Sunday, November 1, 2015

The Haunted Half Doesn't Scare Us

Well folks. I have changed a lot over the last couple of years, and done quite a few things I said I never would. (Number one on that list would be nursing school. That was a hard no. But it turns out you cannot actually give Heavenly Father a hard no, or he will test you on it.) 
Kylie, Rick, me, and Steven keeping warm pre-race
Running was something I always despised growing up. I hated being sweaty, I hated feeling slow and out of breath, and I hated feeling weaker than everyone around me because I just thought I could not do it. I always told myself and others that I simply was not athletic; it is easy to blame things on what is out of your control and rationalize that you therefore have no power to change it.

Spider Man, Harry Potter, Leonardo, and Super Man ready to rock.
As I have grown and matured (or like to believe I have..) I have come to reject the idea that there are a lot of things outside of my control. I have come to love the challenge of being told I can't do something or can't change something. My parents raised me to believe that I could accomplish anything I wanted if I planned and worked hard enough for it. A few years ago I decided to take my health into my own hands and started doing research on healthy eating/lifestyles/etc. I came to truly love how it felt to eat and be healthy. I started swimming a lot to get my exercise in. But the problem with swimming is it is sort of a seasonal sport. Every winter would come and my health would decline for a few months, and I once again would place the blame on the weather; something outside of my control. Last year when I left on study abroad I became determined to continue exercising year round. I realize the only way to make that happen would be to start running...
family fun 
I was lucky enough in London to have a bunkmate who was an avid runner and got me up every morning to go with her for a half hour. It only took a week or two to learn to love our morning jogs through Kensington Gardens. It was gorgeous trails, perfect temperature, and just felt good to move my body and feel my heart and muscles growing stronger.

This summer I made a goal to run a half marathon. Daunting to my beginning runner self, but I wanted to prove I could do it. Fast forward 6 months and I am thrilled (and shamelessly proud) to announce I have conquered that goal. Yesterday me and my roommate/best friend ran the Haunted Half! We've been running every morning together since school started and training for longer runs, but the farthest I had ever run was 10 miles.. How different can 13 be, right? ha.
running 13.1 miles is fun folks
We had two goals going into it:
1. Don't walk/stop running
2. Finish in under 2 hours.
shamelessly proud of ourselves and thrilled that I can now go eat all the pumpkin cookies I want..
We did not stop even for one second and ran an 8:47 mile to finish a few minutes under the two hour mark!  #success. WE ARE SO HAPPY. It was so fun! Can I say that? It was 2 hours of running, but I had the time of my life pushing myself and accomplishing a big goal with Erika. My brother-in-law decided last minute to run it as well, and the three of us ended up running the last few miles together and crossing the finish line hand it hand. Ashley came down to support us at the finish line, and Erika's parents came so we saw them several times on the trail. They are adorable.
Rick's cute fams signs
I would be lying if I did not say it was hard, and I definitely had to push myself. I don't know if I could have done it alone, but Erika is a champion friend and encouraged me in my moments of doubt and up the hill at the end. It was definitely an experience for the books, and we are already looking into future half marathons for us to run. It might be an addiction.. We love to say that we run because we can. Our bodies are strong, and they can do amazing things. I am so grateful to my Father in Heaven for my incredible body. The more I study it in anatomy and physiology the more I am blown away by the complexity and perfect intricate workings of our bodies.

Health/exercise has become one of the subjects I am most passionate about. I love that I have grown to love running and pushing my body to its limits. It is so empowering and humbling at the same time. I run because I can; I will keep pushing myself and running until I can't. And even then I am not sure I will accept my fate.. Who knows what adventures are in store for me and Erika now. We feel like we can conquer the world at this point! Everyone should go make a health goal and then work until you reach it. I have such a testimony of goal setting. IT IS SO FUN. Go! Get up and move. You won't regret it and I promise your body will thank you for it now and in the years to come.

Spider Man and Harry Potter on cloud 9

Happy Halloween!

Love Always, Aimee
medals are for winners.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

efy never ends

In an effort to start blogging regularly again, I feel I owe it to my kids and my Heavenly Father to write a tribute of sorts of the incredible youth I worked with this summer and the amazing experiences I had.

SB Dream Team

Working efy was a major blessing in my life. It has been a unexplainable dream of mine since I attended four years ago as a youth in Nauvoo. I had a wonderful counselor and company that made me want to be at efy every day, not just for one week. I kept the idea of being counselor in the back of my mind all these years, and last February I was finally old enough to apply (apparently they don't want the counselors to be too close in age to the youth..). I got an interview and felt pretty all right about it, but at the end of it they said something along the lines of, "Well, it was nice to meet you. We will try to get back to you soon, but just be proud of yourself for even getting an interview. With all the returned sister missionaries we have had record breaking numbers of applicants, and we just LOVE all these RM's!". Ouch. Okay, thanks......... I thought that was their nice way of letting me down easy or something.

Harry Potter's birthday. Obvi.
But Heavenly Father hears prayers and must have known I needed to do this THIS summer, because low and behold, a couple weeks later I got an email saying I was hired.
WHAT. It was basically a Christmas miracle. Only in March..


I knew efy would be fun. I knew efy would be spiritual. But I was in no way prepared for how incredibly exhausting it was: physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. I think when I watched my last girl leave on my last morning of the summer, I quite literally had nothing left to give of myself. That being said, it was also one of the most rewarding things I have ever done with my time. I was focused on the youth and (attempting to) facilitate the spirit so they could better come to know their Savior from 5 am to about midnight (if I was lucky..) every day. I was surrounded by laughter and scriptures and brilliant examples of faith and courage EVERY DAY. I got to meet and come to love other amazing counselors. I learned what it feels like to teach with the Spirit, to follow promptings that make absolutely no sense, to bare bold testimony, and to hold crying and broken children of God. I became better acquainted with my Heavenly Father and the completely personal love and devotion he feels for me and each of children. I might have been completely drained, but I was also completely filled.

squad goals.
when you boy illegally kisses you. 

This summer my testimony of God's awareness of every person increased a hundredfold as I watched tender mercy after tender mercy unfold in front of my eyes. We are each Heavenly Father's hands, and it is incredible to watch how He works through us imperfect people to heal and help all His children on their way back home. I made some of my very best friends this summer, and the youth I worked with had more influence on me than I could ever have on them. I am so grateful I had the privilege of being surrounded by the most strong, loving, and Christlike human beings this summer. My life was definitely changed for the better because of it. efy will never end for me, not really. Those weeks of wearing over-sized polos and khakis will always hold a special spot in my heart. The testimonies shared and spirit felt will influence me in the years to come. I expect I will always miss my kids and who I was when I was with them.

my girls <3 <3 
all these kids are amazing. The Church is in good hands.
I know that my Savior lives. He is my elder brother and best friend. I know the atonement of Jesus Christ not only covers all my mistakes, but heals my heartaches and infirmities. I know that God is intimately aware of the details of my life and cares about me more than I could comprehend. I know His hand is in all our lives; we only have to look for it. I know that faith brings miracles, and I want to spend the rest of my life following the footsteps of Christ. I want to be the hands of God and watch miracles come to pass around me as we all come closer to Christ on this journey home.

Lord, Here Am I.


Love Always, Aimee

ps. If you are one of my kids and not pictured here, please do not be offended. I somehow lost more than half my pictures from the summer...? And some weeks all together. I have no idea what happened. But I love you all more than you know! xoxo Aims 

Thursday, September 24, 2015

so you're going on a study abroad..

So you’re going on a study abroad..

(I know a million things have happened in my life over the last four months. I fully intend to document them here, but all in good time. Here is a ridiculously long post that has been long promised to some cute friends who might just find it useful..)


Markets were definitely one of my favorite scenes to frequent in the UK. There are several right inside London itself and almost every town you stop in will have one as well. I love the food offered, cultures presented, and ambiance provided. You can get killer deals on unique souvenirs, incredible food, and some of the best people watching opportunities all in one spot. I call that winning at life, my friends.

(Harry Potter Puppet Pals?) 

Camden Market
This one was my favorite so we’ll start there. When you get off the stop, I believe you turn right and walk up the street. At first you will be disappointed and think, “Aimee. Why did you recommend this place? It’s just another tourist trap.” FALSE. Walk past all the touristy crap that you find everywhere and you will reach mecca. You’ll find food from all over the world and the cutest handmade goods on both sides of the street. If you’re like me and suffer in making small decisions, I suggest going in a group so you can get a bunch of food items to share; it’s impossible to pick one.

Portobello Road
The classic. Yes, it gets crowded Saturday mornings by about 10:00, but honestly I suggest not using Saturday to sleep in. If you get going by 8:00 or even 9:00 you can beat crowds and it makes such a difference. You have the rest of your life to sleep in. Take advantage of everything for these four months! Sleep can always wait (that seems to be a theme in my life no matter where I am..). Anyways. Back to Portobello Road. It is a way fun place to window shop, especially if you like vintage things. It can go on forever though; don’t feel like you need to walk the whole thing. The shops start repeating themselves.  A lot of the girls I roomed with were obsessed with their crepes..  I had better? But they did discover if you bring your own raspberries they will put them on the Nutella crepe for you haha.

Bourough Market
 It is kind of far out there, but definitely definitely worth the trip AT LEAST once. Go when you are on your London Walks or after you visit Tower Bridge. Amazing grilled cheese (Grill My Cheese) and ah-maze-ing pastries/treats. Really just so many wonderful food options.. They also happen to have cookies bigger than you face for 2 pounds. Obviously that is a big yes. It’s open every day and is bigger than you think! It took me two trips to realize there was a whole other half I never knew existed at first. Walk in all directions my friends.

Covent Garden
Such a fun environment to go and just hang out. There are always events happening here or street performers. It’s a solid place to people watch and shop. And eat! There is a really good crepe restaurant in the basement. It’s usually easier to get off the Leischter Square tube stop and walk five minutes; Covent Garden’s stop is usually crowded and it’s like 20 flights of stairs underground so….

Spitalfields Market
Way fun market you will stumble across on your London walks. Adorable clothes, but a little pricier place. I never went, but I heard from another girl (whose opinion I completely trust) that just around the corner is what they call “Brick Lane” where Jack the Ripper killed most of his victims; if you want the best Thai food of your life, go to Rosas nearby and get the Chicken Pad Thai .

You will stop in so many random towns as you travel throughout the UK on coach. Don’t fall into temptation and just try things you know or go into chain fast food places. Find the markets when possible and eat there! It’s usually cheaper/healthier/better tasting and where you will find the locals.


I know what you’re thinking; “Aimee, I spent so much money to just go on study abroad I can’t afford to shop.”

Yes. Yes, you can. At least a little bit. It’s so fun to observe their styles and learn to dress like a true Londoner. There is just something about their clothes that is superior than ours..  If you’re really on a budget or really want to get a lot for your money, Primark is the place for you! Let’s be honest. Primark is actually the place for everyone. I got my favorite pair of black pants ever there for seven pounds. SEVEN. Say what. Everything there is super cheap and okay quality. It is pretty crowded there.. just be warned. Don’t go when you have a headache.

Obviously. It is so much fun to walk through! Ha just don’t check the price tag on anything or you will come to find you probably cannot afford to even breathe in there.. Princess Diana’s ring is in the basement! Make sure to see it. And they do have good food. It’s home to the Cronut. As in a croissant donut. Yes. Those exist. Yes, you need to try one (though tbh the best one I had was at this incredible donut and cronut stand in Camden; FIND IT).

It’s a five story toy store on Regent/Oxford street. What’s not to love? Speaking of Oxford and Regent Street, that is really where your central shopping will be. They have everything. ALSO. There is nothing more magical than walking all the way down Oxford street (starting at Marble Arch) at night once Halloween has past and the Christmas lights come out.. <3

Liberty House
Just off Regent street. It’s another one you probably can’t afford anything in, but worth taking a trip to and enjoying looking around. It’s not like anthropologie, but it reminded me of it just because of how it’s set up. If that makes sense haha. Go check it out!

Go get clothes. kthanksbye.


Nando’s: You didn’t go to London if you didn’t eat at Nando’s.

Gourmet Burger Kitchen: Need I say more? (they have an app that will give you discounts and I think they offer student discounts as well. Really just ask EVERYWHERE if they give student discounts; a lot of places do but don’t advertise it).

Café Nero: You can get hot soup and bread for like three pounds or something. Which is a miracle when you are in some tiny town in the pouring rain and feel poor.

Ben’s Cookies. Ben’s Cookies Ben’s Cookie’s Ben’s Cookies. Just go. All the time. Try them all. Love them all. And then please bring one home to me. (I am 100% serious).

Khan’s: WAY good Indian restaurant close to the Bayswater station. They also deliever if you aren’t feeling like going out! Once upon a time Ellen and I thought we could handle the hottest chicken they had…. Good times.

Zizi’s.:There is one right out of Nottinghill Gate! Super good Italian pizza if you are up for a night out.

Pizza Express: Good pizza at decent prices and can be found anywhere.

Taza’s: HOW could you ever forget about Taza’s? It is this whole in the wall place right off Queensway. We are talking less than five-minute walk from the Centre. It has way good shwarma (spelling??) for really cheap served to you by men who only call you love/dear/darling (in a totally non-creepy way). Man. Now I really want to go here.

Hummingbird Bakery: Right off Portobello Road! But don’t try and go on a Saturday. They have way good cupcakes AND sell pumpkin bread in the fall. Pricier but delicious.

Paul’s Bakery: Yes.

Crush: Good healthy wraps and such.

Hampton Court feat. the Volturi

Whole Foods: This was my comfort place when I needed some American groceries. Mostly you can get just a bag of popcorn kernels and brown paper sacks, go back to the center and pop it, melt a little butter, sprinkle some salt or cinnamon, and BOOM. Late night snack.

Dishoom : This was for sure my favorite meal I had in London. It’s a Michelin Guide restaurant and incredible Indian food. Oh my heck. We went our very last night and it was just the perfect ending to the perfect semester. It’s very close to Leicester Square. Honestly I thought the prices were very fair considering how amazing it is. Definitely more a posh place, and although we lucked out and got in without a reservation, I recommend getting one.

SNOWFLAKE: Go at least once a week. Have family night or something. It’s a gelato place, and having been to Italy and eaten my fair share of gelato I will vouch for its authenticity. My favorite was actually the pear? But I am a vanilla and fruit person. It is just down the street from Palace Court on Pembridge Road. I would tell you to bring me some of this back too, but the whole melting thing is an issue..


The National Gallery is my personal favorite, but I love art. One of my favorite views in all of London is standing at the top of the steps and looking out over Trafalgar Square to Big Ben.

Honestly you will probably go to most museums for class assignments, but enjoy them. It’s incredible that they are all free to the public! The British Museum, Tate,  Victoria and Albert (way cool but prepare to get lost), are all so good. One that you do have to pay for is the Imperial War Museum/Churchill War Rooms, but I thought it was worth it. If you’re interested in WWII or Churchill, do it. Try not to get worn out of museums and just rush through them for class. It’s what you came to do: study abroad. You can learn so much in them! Seriously. On the flip side, don’t spend all day in one either.. Haha there is lots to do in very little time.


Do yourself a favor and get up early a few times a week to go run in Kensington. It was one of my favorite things.. Say hello to William, Kate, George, now baby Charlotte for me! </3  OH! And rent bikes at least once! It is so fun to bike around for a little before dinner and just enjoy the fall air. St. James’s Park and going up to Little Venice are totally worth your time as well (London Walks class FTW ladies and gents).

Where has your backpack?

You are surrounded by the best theatre in the world. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE WEST END. Go to the Globe more than once. Buy day-of/student tickets. See a show you’ve never heard of but has great reviews. Invest in the classics. Just live it up!
Some favorites included:

Les Mis: this is the show I really advise just biting the bullet and if you are going to see it, get an at least semi-decent seat. Because when they say restricted view, it turns out they mean restricted view. Go figure.

Matilda: dare I say this was my favorite one? At least top 5. AND IT ONLY COST 5 POUNDS. I was blown away by the kids’ talent. The music, the choreography, and the set were all brilliant. Get up early one day when you don’t have class and wait in line for the day-of tickets. I think we left about 7:30 or 8? And they give them to the first 15 people in line at 10:00. So so so so worth it. Bring a book and read in line. But you have to see this show.

Wicked: They give student tickets on the FRONT ROW day of for 25 pounds. Never have I been so blown away. I had seen Wicked when it came to Salt Lake, and obviously loved it, but HOLY COW. When you are five feet from the action and can see their expressions the emotional roller coaster you ride is unreal. Plus the Glinda is LDS, so that’s cool.

Other good ones included Phantom, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, White Christmas, and anything Shakespeare.

OH. Also. A few years ago, Benedict Cumberbatch ( <3 <3 <3 ) played the role of both Frankenstein and the monster at the National Theatre (epic, right?). Last year for Halloween they did a rescreening of the show at the movie theatre for like 10 pounds? It was INCREDIBLE. Frankenstein is one of my favorite books, and who better to be the complex characters than Benedict? If you have the chance, see it. But I will just warn you: it is a little graphic.

Speaking of shows and Benedict, keep your eye on movie premieres. Mockingjay and The Hobbit both had their red carpet premieres in Leicester Square in London. WHAT IS LIFE, right? If you plan ahead you can spot some celebrities and have your live changed by standing five feet from your love--Josh Hutcherson--and bff--Jennifer Lawrence. Living in London has so many perks it is insane guys. Just keep your eyes and ears out at all times and really take advantage of everything London has to offer! You will never get to call such a unique and cultural place home again.


I am just going to refer you back to my Paris and Germany and Scotland posts.. But PLAN AHEAD. Know things you want to see and do before hand. Then be flexible! Things don’t usually go as planned, so have back-ups and don’t stress. Just enjoy it all. Definitely take advantage of the fact you can visit another country for Thanksgiving break for only a couple hundred dollars. GO. Germany. Austria. Switzerland. Italy. Spain. Pick one and go. Small groups of even numbers are best, and you can find cheap but good housing on airbnb.

Thanks JK. Rowling. Always.


Yes, you have to do the Harry Potter Studio Tour. And GET THE AUDIO GUIDE! So worth it to hear Tom Felton narrate everything you could have ever wanted to know about the world of Harry. Honestly, worth every pound seven times over. Even if you don't love Harry Potter, it is incredibly fascinating to see how the movies and magic was created.



Yes. It is pricey. But it is just part of the experience of London and something that needs to be done! Make some reservations, get all dressed up, and enjoy your afternoon of drinking some nice (herbal) tea with your lovely ladies being waited on hand and food (and eating so many delicious treats and finger sandwiches).

Just be prepared to make some of the best friends of your life these next few months. The London Ladies of Room 2 will always hold a very special place in my heart...

I could honestly talk for a week straight about London and the love I have for it, but no one would listen so I will be done now. But if you are going on a study abroad, count yourself among the luckiest people on the planet. If you are going on a study abroad to London, consider you and your life forever changed by the magic and energy of that city. Open your heart and mind to the people, cultures, and history presented there. Do not waste a single day. And remember, a man who is tired of London is tired of life; because quite frankly, London is life. Cheers!

Love Always, Aimee

(I realize half these pictures correlated with what I was talking about, and half didn't.. Just go with it.)