San Francisco

In October Mike and I got to go "home" to San Francisco.  We are lucky because we feel at home pretty much everywhere we go, and we always want to visit places over and over again.  The trip ended up being shorter than expected, but it was jam-packed full of all our favorite things and we had a fantastic time.  I have a lot of pictures from our trip, but Blogger recently informed me that I am going to have to start paying for my photo storage, and I'm not sure how I feel about that yet (you know, because Blogger is "free").  So I'm just going to give you a bullet-point version of our trip, instead.  I love bullet-points:

  • Day 1:  I drove out on my own.  It was especially relaxing following the funeral and crazy emotional roller coaster that went with it.  (I stayed overnight in a hotel partway through the drive).  My first stop in SF?  El Metate in the Mission.  Then I drove over to the school where I used to work.  It was heart-warming to see some of my favorite students and wonderful co-workers, but I was also so glad I no longer work there.  Next I went to see my friend's photo exhibit and tried to snag some gf donuts at Dynamo--they were sold out.  The photographs were excellent, though.  Then I drove to Oakland to stay with the Cardons and pick up my cute husband from the airport.
  • Day 2:  Mike attended a recruiting/potential student event at Stanford and I spent time with Becca and little T.  We ate at Ike's (the gluten-free bread at the Stanford location is waaaaaaaay less delicious than what they office in the city, by the way), then we walked around Stanford's gorgeous campus.  I met up with Mike for a few hours and then went to Ty & Becca's house to enjoy their company, eat some delicious Thai food, and wait for Mike to get done.  I picked up Mike and we ate Pink Berry on the way back to Oakland.  We miss living by Ty & Becca!
  • Day 3:  We paid a visit to Sol Food in San Rafael, then thrift shopped at all of amazing stores nearby.  Then we drove across our favorite bridge and into the city to see a few of our favorite places in San Francisco.  We went to Golden Gate Park and walked around, and visited Mountain Lake Park.  We walked by our old apartment on Sacramento Street and cried (okay, Mike didn't cry), and went to Alta Plaza Park and walked and window shopped on Fillmore Street.  All of this took longer than expected, so we had to hit the road (after getting a scoop of toasted almond and blackberry swirl ice cream at Swensen's) and head back to Oakland for a yummy dinner, games and fun with the Cardons.  Some of our favorite people ever.
  • Day 4:  I met up with some friends in the city at Dottie's for breakfast and we found a too-good-to-be-true parking space.  Then I did a little shopping (including the new Uniqlo, which as an absolutely madhouse).  When I went back to my car, I realized that the parking space really was too good to be true.  My car was gone, and after a panicked phone call I realized that yes, it had been towed.  Mike, the most patient and wonderful husband ever, picked me up and hugged me while I bawled my eyes out.  Then we picked up the car.  $550 later, we met Curt & Naomi and hiked to Land's End, our favorite spot in San Francisco (okay, my favorite spot), and then finished the night with some take-out from Tony's (the dine-in wait was 3.5 hours).  If you ever go to San Francisco, you MUST go to Tony's.  They have the best gluten-free pizza I've ever eaten.
  • Day 5:  We woke up early to a lot of fog and started our drive back to Salt Lake City.    
Our little trip, though much shorter than planned, ended up being pretty perfect.  We got to see people we love and eat food we love and visit many of the places we love.  What could be better than that?  Also, our trip reminded us that we still miss, in no particular order:
  • The Golden Gate Bridge from every angle.
  • Beautiful public parks and dogs being walked on every street.
  • Delicious food of all kinds, particularly Sol Food and Tony's.
  • Gluten-free goodness in all places.
  • The Whole Foods of northern California.
  • Curt & Naomi (and kids), Ty & Becca (and kid).
  • Zara.  And downtown San Francisco.
  • "Winter."
  • The pier by Ghirardelli Square (no, not Pier 39).
  • Running at sea level.
  • Speaking Spanish all day, every day.
  • Farmers Markets every Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday--all year long.
  • Sacramento Street/Pacific Heights.
  • The Mission. 
  • Spruce.
  • San Francisco friends and a ward that feels like family.
  • Fog.
  • Coming home for the holidays.
  • The urban jungle.
  • Access to excellent, tart frozen yogurt at all times.
  • Good macarons (I have tried some of "the best" in SLC and they just don't cut it).
  • The food of San Francisco.
There are about 10,000,000 other things that I miss from the glorious city of San Francisco, but this list will have to do for now.  My fingers are crossed that someday we will be able to move back.  But of course we have so many other places we'd like to live that the chances of that happening are pretty slim.  And that's okay, I think.


Hue & Hum Christmas Goodness

Last Christmas I was able to attend the Hue & Hum Christmas concert here in Salt Lake City.  Caitlin, (Hue), is a long-time friend of mine and her stunning, soothing vocals during the concert were not surprising to me.  Cait's voice has always been a favorite of mine (it's heart-melting and smooth like honey).  Of course Robbie (Hum) was also fantastic, but that is less surprising considering he is a rock star.  

Lucky for me (and you), they decided to record a Christmas song/make a video of it for readers this year.  So hop over to Hue & Hum's blog to tell them how much you love their rendition of Lo How a Rose E're Blooming --and buy a copy of their Christmas Album to show them how much you love their music!

Happy Holidays.  I hope you are all as excited as I am to be welcoming the Christmas season.


Where in the world will Sister Johnson go?

My little sister has decided to serve a mission for our church.  For those of you who don't know what that means, exactly, let me tell you.  She is essentially putting her life "on hold" for 18 months while she spreads what we think is the greatest news on earth (the Gospel of Jesus Christ) to people somewhere in the world.  I put "on hold" in quotes because that is how missions are often described.  I think that anyone who served a mission might tell you that they hardly put their life on hold--they just put aside secular progression, school, etc. for 18-24 months so that they could grow spiritually and spread the good news.  Anyway.  She fills out paperwork and submits it, and then she gets an envelope in the mail saying where she is going and when.  So.  Here are my family's guesses (everyone except Dave did a stateside and international guess.  Dave thinks it's cheating to do both):

Dad: Boise, Idaho or Bahia Blanca, Argentina
Mom: TBA
Tyler: New York, NY or France
Becca: Raleigh, North Carolina or Warsaw, Poland
Dave: Boston, MA (again--too cool to vote twice)
Kristin: South Carolina or Australia
Patten: the beach
Kimball: a house
Missy: Washington DC or Stockholm, Sweden
Mike: Dallas, Texas or Seoul, Korea
Natalie: West Virginia or Norway

The idea of guessing where someone is going on their mission is completely ridiculous because there is absolutely no way of knowing where someone will go or where someone is "more likely" to go.  Some people speculate that knowing a specific language helps, and while some people go to a place where they already know the language, I know tons of people that speak Spanish and go to Hong Kong, or, whatever.  It's more of a fun thing to guess.  So...where do you think she'll go?  I know many people who read this don't know her, but lots of you do.  I'd love to hear your guesses (stateside and/or abroad)!


Grandma LeNila

Green & Gold Ball Queen

Early in October we had the privilege of honoring the life of my sweet Grandma LeNila.  I have hesitated about writing a blog entry about her primarily because I am a very private person.  But now, nearly two months later, I still think about her all the time and it seems fitting that I share the things I loved about her.  She was a remarkable woman who accomplished great things in her long life.  She lost a hard-fought battle to Alzheimer's disease, but we were so grateful she finally got to move on be with my Grandpa Fred.  We love her so much and are so grateful for the time we got to spend with her in this life.  We are also grateful to know that we will be able to see her again.  

 Me & Grandma at the cabin when I was tiny

A flower arrangement the grandchildren purchased for her funeral.  

She was buried in Fairview, Utah, next to her husband and parents.  I loved this beautiful yellow tree at the cemetery--it was the only one with turned leaves.

The house she grew up in.  She and Grandpa visited it often. 

These chairs have been around forever.  I remember sitting on the porch with her when I was little.

T-Cee's.  Every time we went to Fairview, we walked up the street to T-Cee's to get a diary freeze.  After we visited the cemetery we got a fresh raspberry shake to honor her.

Her funeral was so beautiful and sweet.  Beautiful words were shared as well as beautiful music.  She was a very loved woman and everyone in attendance was lucky to have known her.  

Love you, Grandma.

Phyllis LeNila Young Homer

10/7/1928 ~ 10/3/2012

Phyllis LeNila Young Homer, 83, wife, mother, grandmother, servant, mentor and friend died peacefully of natural causes on October 3, 2012.
Born in Fairview, Utah, October 7, 1928, the second child of John Floyd and Vivian Odessa Turpin Young, she spent her youth in her beloved Sanpete County helping in her father's drug store, playing piano in a local dance band, and participating in many extra-curricular activities at Mt. Pleasant High School.

LeNila studied music for a year at college but, after urging from her father, switched to the sciences and, in 1951, became the first woman to graduate from the University of Utah College of Pharmacy. While at the U she fell in love with a handsome young man in her chemistry class, Frederick Raymond Homer, and the two married on September 25, 1948. LeNila worked for years as a neighborhood and hospital pharmacist, including two decades beside her beloved husband at Bonneville Drug in Salt Lake City. She served as President of the Utah Pharmaceutical Association and was a member of the Utah State Board of Pharmacy. She was recognized for her many contributions, receiving the Bowl of Hygeia Award, one of the highest honors given by the American Pharmaceutical Association, and the Jensen World of Service Award. 

Despite her numerous professional involvements, LeNila was first a loving wife, mother and grandmother. She is survived by Cynthia Lynn (Conan) Grames, Draper, Utah; Julia Ann (Norman) Johnson, Salt Lake City, Utah; John Raymond (Barbara) Homer, Holladay, Utah; and David Paul (Nancy) Homer, Toronto, Canada; twenty-one grandchildren, eighteen great grand-children and a sister Darla Verlaine Young, Santa Clara, UT. She was preceded in death by her husband Frederick Raymond Homer, her parents Vivian Odessa Turpin Young and John Floyd Young, and her brothers Floyd DeRees and Clyde Robert.

LeNila loved the gospel of Jesus Christ and its power to change and improve lives. She served in many church callings including young women's president, stake relief society president, assistant matron in the Salt Lake Temple, and two full time missions with her sweetheart in Los Angeles and Nauvoo. 
Utah Symphony concerts, Fairview, the Salt Lake Opera, the temple, Ute games, the cabin, Sunday dinners, family reunions and playing the piano were all favorites for LeNila, but nothing brought her more joy than her family. While sad to see her leave, comfort is found in LeNila's eternal reunion with her beloved Fred. Oh, how happy, those two love birds must be!

Services will be held Monday, October 8, 2012, at 11:00 a.m., at the Foothill 7th Ward chapel at 2214 Roosevelt Avenue (2200 East and 1450 South) in Salt Lake City, Utah. Friends may call on Sunday, September 7, 2012, at Russon Brothers Mortuary, 255 S. 200 E., Salt Lake City, Utah, from 6-8 p.m., or 9:30-10:30 a.m. on Monday morning at the Church. Interment will be on Monday afternoon at the Fairview City Cemetery. 


Amanda Jane Jones Blog Brilliance

I obviously stole this picture from her blog.

When I was in college I actually studied graphic design before painting (I often wish I had stayed in that program, but that's not what we're talking about here).  In my core classes there was a very sweet girl named Amanda Jane Jones--lover of all things vintage, brilliant design eye, and she had a honey-silk jazz voice to boot.  Well, Amanda has gone on to do wonderful things in her life (you know, like designing at Kinfolk Magazine and blogging for Martha Stewart.  Oh yes, and she helps out on Oh Happy Day all the time and originated the blog series "My Better Half").  She also invented the "Year in Review," which I think is the world's best Christmas card idea.  It's short, sweet, BEAUTIFUL, and creative.  I love that it's not full of a zillion words bragging about their adventures and family, accomplishments, etc.  Do you get the sense I don't like to read Christmas cards (or write them)?  Anyway, I'd like to win some of these.  And if I don't win them, I may just have her make me one anyway because they're my favorite.

Check out her brilliant work here.  
(Drool over the pictures and stay for a while.)



Last Friday I had the opportunity to drive down to Provo to help one of my dearest friends, Caitlin (street name: Lady Hue) with a mural.  I have a secret dream of being a mural artist in some fantastic city (okay, any city), and just spending my days out in the sun, painting my little heart out.  I love murals for a number of reasons, in particular because they make old things new and beautify public space.  They are accessible to everyone, and put simply, they are awesome.  I'm pretty sure Cait painted over every mark I made (which was sort of the point, and it looks a lot better now), and I am honestly just so excited about how great it looks.  Don't you love it?  My favorite part of the facade is the marks creeping onto the blue-green wall.  

Nice work, Lady!
(I want to help next time, too).


Green Enchilada Sauce

Image from Our Best Bites...obviously

Earlier this year, some friends from Salt Lake were in San Francisco and came over for dinner.  I had been dying to try Honey Lime Chicken Enchiladas from the Keeping Up cookbook, but I couldn't find a green enchilada sauce in the store that wasn't full of gluten.  Weird, right?  

So I looked online and found this recipe.  It is the best green enchilada sauce I've ever eaten.  And I made it for dinner last night and decided that I should probably share it with anyone who reads this!  I love it because it's simple and fresh.

Green Enchilada Sauce
(From Our Best Bites)

2-3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, minced
5-6 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
2 green peppers, chopped
1-2 jalapenos, seeded and membranes removed if desired
1 1/2 lb. tomatillos, husked and quartered or halved
1/2 bunch cilantro, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 1/2 tsp. cumin
4 c. chicken broth
2-3 Tbsp. sugar 

In a large saucepan or stock pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Saute onions and garlic until tender and fragrant.
While onions are sauteeing, combine tomatillos, green peppers, jalapeno peppers, and cilantro in your blender. Process until smooth; you may have to do it in batches and/or add some chicken broth to make things blendable.
Pour the tomatillo mixture over the onions and garlic and add chicken broth, salt, pepper, and cumin. Simmer 15 minutes-1 hour, depending on the consistency you want. You can also boil it uncovered until it reaches the consistency you want or cook it in a slow cooker all day.

This recipe makes enough for two batches of Honey Lime Enchiladas.  Have you tried them?  Delicious.  

Honey Lime Chicken Enchiladas
(From the Keeping Up Cookbook)

1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup lime juice
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 1/2 pounds chicken, cooked and shredded (1 Costco rotisserie chicken yields almost exactly 1 1/2 pounds of meat.  It's super tender and you can use the leftovers for broth.  Win!)

Stir together honey, lime juice, chili powder and garlic powder until combined.  Add chicken and let sit in marinade for at least 30 minutes.

2 (10-ounce) cans of green enchilada sauce (or half a batch of the above recipe)
1 cup half and half
Flour tortillas (I use corn)
Shredded colby jack cheese (I used monterey jack)
*I add corn and black beans

Mix enchilada sauce with half and half.  Spread a bit of sauce in the bottom of a 9"x13" baking dish.  Fill flour tortillas with marinated chicken and shredded cheese, roll-up, then place side-by-side in baking dish.  Pour remaining enchilada sauce over the top of the enchiladas and top with more cheese.  Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes.

*I pour sauce on the bottom of the pan, then lay out a layer of corn tortillas, put the chicken and filling in, then a layer of cheese.  I cover all this with another layer of corn tortillas, then the rest of the sauce, and some cheese.  Then it is a deliciously gluten-free recipe!


I'm going to try canning the enchilada sauce next because it's that good and also kind of time consuming...



Las Vegas

Cara bought me my first diet coke in 3+ months for the ride down.  Bless her soul.

Over Labor Day weekend, my friend Cara and I drove down to Las Vegas to visit Emily.  The three of us were roommates right before Mike and I got married, and let me tell you, we had a fantastic time!  Cara and I had such a great time chatting that we didn't listen to music at all on the way there.  It was great to catch up and share the not beautiful drive from SLC to Vegas with someone.  I didn't take too many pictures while we were there, but I got a few...

We ate breakfast at a restaurant called Crepe Expectations.  They had gluten-free crepes!  If I had to grade them, I'd give them a B(+).  The crepes were crusty and thick, not too pleasant to eat, and the manager flirted a lot--they earned a plus because they were pretty on-top of things in regards to cross-contamination and understanding how careful they had to be.  I have to admit, however, that it was so fun to get something besides gluten-free pancakes for breakfast!  I love pancakes, but they seem to be the extent of gf breakfast offerings.  Anyway...

We did some shopping.  And by "some," I mean "a lot."

We ate an enormous lunch at Maggiano's.  In case you were wondering, they do the "California" deal in Las Vegas (you order a pasta for lunch and get to take one home for free).

We swam at the Tingey's beautiful house one evening and chatted each others' ears off.

We went to church.  I have to admit that being in a singles ward again was a little strange.

We made macarons.  It was so so fun to teach these girls how to make them (and to eat them)!  I love these two very much and we had a fantastic, leisurely time in Vegas.  I'm glad I live in Salt Lake City again so I can see them more often!  



A few nights ago Mike and I took off right after he got home from work and headed south to drive the Alpine Loop.  We made this same drive (from Provo) several years ago on our very first date, so it was sentimental for us.  I can hardly believe how much has happened--how much we have experienced--over the past few years.

We saw a double rainbow.  It was stunning. 

The leaves were overwhelmingly beautiful. 

 No more light.

We had so much fun driving the Alpine Loop that we decided to go experience the leaves again yesterday.  We drove up Big Cottonwood Canyon and "hiked" to Doughnut Falls.  It reminded me of happy high school and college adventures with my good friend Lizzie.  Her family's cabin is very close to the trail head and we hiked it once or twice together.

Driftwood near the falls. 

I love fall colors so much.  And I really don't mind lighter fall weather where a jacket is useful but not necessary, tights and boots come out, and the nights cool off.  Utah is gorgeous in the fall and I'm so glad we had a chance to experience it this year.  Hopefully I'll be able to sneak up a few more canyons before the colors are gone.