Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A Few of My Guiltiest Pleasures

I am creating this blog at 2 AM for several reasons. One, I fell asleep on top of the sheets and with my jeans on (I hate that), and woke up with a start. Two, I am now kept awake by my neighbors' shrieking infant. Three, my side-job as a blogger has been experiencing some major slackage. So, as I lay in bed, I think about my schedule for this (busy) upcoming week. My life is practically managed to the minute by my very detailed palm pilot. But luckily I also have some "guilty", but necessary pleasures that keep life sweet. Here's the inside scoop.

Trader Joe's Peppermint Jo-Jo's
The Grand Avenue hill
Coffeemate Creamer (I'm ashamed to say that I daily give into a few grams of hydrogenated fat to make my AM enjoyable)
Monthly mani/pedi treatments
Food & Wine magazines

The baby's cries have subsided, and it's now time to give in to my guiltiest pleasure- sleep!

Goodnight all. 

Monday, December 15, 2008

Martha or Mary?

This passage re-struck me this week:

Luke 10:38-42
As Jesus and disciples were on their way, He came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to Him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what He said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to Him and asked, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!"

"Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her."

Although I can identify with both women, I tend to exhibit the characteristics of Martha more prominently. I try to juggle the "ball" of Christianity with the countless other "balls" of responsibility I seek to balance in my life, rather than putting on the uniform of Christianity that will transform the way I play out on the court.*** This story is a much needed reminder to stop the hustle and bustle, and come kneel quietly at the feet of our Lord.

***This original metaphor was created by Sarah.

Friday, December 12, 2008

On the 12th Day of Christmas...

.... My true love gave to me....

12 drummers drumming
Did you know this refers to the 12 points of doctrine in the Apostle's Creed?

Friday, December 5, 2008

A Newly Discovered Comparison

"Ab mats at the gym are like sand at the beach". 

For clarification: 
Tonight, Sar and I went to the gym for a bit of exercise. After about 30 minutes of actually working out, we spent the rest of our time at the gym (probably another 30+ minutes) lying belly down on the ab mat, people watching, chit chatting, and giggling. That glorious 30 minutes truly felt like an afternoon of leisure at the beach, and I think our giggling gave my abdominal muscles a better workout than the actual sit-ups did.
Oh, the joys of friendship :)

Monday, December 1, 2008

The Sounds of the Season

Why isn't all our "praise and worship" music as jubilant as that of the Christmas season? I love listening to Christmas tunes all year round because of their praise-filled and glorious (i know, i'm nerdy) lyrics. Here is a compilation of my favorite Christmas song lyrics:

'God and sinners reconciled' ... 'For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn'... 'Born that man no more may die, born to raise the sons of earth, born to give them second birth'... 'Jesus, Lord at thy birth'... 'Rejoice! Emmanuel will come to thee O Israel!'... 'Glory to the newborn king'... 'He knows your need, O Praise His name forever!'... 'The King of Kings salvation brings, let loving hearts enthrone Him'... 'And at last our eyes shall see Him through His own redeeming love'... 'Gloria, in excelsis Deo!'

He's the reason for the season!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving at the Szumiak Residence...

It was a lovely Thanksgiving at the Szumiak Household. We had entirely too much food for the 4 of us and it was a glorious feast that took many hours of preparation.

Here's Dad hard at work at the shallot and sherry dish.

And Momma making her famous mashed potatoes.

Darling Sister stirring dedicatedly away at the gravy.

And here's me. Enough said.

Happy Turkey Day, Everyone!!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

That's SO Hot Right Now...

Alright, fellow fashion followers- here are a few "must have pieces" on my shopping list for the season:

1. Peacock colors (my personal favorite)! Deep purple, blue and green are the current "hot" colors. That includes the actual peacock feather print, purple nail polish, eyeliner, etc... Don't be scared of the purple.

2. Tights. Bust out the tights with dresses, long shirts, boots, you name it. Different colored and patterned tights are popular, too.

3. Plaid. Of any kind and on any body part. On my to-get list is a red/black/white peacoat.

4. Chunky and long sweaters. Wear them with pants, leggings or tights. Both functional and fashionable.

5. Pashminas. The European trend has travelled to America! (figures) These lightweight scarves pair great with any outfit, and come in super fun patterns and colors!

So... ready, set, shop!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

As We Approach Thanksgiving...

Here are a few "things" for which I am thankful...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Happiest Place on Earth!

Finally, after 9 long years of separation, I will be back at "The Happiest Place on Earth"...

...with one of my favorite people on earth!

What could be better?!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Meet Caleb

This is Caleb, the little boy I have decided to sponsor through World Help. He is from Uganda, and will be 2 years old in February. He loves to sing! :) Pray for him, please!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Two Thumbs Down

Three personal comments about the ever-so-loved hobby of watching movies:

1. I am an anomaly in the fact that I don't love watching movies. At all. My main problem is that I'm such a chatterbox that I never get through watching a rented movie (or at least get through it without my watching partner being at their wits end with my incessant blabbing). Oh, and I'm not one of those movie watchers who holds an ongoing movie commentary mid viewing. Rather, I am the person that will be watching a movie and sporadically ask what's for dinner. Word of advice- if you have a choice, don't watch a movie with me.
2. I hate Blockbuster with a passion. Tonight I was actually in the mood to rent a movie, and so roomie Sar and I walked down to our local Glendora Blockbuster store (I hate to admit that I was in my PJ's during our trip). We were all amped about our expected video choice (The Great Escape), but OF COURSE our Blockbuster failed us. Again. (We have tried renting Father of the Bride, Little Women, and many other classics, and our Blockbuster never seems to provide us with ample selections).
3. What are my favorite movies, might you ask? The first 6 I could think of are....
1. Mary Poppins
2. The Counte of Monte Cristo
3. Pride and Prejudice
4. Les Miserables
5. The Newsies
6. The Fugitive
Thanks for reading.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

What would YOU do with an extra 100 bucks?

 If someone walked up to me and handed me a $100 bill, how would I use it?

$25 on a manicure and pedicure
$30 to sponsor a child living in a third world country.
$16 to buy an intermediate salsa class and entrance into The Granada salsa club.
$28 to eat a meal at The Forks (my overly priced place of work). My planned menu? The asian pear salad to start, the braised short ribs for my main course, and Whit's banana cream pie for dessert. YUM.
$1 for a pack of orbit bubble gum.

How would YOU spend it? 

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A few reasons why next month will be different...

1. I won't be spending every spare second with these crazy wonderful people.

2. No more knobbing with all the muckity-mucks in the nicest country clubs in LA. (or ruining their carpets with tea spills, which is what happened 30 seconds after the above picture was taken).

3. No more fat suit for me!

4. For the first time in 3 years, my main mode of transportation will NOT be a van filled with 12 other crazy people.

5. I will no longer only have a week and a half of Christmas vacation, but i get a FULL MONTH this year!!

6.  That (see picture above) will no longer be my appearance for the whole month of December. And yes, if you had seen me any day in December for the past 3 years, that would have been what you would have found.

7. No more singing Christmas carols everyday, completing 56 shows in 3 weeks, playing handbells, singing to little rugrats as Mrs. Claus while experiencing sheer exhaustion. 

Bittersweet December, here we come....

Sunday, November 9, 2008


I know it's a bit premature, but I'm just in the spirit...

Saturday, November 8, 2008

It's Official...

...I am completely and utterly obsessed with salsa dancing!!!!

Thursday, November 6, 2008


Last night, I got in a discussion with my dear roommate and her friend about talent. The word "talent" is such an ambiguous word.  Merriam-Webster defines talent as "a special, often athletic, creative, or artistic aptitude". In many cases, talent is very easy to recognize- it is very obvious that Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps is a naturally talented swimmer. Yes, he trains like crazy, but even if I trained the same amount of time and at the same intensity he does, I could never swim at his level of skill.
In my eyes, musical talent is a whole different ball game. I am a musician, and I have been for 17 years. Not to stroke my own ego, but all my life, I have been told that I am "talented" at music. I am beginning to wonder what this compliment actually means. To me, musical talent is the fact that J.S. Bach wrote over 1,000 amazing compositions in his short lifetime. My 9 year old piano student is talented- she has flawlessly perfect pitch and can play any piece of music placed in front of her. My dear friend Rachel sings like a goddess- I am positive she will be the lead soloist in the angel choir in Heaven. As I contemplate, talent appears to be more of an anointing by God than trained skills. 
But me? Musically talented? I'm not so sure anymore. I have worked my butt off for 17 years to develop my musical skills. I have dedicated hours to building the tools which enable me to read music and make my fingers play what's on the page. I can only do what would be expected of me, considering that I've slaved to to reach the musical level that I have.
So, what is my "talent"? To be continued...

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

My Ultimate To Do List...

I am absolutely obsessed with list making. Ask my roommates- my desk is covered with scraps of papers and sticky notes that remind me of my ever-growing uncompleted tasks. Here is my "ultimate to do list":

1. Become proficient at an instrument other than piano.
2. Have a garden.
3. Sponsor a child from a third world country.
4. Yearly read the Bible in its entirety.
5. Study abroad (to be completed in Florence, during Summer 09!)
6. Become a real salsa dancing queen.
7. Get married.
8. Become truly fluent in a foreign language.
9. Mend that one friendship.
10. Unspoken.

To be continued...

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Rain, Rain, Go Away

It is so funny how my taste in weather has changed over the past 4 years of living up in the Foothills. Pre-2005, I would get all in a tizzy if there was even a slight chance of rain. And, if rain actually did begin to fall out of a cloudy sky, I would mope and shut myself up in my room, waiting for my friend the sun to reappear. Now, 4 years later (wow, time flies), I am aglow if the muggy Foothills turn chilly and dreary. Today, as I walked out of my apartment to pouring skies, I felt so grateful for the wet weather. For the first time in my 21 years of life, I am not saying "rain, rain, go away", but rather secretly hoping that the drops will stick around for awhile.

Friday, October 31, 2008

I Found Myself A Little Gem...

... In the 4 Seasons EPs by Jon Foreman. Frontman of Switchfoot, Jon Foreman has made a killer attempt at going solo with these 4 awesome mini-albums. Check them out!
PS: Personal favorite is Track 5 on the Summer EP

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

When I Grow Up...

Just so i have this in documentation:
As of October 29, 2008, my career goal is to be a food and beverage manager at a major hotel; preferably at a hotel that is located somewhere scenic and whose main patrons are leisure, not business travelers.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Top 5 Books You Should Read and Why

1. Les Miserables (Victor Hugo)
It is the greatest story of redemption ever written, other than the gospel.
2. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (J.K. Rowling)
It is the first of a captivating series, and once you read the first one, you'll be hooked and inspired to read the other 6.
3. Mere Christianity (C.S. Lewis)
It is pretty much the journey of Christianity in a nut-shell.
4. Cheaper by the Dozen (The Gilbreth Kids)
It is a charming and hysterical book that gives the real story (not the lame movie version) of the family with 12 children.
5. The Food Lover's Companion
I know I'm one of the only people on the face of this planet that loves to peruse different food and cooking terms... so no need to take this suggestion to heart.

"Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers".  ~Charles W. Eliot

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Yes, Chef.

I honestly think that the group "kitchen staff" should be considered as a new demographic classification... You know, senior citizens, native americans, middle class, kitchen staff. It is a separate culture of its own that you won't find anywhere else. From my experience for your knowledge, here are the only acceptable phrases to be used when working in a kitchen: 
"Yes, Chef"
"I'm sorry, Chef"
and that's about it. 

Saturday, October 11, 2008


Weird thing happened to me today... 
I sing at a church in Santa Monica every Saturday morning. Well, this morning, I noticed a homeless man sitting in the back of the church. He looked... well... to put it plainly: dirty, drugged out, and quite frightening. For some reason, his presence really bothered me, so I leaned over and asked a fellow worship team member if the church had previously had incidences with homeless people. She confirmed my worries, and recounted the times when people had to be escorted out of the building.
Not even 2 minutes later, mid church service praise time, the homeless man stands up, walks down the aisle, up the stage steps and right to me (why no one intervened, I'm not sure, but that's a different issue). The homeless man, in dirty, tattered clothes, tattoos covering his whole face, and the rest of his scary appearance stood and stared at me in front of the whole congregation. Then he proceeded to gift me with wood peace sign he had carved. I said thank you, he walked down the stairs and out of the church. 
Thoughts on this experience? First of all, I don't think I have ever felt so scared and weirded out in my whole life. Secondly, how quick was I to judge this man's intentions... I automatically assumed he was going to harm me. Thirdly, I feel touched that this man chose me as a recipient of his kindness. I have no idea who the man is, what his story is, or where he'll end up, but I will never forget his little gesture of peace. 

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


I love putting my ipod on the shuffle setting for several reasons. First of all, I have so many different genres, songs, artists and albums loaded for my listening enjoyment, so I know I will always listen to a great variety (I have over 5,000 songs on my 6 GB). Secondly, I never know what sort of listening mood I will be in while driving, jogging, studying, etc., and allowing my ipod to choose for me takes the decision making out of my hands. Thirdly, I am amazed by how my little ipod can read my mind and emotions, and play the perfect songs for how I'm feeling.
The point of this blog:
While driving to school this morning with my ipod playing on shuffle, "Dandelions", by Five Iron Frenzy came through my speakers. I'm sure most people reading this have no clue who Five Iron Frenzy is; they are a Christian ska band that was "popular" in the 90's (thanks to my sister Lisa, and friend Devon, for introducing me to the band). This song, "Dandelions", paints a picture of a little boy picking dandelions as a gift for his mother. She knows that dandelions are not flowers, but are pesky, ugly weeds, but as a mother she sees to the intentions of her son's heart. This scenario is juxtaposed to our Heavenly Father. Here are some of the lyrics that popped out to me this morning:

"She sees love where anyone else would see weeds.
All hope is found, here is everything he needs.
Fathomless, your endless mercy, weight I could not lift.
Where do I fit in this puzzle, what good are these gifts?
Not a martyr or a saint, scarcely can I struggle through.
All I have ever wanted was to give my best to you.
Lord, search my heart, create in me something clean.
Dandelions, you see flowers in these weeds".

How amazing that God sees through my junk; my failed efforts, my selfishness, my screw ups, and my shortcomings.
I am so thankful that my Father does not see my dandelions as weeds, but rather as beautiful, blossoming flowers.

Sunday, October 5, 2008


Has everyone heard about “ChaCha”? ChaCha is a super cool service that is sponsored by Google. All you do is text 242242, ask any question, and ChaCha will respond. No joke. Now, you can’t ask a predictive text like, “What are the winning lotto numbers for tomorrow’s jackpot”, but ask any answerable question, and ChaCha will answer. ChaCha is a real person (or people) who is hired to answer all the random questions she (he?) receives from crazy people like me (and my boyfriend, Nate). So far, between the 2 of us and our questions, we now know where Osama bin Laden is (somewhere in Afghanistan), how to kill maggots (boiling water), if pretty girls poop (of course not), how many miles are in a kilometer (.621371192), and oh so many more interesting facts. And- she (he?) knew that I teach piano and voice lessons in Cerritos. Weird. So, go on, give ChaCha a try- I promise you’ll get hooked.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The Attack of the Killer Maggots!

This is my 4th year of living in an apartment with my roommates. I absolutely love it-some of the best times of my life have occurred with my girls in our apartment. But, as of recently, we are discovering that living in an apartment complex isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. This past year we have dealt with toxic mold, ants in my roommate Megan’s bed, cockroaches, and more. But, last Sunday, the straw broke the camel’s back- our little clean, cute, and orderly apartment was attacked by maggots. At least 50 white maggots were swarming all over our kitchen floor. Absolutely foul. I can’t even express the disgust we experienced as we squashed maggots until we heard their guts pop. Yes, the little buggers would only die if they were squished until their guts burst out. Classic moment: roommate Sarah and I were hurriedly unplugging and moving our fridge in order to squish 20 maggots that were lurking behind. We burst out into gut busting laughter and realized how ridiculous our situation was, and how blessed we are that we don’t have to sleep on the floor with the maggots. Anyways, if anyone is looking for a new apartment for lease, be sure to ask me where I live so you can avoid bug infestations at all costs! 

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


Winter. Summer. Spring. Fall.
When polled, I'm guessing that most people would be able to choose their favorite season. However, I am not one of those people. 
My gut instinct is to label Summer as my favorite season- I love being a beach bum, driving down PCH with my toes sticking out the window (obviously I'm the passenger at this point), eating frozen yogurt everyday, having freedom from school- and the list of the pros of summer go on. 
But then my indecisiveness kicks in, and I remember how much I love the festivities of Winter, which brings its twinkling Christmas lights, scarves, and hot chocolate. 
And Spring! Who doesn't love Spring and its new flowers popping up from the soil? I am so drawn to Springtime because it hosts the most significant holiday of all.
But then October hits... 
Every year at this time, I am hit with this gushing feeling that overwhelms me. Everything about fall inspires me- the crisp air, the "changing" colors (in quotations because I am a CA native), the feeling of a fresh start... and the list goes on. When Fall comes around, everything is exciting, orange, fresh, and rejuvenating
I suppose Fall even is the inspiration for starting my very own blog.
When reflecting on these thoughts, I am remembering how our God is ever-changing but NEVER-changing.  He gives us the privilege to see His power and majesty through His transforming creation, but He is our one consistent. 

"There is a harmony in autumn, and a luster in its sky, which through summer is not heard or seen, as if it could not be, as if it had not been!" - Percy Bysshe Shelley

Photos by Evin Navarro