Monday, December 22, 2008

Guatemala - Day Uno. Dos. Tres.

If you recall the reference to Guatemala in our Red Lion debacle post a few months ago, you may remember we marked our second anniversary with a trip to beautiful Central America. As it's been a good two months since we landed back on U.S. soil, it's probable I will not remember the details of said trip. But here's my valiant effort...

When we landed in Guatemala and tried to strike up friendly conversation with the customs gentleman, that's when it hit me: I've never been in a Spanish-speaking country before. Bizarre, non? I feel like I've assembled a pretty decent collection of passport stamps over the years, and Spanish-speaking seems a little more accessible than most. But no. This was going to be totally new to me and I was stoked.

Mostly just traveled.

Kindly chauffeured to the airport by our favorite buddy, Quinn.

Enjoyed a lovely chicken tarragon sandwich from Au Bon Pain in airport.

Arrived in Guatemala, shuttled to Marriott - Guatemala City, worried we were getting giardia by trying to be polite and sipping the brownish water the kind bellboy handed us. Learned there were peaches and apples soaking in the water and contributing to the brownish hue. Still didn't ingest much/any unsealed water on the trip regardless.

Watched World Trade Center as we fell asleep. Learned helpful Spanish dialogue by reading subtitles.

On Monday, Augustine - who would, by week's end, solidify his spot as most gracious, accommodating, giving friend in the whole Central AM - picked us up and took us to the church in Guatemala City where most Elders/Sisters were being directed to their next transfer and where we'd inherit our own "transfer" - Elder Riley.

It was a completely surreal experience for me to be around all these missionaries. What a remarkable time in their lives, when they literally dedicate all their time, devotion and energy to others. It was really uplifting to be around this whole group of 19-23 year-olds and realize they were giving such a huge part of themselves to something they believe and love. It was also fairly entertaining to be around so many people in missionary-mode. I've been around my share of individual returned missionaries in all their recently-reintroduced-to-society awkwardness, but the slightly awkward, completely adorable, always friendly sum of all those 100+ missionaries was impressive. :) Shook an awful lot of hands.

After reuniting with our favorite white shirt and black name tag in the bunch, we headed out for some lunch at a very authentic little establishment - I believe they call it the "centro comerical" :) - and a death-defying driving tour of Guatemala City. That is no reflection on the mad skills possessed by our driver, but man - how are there not more accidents here? Later, we headed to the mission president's home for dinner and Family Home Evening, where I secured a delicious win in a game of BURRO against Noah with an impressive granny shot from half-court.

The next morning, we were able to go to the temple in Guatemala City. It was beautiful and such an amazing spirit exists there. It was interesting to feel the slightly slower pace of the culture even in an otherwise familiar setting. The people were so content to talk and share stories - and bless Christopher's heart for translating everything. The domino effect of stories and jokes was always fun to watch. Someone tells a story. Guatemalans and Christopher laugh. Gringos stare and smile. Christopher translates. Gringos laugh. Everyone laughs.

Afterward, we drove up the mountain for lunch and for a view of Guatemala City.That evening, we made the first of a few rounds of visits to church members and friends of Christopher's. I'll beg his forgiveness when I group all the visits together in one place, though they did take place over a few days. I was impressed that in all the cities, all the people and all the visits, one commonality was thoroughly evident - these people absolutely adore Elder Riley. It was so apparent how hard he worked, how tirelessly he served and how wholly he loved the people in Guatemala. And we were embraced and loved by association. I decided it's a lot of fun to pick up a missionary. It's especially fun to pick up a missionary who did such a phenomenal job.

In all the visits, we met so many beautiful, kind, incredible people. But one little buddy in particular really stole a piece of my heart.
Clearly, I have very little shame in releasing this terribly flattering photo of myself to the world wide web. Just wait, peeps. They're gonna get better.

Friday, December 12, 2008


Wednesday night, I flew home from my last TSG business trip. It has been such a crazy week of PR initiatives, board meetings, pitching media, tracking down franchisees, finding out we're homeless in NY... :), that I think I finally broke my brain.

I plugged in my headphones to enjoy some mindless vieiwing of the in-flight movie and watched for a good 7 minutes before I realized I was on one of the music stations. I just assumed Fred Claus opened with a nice slow jazz montage.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

You Can't Take It With You

WARNING: Among the more materialistic posts in my time.

As Noah and I prepare to make the trek eastward, we've limited our rations to one little white car's worth.

After clothes of the professional sort, a few linens and limited kitchenwares - it leaves little in the way of frivolity. And that means my birthday gift from Noah will have to reside elsewhere for the next few years.

You will be sorely missed.

How to Win Over a Two-Year-Old

Hang out at her favorite haunts.

Take an an active interest in the things she enjoys.

Engage in her favorite activites.

A good game of hide-and-seek is typically in order.

Throw in a lil' sugar.

My niece, Abbey, just can't get enough of her Uncle NoNo. I think the feeling is mutual.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Excuse Me, I Believe You Have My Face

If you recall, several months ago I found my profile twin.

That in and of itself is impressive enough.

But folks, profile twin and I have outdone ourselves. Turns out we know someone in common. I work with profile twin's brother. He noticed the photo on Facebook. We MET (via cyberspace). Now we're Facebook friends and blog buddies.

And the power of social networking continues to astound.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Incidentally, We Have A Lovely SLC Condo Available

I have a hunch very few of our eleven readers are in the market/interested in rental properties in the Salt Lake City metropolitan area right now. But we are planning to hang on to our place for now, so our home is up for rent. If anyone is interested or knows of someone who may be, please feel free to pass along the link to this handy blog I set up detailing (and detailing, and detailing) the place.

Noah and I have yet to host a raucous party (unless you count our rootbeer drinking games at our St. Patty's Day Family Home Evening party), throw a fist or a teenage heiny through a wall (this has happened, just not in any place we've ever rented) or run around in stillettos on hardwood in any place we've ever rented. So we're hoping positive karma works in our favor when it comes to finding a renter.

Please also accept this blog in lieu of condo photos we never posted when we moved in six months ago.

Here's a sneak peek to whet your palette...

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Friday, October 31, 2008

Fall Getaway

Last year, Noah and I were able to spend a week in the lovely northeast joining the "leaf-peeping" ranks. I was feeling slighted that Utah's fall left a bit to be desired this year. (Why is that? Rainfall or something? The fabulous orchard Rileys are probably all rolling their eyes at my tree ignorance.)

Fortunately for my fall fetish, Candace and I headed to Roanoke, VA last week to wrap up the Fresh Fit contest (of creepy obese teacher assembly fame) and hit the town at a beautiful time of year. I love this picture Candace caught of the press event where we recognized the contest winner. After our event and a delightful lunch with Becky, we attempted to drive the Blue Ridge Parkway and we thought we were on it - what, with all the "Blue Ridge Antiques" and "Blue Ridge Burgers" and "Blue Ridge Bowling" buildings and shops along the route. After driving 45 minutes in one direction and turning around, we found the turn-off to the actual Blue Ridge Parkway upon our return. My bad, Candace. Thanks for capturing these fabulous shots of our romantic fall foliage drive anyway :).
Isn't it gorgeous? I love my job.
Call it fate. A few days before I left, I learned - via Cash Cab, the source of all my new knowledge as of late - that Virginia happens to have the highest concentration of vanity plates per capita in the nation. Riveting, yes. But you know what? For REAL. They are everywhere! Candace captured ALL these in one parking lot. One half-full, twenty car parking lot.

And just for good measure, for anyone who called Wednesday evening and got the ol' "in a restaurant that doesn't allow cell phones excuse," here's your proof...

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


Our MPG.

That's right.

We went 515 miles on our last tank of gas.

Bless your heart, little white car, bless your heart.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Hopeless Romantic

To understand this post a little better (or for a frightening glance into Allison's psyche) - let's delve, shall we?

I'm a cheap person. Ah, that's harsh. I'm frugal.

It's not that I refuse to spend bucks, but I'm pretty selective about how I spend them. I prefer to save up for something better (completely subjective, I know - notice I didn't specify 'more expensive' - just 'better' in my mind) than to spend the same amount over time. It can drive Noah totally nuts that I refuse to pay full price for yogurt ($.64?! No thanks, Yoplait. I'll stock up on the 20/$10. Yes. A fourteen cent discrepancy. That really matters to me.) or debate over paper towel brands and in the same breath notice a $600 mirror I must own. Not all at the same store. But you get the idea.

I'm all about maximum utility from my purchases. And for me, I derive that utility from a) saving a little longer for something I really dig, or b) getting a ridiculously good deal. Uh, hello. Have you met my fabulous green armoire I scored for 75% off?

Enough exposition already. So, for faithful readers of the blog or anyone who started reading yesterday, you know yesterday was our anniversary. Part of our love for the fall anniversary centers around our love for fall travel. We had our first three anniversary trips practically planned before we tied the knot. This year is Guatemala, and we're headed out next week. So in my previously described mind, that factors in nicely. Big trip, lots of fun, eat Top Ramen until we leave. Kidding, it's not that extreme. But something low-key for the day-of.

I figured we'd spend a nice evening in or maybe find a fun restaurant in the area we've never tried before. Noah, the hopeless romantic, had a different idea.

He decided to surprise me with a night at a fun little B&B in the area, or maybe even find a little place in Park City for the evening. But understanding my ... er, frugality ... he opted for to find a great last-minute deal. However, not understanding, we ended up with a seriously-not-a-cent-cheaper-than-the-standard-rate room at the Red Lion.

Before I sound like a total snob, there is nothing wrong with the Red Lion. In fact, they were very kind and even upgraded us to a suite when Noah told them we were celebrating our anniversary. But let's refer back to our utility conversation. A three-star hotel six blocks from my home at its everyday rate doesn't exactly summit the utility scale. Even its possible selling points - downtown! Great view of the city and mountains! We live downtown with a great view of the city and mountains.

Noah told me about the conundrum when he came to pick me up from work. After my initial, "but babe... I have this thing called a utility scale..." reaction and "is it too late to cancel our bank account and drop off the face of the map?" query, we went home, packed a bag, vacuummed the rugs (this detail is not important, except that we finally got a vacuum and I was STOKED to vacuum the rugs) and made our way to the hotel. For an additional $17, we added Cafe Rio and a RedBox to the mix. Because when you're gonna go all out, you may as well go all out :).

In the line at Cafe Rio, the guy behind the counter took one look at us and asked Noah, "wow - did she get mad at you?" An immediate look of concern crossed my face. Was I really so transparent with my emotions? Was I honestly such a brat that the Cafe Rio guy could see it in my face? Yes, maybe. But I forgot Noah was still sporting a shiner from basketball a few weeks ago. With all the "did she hit you?!" jokes we've encountered this week, I'm shocked I didn't catch on more quickly.

All in all, we did have a really nice evening together. We laughed over and over while we packed our bags, as we pulled up to the hotel, in the elevator - I think I might need to add one more criteria to the scale - c) will result in hilarious memory for years.

Monday, October 20, 2008


It's been two whole years, and I'm still madly in love with this guy...
October 20, 2006 was a pretty excellent day. And windy.Like most couples' big day, the day was busy - but I loved that it didn't feel frantic. We enjoyed a nice wedding brunch with close friends and family. Our wedding ceremony was performed in the Salt Lake City Temple by a dear friend and fellow USU alum, Val R. Christensen. We partied at our beautiful autumn reception, tossed the bouquet, cut the cake and ditched the scene.

(I was looking for the picture where we're giving off a very 'peace out' vibe. Can't find it. Ashley - was it from your camera? Ah, well - the 'just cut this cake so we can leave' shot will suffice.)

By the day's end, I felt a little like Barbie in the scene from Toy Story (ah, yes. only the finest cinematic works need be referenced on this blog...) - my face was killing me. And my feet were also a little worse for the wear. So I popped a few Tylenol before heading to the inn where we stayed that evening. Ahem - I popped a few Tylenol PM before heading the inn where we stayed that evening. I was out cold before we even hit the freeway.

Just the beginning of oh-so-many such antics Noah would have to put up with over the next two years and counting.

But I have a hunch he's still pretty head over heels as well.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

She Almost Makes Me Want One

My sister Ashley and her hubby Justin must have some sort of superior genes, because how cute is this mug?
Abbey, Dad, Allison - 9.7.2008
After traveling all weekend, I flew in about one hour before my sister and her sweet girls got to town. It was land, cruise home for a shower, jet back to the airport and ride up and down escalators with Abbey.
The gals came to Salt Lake to stay with Noah and me and visit the finer points of the city this weekend. Some crazy-adorable photo opps ensued. Stay tuned.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Roanoke, Charlotte and Columbia - Oh My.

September meant a lot of travel for work around the Riley home. I spend a weekend in Roanoke, Virginia launching a program in elementary schools with Jared the Subway Guy and his giant pants; another week in North and South Carolina hanging out with Mike Rucker of Carolina Panthers fame; and Noah spent a few afternoons in Sandy at the What a Woman Wants Show.

I'll admit, it's not all bad to get paid to see a new place and shake up the work week a bit. But as we inch closer to flipping the calendar and bidding September adieu, we're looking forward to spending a few more weekends in the same zip code.

A few Virginia highlights:

• At one elementary in Roanoke, we took Jared backstage to prepare for the assembly. When we opened the door to the backstage area, there was – what we could only assume was an obese adult a few screws short of full mental capacity – sitting on a chair with a bag of potato chips and what I thought were little pieces of masking tape on his lips. He didn’t say anything when we opened the door, just turned and stared. For a moment, I panicked thinking we should tell the principal about his creepy individual sitting backstage. Then my fears quickly shifted. Maybe the school was hiding him back here?! (Think: Sloth from the Goonies). I nervously edged around the individual every time I had to go backstage and limited the amount of time I had spend back there with the school crazy. Turns out, he was a teacher who was taking part in the assembly. The obesity? A few couch pillows. And what I thought were pieces of tape were actually soda cracker crumbs. (The quality of this photo is no bueno. But hopefully this gives you the idea.)
• Visiting Virginia Tech’s beautiful campus.

• THIS guy who fashioned his own Subway ensemble of Subway cups, bags, straws and napkins.
(He is not wearing the hat in this one. But believe you me. There was a hat.)

• Enjoying the VT/Furman game from a sweet suite after a killer game of parking lot football with a bunch of 6-year olds. I was, undisputedly, our team’s weak link. I had nothin’ on those first graders.
• Getting off our plane in Atlanta (after sitting on the tarmac for an hour, bleh) with only five minutes until our next flight’s takeoff. Even though we figured it was in vain, Nate, Justin and I hauled booty from terminal A to terminal D – um, hello, tram not working? We missed the flight anyway, but I earned mad props from the guys for setting a land speed record in my heels.

And a few from the Carolinas:
• “Ma’am, we’ve upgraded you to a suite during your stay at no extra charge. Will that work for you?” Um, yes. That’s a bullet I’ll go ahead and take.

The living room.The work area.

The flat screen TV built into the mirror (and the stirring Rock Band news coverage I was watching.)

• Meeting one of the most down-to-earth professional football players on the planet. Utah doesn’t have a professional football team, so I figure I don’t have allegiances elsewhere. I may just be a Carolina Panthers fan.
• Going to church on Sunday with my cousin, Alicia, and her sweet family, and panicking when I thought her little Sophie ate the penny she was playing with. It was actually just clenched in her fist. One of the most impressive “where’s the coin?” tricks ever executed by a 20-month old.

• Dean & Deluca’s. We don’t have ‘em in Utah. Any faithful readers have some in their area? Five of my seven nights in SC/NC were spent in Charlotte, NC with a D&D right down the street. It’s possible I went there for four meals. Was the same girl working the bakery when I got a dessert with every single meal? Yes. Was I ashamed? Not hardly.

• Our last night, we stayed in Asheville and the Holiday Inn left a little to be desired after the suite in Charlotte and the Hilton in Columbia. Not the very least of which was the gosh-awful shampoo and conditioner. Our flight home was at 6:30 a.m., so leave at 5:30 a.m., wake up at 4:30 a.m. As I dried my hair, it was so greasy and matted down – I just couldn’t deal. I finally resorted to kneeling down by the tub and sticking my head under the faucet in a last-ditch attempt to rinse the stuff out. By the time I conceded the point and pulled my hair into a nappy ponytail, I hurried out to the car a few minutes late. I apologized to my CEO and account services director, with whom I was traveling, and whined to them about the sorry excuse for hair care products bestowed upon us by the HI. After our first flight, we waited for our connection in Cincinnati where I re-pulled up the matted mess on my head and complained once again about the conditioner. It was at that point Sam observed he didn’t have conditioner in his room.

"Yeah, Sam. The two bottles. One said 'CLEANSE' the other said 'SMOOTH.' Right?"
"Yes. That would be the lotion."


Friday, September 19, 2008

People Ought Not Pass Gas on Airplanes… and other undeniable truths.

In the grand tradition of the Noah and Allison Riley family birthdays (ahem, Noah in Minneapolis for work last September 20; me dragging Noah to an awards banquet for my clients on May 31) I am penning this entry from a hotel room in Charlotte, NC.

Being an adult is so totally overrated sometimes. All I know, when you were a kid and your birthday landed on a Friday or Saturday, it was like hitting pay dirt. Weekend birthdays were, in a word, cool beans. (One word. Coolbeans.)

Well, about 23 minutes ago, eastern standard time, I turned 24. And according to ancient lore another year older makes me another year wiser, too.

I don’t know about that.

But what I did learn on my flight to the Tar Heel State (ah, state report information will prove beneficial one day, all you 2nd graders who frequent this blog…) is that nothing drives home the fact you’re breathing recycled air more devastatingly than lacing it with a foul odor. That goes for you guys sitting in front of me with the malodorous curry pork rinds, too.

I don’t have a camera cord to upload photos, so I’ll spare you any facts about what I’m doing here until I have some visual documentation to verify my words. Until then… “what was she doing?! What was she doing?!” I know. You totally can’t even sleep now.

Monday, September 8, 2008

In the News - Installment II

Oh, how I've left you hanging. I hope this post was worth the wait. I assure you, the content is. The delivery? I hope it will suffice.
While TSG was reveling in the Amazing Race coverage, the breaking news story that evening focused on wildfires in Payson. Since I married a guy who hails from P-town, I was concerned and asked Noah to call his parents to get the status. He called and they let us know the fire was actually a few miles south in Spring Lake, a suburb of Payson. (I'm sensing a slight lift of the ol' eyebrow. Yeah way, Payson has suburbs.)

However, at about 11:30 that evening - we received a call from Noah's mom letting us know that the canyon breeze (or the white trash air conditioning, as my mother-in-law so affectionately refers to it) we'd enjoyed on so many evenings was now fueling the fire at a pretty rapid pace. Noah's parents' home is built up in their orchards, one of the very first along the mountain - so they were first in the fire's path. Christine let us know they'd been evacuated from their home. Noah's brothers and dad ran sprinkler lines along the eastern edge of the driveway and orchards and the Spanish Fork Fire Department literally parked in the driveway, hosing down the roof and doing all they could to save the house.

(That's the Riley home silhouetted in the flames.)

I cannot imagine that feeling. Filling a car with a few armloads of precious possessions and driving away from your home not knowing if you'll come back. I know our homes are filled with mostly replaceable things, and the Rileys were blessed with a real support from family and friends in the area who came rushing up to help haul as much from the home as possible. But material objects aside, it really hit me how difficult it would be to think of losing your home - the place where you raised your family, built your life, enjoyed sweet memories.

Hearing the news at 11:30 p.m., Noah and I spent a pretty restless night in Salt Lake and woke up early Saturday morning to head to Payson. On our drive, we listened to a story about a wildfire in California that had already claimed 11 homes. I know I've heard those types of statistics before, but suddenly those homes and those people became so much more real to me. Sad that it takes a personal experience, or threat thereof, to make me think this way sometimes. Even sadder that it's entirely possible, probable I'll revert back to my comfortable thinking once the reality of the Riley home escapes recent memory.

We arrived at the house, grateful to start moving belongings back into a home - albeit, now lingering with the scent of scout camp. The fire burned right up to the driveway and sprinkler line - as close as 20 feet from the house in some places.

As we helped move things back inside, there was a knock at the door and ABC4 wanted to chat with one of the evacuees. If you ask me, they knocked on the right door. My mother-in-law could not have been a more perfect interview. She is so genuine and articulate, she makes a great face for Payson... because, as Noah's uncle (who is a Payson resident, so it's fair... like a dentist making a dentist joke.) pointed out, she has all her teeth.

I kid, I kid. Payson isn't that backwoods.

But really, see for yourselves - she's pretty amazing. Buddy is standing in front of Grandma and Grandpa Riley's home before the camera turns toward the house. This portion of the clip was live and when we realized the camera was facing the house, we dared Jesse to streak across the lawn. That would've given the story a little more pizzazz. :)

(The clip is kind of long, and Chris' interview is about halfway through.)

These pictures aren't of the Riley home, but they're a little more clear and will give you an idea of the fire's enormity. Noah pulled these from, I think - so photo credit is not ours.

And a shot that reminds me my job is not all that intense. In fact, it's downright pansy compared to this...

Thursday, August 21, 2008

In the News

In my profession, if I'm doing my job well I tend to see a lot of news stories shaping from behind the lens. It's gratifying - heck, it's job security - to see clients placed on the front page, above the fold or to hear the evening news anchors read your media advisory verbatim.

So I thought I'd be a little more "used" to it if roles were somehow reversed. Not just in a "KUTV's Casey suddenly made a rapid side movement, the camera followed suit and my once out of the way location is suddenly in the middle of the shot" sense. No, reversed in the sense that the content involved me/my family and wasn't just from me. It's interesting when the cameras turn and you find yourself - or a story near and dear to you and your family - part of the headlines. And when it happens twice in two days, it's cause for a blog mention.

The first was my company's Amazing Race II - a way to get out of the office, get a little winded, complete some arduous tasks (running with watermelons in 103 degree weather - anyone, anyone?) and compete for the all-mighty dollar. Or the all-mighty $100 bill, as it were.

I work for an advertising/PR agency in Salt Lake City - The Summit Group - and we (had better!) understand the value of communicating with appropriate audiences. The A.S.S.H.A.T.S. (aka "The Association" or activity-planners of TSG) employed the same logic in advertising our event and getting the randomly-selected teams of four psyched for the Race. This included posters hung around the building, in the restrooms, in the gym...
and custom t-shirts color coded by team with the team's name on the back...
This year's event had an added twist - strictly public transportation. And no guns. Cars and automatic weapons nearly spelled disaster for those involved in the first TSG Amazing Race.

The TSG Amazing Race II was shaping up to be a pretty killer event, so my talented colleague Candace and I decided the local media would probably want to tell everyone about it. And follow us around with cameras. And make a mad dash for TRAX with us. KSL accepted the challenge.
So rather than explain any more of the TSGARII, I'll let Keith McCord do the talkin'...

Please do note my thinking pose. Classic.

KSL had to get back to do their editing thang after the second challenge, so home viewers were not privy to such inspiring moments as:
  • Allison's first-ever bobbing for apples experience. Completely immersing your head in a bucket of water in attempt to sink your chompers into a McIntosh is not so pleasant. I mean, I probably wouldn't do it every day.
  • My team RUNNING their guts out. Any time the destination was such that we had the option to haul buns or catch TRAX, my team always opted for the former. Kudos guys, kudos.
  • My teammate, Jordan, literally giving up the shirt off his back when a watermelon cradling option was devised. The man ran shirtless up State Street hauling a watermelon like a little papoose for the good of the team, and I applaud that.
  • Near dry-heaving as we choked down a plateful of larvae. YEAH. You heard right. Larvae.
Ah, crap. Blogger clearly did not approve of the rest of my content because it just DISAPPEARED. I promise to fill you in on the details of the second In The News installment, but for the sake of it actually working and me not losing my mind, please check back. It's in the works.