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    New York City, Travel & Fun!

    25 Things to do in New York City!

    I LOVE New York City! There is so much to do, see, and eat! Below I have compiled a list of some of my favorite things to do (besides eat) whenever I visit NYC!

    1. See Broadway Shows! Probably the #1 reason I love visiting NYC! Some of my favorite shows so far have been Frozen, Beautiful-a Carole King Musical, and Waitress!
    2. Marvel at the beauty of Times Square
    3. Spend some time in Chinatown-maybe if you’re lucky you can even do some bargaining with the chinese salesmen. 😉
    4. Taste your way through Little Italy.
    5. Climb to the Top of the Rock. Click here to buy tickets.
    6. Ride the Staten Island Ferry-you can find the schedule here. It’s even free!
    7. Visit Lady Liberty- but make sure to book these tickets in advance. They go fast! Especially if you want to go to the top of the crown or her pedestal. Tickets can be bought here.
    8. After visiting the Statue of Liberty, make a stop at Ellis Island. The Liberty ferry makes stops here regularly!
    9. Bike around Central Park-you can rent bikes on most every end of the park.
    10. Hike the High Line Trail
    11. Go on a Food Tour. I am currently working on publishing a post about my experiences!
    12. Relax in the New York City Public Library-seriously SO cool!
    13. Rent a boat in Central Park-worth every penny. Information on renting boats can be found here.
    14. Have a Dance Party in the Subway!
    15. Explore the tunnels of Grand Central Station
    16. Spend hours in the Museum of Art-there are several located throughout the city. My favorite is this one.
    17. Take pictures by the Flat Iron Building
    18. People Watch at Washington Square Park
    19. Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge
    20. & then Relive your childhood by riding the Carousel!
    21. Stop every five seconds to take cute pictures…
    22. Find the secret Glass water tunnel! Find the address here.
    23. See the Twin Towers and 9/11 Monuments! Seriously so worth it.
    24. Worship in the NYC Manhattan Temple–The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints holds worship services here every Sunday, visitors are always welcome! Details for the meetings can be found here.
    25. Attend a New York Yankee’s game (Still never done this, but it’s definitely on my list).
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    Gluten Free, Recipes, Vegan

    The Easiest and Best Gluten Free Bread Recipe!

    I have had many requests for this beloved recipe! So here it is! This recipe makes two loaves of beautiful and tasty Gluten Free Artisan bread-as pictured below.

    This recipe is from the book “Gluten Free Artisan Bread in Five Minutes A Day” by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois, but here is my take on the recipe! This is not my original recipe, so all credit goes out to these wonderful authors! 🙂

    ———————–INGREDIENTS—————————-

    3 cups of Gluten Free All-Purpose Flour– I use the “Namaste Perfect Flour Blend” from Costco. It is Gluten Free, Free of the top 8 allergens, and Organic.

    1/2 Tablespoon of Granulated Yeast

    1/2 Tablespoon of Salt

    1 Tablespoon of Sugar

    1 1/2 Cups of Warm water

    1/8 cup of Olive Oil

    Cornmeal* (for the bottom surface of the bread)

    *Optional

    —————————————————————————–

    ———————————-STEPS———————————-

    1. Mix together Dry Ingredients in Large mixing bowl
    2. Add Liquid Ingredients with a spoon or with a stand mixer and the bread hook attachment.
    3. Cover bowl lightly with a tea towel or plastic wrap and let rise for 2 hours
    4. From this point, you have three options. Use the dough immediately, Store in a lidded container in the refrigerator for up to a week, or freeze the dough into two grapefruit sized portions for up to four weeks (thawing the dough in the refrigerator the day before use). When I made this bread, I prepared the dough on Wednesday and baked it on Sunday! I like to prepare the dough ahead of time and bake it on a different day.
    5. When you are ready to bake the dough, divided the bread dough into two grapefruit sized portions. Place it on a baking sheet prepared with cornmeal-or you can just use parchment paper. Shape the dough into a ball and smooth the surface by wetting your fingers and shaping the bread with your hands. Cover the bread loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rise for another 60 minutes.
    6. While dough is rising, preheat the oven to 450 degrees & make sure to place an empty metal broiler tray on the bottom rack of the oven.
    7. When the dough is finished rising, brush the top with water, and take a wet, bread knife and slash the top to create the artisan bread look! I did mine in a simple “X” pattern. Make sure the slash is about 1/2 inch deep.
    8. Place your baking sheet with the bread into the oven! Then pour 1 cup of hot water into the broiler tray, close the oven, and let the bread bake for 40-45 minutes-until brown and firm. I am always terrified of burning my bread, so I watch it closely during the last few minutes haha!
    9. Allow your bread to cool-or enjoy it warm with some butter, jam, or as a tasty addition to your dinner!

    ——————————————————————————–

    Let me know if you have any questions or need any clarifications! Honestly, this is the most success I have had with baking gluten free bread so far. But I will keep you updated on any new recipes I find to be successful. 🙂

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    New York City, Travel & Fun!

    NYC Food Bucket List!

    Here is a list of some of my all time favorite places to eat in New York City! It can be so hard to decide where to eat and where to go when planning a trip to this city. I hope these pictures & recommendations will speak to your soul like they did to mine! 🙂

    #1 Taiyaki NYC – 119 Baxter St, New York, NY 10013

    Hands down one of my favorite ice cream cones I’ve ever consumed. This place also sells the infamous Japanese Soufflé Pancakes! We were dying to try them, but there was a huge waitlist for them, so we settled for ice cream cones. This place is a China town essential!

    #2 Max Brenner– 841 Broadway, New York, NY 10003

    Calling all chocolate lovers! If you love chocolate, then I promise this is the restaurant for you. We were all in chocolate heaven!

    #3 Dough Doughnuts– 14 W 19th St, New York, NY 10011

    These are very unique doughnuts! The flavors we got were Hibiscus, Toasted Coconut, & Salted Caramel. Talk about yummy!

    #4 Clinton St. Baking Company- 4 Clinton St, New York, NY 10002

    THIS HAS TO BE MY FAVORITE BREAKFAST PLACE I’VE EVER BEEN TO! The eggs were the perfect texture, the pancakes were delicious & we almost went back again!

    #5 Serendipity 3– 225 E 60th St, New York, NY 10022

    This Restaurant is famous for their Frozen Hot Chocolate! We decided to eat too, and we were not disappointed! What a cute place! & the Frozen Hot Chocolate lives up to it’s reputation-that’s for sure.

    #6 Black Tap– 136 W 55th St, New York, NY 10019

    We celebrated Rachel’s birthday by having dinner at Black Tap! They were some of the best burgers and fries I’ve ever had, and they are even more famous for their exotic milkshakes! To say I was in milkshake heaven is an understatement.

    #7 Levain Bakery– 167 W 74th St, New York, NY 10023

    These are the cookies I dream about in my sleep. I tried to make some at home, but they just weren’t as good as the real thing! We took some home and snacked on them all week long!

    #8 The Melt Shop– 55 W 26th St, New York, NY 10010

    This is my mom’s favorite place we ate! Their Truffle Grilled Cheese was fantabulous. We’ve been here a total of three times between the two times we have been to New York. It’s that good!

    #9 Murray’s Bagels– 500 6th Ave, New York, NY 10011

    Honestly, there is just something so beautiful about NYC Bagels. They are perfect no matter where you get them. We just happened to be closest to this bagel shop after our red eye flight landed and we arrived to the city. Honestly, I would recommend any bagel place in New York!

    #10 Magnolia Bakery– 1240 6th Ave, New York, NY 10020

    This bakery is pure gold! They are famous for their Banana Pudding. I immediately fell in love with both their banana pudding and coconut cake. Everything here is picture perfect & sooo yummy!

    #11 Milk & Cream Cereal Bar- 159 Mott St, New York, NY 10013

    If you are an avid cereal and ice cream lover-like me, you will LOVE this place! They make ice cream cones and shakes with your favorite cereals and candies. I’ve always thought I was the first one to invent the fruity pebbles milkshake, but I guess this place beat me to it… hah!

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    Church of Jesus Christ!, Missionary

    Advice from an Early Returned Missionary!

    Picture this: You are sitting in Sacrament Meeting and you notice that your friend or neighbor has returned early from their mission… Immediately you jump to conclusions and start wondering what happened to them & why they came home early! You think of several possibilities and don’t know what to say to them, whether or not you should approach them, and so you sit awkwardly and ignore their presence. Haha! Truth is-I am very guilty of all of the above practices! It is hard to know what to say or do when a missionary returns home early. It can be awkward for both you & for them!

    Having returned early from my mission myself, I want to address a few of my own challenges and concerns that I have faced. I also want to help you know how to react and what you can do to help out your friends who may have returned home early! That way you can avoid all that awkwardness, right? 😉 Here is what I wish people would realize about missionaries who come home early:

    1. Coming home early is a NOT an easy decision. In fact, it was probably one of the HARDEST decisions I’ve ever had to make. It is something that I fasted and prayed about for weeks-maybe even months on my mission! I fought hard to stay out on my mission. I didn’t want to be seen a quitter-or to be seen as someone who wasn’t strong enough to make it. However, my health was in jeopardy. For me, it took the kind nudge of a church member who was genuinely worried about my well-being to help me realize that going home was an honorable option too! After talking with that member, I felt so much peace come over me. I had resisted the decision to come home for so long, and as soon as I let go of what I wanted-I FELT LIKE A BURDEN had been lifted off of my shoulders. That is how I knew that I had made the right decision. That is the feeling that happens when we align our will with the Lord’s-no matter how hard it can be, it’s worth it!
    2. No matter how long a person serves, a mission is successful in the eyes of the Lord! God loves all of his children! Ultimately, he is proud of anyone who dedicates time to the Lord and to building up his Kingdom. If you have returned home early, I’m sure you had a similar experience as me where you felt the peace of the spirit comfort you in your decision. The adversary will do ALL he can to make you doubt your decision. He will try to make you feel like a failure. I know-I’ve felt it. It has been so important for me to reflect upon the spiritual witness that I received when I made that decision to first come home. If you have returned early from your mission yourself: Please never doubt your decision to serve in the first place, or your decision come home!!!! There will be days when you doubt your decision or feel like you weren’t successful. & that is normal! That is okay! But it’s important to reflect upon the positive experiences you had and to reflect upon that original witness you received from the spirit. Because GOD IS proud of you! Any missionary who serves with all of their heart, mind, might, & strength is a successful missionary!
    3. Missionaries who come home are BRAVE! They have gained all of my respect, that’s for sure. It takes a lot of courage to go against the church “norm” and return early. I have noticed that there can be such a negative stigma associated with missionaries who come home early. & it can be a challenging for missionaries who do come home. It is important to realize that everyone’s situation is so different! There is absolutely no room for judgement! The most important thing we can do is to love the missionaries who serve-no matter where, or how long they served! Personally, I love whenever people come up to me and ask me how I’m doing, or how my mission was. Sometimes it can be hard for me to talk about it, but I’ve found that by being honest and open about my feelings, it often lifts me up higher and has helped me through some of my hard times.

    So what can YOU do to help those missionaries who return home early?

    I think the most important thing is to LOVE them no matter what! Treat them exactly like a missionary who served for a whole 18-24 months! Really it should be no different. Of course, it’s going to be natural to have judgements and to not know how to act. But you don’t know anything about their mission experience. Most people would never have guessed I was super sick and miserable for most of my mission haha! You just never know! 🙂

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    Church of Jesus Christ!, Missionary

    How My Mission Changed My Life Forever!

    Before I go any further, I just want to clarify a few things. A) This was MY personal experience. Please remember that my circumstances are very different than most people’s & B) Mission experiences are catered to the individual & everyone has a different experience! This post should by no means affect the way you view the mission! I’m just trying to help others grow and learn from my experiences! Everyone has a story to share, and I hope that by being vulnerable, I can touch someone’s heart, or help someone in their decision to serve. With this in mind, let’s begin! 

    I’m not going to sugar coat it. My mission was a rough experience for me! It was hard, I was anxious, I was sick & it wasn’t very fun. Was I traumatized when I came home? Yes! Of course I was! It was not the experience I set out to have. Was it worth every second? Yes! & here’s why: 

    1. MY MISSION HELPER ME DISCOVER MY PURPOSE! The mission helped me discover SO much about myself! It taught me a lot about who I am as a daughter of God & helped me truly KNOW & LIVE what I believe. Reviewing the principles of the gospel helped me understand the purpose of my life! We are here to have Joy! We are are here to progress, to follow after the example of our Savior, and to become like him! Going on a mission really helped me come to know the purpose of life for myself. 
    2. MY MISSION STRENGTHENED MY TESTIMONY! My testimony grew 100% deeper & stronger! I honestly thought I had a pretty solid testimony before I left, & I did! But it grew to a state of surety and steadfast faith while on my mission. & now I can undoubtedly say that I KNOW God loves each & everyone of us, that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the World, & that this is his restored church upon the earth! 
    3. MY MISSION EXPOSED MY WEAKNESSES! This sounds scary, but I promise it’s actually a blessing! The mission will teach you exactly what you probably didn’t want to know about yourself. Sometimes it takes an incredibly stressful or new experience to help you see where you need to grow in life. While on the mission, I discovered that I struggle with anxiety! I discovered that I have some major food sensitivities that have been affecting the quality of my life. & I know that if I hadn’t decided to serve a mission, I never would have learned these things. Sometimes it takes hard and life change experiences to expose the weaknesses within us. But I promise that God will turn your weaknesses and trials into strengths if you let him! “And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.”-Ether 12:27
    4. MY MISSION HUMBLED ME! It opened my eyes to the realities of this world. It taught me how incredibly lucky I am to have the family, home, and knowledge that I have. It is safe to say that I was sufficiently humbled daily on my mission. I have learned that the only way we can truly be successful in life is to rely on the strength and grace of God! We cannot do it on our own. We NEED HIM!
    5. MY MISSION TAUGHT ME LESSONS THAT WILL BLESS MY FUTURE FAMILY! I experienced some of the hardest trials and experiences on my mission. However, the thought that these trials are preparing me to be a wife and mother got me through those hard times! I learned that I CAN DO HARD THINGS! I learned the fundamentals of the gospel and strengthened my testimony in ways that I know will benefit my future family! That is what missions do-they are one of the best ways to prepare for a successful life!
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