Tuesday, February 28, 2012

cutesy phone pics of my trip

Donuts are way better in Utah. 
Valentine's flowers from my man.
 The flowers were great and all, but this confusing note from the florist was pretty funny.
My dad gave me cupcakes for V-tines. Love.
 The food from the Mary Kay Partay!
The only tongue kisses I got while I was away. 
 Can you believe these Saints' prayer bracelets are now available at Forever 21?
My fam's neighborhood finally has a yummy food place that's not a Burger King. (see below)
 Coke tasting, or what me and Sarah dubbed it: Mormon wine tasting.
Waiting for the pink to set in!
 The best hot chocolate you will ever drink. Ever. 
And that is why it's called midget hot chocolate!
"Take me with you?"
So much better than Five Guys. 

Monday, February 27, 2012

oscar stuff, and kind of pet peeve stuff

I have every intention of blogging about my trip to Utah last week, but first I want to talk about the Academy Awards, since I have watched them semi-religiously since I was ten. It's nice to watch them now actually knowing/seeing most of the movies that they're talking about. And is it just me or does is finally feel like "common folk" movies are given the shout out more often? I'm so glad that "The Help" got the praise it deserves.  My other favorite nominees were "Hugo," "Moneyball," and "Midnight in Paris."

Anyway, I also wanna talk about FASHION! And I want to do it before Joan Rivers and the Fashion Police distort my opinion. Because I am positively certain that they are going to say that Angelina Jolie looked wonderful and is easily a contestant for best-dressed. NU-UH. Why does everyone worship her?? She dresses so boring, and her tattoos always ruin her fancy dresses. I just can't stand her. And look at her intentional posing from the night. "ooh I'm Angelina and check out my sexy bony leg." Bug.
BTW I just saw this photo making fun of her and I loved it. Makes her look truly ridiculous.
from here

Do you want to know who was best dressed in my humble opinion?? It was, for sure, Octavia Spencer, my favorite character from "The Help." I love her class.
I think that's all I really wanted to say. Oh wait, this year there were no music nominees or performances? What's up with that? That was disappointing.

Ok, I think that's it. Anyone else care to say who you thought looked great?

And in other important news, Victor and I bought our midnight tickets to the Hunger Games!!! I want to dress up or something to show my enthusiasm. But what is there to dress up as? A hungry, District 12 citizen? Not many options. Still so excited though.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Five years ago...

...I was embarking on the biggest adventure of my 19-year-old life. And it changed me in oh so many ways. 

It taught me how to love people that can sometimes be little pills (but adorable pills all the same).

 I made wonderful friends and still cherish every adventure we went on.

I also experienced what it might feel like to be a B-list celebrity with how many people were always asking for their photo with us. That was fun. 

I got to experience life in a foreign country for longer than just a vacation status. The good, the bad, the ugly. Living in China prepared me for so many things in life. After that, even the jankiest apartments in Provo "weren't so bad." I even came away from it believing that squatter toilets are more sanitary for public restrooms. And it definitely prepared me to serve a mission in another foreign country. I felt I could handle almost anything after that. Except for rats. I can never handle those.

And I got to travel and explore to see how amazingly beautiful the world is.


I was looking at my journal that I kept during those six months, and I made a list of all the things that made China so endearing to me. It was amusing to look back on and remember. Allow me to share a few:

The phrase you hear for any weird food or strange custom: "Very good for the health!"
The opium nail (yes, they really do exist)
The split crotch pants for the babies.
House slippers
High heels with ankle socks. (Mind you this was five years ago, and now that is in style here. Those Chinese are so ahead on the fashion trends!)
Man purses
Man/woman, woman/woman, man/man linking arms as they walk down the street
Sleeper trains: amazing. (for the record they are WAY better than European ones)
The Chinese squat. (This is referring to how they never sit on the ground, so if there are no benches, they just squat, sometimes for very long periods of time)
Umbrella superstores
"Wei??" (this is how they answer the phone)
"I'm fine, sank oo."
The people in the stores who think they know your size, and will even refuse to get something for you if they think it's not going to fit, or look good. 

Oh man, how I really REALLY miss it all. And what I would give to have just one day to go shopping there. I loved it all. I love China. And it will always be a part of me.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

How you know you're watching a Utah team

This is the trash talk you hear from the parents:

"Come on ref! Gosh dang!"

"Ref, you're a freaking idiot!"

"That's crap ref! Dangit!"

"Oh my heck, ref."

**UPDATE: these are the ones I heard today**

"Oh my dear gosh." (this one BUGS so bad)

"Oh fetch."

"That's bull shiz"

"Oh snap. Snap snap snap." (I'm not making these up, people)

 Of course, some of the parents used real profanity. The scandal! It really is silly how much drama there can be at a 16 year-old girls' soccer game. It can also be pretty comical.

I was half tempted to join in on the trash talk. But I was too cold.
P.S. Congrats to my sister Mel who has been playing awesome these last two days!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

What's in a name?

I still have yet to spend a Valentine's Day with my one true love. Last year we were engaged and in separate states for school, and this year, I find myself in Utah while he is preparing to go party in the woods for a week (party is definitely not the word he would use to describe it).

Anyway, I don't know if he's reading this or not, but my Valentine's gift to him is finally becoming a Castro legally. I hit up the social security office yesterday, and hopefully the DMV today. It only took seven months of my husband's nagging, but hey, better late than never.

So, happy Valentines, husband. I am forever (and legally) yours. Te iubesc!

And happy Valentines Day to all of you!

Andrea Ostler Castro

(yes, I am still keeping the Ostler. I don't have a middle name so I feel okay about it. Most likely I'll just sign my name as Andrea O. Castro. And I'm okay with that because it rhymes.)

Monday, February 13, 2012

Christmas in February

My sister-in-law Sasha came and visited this past week and she brought down a surprise for us from my dear mother-in-law.

Sasha said this is what the conversation went like when Paulina bought it:

"Annie and Victor are going to have so much fun cooking with this!" [pause] "Well, maybe just Annie."

It's pretty much true, but Victor is really excited to grind his own meat with it and prove how manly he is. Either way, I was very happy this week because I have been wanting one of this bad boys for so long.

Friday, February 10, 2012

"I feel like I'm getting set up for a friendship" --George Costanza

If I had to sum up how I feel about all of this "military wife" business, I think George C.'s quote says it best. It's not that I don't like it, but I definitely don't like the feeling of trying to force a friendship with women just because our husbands have the same job. And of course this is a predicament for many spouses regardless of the job, but I feel like it's more shoved down your throat when you're involved in the military because all of these wives functions, societies, groups, etc, is rooted so far back in military tradition.

Overall, I had a great time at the general's house the other night, which really was my first military function for just spouses. When you hear "the general and his wife," it sounds so intimidating and hoity toity. But I was very much pleasantly surprised when I met them. They were great hosts, and were very natural in their conversations. They showed genuine interest in their guests, and I would love to do something with them again.

The part of the evening that I had a love/hate relationship with was the conversation with the wives. I met some very nice women. And maybe if I were ten years older with 2 or 3 kids, we would be fast friends. Multiple times in the evening would I be chatting with a couple of women and then quickly be left to that awkward point of sitting there while they talk all about their kids/schools, etc. It was very uncomfortable. And I didn't enjoy it. I never enjoy trying to mask my discomfort with a smile and fake interest.

The dinner the other night has just been a culminating event to me finally talking right now about how I just want some friendships that come naturally and are with people/couples in the same situations as me and my husband. As a brand new wife, these last six months have been a really hard time for me socially. And it's actually harder to talk about right now than I thought it would be. I'm so used to always being around people who are my same age and my same stage of life. And I bet there are those that that will think I'm crazy in saying this, but I REALLY miss being in a singles/student ward where you're surrounded by young people. In a singles ward, the purpose of the ward all revolves around socializing. Both dating and making friends.

I think only at BYU do married people have the luxury in being in wards with other young married couples. Victor and I were immediately flung into a family ward where the socializing part is only a minor purpose of the ward. We have a good ward, and it could be a lot worse, but it's just been a real big adjustment for both of us.

For the last few months, I have confided these thoughts to only a few people because I didn't want to sound like I was just whining and not making an effort. I feel like I have been making an effort, but I know that I can always try harder. So I'm still going to attend these wives functions with a smile, and hopefully as I go to more, the smile will become less and less fake. And I'm still going to try to be more involved in my ward (and maybe also pray for more young married couples).

Sitting around whining won't make it any better, but being able to at least admit it right now on my little blog is still pretty cathartic.

So those of you who asked to hear more about dinner with the general's wife probably got A LOT more information than you may have wanted, but I just have a lot of feelings (name that movie). And I'm really dying to know if any of my young married friends who read this experienced the same thing and how you coped. If you never felt this way, very well then. Maybe I'm just slow to make friends. In that case, tips on how to make more friends would also be appreciated.

Thank you for reading. I love you all!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Refashion: Dinner with the General's Wife

I bought this dress at Goodwill a little while ago. It's from Talbots, and I liked the fabric, but not in the heavy dose of an entire dress.
the key to a great "before" shot is adding nice touches like my socks to make it extra ugly

So, when my husband volunteered me to go to a dinner at the general's house with a bunch of other officer's wives (more on that later), I decided I would finally fix up this dress and make myself an outfit for the event. I also convinced my husband to buy me these shoes for the occasion. He is such a dear, that husband of mine!

Here is the finished product. 

So what do you think? I guess my real question is do you think it's too puffy and I should take in the sides a little? Also, do you even like the fabric or is it so 15 years ago??

Also, do you like my sweater? Now I'm just fishing for compliments. You don't have to answer that. But I love it. And it's really soft. 

Anyway, the moral of the story is that this skirt cost me $4, so I'm pretty happy about it. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

I don't want him to get older, but I'll wish him Happy Birthday all the same

How incredibly cute was my baby brother Will? This was when he was going through his cowboy phase. And usually that cowboy phase involved the boots, the hat, and nothing else.

And now today he is 14 years old. Which baffles me, because unlike my other siblings, I vividly remember the day he was born and what an amazing day it was.

So, happy birthday, Will! I'm so glad you were born so that I could have a brother. And I hope you have forgiven us for dressing you up as a girl on a continual basis. We still wouldn't trade you for any girl.

Monday, February 6, 2012

annoyances and observations

It bothers me when someone says something like "we're going down to [place]" when they are in fact, south of said place. Example: someone in Idaho saying, "I'm going up to Utah today." Hello---going north is going up, going south is going down. (I'm not gonna lie, I used the Idaho example because I hear it most from Idahoans.)

I noticed a few months ago that I was about to hit 500 friends on facebook. Since then I have noticed that that number fluctuates up and down on a daily basis. This means that people are either de-friending me or deleting their accounts, and it's driving me crazy because I really don't know who is de-friending me. I guess that's why they are de-friending me: I can't even figure out that we're not friends anymore.
           And I also have noticed that I have friends who keep deleting their fb accounts and bring them back...like multiple times. Just make up your mind if you want to be on facebook or not!)

It's so annoying how even the most seemingly harmless article on any given web-site every single day always starts a chain of ridiculous and negative comments. Who are these people that just like picking fights on the internet??

I can't get enough of Ross Matthews aka "Ross the Intern." I have loved him since his days on Jay Leno. I don't quite understand why I love him so much. He's hilarious, though.

I think my only favorite part of the Super Bowl was that grecian slack liner guy. Not very many cool commercials.

And this may be dwelling on past pet peeves about singing the National Anthem at events, but how many times do we have to hear about stupid celebrities who mess up the words to the National Anthem?! It drives me nuts.

I think that's enough for today.
Love, Annie

Sunday, February 5, 2012

"Their Souls Were Sitting Up"

Two years ago this week I was in snowy Romania. More specifically, two years ago today I was traveling to the capital city for a memorial service of two of the country's young missionaries. Two young men who were working hard and quietly to teach people the gospel of Christ passed away quietly in the night from a gas leak in their apartment. It was a surreal and sad day when we found out. And yet, it was an incredibly spiritual experience that brought us closer to God and softened the hearts of the Romanian people.

Besides the death of my great-grandmother when I was a young girl, this was the closest experience I have had with death. And both times, I can't imagine what it would be like to be the person left behind without a knowledge of God's plan for us. When I was a missionary, death was a topic that was asked about all the time, because death is something that is viewed so differently throughout the world. Some look at it with fear or dread, and some embrace it as part of life.

I believe in what Russell M. Nelson taught us about death when he spoke at the funeral for one of these missionaries:

"As mortals, we think of death as premature. But from McKay's heavenly perspective, death is not premature. It is not premature for one who is prepared to meet God. Death is only premature for one not prepared to meet God. Our existence in this period of mortality allows us to get a body, to develop faith and to prove ourselves. McKay has done that. While here we weep for the loss of this dear young man, on the other side of the veil, there are tears of joy."

I just read the novel The Book Thief this week, and I haven't stopped thinking about it, especially in relation to what I just wrote about. This book is narrated by Death, and the point of view that death takes was completely fascinating. At first Death seems to view his job as some kind of sneaky game. But as the book goes on, we realize that Death is exhausted, and he is haunted by humans and what they are put through in the world. (Mind you, the book takes place in Nazi Germany, so you can imagine how hard Death was working around the clock)

In order to not completely ruin the story for you, since I assume you will read it (please do!), I will leave out names of characters. But when Death visits one of the characters to take them with him, what he says about this character was beautiful:

"His soul sat up. It met me. Those kinds of souls always do---the best ones. The ones who rise up and say, 'I know who you are and I am ready. Not that I want to go, of course, but I will come.' Those souls are always light because more of them have been put out. More of them have already found their way to other places."

I love this view on death and how it ties in perfectly with what Elder Nelson said about death and being prepared to meet God. Death is hard to cope with, and even with this divine knowledge, it still is hard to comprehend. But for those who understand God's plan for them, death is never premature, even though sometimes it seems like that, especially to us left here on earth, with our imperfect knowledge and understanding.

John Donne the poet understood this. He wrote about it way back in 1610.

DEATH be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadfull, for, thou art not so,
For, those, whom thou think'st, thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poore death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
One short sleepe past, wee wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die.

I consider myself blessed that I haven't had to lose anyone dear to me yet. It's not something I necessarily look forward to, but it's something that I am grateful for, because I know that death is not the end. And I'm happy that this life is about determining for ourselves that all of this is true. It's wonderful.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

when will we ever learn??

After another unfortunate ending to a night of eating all-you-can-eat Brazilian barbecue, me and Victor made an oath months ago that we would never go through it again.

But we just can't stay away.

The grilled pineapple. The turkey wrapped in bacon. The top sirloin. It all sounded so scrumptious and appealing!

Not now it doesn't. My poor stomach. Victor's poor stomach (and you know he ate way more than I did).

Happy Saturday night. I'm going to lay in my bed.