drive, never to see the light of day. So here are some of my images that are really making me happy lately. 

Saturday, October 15, 2016


Thursday, October 13, 2016

How I feel about Stranger Things

I feel like there was a lot of hype about Stranger Things (2016), the new Netflix show, so I wanted to know for myself why everyone was fah-reaking out about it. I watched the whole season (8 episodes) over the past couple weeks ...

I really, really wanted to like it. But I didn't.

Let me say that there were a lot of things I did like about the show. 1) The production design. It's set in the 80s, and I feel like the designers did a fantastic job. I wasn't alive in the 80s, but I do know good design when I see it, and I would give their design team an A. It's really nice and fun and nostalgic. 2) I liked the child actors. I thought the boys, especially Dustin, were quite good. I believed them. 3) I watched every episode and didn't quit, so that means that there was something drawing me in. Haven't quite put my finger on it ... Was it the 80s music?

I think the first issue I had with Stranger things is that it was eight hour-long episodes. It could have been a 90-minute film. I felt like the plot just wasn't actually that eventful and it was stretched out way longer than it should have been. Every episode had the same basic elements: "We have to find Will," Winona Ryder having a breakdown, one kid getting mad at another kid, some kind of encounter with a bully, the chief of police sneaking around, a flashback, and the climax when Eleven does something that gives her a bloody nose. I think each of those things happened a few too many times. Again, it would have made a pretty good movie if all of the plot points were condensed into an hour and a half.

I love Winona Ryder for real. She usually plays kind of a melancholy, or even deadbeat, character and that super works for her. Seeing her as a hysterical mom just wasn't quite what I wanted from her and it inched toward the annoying side. I also thought it was a shame that she had pretty much no character development. She starts out as a mess, and is pretty much a mess throughout.

I like the sci-fi genre in general, and I love thrillers. However, I think there is one brilliant thing about scary movies that Stranger Things did wrong (in my opinion). They revealed the monster too early. Part of what makes a scary movie scary is the unknown. We're scared when we don't actually know what we're afraid of. Think Jaws (1975). The actual shark isn't shown until at least halfway through the movie. It's the musical theme and the hints at the shark's presence that makes our hair stand on end. Stranger Things showed us the whole monster in the first or second episode. We know what we're up against very early on, and while it is a gruesome creature, the unknown element is gone.

I had a minor issue with Hopper, the police chief. It's unclear whether the writers wanted us to identify with him or not, or at least sympathize. They set him up as kind of this fallen hero. But he never actually redeems himself. He kind of sneaks around and I'm not sure if he's solving this mystery for himself, because it's his job, or because Joyce is his friend. Does he see Will as a proxy for his daughter and feels like he needs to save him because he couldn't save his daughter? I think that's what they were getting at, but they didn't get at that till the very last episode... I just had a hard time understanding the character's motives throughout. At the end, too, they make it look like he's made deal with the bad guys ... I just didn't get him. That could totally be my bad though.

Lucas, while such an adorable boy, was also flat. He flip flops between hating Eleven and being buddy buddy with the group, but there's just no explanation for it. Does Lucas have a family? What's his deal? I just found out today that SNL did a sketch about that which touched on my questions I had in my head about Lucas the whole season, and it's pretty hilarious. Watch here.

I also cringed a little bit when Steve swoops in and whacks the monster with a baseball bat when it should have been Jonathan. He gets this big heroic moment after being a huge jerk every episode. It could be argued that it's his turning point when he decides not to be terrible anymore, but it bummed me out.

I really don't like to criticize films because every piece of cinema was made by caring people who love what they do and just want to make stuff. These people actually made a thing that people are watching, and that is definitely worth something. Like I said, it wasn't bad, I just wish it had been a movie instead of eight hours of tv.

They set up the last episode so that they could make a second season, but to be honest I don't think I'll watch it if it has the same conflicts going on. It's called Stranger ThingS, which means they could explore a lot more strange things and monsters and people. It might even be cool if the second season had a completely different cast and characters and plot. Kind of like a Twilight Zone type of thing.

Please don't hate me.


Whole Foods has a sweet selection of pumpkins right now.
Don't we all wish fall lasted a little longer?

Sunday, October 9, 2016


"Christianity is founded on the greatest of all miracles, the Resurrection of our Lord. If that be admitted, other miracles cease to be improbable. Miracles should not be regarded as deviations from the ordinary course of nature so much as manifestations of divine or spiritual power."

LDS Bible Dictionary.

Christ Portrait by J Kirk Richards

Saturday, October 8, 2016


Normal things that go through the wash: coins, chapstick, sticky notes, maybe even pens or golf tees?
Not normal things: teeth carved by your husband. 

Me: "I'm sorry, this just came through the laundry. I don't think it's ruined though."
Shae: "Oh, it's fine. I didn't care about that tooth." There must more where that came from.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

why listening to books gets an A+++

I really liked this audiobook. It was officially my first book-listen (besides when my family would listen to Harry Potter read by Jim Dale in the car) all the way through and I'm pretty much in love with audiobooks now. I signed up for Audible, and this book was the first suggestion it gave me. So I downloaded it with my free credit without really knowing much about it besides that Emily Blunt was going to be in the new movie version, and then my headphones were in permanently for like a week. While cooking, doing dishes, folding laundry, and basically all evening instead of watching tv or something. Shae was probably wondering why I wasn't bothering him to hang out with me ... heh heh.

Besides enjoying stories and becoming a better thinker etc., audiobooks are good for me because they actually motivate me to exercise!!! Can I get a round of applause?! Thank you, thank you. I've never been a big fan of listening to music while exercising. I don't really know why. But as soon as I started listening to The Girl on the Train, I was trying to find all the spare moments possible in my day to listen to it. I woke up at like 6:45 to listen to it one day and I was like, "Okay, I'm going to make this productive." So I went on a run. And I woke up early every single day to run/LISTEN TO THAT BOOK FOR HALF AN HOUR. So all I'm saying is if you struggle with motivation to get up early/exercise/do chores, then pair it with this book or any other audiobook and the job is fun. 

I also listened to about half of Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (but then I went on a trip to New York last week and it expired so I couldn't finish), but I'll let you know how that one goes when I re-download it. It's read by Kirby Heyborne for all you Best Two Years fans out there. I know, I was like whaa? I like it so far.

My library also checks out free audiobooks via the Overdrive app to keep for two weeks, and now I'm kind of addicted to downloading tons of books on there ... because I can listen to seven books simultaneously, right? 

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Chapter Three: London

Norwegian Airlines is cool and interesting. You can find great cheap flights to Europe from select US airports. When we were shopping for our Italy tickets, we found some really cheap return tickets back to LAX from London, not Rome. So we thought, "Hey, why don't we just have a stop in London on our way back home to the US?" So we did that. I think London is one of the greatest places ever and I was stoked to go back and visit!

The first stop, of course, was Pret. My favorite place to eat in London. I don't know why I just like sandwiches and bite sized brownies ok?!? Also it's hard NOT to stop here in London because there is one every 100 metres.

 Bikes in Hyde Park <3 p="">

One thing we were super excited about was the Sherlock Holmes Museum on 221b Baker Street!!

We also got to go to a Rugby League game at Wembley Stadium, which was one of our highlights for sure. Reasons why rugby is better than American football: it's simpler, the clock doesn't stop, the players don't wear pads or helmets, they sing God Save the Queen before the game.

Then we flew home and made it back in time for Shae's 4 o'clock class.
The end!