Thursday, December 31, 2009

How small we really are.

So amazing.

November Baking, Posting in December

My friend and I decided to have a baking day in celebration of all things holiday related. The themes of the season which included cranberries, pumpkin, and, of course, chocolate, could not be denied.

Cara's contribution:
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Peanut Butter & Honey Cookies

Oatmeal Cookies (from the back of the oatmeal container!)

My contribution:
Cranberry Orange Bread with Walnuts (made muffins)

The Best Snickerdoodles Ever

Apple Pumpkin Bundt Cake

We also had the fun occurrence of a freak hail storm!

But it is all part of living in the Northwest.

December 31st, 2009......

Aries Horoscope for week of December 31, 2009 via Free Will Astrology

Aries (March 21-April 19)
One of my favorite landscape painters makes a livable wage from selling her art. She has had many gallery showings and has garnered much critical acclaim. That's the good news. The bad news is that she feels obligated to keep churning out more landscape paintings -- even when her muse nudges her to take a detour into, say, abstract expressionism or surrealistic portraits. Galleries don't want anything from her except the stuff that has made her semi-famous. "Sometimes I fantasize about creating a series of 'Sock Puppet Monkeys Playing Poker,'" she told me. If she were an Aries, I'd advise her to do what I think you should do in 2010: Listen to what your version of the sock puppet monkeys are urging you to do.

All the end of the year posts are making me think that I should actually make one. Well, hot damn, I will make one.

This weekend I am hitting up the Portland Art Museum and the Portland Chinese Gardens. For so long, I had a partner to go eat dinner with and drag to random things so it has been a difficult adjustment to go back to the single life in Portland. I hope to make the transition much better in the next few months though. I want to take some classes at PCC for Photoshop or maybe a cooking class or calligraphy course. I have a few more bucks left on my Americorps education award so I thought it could come in handy right now.

The job search was on hold while I dealt with the grad school stuff but my employment agency is now working overtime to get people into positions. I really need something to come through because money is getting low. I am going to throw myself into finding temp positions and see what comes up.

Over the last few months, I did the whole "look within yourself" thing that I do pretty much every year. I am always striving to make myself better in some way. I am not sure if everyone does this but I am constantly mulling around thoughts and ideas in my head about why I am messed up, how to get out of the cycle, and what I want my future to be. Deep, huh? One of the greatest and most ridiculous revelations I had was the true reason why I am where I am at my life: I LACK FOLLOW THROUGH. It was an amazing discovery! I had thought over and over and over again about things in my life that did not go the way that I had hoped and then as I began the grad school process, I noticed an ugly trend in my thinking. I noticed that I was like "ugh, this is hard." Seriously, lame thinking on my part. I had to constantly remind myself that I need to keep pushing and trying. I had no idea that I needed such encouragement from myself and that this was really the core of my issues. I can relate it to my most recent college expedition all the way back to Americorps. I feel stupid and silly for having that be the revelation that came to me at the later age of 28 but now that I see what is going on, I hope that I can move on from it.

I thought about where I was ten years ago and think that there isn't much of a difference except that I am have completed my undergraduate rather than just starting it. Ten years ago was the beginning of my depression and I relate a lot of what has veered me off course with what happened around that time. It's pretty sad to think that I view the last 10 years as the "off course" rather than always trying to make the best of it. I am grateful for the experiences but never felt like I was where I was suppose to be. Perhaps I will never be where I am suppose to be but who cares!?! Who knows where any of us are even going? My goodness, I feel the pressure of knowing what is going to happen and thinking 80 miles in front of me at all times that it is frustrating.

For now, I know that I have completed my graduate school applications and if four of them fall through then I have a local option that will still help me in my future goals (if they let me in). I know that I need to be healthier and be active in the pursuit of a healthier mind, body, and soul. I need to be who I am without apologies. I need to surround myself with positivity. I need to surround myself with people that I have faith in.
That quote from PostSecret... completely true in regards to myself. I have seen people come and go and while the going hurts me, I have to be myself since I am the one who has to live with me.

May the new year bring honesty, adventure, and breaths of fresh air to all!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Prof vs. Student

Sadly, I look upon former and current emails and see too many similarities. I wonder if professors just laugh at us?
I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas!

On Friday, my mom and I went to see Avatar 3D at Cinetopia, very fancy. It was a unique experience being that my mother hasn't been to a movie in over a decade and it was both of our first 3D movies. I had previously had no interest in seeing it but it turned out to be a good option.

Saturday was my family's technical Christmas Day. My brother, his girlfriend and her son came over for dinner. The food was yum (I have a great love of pork products) and then we opened presents. My brother's girlfriend is a bit older and so her son is four years younger than me and very much the preppy Portland guy but nice nonetheless. He always brings a regular bottle of wine while my mother prefers the Arbor Mist wines. I needed to relax so I enjoyed quite a bit of both over the night. I was thoroughly spoiled this season (perhaps out of pity) and received great craft and paint supplies as well as two very cozy blankets. It was a successful day and I even got my family to play Cranium with me instead of our usual watching a movie/napping after dinner. I say it was a very nice night.

I am excited that 2010 is just around the corner, I should say, or over the hump. I don't typically make new year's "resolutions" because I believe that setting goals for yourself should never be because society deems it a time of renewal but I have some major goals I want to achieve earlier this year and so it comes at the right time. I can go back to my no chocolate rule and hopefully get a job now that another temp position fell through. There are lots of little goals I am setting as well so even if I have a bad week, at least I will have achieved something on my list.

Hope everyone is excited for the new year upon us! I know many who have some very significant things happening this year so it should bring lots of joys and adventures.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Free Will Astrology

Aries Horoscope for week of December 24, 2009

Aries (March 21-April 19)
What influences do you really, really need to say goodbye to? The next six months will provide you with ample motivation and opportunity to finally bid those farewells. What long-term cycle really, really needs to be drawn to a close, no more hemming and hawing, all loose ends tied up and all mixed signals clarified? Again, the time between now and the middle of June will bring you the necessary inspiration to make it happen. But it'll take deep thought and sustained work and an expanded sense of humor, so get started soon.

Sunday, December 20, 2009


I broke down on my "no chocolate" agreement and had plain M&Ms late last week.
Yesterday, my mom bought some holiday peanut M&Ms which I had also planned to buy for Christmas. Second splurge since September. I believe that I will take a brief chocolate intermission during this week with Christmas being on Friday. I am making a cappucino cheesecake for the main dessert as well as chewy gingerbread cookies and perhaps another cookie or bar of some sort.

After Christmas, I will resume my "no chocolate" agreement until further notice.

Thursday, December 17, 2009


As I have been researching for and applying at graduate schools, I have had interesting perspectives on myself and what makes me "tick."

When I was researching, I looked at the composition of the programs as well as the location of the schools. I saw some amazing options in other states but noticed that I placed a high priority on locations near water, whether that be a river, lake, or ocean. I had no idea that this would be a preference but apparently it is! I liked a few programs in the Midwest but it was in the middle of nowhere and by nowhere I mean not near water. Really, I found this just such an odd preference of mine.

Just in case you didn't know, applying for graduate school is incredibly labor intensive. Anyone that says it isn't is lying! There are forum websites that have provided tremendous help ( as well as additional stress. I am not shooting for the stars but I am searching for a unique opportunity that fits my personality and future goals. I have been really stressed, to say the least. When I am stressed out, I need to have the little things that comfort me, and here comes the next revelation of my own preferences.

I usually watch television while working on things but due to my current living situation, it is easier to set up my work area in my "room." There is no t.v. in there but I have been able to watch reruns on the WB website. Thank goodness! I haven't been able to watch Gilmore Girls because I cannot possibly remember where I packed the DVDs so the WB has been my savior. GG provides me a sense of calm because I can put it on in the background and focus on my work. Perhaps backwards? Something is so soothing about the familiar characters, the great story lines and the fact that I have seen every episode at least a handful of times so I don't actually need to watch the screen. I also have a great, great love for pretty much any 90's sitcom. Those were the days of a good sitcom and there aren't many like them today but the CBS Tuesday night and ABC's Wednesday night lineups are coming close.

Another comfort is the food. Not maybe the greatest thing to find comfort in but at least I am eating fulfilling, healthy, and nutritious options. Especially with the weather outside, comfort food is what this season is all about. I enjoy chai tea, fresh baked bread, oatmeal, and turkey chili. Nothing terribly exciting but the fact that I sit down, slowly enjoy my foods or sip my teas and take a breath or two in between applications and revising my personal statement is what makes all the difference. I have become quite the connoisseur of tea lately. I read several blogs about healthy gals that run (like, marathons and 10 mile in the morning, what?) and eat great things like chia seeds, almond butter, and tempeh. If I had my own kitchen, I would be busting out their ideas but, alas, I am low on funds and my own little gadgets are in boxes. One thing that I did pick up that is all the rage is Celestial Seasonings Sugar Cookie Sleigh Ride Herbal Tea. Seriously, I have seen it everywhere! I tried it last night and it has some great spice and an amazing smell. It would be perfect paired with some cookies of any kind.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Free Will Astrology

Aries (March 21-April 19)

"Indignation is one of the most rewarding of emotions," writes Theodore Dalrymple, "as well as one that automatically gives meaning to life . . . There is nothing like irritation to get the juices circulating and the mind working." Of all the ideas that have made me irritable and indignant in recent weeks, this one steams me the most. I disagree so completely that I am practically beside myself with paralyzing rage. And as I plunge my attention further and further into his ridiculous proposal, I feel the tension coursing through my body. I sense my mind becoming swampy, my perceptions distorted. There's a good chance that I am inducing in myself a state of stressed-out stupidity. Please don't follow my example, Aries. It's possible that sour fury could be useful to you at other times, but right now you should avoid it. If you want your intelligence to work at peak efficiency in the coming days, you'll need long stretches of tender, lucid calm.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Makin' and Bakin' (Created Mid-November)

The strangely cold weather got me in the mood to get back into my baking groove (no, that was not suppose to rhyme!). I haven't really been cooking or baking as much as I used to and besides Thanksgiving dinner, I think it was time that changed. It is truly a source of stress relief and makes me feel more like myself.

I didn't technically go to sleep last night. Instead, my brain was squishing and whirling over things to think about for the future and I truly am the most productive in the wee hours of the morning/night. After some lovely sugar-free Oregon Chai and reading over a few blogs in between researching masters programs, I thought about a wonderful hearty breakfast I could make.

Since my food stamps have yet to come in this week, I am trying to be resourceful and eat only what I have in the house. For Thanksgiving dinner, I bought some Pumpkin Beer (mostly for the cute pumpkins on the bottle) and it just wasn't all that exciting. I didn't want it to go to waste so after some google action, I found this recipe for Beer Bread from Foodie Farm Girl. Awesome blog, by the way.

Basic Beer Bread Mix:

All-purpose flour 3 cups / 750 ml / 15-1/8 oz / 430 g
Granulated sugar 1 tbsp / 15 ml / 5/8 oz / 16 g
Salt 1 tsp / 5 ml / 1/4 oz / 6 g
Baking powder 1 tbsp / 15 ml / 5/8 oz / 16 g

Beer 1½ cups / 355 ml / 12 oz / 338 g

Optional glaze: 1 egg & 2 tsp (10 ml) water, beaten

Heat oven to 375°F/190°C. Combine flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder in a large mixing bowl. Slowly stir in beer and mix just until combined. Batter will be thick. Spread in a greased 8-inch (20cm) loaf pan, brush with egg glaze if desired, and bake until golden brown and a toothpick stuck in the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes.

Cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and cool 10 more minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature. Will keep for 1 to 2 days stored in a plastic bag or airtight container. May be frozen.
I added in shredded cheddar cheese, diced scallions, rubbed sage, and dried thyme. I sprinkled the top with pepper and shoved it into the oven. Oh the plans I have for this little loaf! At my old place, I had a lot of frozen veggies including spinach and peppers which would I would put into everything and they would definitely come in handy right now. I plan on slicing up the bread and covering it with some eggs sunny side up! Mmm....runny yolks and fresh bread. Could anything be more divine?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Movies

It really astounds me when a movie or television show can bring about such strong emotions. Whether they be laughter or sadness, these entertainment arenas really bring people together and show them what human life is about. It can be raw and upsetting or can rekindle your love of people and the world. It can make you realize that maybe the world isn't so bad. It can also make you forget about your own life and bring you into a world of characters that have amazing adventures or can defy the laws of our universe.

As I am going through "transition" phase right now, I often splurge on going to movies. Sometimes it is a not so guilty pleasure as I try and take in as many movies at the $2-4 theaters but there is something quite satisfying about seeing a new movie in an almost empty theater on a weekday. I have once been lucky enough to have an entire theater to myself for the viewing of "Zombieland" (Excellent movie, by the way). I tell myself that spending $6.50-8 is okay because it makes me feel ten times better when I leave. So far I have had some excellent options to choose from as well:

(NOTE: All images from


Twilight: New Moon


The September Issue

Coming up, I just might have to see these:
Coco Before Chanel


Fantastic Mr. Fox


Did you hear about the Morgans?

Sherlock Holmes

Everybody's Fine

The Lovely Bones

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus

Plus there is always the possibility of repeats at the cheap theaters.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving Dinner

I made my first Thanksgiving meal that was shared with other people! When I lived in Seattle, I did a complete Thanksgiving dinner but it started to snow that morning and my mom and brother were unable to drive up. I remember that I did okay though.

Yesterday, did the whole shebang again and it came out really well. It was so great to cook again since I haven't had the same zest for cooking lately.

Here's the menu:
Turkey with sage butter lovin'
Crockpot stuffing with sausage, mushrooms, and apples
Roasted acorn squash
Sauteed green beans with shallots
Beer bread from a Trader Joe's mix (mixed in pumpkin beer)
Fresh cranberry sauce
Steamed cauliflower
Deviled eggs & assorted olives
Chive & sour cream mashed potatoes with gravy
Tri-colored jello
Turtle Pumpkin Pie
Brownies with cherries, chocolate chips, and walnuts
Cranberry Walnut muffins

All in all, a good menu. I tried to get more fresh foods in there rather than from a can and heavily processed. It was my first time making cranberry sauce from fresh cranberries and cooking with fresh green beans. I absolutely love being able to make great food. If I had a garden then I know I would be killin' in the kitchen.

Honesty and Idealizing Situations

This is my second time doing the whole unemployed, living with mom and utterly "down" kind of phase. Happened in 2004 after completing Americorps and now, after completing my bachelors degree, I am in the same situation. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on your perspective) I have a bit bigger dreams that are desperately needing to be made into reality. I am closing in on 30 here and while I don't feel that everyone needs to have accomplished certain things by a certain age, I do feel the internal clock ticking and the yearn to become someone I can be proud of.

One of the reasons that my last relationship would never have worked is because of the lack of enthusiasm for life. I want someone who is positive, inspires me to be amazing, and wants to create a life with me. That doesn't just mean family though, that means adventures, making up stupid traditions AND getting excited about them! My family now does the exact same thing for every holiday: eat at 1pm, awkwardly chat for a bit, watch a movie and some snooze on the couch, eat dessert, do dishes and everyone goes home. I want some real tradition and corniness.

"I'm looking for corny in my life." -Iris, "The Holiday"

Of course, it is ultimately all up to me. I have grand expectations for what I know is possible and have dreams of what could be. You know how someone watches movies and imagines themselves in New York City living the high life? I have opposite but, I am sure, equally romanticized thoughts about the Midwest. Those small towns with cute traditions (ok, this might be some Stars Hollow sneaking in), snow in the winter and being able to cozy up to the fire with a cup of hot chocolate and a big dog (or cat). The people are real, genuine, and lack the pessimism that is becoming more commonplace these days. The air is fresh and your closest Target or Old Navy is a good hour away. Things are simpler yet more rewarding.

In order for me to make dramatic changes in my life, I am one of those people that need a reason. My general unhappiness or misery really isn't enough to make a change. If I have a great job or someone special that requires that I make a dramatic change or encourages me to be a better person then that would make me work for it that much more. I think this is common for many people. I can think of friends that work so hard for a better life for their children and I wonder if they would do it for themselves if they were still single. Everyone seems to have such different motivators in life that it is good to recognize what you might need in order to be that person you have always dreamed of.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Why Thank You Free Will Astrology

Week of November 19th

Aries (March 21-April 19)
"A chief event of life is the day in which we have encountered a mind that startled us," wrote Ralph Waldo Emerson. My wish for you, Aries, is that you will have many such days in the coming weeks. In fact, I hope that you will be blessed over and over again with the hair-raising thrill of having your imagination pricked, causing it to half-blossom, half-explode. To get the most out of the fantastic possibilities, set aside any tendency you might have to be a know-it-all, and instead open up your heart's mind and your mind's heart as wide and deep as they will go.

Monday, November 9, 2009

No Chocolate Allowed

I once thought about giving up chocolate for Lent. Although I am not religious, it is a popular thing for people to "attempt" to give up something for that period of time. Usually it should be something difficult to deal without. After an especially indulgent treat from Pix Patisserie a few months ago, I realized that I have very little self control when it comes to dessert and specifically chocolate items. I have always had a sweet tooth and have developed the habit of having a sweet treat after meals or when that time of the month hits. After having quite the chocolate hangover the next day, I decided that I would give up chocolate until a) I find a job b) end of the year c)my 29th birthday or d)whenever I feel like it.

I told many friends about this and received the same response of "Why?". All I could say now after being off the stuff for over a month is that it is actually kind of nice. Weird, I know. Never thought I could even do it but it has been incredibly easy.

What I have learned?

Less temptation to impulse buy. Imagine you are at the check out counter and craving some candy. Look over to your right and see the "wall" of last minute impulse buying. 90% of the candy there is going to have chocolate in it or around it. I rarely have the craving for skittles, airheads, or starburst so that is never a problem. Now I don't even look at the candy because I know that there is nothing there for me. Same goes for any candy, cookies, ice cream or other treats. I won't reach for the Oreos even if they are on sale that week.

Have to think outside the traditional options when wanting special treats.
I realized that my favorite desserts are actually non-chocolate ones. Apple crisp with vanilla ice cream. Strawberry milkshakes. Carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. Yes, these aren't healthier options but in much rarer form than chocolate cake, brownies and chocolate chip cookies are. I indulged in vanilla meringues from Trader Joe's last week and they are very much a satisfying treat.

More awareness of eating said treats and being able to enjoy them more. It's the old adage of eat in moderation. When you can eat everything, sometimes we don't even think about what we are eating or enjoy it. If we can't eat gluten then you are going to be much more aware of what you eat, ingredients and the quality of the product. For example, a friend of mine had mini chocolate donuts at her house. Normally, I would have had two or three without thinking about quality or nutrition or anything. Because they were chocolate, I didn't have a second thought about them. They would have been a instant gratification but nothing more. I have been able to explore beyond my traditional choices and see if there are other flavors I prefer more. I like coffee ice cream and things with honey in them. I like fall flavors like pumpkin, apples, and cinnamon.

Really, it's the little things.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

What I learned from my last relationship

“If you love somebody and you break-up…where does the love go?- Carrie, SATC
1. I am much more open minded than I thought.
2. I play devil’s advocate to get my opinions heard and help people see the other side of the argument.
3. I know all about rugby now and have a greater respect for it.
4. I taught myself how to cook meat and other unfamiliar things that I used to be afraid of.
5. I don’t need fancy things to be happy. I am simple person with simple pleasures.
6. I do actually need alone time on occasion.
7. I am independent and take pride in the fact that I can handle things on my own. I know how to do things because I figured them out on my own.
8. I know the inner workings of Portland much better. I know the short cuts, the streets with the best thrift stores, various locations of Trader Joe’s, and how to better prepare myself to not get lost. I also carry a map with me in the car now.
9. I am a problem solver and a teacher.
10. A relationship is a partnership. Not dependent. Just supportive. Constant state of growth and learning. HUMOR. Communication. Patience. Luck.

As we move through our lives, we meet people, we leave people, and we miss people. They will always leave an imprint on our souls in some way. Some are not immediately positive but end up shaping you into the person you become. Others are positive and from that you will know you are loved.

How to be Unemployed

Obviously, not a huge struggle these days to be out of work. As the holidays approach, I imagine people will find being unemployed even harder, especially since a lot of stores are not able to hire as many seasonal helpers like they did in the past.

Being that I am in this situation right now, I have found some basics of being unemployed:

1. Look for a job…
…but never get hired. This is not necessarily under your control unless you like interviewing for fun (weirdo) but unless you have a sugar momma/daddy or a tremendous savings, it’s what you have to do. I have the bonus right now of having a small savings so I can search for jobs that will make me the least miserable but I know how lucky I am. Doesn’t mean it isn’t incredibly difficult but we have to roll with the punches sometimes.

2. Don’t get down on yourself

Much, much easier said than done but you must be realistic: It’s a tough economy and you are in competition with tens, possibly hundreds, of people for one single job. I have repeatedly been told that employers received overwhelming responses to their job postings. Sometimes, it is several hundred for a job that is nothing more than an hourly wage and no benefits. However, this is not necessarily a reflection on your and your skills but just the times that we are in. We can be thankful to have a roof over our heads and food in our bellies. Especially luck if you have people to support you.

3. Improve yourself & your resume

Weekend classes and seminars can be a tremendous help to not only your resume but also your own self-esteem. For between $50-60 (average), you can take a class in business or computers and then be even more ready to take on a new computer program or to better fulfill a position that you are in search for. If you are changing professions then this can be especially helpful because it shows employers that you are committed to that line of work and your future in it.

4. Figure out things to do by yourself
It’s likely that your friends have jobs during the week so it’s important to look for cheap and free things to shake up your ho-hum week of applying for jobs and stressing. Obviously, you may need to go through a few dollars here or there but I figure it is worth it to keep your sanity. My favorites are going super, super thrift shopping (i.e. super cheap, usually no more than $5 per visit), the $3 movie theaters, crafting with supplies I already have (Christmas IS just around the corner), happy hours (cheaper than McDonald’s), walking in the leaves, taking pictures and people watching (always priceless and really entertaining).

5. Do the things you didn’t have time to do before…
…ya know, like when you actually HAD a job. That list that has never been completed because you were too tired, busy, or had more important things to do? Here is the time! Backup files on your computer, organize important files, clean out your car, defuzz your sweaters, refinish that chair in the garage.
It’s time.

6. Volunteer!
Interest in volunteering has risen greatly in the past year. Best thing to do when you are struggling is to help someone who is worse off than you are. I am planning to volunteer at the Oregon Humane Society and I know that no matter how bad my day is, kitten kisses and wagging tails will help. An added bonus for volunteering is that it can help with your resume! If you enjoy computers then volunteer at a non-profit group like Free Geek. If you want to work with kids then volunteer in the classroom or at an afterschool center.

7. Hidden talents
Things that DON’T go on a resume. Scope out coupons or reuse centers for cheap supplies for knitting, upholstery or household projects. Some stores, community centers, and schools offer free or low cost workshops for learning new skills as well. Take advantage! It can’t hurt to do a little research and to see what is out there.

Everyone’s situation and resources are different but there are things that you can do to make sure that life is enjoyable while we are all going through this rough time. Even if you are employed, these are great tips to shaking up life a bit!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

"The Office" Feel Good Quotes

Sorry. My recent revelation that the show, "The Office," is actually brilliant has sparred me to go into some geekdom. Enjoy.

Jim Halpert: I bought the boat tickets the day I saw that YouTube video. I knew we'd need a backup plan. The boat was actually plan C. The church was plan B. And plan A was marring her a long, long time ago. Pretty much the day I met her.
Angela: [crying] Sprinkles never hurt a soul. God, in your infinite wisdom how can you do this? She wasn't ready, she had so much left to accomplish.
Dwight Schrute: Tis only a cat.
Angela: You never... you don't like them.
Dwight Schrute: Cats do not provide milk or wool or meat.
Michael Scott: Would I rather be feared or loved? Um... Easy, both. I want people to be afraid of how much they love me.
Dwight Schrute: Women are like wolves. If you want a wolf, you have to trap it. You have to snare it. And then you have to tame it. Keep it happy. Care for it. Feed it. Lovingly, the way an animal deserves to be loved. And my animal deserves a lot of loving.
Angela: I know that patience and loyalty are good and virtuous traits but sometimes I just think you need to grow a pair.
Pam Beesly: Hey! I wanna say something. I've been trying to be more honest lately, and I just wanna say a few things. I did the coal walk! Just, I did it. Michael, you couldn't even do that. Maybe I should be your boss. Wow I feel really good right now. [pause] Why didn't any of you come to my art show? I invited all of you. That really sucked. It's like sometimes some of you act like I don't even exist. Jim, I called off my wedding because of you. And now we're not even friends. And things are just like weird between us. And that sucks. And I miss you. You were my best friend before you went to Stamford. And I really miss you. I shouldn't have been with Roy, and there were a lot of reasons to call of my wedding. But the truth is, I didn't care about any of those reasons until I met you. And now you're with someone else. And that's fine. It's, whatever, it's not what I'm- I'm not- Okay my feet really hurt. The thing that I'm just trying to say to you Jim, and to everyone else in the circle, I guess, is that I miss having fun with you. Just you, not everyone in the circle. Okay. I am gonna go walk in the water now. Yep. It's a good day. [she runs away]
Michael Scott: Pam! That was amazing! ...But I am still looking for someone with a sales background.
Dwight Schrute: We-- Don't you wanna earn Schrute Bucks!?
Stanley: No. In fact, I'll give you a billion Stanley Nickels if you never talk to me again.
Dwight Schrute: What's the ratio of Stanley Nickels to Schrute Bucks?
Stanley: The same as the ratio of unicorns to leprechauns.
Michael Scott: [bangs gavel] The hell is that?
Phyllis: It's the only gavel I could find.
Michael Scott: It squeaks when you bang it. That's what she said.

Okay, I'll stop there.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

4 Tips for Event Planning

I consider myself a novice event planner. Having been part of some event planning and planned one wedding completely, I started to notice trends and the things that cause people to freak out the most. I absolutely love researching different ideas and offering something new and exciting to the people I am working with. I applied for a position as an assistant event planner the other day and it led me to think about how I approach events and the whole planning process which can sometimes be stressful and overwhelming. Here are my tips:

1. Have an inspiration
This doesn't need to be an overall scheme. It can be as simple as craft paper, a quilt, a favorite fabric, favorite food, or a favorite destination. It has to be something that makes you feel excited! By having something to refer to, you can make sure that things don't get too off course or the spending doesn't go off track.
The show "My Fair Wedding" by David Tutera is the perfect example of this. This amazing wedding planner comes in to help a bride who has taken, for example, a winter wedding theme, and wasted her money on cheesy plastic winter ornaments and flowers. She has taken a theme and ran with it but somewhere in the blissful planning process, started to veer towards the everything approach rather than the specific. Tutera scales everything down and really addresses what the bride was aiming for rather than what she bought.

One example that I gave a friend of mine was the peacock feather. Now, she doesn't need to use peacock feathers but the array of deep, rich colors is something that she can refer to while picking out linens or flowers or even creating her invitations. The other idea to pare down color choices is to have you and your partner go to a paint store and pick out colors that appeal to you, perhaps two or three main colors. If you want to pick a bunch of colors then you can see if you want pastels versus matte versus bold color palettes because a bright pink will just not go well with a light pastel yellow. No. No.

2. Represent who you are
It is going to be silly to have a dinner party in the middle of the woods if you are so definitely city people who have never been camping before. It would be restricting to have a very formal wedding if you are more relaxed, laid back people. Of course you can mix things up but what makes the event special and memorable is if your personality shows. This can be in the form of food, music, decor, footwear, whatever! The most successful events are the ones where the people are comfortable and know that the event is straight from the heart.
3. Invite the people that you will enjoy....
...and that will support you and love you even when you burn the turkey or cake. I hear these weddings that are over 200 people and I wonder if they even know all of them! Why invite the cousin that you haven't seen since you were 5 years old? Why invite the evil Aunt that will just make everyone uncomfortable? Of course, there are the old rules of inviting family and old friends but you are paying for them so you might as well enjoy them! There are blogs that are specifically meant for small weddings and they always seem the best because it is a gathering of people that are genuinely happy for you. Same goes for parties. If you are going to all the trouble to plan these things then have people there that you can ENJOY!

4. Pick what is the most important to you
We are obviously not all strong enough to always go against tradition, family opinions (and sometimes financial ties), and the thousands of ideas that will get thrown at you while planning a wedding/party/gathering. Somewhere in there you have to figure out what you NEED and WANT to have so that you are happy. Do you and your partner care about a cake? Do you care about music? Do you need to dance? These are things that are HUGE to discuss because it can be the difference between a $2,000 wedding and a $50,000 wedding...when you only have $1,000 budget.

Say you look back at your wedding or event and wished that you had done something different, what would that be? If you could care less about a proper cake then just grab something from a local bakery or you can offer an array of smaller individual desserts and be done with it. If you just want music but don't need the band then use the trusty iPod, rent a great sound system and create your own list for super cheap (or free!). It pays to research and ask friends for tips. Buying stuff online helps. Borrowing things from friends helps. Don't get overwhelmed with all the work!

Obviously, this isn't everything. I feel like people spend so much money on their weddings and big parties that they should slow down and focus on the finer details. No one will really remember the color of the linens. They will remember the smile on your face. They won't remember if the plates were fancy or paper. They will remember everyone coming together and having a GOOD TIME!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Oh, the story of my life!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Trader Joe's Recommendations

Lately, I have rediscovered the loveliness that is Trader Joe's. The food is reasonably priced and they have quite the variety of fun foods and staples for meals. I am not a fancy vegan-gluten free-monounsaturated fat person but I do like the option to be that healthy if I want to.

Here are some amazing products that you need to try:

Seriously Seedy & Nutty Wafers

These weird looking little cookies are amazingly good. The mixture of cashews, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds and sunflower seeds in a honey based concoction that is placed on odd white wafers are crunchy, sweet and fulfilling.

Savory Thin Mini Edamame Crackers

I don't really consider these crackers because they are freakin' crispy like chips. Like chips that you can't stop eating no matter how hard you try. These delicate "crackers" have a wonderfully nutty taste that is perfectly salted. The bonus is that they are gluten free and low in calories and fat. For 38 crackers (count them out so you don't end up eating the whole bag...not that I have) it's only 120 calories and 2 grams of fat. I say if you have a crunchy craving to buy these. Now. Yes.

Vegetable Masala Burger & Sweet Potato Fries

I blame Cara for this completely. I innocently had these vegetarian burgers thinking "No Biggie" but instead the flavor is awesome and the patties are incredibly versatile. I have put a fried egg on top and had them for breakfast. She served them with Sweet Potato Fries that are not only healthier alternatives to the classic potato fry but also feel incredibly decadent. I leave the fries in the oven until they are a bit crunchy so they do take some time but are so very worth it. Add a TJ's bean dip and these could be a meal!

Whole Wheat Tandoori Naan

This stuff is yummy and has a nice bit of fiber to boot. I customarily have it with TJ's sour cream spinach dip that is aaaamazing. Even my picky mom said it was "not bad" so you can imagine how good it is. To be warned, the naan can mold fairly quickly if not kept in the right conditions. I keep it in the fridge and try to just watch out for any signs of the little green/blue invader. The naan is also good plain or with a little bit of savory spread.

Other yummies:
---Reduced Fat Cheddar Cheese Sticks-a good alternative if you are tired of the traditional string cheese or just don't like it
---Chocolate Cat Cookies-low fat, thin chocolate cookies that pack a lot of chocolate flavor and are very satisfying
---Carrot Juice-slightly high calorie and sugar amount but if replacing a meal then it is well worth it
---Freeze dried banana chips--make sure these are the FREEZE and not the FRIED ones; these are the kind of fruits that they usually put in cereals; they have the amazing banana flavor and the crunch texture without being fried in fatty oils; slightly odd smell to me at first but no biggie