Monday, December 31, 2012

2013: Get Satisfied

In the same intention I had with goal setting for 2012, I want to set achievable, measurable goals for 2013 as well. These will not include "eat well" or "exercise often" because both are subjective and ambiguous. 

This is my inspiration: 6 New Year's Resolutions That Are Worth Keeping from the ridiculously awesome Thought Catalog. My favorite quotes are:

"Risks = potentially amazing things happening in your life. No risks = no sex, no joys, lots of stagnant evenings in bed watching Netflix." 

"Is it just me or were people really behaving like dicks in 2012? I was so tired of the constant insults and outrage and annoyance. Take a chill pill, you freaks."

"Cut out the exes who make your bones ache and your heart hurt. Protect yourself against those who don’t value you as much as they should." 


Here I go...
  • Complete Shaun T.'s Rockin' Body program.
  • Go to one dance class, my choice. This can include Zumba, hip-hop, jazz, ballet, etc. 
  • Date, again. Must put self out there. Cannot meet men while sitting on couch watching "30 Rock." 
  • Create a wardrobe fit for a 30-something year old woman.
  • Visit two new states.
  • Get into the healthy weight range for my height (130-160lbs.)
  • Read a minimum of 20 books.
  • Rid my life of asshat.
  • Blog twice a week with original and interesting material (new recipes, adventures, etc.). 
  • Go hiking twice.
  • Complete two 5ks. 
  • Write my dear friends back within two weeks of original email.
  • Buy the complete series of Sex and the City.
  • Get 1,000 followers on Pinterest.

I think that is quite the achievable list! I have a few personal goals I am also setting which I will share at the end of next year. 

Here's to an amazing 2013!

Update on Project Accomplish 2012 & Food Bucket List

Update on Project Accomplish 2012

  • Graduate with my master's degree in education leadership and complete my certificate in academic advising.
  • The career position. This is ultimately going to decide where I end up for the foreseeable future and where I will establish myself as a professional. This is also where I could potentially "set up shop" (ie. family, friends, community). (Kinda....still in the "waiting and seeing" mindset)
  • Continue traveling. (Kentucky, Check!) (South Carolina, Check!)
  • Cook one new savory dish each month, possibly working off of this ultimate food bucket list.(Have been cooking a lot more! Plan to keep it up through the next year)
  • Get my hair done professionally which does not include Great Clips, Super Cuts, or me in the bathroom with scissors and DIY box of dye. (Hair cut at the Paul Mitchell School on a regular basis!)
  •  Reach a healthy goal weight. For my height, I should be between 120-160 pounds. (Few minor set backs but plan to get back on track now that the holidays are over.)
  • Move into an intermediate level for yoga. I want to be able to do this pose, this post, this pose, and this pose without freakin' out.(Oh hell no.)
  • Complete a minimum of two 5Ks. One needs to be jogged or run. (One completed 4/15, Big House Big Heart in Ann Arbor) (Signed up for Color Me Radd in October but got a crazy flu and decided it was a bad idea to run when I couldn't breathe so well. Ya know.)
  • Run on the treadmill. (Done! It was only for a few minutes but felt great and I didn't even fall off. April 7th)
  • Minimum of one Zumba class.(Sad face)
  • Start dating? Start dating.  (Did actually do this! It was short lived because I let some asshat from the past interfere a bit but will renew my search once my head gets straight)
  • Get my teeth cleaned. (Scurrred. Will get before birthday in April)
  • Visit home at least once; planning for February. (Yes! Went home, great visit. February 24th)
  • Buy the perfect pair of black pants. (Bought a few but my favorite are actually a pair of skinny black pants with the look channeling Audrey Hepburn)

In hindsight, I accomplished a lot! I'm not where I want to be physically but I knew that would probably be the biggest challenge, especially with all of the changes that have happened this year. It's been a crazy long year!

Food Bucket List 

This was a list I HOPED to accomplish by my 31st birthday. Well, I turn 32 (egad!) in April so...I just use this list to remind myself that I need to be more creative in the kitchen.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Free Will Astrology: The Matrix

Verticle Oracle card Aries (March 21-April 19)
In the sci-fi film trilogy The Matrix, the heroes are able to instantaneously acquire certain complex skills via software that's downloaded directly into their brains. In this way, the female hacker named Trinity masters the art of piloting a military M-109 helicopter in just a few minutes. If you could choose a few downloads like that, Aries, what would they be? This isn't just a rhetorical question meant for your amusement. In 2013, I expect that your educational capacity will be exceptional. While you may not be able to add new skills as easily as Trinity, you'll be pretty fast and efficient. So what do you want to learn? Choose wisely.

I've actually thought about this a lot. I wish there were USB ports in our brains where we could instantaneously download knowledge as we needed or wanted. I know that this would be ridiculous because one, we would have to constantly add on more memory and two, it would make it so that everyone was so completely equal intellectually that it would eventually get boring. Think about it, no one would tell you new information or fun facts because you could technically know everything. What a boring thought!

With that said, there are a few things that I really, really wish I just knew how to do. 
1. Drive stick shift/manual transmission. A dear friend once tried to teach me; it was a pointless endeavor for her.
2. Spanish language. I would love to be able to comfortable converse in another language.
3. Know how to sew using either needle and thread or with a sewing machine.
4. How to use Photoshop. I love being creative and think it would be nice to know how to be more digitally creative.
5. Understand and know the ins and outs of any institution I work at including curriculum, courses, protocol, and more. 

What would you love to instantly know how to do?

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Reverb: The Rest of 2012

23. Best moment of December
Rockin' the baking in my kitchen (that I love): cookies, cookies, biscotti!
Christmas working out pretty nicely. Last year, my mom and I had a horrible gift exchange (my gift to her was on my computer which crashed hardcore about two weeks before Christmas and her gift to me was stolen off my front porch). This year, success! We may not have much money but we can send candy and sweets like no one else's business.

24. Lesson learned. What was the best thing you learned about yourself this past year? And how will you apply that lesson going forward?
I was actually kind of yell at myself a little and say "TRUST YOUR INTUITION." I tell others that and have previously followed my gut instinct but this year, I doubted it. I let the "norm" and other opinions influence my own decisions. I don't let that happen often since I know myself very, very well but it was a lesson learned for sure.

25. What is one picture that best represents 2012 for you?

26. Wonder. How did you cultivate a sense of wonder in your life this year?
I took on the challenge of job searching with no real expectations but to find a place I want to live in for a while and a job I can see myself growing and flourishing in. As a new graduate but a non-traditional student, it was a struggle and a learning experience.

27. What are 11 things your life doesn't need in 2013? 
Bullshit. Debt. Sugar. Laziness. Staleness. Materialism. Negativity. Complaining. Excuses. Stress (unhealthy kind). Singledom. 

28. Inspiration: What are three things that have inspired you this year?
Anyone who went outside their comfort zone and made changes that were often difficult or scary in order to be happy. 
Travel. I often get the itch to travel or go on at least some long road trips since I feel like I have been in motion for the last three years.

29. What was the theme of your life in 2012? Why? 
Expectations and change. I  think we all have expectations and know that things will change but outcomes are always a surprise. I would also add "trust" in there.

30. What do you want the theme to be for 2013?
HAPPINESS. CALM. STABILITY. It's a theme, right? :)

31. Donate blood. Save a life.
I have to wait two more weeks until I am eligible but plan on doing so! When I donated in November, I was ecstatic that my iron levels were finally high enough to donate! The last few times I tried, I had a big issue with being just under the minimum iron level acceptable for donation. I think this is one of the easiest ways you can help someone if you are eligible. 

Reverb: The Summer Months, Beginning Fall

13. Best moment of July:
Moving and getting into my new place!

14. Love. What does this word mean to you?
It means caring for someone else, almost more than yourself at times, and appreciate them for who they are.

15. Best moment of August
Going on dates with a new friend. I hadn't dated for a really long time because of a horrible break-up and my temporary time for graduate school in Michigan. I ventured out of my comfort zone and it was great to have someone appreciate me and get to explore Columbia with someone. 

16. Body integration. (bah....need to manage my stress levels and treat myself better. period.)

17. Best moment of September
Attending Viva La Vista! This was a fun chance to see the local foodie scene and try a bunch of new things for not a whole lot of money. I was super excited that I found a place that does french macarons! Hmm...speaking of...

18. Let Go. 
At the end of this year (i.e. in three days), I'll let go of the idea of fate and destiny in one particular area of my life. 

19. Best moment of October
I got to go to a FREE Switchfood concert! My co-worker's boyfriend works for the university's production company and so since she was going, I decided to tag along. We went to dinner first then walked over to the field where the band set up.

20. Community. Where have you discovered community, online or otherwise, in 2012?
I was blessed with the community I became a part of in Michigan. They truly became my strength and family and I miss them dearly. 

21. Best moment of November
Major utilization of my local public library.
Major interest in baking A LOT and bringing most of the results to work.
Getting to kitty-sit over Thanksgiving! 

22. Photo. a present to yourself. Sift through all the photos of you from the past year. Choose one that best captures you; either who you are, or who you strive to be. Find the shot of you that is worth a thousand words. Share the image, who shot it, where, and what it best reveals about you.

My dear friend, Amy, and I in Seattle.

My HESA girls at a Red Wings Game in Detroit

My Americorps friend, Emily, in Ypsilanti
I couldn't pick one but instead picked three pictures that represent my personality the best. I love spending time with friends who I feel I can be myself with. I love going and doing things--anything!--as long as I have money and it doesn't involve jumping a fence, I'll do it.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Movie Marathon

I love, love seeing movies, especially in the theater. It is crazy expensive but sometimes it can be fun to just treat yourself. Thank goodness that Columbia has Regal Cinemas so I can at least earn some rewards! Here are just a few..err..a handful of movies I have seen lately: 

This is 40

Honestly, I thought this would be a lot funnier and not nearly as depressing as it was. I love all of the actors (Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann) and think the idea of the movie is great but as someone who already has a sullied view of marriage, it wasn't all that great. Don't get me wrong, there are some seriously funny moments but not enough to make the movie pop.

Eat Pray Love
Have seen this many, many times but I always think it is such an inspiration, raw, well-made movie. Plus, I just adore Julia Roberts and Javier Bardem.

Favorite movie of all time (which says a lot). Classic 80's movie with Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell. Bonus: filmed in Oregon!

Step Up & Step Up 2
Step Up is actually one of my top 5 favorite movies ever. Luckily, the house I am currently staying at, had the sequel which was pretty awesome as well. Straight up, I just love dancing movies, especially when they combine different styles and music. Bonus: Channing Tatum.


I had heard a lot about this when it first came out but finally got a chance to see it. Wow. It started off a little slow but then there are major twists and turns with such intense scenes that really pull you in. I was not expecting to be as emotional during this movie nor was I expecting such crazy plot twists! The actors were all amazing as was the direction and styling.

Hunger Games
I got into the books after most people had and did see HG in the theater when it first came out. I am old and in theater, I got a little queasy with the camera action following the characters in the forest so getting to watch it again at home (and on a big ol' TV) was great. I cannot wait until the next one comes out in the Spring. So excited!

The Town

Another movie I heard so much about and finally had the chance to see. Wow. The whole time I was really impressed with the emotion and authenticity of the characters. I watched some of the behind the scenes extras on the DVD that shows how much effort Ben Affleck put into casting characters from this Boston neighborhood and getting it all "right." Bonus: I may also have a crush on Jeremy Renner even more now.


What can I say, I was on an Affleck kick. He was named one of the most interesting people on some list and someone in the comments section asked why he deserved it. Really, he has become such an amazing director and after watching other actors talk about him and his professionalism and vision, I can totally see why. This movie was amazing. I was shocked at not only how interested I was in it, I was also surprised that my entire body was tensed up during the final part of the movie and I definitely shed a few tears. I absolutely recommend seeing this one.

Quotes of the Day: New Year Edition

“For last year's words belong to last year's language
And next year's words await another voice.”
- T.S. Eliot

"All of us every single year, we're a different person. I don't think we're the same person all our lives."
- Steven Spielberg

“We all want to break our orbits, float like a satellite gone wild in space, run the risk of disintegration. We all want to take our lives in our own hands and hurl them out among the stars.”
- David Bottoms

"With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts."
- Eleanor Roosevelt  

"Once we’re thrown off our habitual paths, we think all is lost, but it’s only here that the new and the good begins."
- Leo Tolstoy 

“Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come,
Whispering 'it will be happier'...”
- Alfred Tennyson

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Life, Currently

I am officially on break! Luckily enough, being in education means that you usually get a good week or more off for winter break. Since I won't be returning to work until the 2nd (OF 2013!), I have a few things I am really going to try and get done.

  • Lots of laundry
  • Catching up on Top Chef: Seattle 
  • Pretty myself up a bit (roots, shaggy hair, etc.) 
  • Get rid of all of the horrible, worn-out clothes in my closet
  • Make a serious budget and menu to implement for January

Maybe nothing terribly exciting but I want to come back to work with some clarity, rested, and eager to have a healthy, balanced life that includes both mental and physical health.

(Mini Rant/)One of the people that I work with asked me if I had any other exciting plans besides cats and TV. Yes, I was a little offended. I don't think they get the fact that I, quite literally, know no one in the entire state at the moment that I don't work with. Even with that, most people have gone home (out of state) over the break and it is not their responsibility to entertain me. The holidays are always a funky time to try and make friends or also invite people to celebrate them with you. I was blessed to have friends in Michigan that invited me to their homes over breaks (and I felt comfortable doing so) but there is always a funny line there. My goal for next year's holidays is to celebrate them with family! (/Mini Rant)

Some of my favorite things about the holidays are (usually) the general good cheer that people have and all of the movies and food! Earlier this week I broke into my mom's Christmas package because I recognized one of my favorites, danish butter cookies!

And yes, they were gone in about three days. So delicious! Mom also included some chocolate covered cherries---teeth hurt but totally worth it. Other must-haves this season are egg nog (which I need to go hunt down tomorrow), glazed ham, and sparkling apple cider! This year I am also including a corn casserole, sweet and sour brussel sprouts again, and delicious crescent rolls. Can you tell I'm excited for dinner? For breakfast, while I open my presents, I am going to make some cinnamon apple crescent rolls and a big mug of chai tea.

Here is the beautiful downtown Columbia Christmas tree on a rainy night:

Hope you all are excited to celebrate the holidays and open presents soon!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

Showing Support & Thankfulness

The sadness from last Friday's events make little things seem a bit...pointless?...and complaining about not having snow or eating too many cookies seems a bit shallow. With that said, we still need to remind ourselves on a daily basis to be thankful for what we have. It seems that it is this time of year that we feel more sympathetic and caring towards each other but really, it should be a daily occurrence. There are so many ways to support and help each other that there is no reason that anyone should feel alone.

Ways to help Sandy Hook and Newtown:

DOrazio Sisters Cheesecake & Goodies They are sending entrees to families, schools and first responders in the area. Easy to donate money through PayPal.

Crafting for a Cause Select Etsy crafters are donating either all or a portion of their proceeds to the United Way of Western Connecticut.

Donate directly to the United Way of Western Connecticut.

The Newtown Post Office has dedicated a post office box for people who want to send letters of condolence, care packages, drawings from children, etc.

The address is:
Messages of Condolence for Newtown
PO Box 3700 Newtown, Connecticut 06470

A list of ways to donate in victim's names and send condolences and support to families.

A small sampling of inspiring stories of support of both Newtown but also each other:

New York Giants' Victor Cruz "visited the home of the 6-year-old Connecticut shooting victim who was buried in a replica Cruz jersey."

UConn has created The Sandy Hook School Memorial Scholarship Fund at the University of Connecticut.

Ann Curry, news anchor at The Today Show, started a Twitter movement with her initiative to start the #20acts #26acts of kindness in memory of those that died.


Need ideas of the little ways you can make a difference in some one's life or day?


Thursday, December 13, 2012

Reverb: April-June

Reverbing, reverbing; reflecting all the way...(too corny?)

Here we go...

7. Best moment of April 
Clearly, my biggest achievement was reached; something I had been putting all my effort into for the past two years.

Graduation! I worked hard, learned that I have an undying love of procrastination, pushed myself to go outside of my comfort zone, and met some of the best people. The decision to go to grad school was made in a difficult time in my life and there hasn't been one second that I regretted the decision. I actually miss it quite a bit, except for that whole writing long papers thing.

Secondly, participated in the Big House, Big Heart race (5k for me, 10k for Em). I had a big goal of doing at least one 5k in Detroit and one in Ann Arbor so this race was perfect. It started outside of the University of Michigan stadium and ended on the field which meant we got to run through the tunnel. It was a lot of fun! The rain that morning made things, well, damp, but we stayed strong and got through it. I was super proud of my girl Em for completing her first 10k! After, we cleaned up to be mildly presentable then grabbed lunch before she had to head back to Pennsylvania. I hadn't seen the girl in 9 years and it was like nothing had ever changed. 

Still just as important...
  • Birthday. 31. I feel old and too young all at the same time. I discovered I loved summer shandy. I also had an very heartfelt conversation with a trusted friend that relieved a lot of emotional and mental confusion. So thankful I have people in my life that help me make sense of things!

8. One Word. Encapsulate the year 2012 in one word. Explain why you’re choosing that word. Now, imagine it’s one year from today, what would you like the word to be that captures 2013 for you?

Intuition. I need to trust in it and utilize it as a prime tool in creating the life I want.
2013? Peace. Hoping to find it.

9. Best moment of May 

 May was a hodgepodge of things:
-Did my first on-campus interview which meant I flew in small planes on a rainy, windy day.
-Went to Grease sing-a-long at the Redford Theater in Detroit. Love, loved it.
-My friend took me on a tour of Detroit! Low-key style with a ride on the people mover (went around twice!), the Heidelberg Project, and we happened to find the most amazing popcorn place. No, seriously, would pay to ship that stuff to my house, good. (Apparently I never posted about this. Shame, April!)
-I started reading a lot. Read the Hunger Games and Fifty Shades of Grey trilogies. Apparently, this combo of books is a common theme among friends. I suppose when you think about it, both of them inform some sort of torture and love? Intriguing.

10. 5 minutes. Imagine you will completely lose your memory of 2012 in five minutes. Set an alarm for five minutes and capture the things you most want to remember about 2012.

I would capture the first part of the year, hands down. January through June. Friends, dinners and happy hours, long conversations, feeling of knowledge and empowerment, celebrations.

I also would probably remember the short spurt of dating that I did here in Columbia. It wasn't much but it reminded me of some things that I forgot.

11. Best moment of June 
This was a month of transition and difficulties and apparently I wasn't super inspired to blog since there were only five posts.I remember going out with friends though! Having long talks with some of my mentors that made me feel like I was ready to move on and not nearly ready enough, all at the same time.

12. Friendship. How has a friend changed you or your perspective on the world this year? Was this change gradual, or a sudden burst?

I have a few very dear friends that have been so supportive and understanding of me this year despite the fact that they had serious things going on in their lives as well. These friends are considerate, empathetic, and selfless. They are the kind of friends that I hope I can be to them. It is nice knowing that I have the ability to be loved and considered in the way that they have shown me.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

At Least It Is a Healthy Habit?

I might be getting a little carried away...

Monday, December 10, 2012

Tis the Season for Chocolatey Goodness

It is baking time up in here!

Yes, that is my refrigerator's crisper full of chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, chopped walnuts and shredded coconut. Clearly, I got issues, man.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cake Mix Cookies
Baking is my form of stress relief and luckily (or unluckily for my co-workers), I work in the kind of environment where making treats is okay. I fear that I will over load them tomorrow for our White Elephant gift exchange but, well, I just couldn't help myself. I love all the recipes on Pinterest that I have been seeing and I definitely can't keep everything for myself otherwise I would gain 100 pounds! 

The cookies above, pinned from Plain Chicken, are amazing. I really, really should have sifted the cake mix a bit more before mixing it into the other ingredients but otherwise, they turned out delicious! If you like big, soft, fluffy cookies and have a special place in your heart for all things peanut butter, I definitely recommend these.

Need something a little more holiday? These cookies below are SO DELICIOUS. They come from the team over at Two Peas & Their Pod. They are always putting up great recipes so I knew that following this one would have been a no brainer. Getting everything together below including substituting my favorite Dark Chocolate Almond Milk.

 The ones on the left have been cooling on the cookie sheet for 10 minutes while the ones on the right just came out of the oven. Chilled. Puffy. Chilled. Puffy.


And of course I had to try one. These have just enough mint to compliment the brownie-like texture of the cookies. They do firm up as the cool but are still incredibly soft and rich.

Pinterest Palooza: Biscotti!

For some crazy reason, I have always thought biscotti was super sophisticated and elegant, and, in turn, would be really hard to make. I get easily intimidated by kneading of breads and any sort of shenanigans that may have to happen just to make something that will only add inches to my waistline. Being in a new office and it being the holidays, I decided to make some treats for my co-workers and also include a few in packages to send back home. I looked on Pinterest for recipes that gave me good vibes (you look for those, too, right??) and found one for Pumpkin Biscotti and Cranberry White Chocolate Biscotti. I followed the recipes feel free to follow the links and pins those suckers!

Here is the outcome of the pumpkin walnut biscotti with chocolate drizzle:

This was a perfect recipe and came together quite well. I got a super arm workout but the dough was incredibly easy to work with and I tasted it throughout the process and it was damn tasty!

Here is the outcome of the cherry, coconut, white chocolate biscotti: 

See what I did there? Totally didn't follow the mix-ins on that recipe. I thought I had a good handful left of dried cherries in my pantry and low and behold, I had about eight of them. My first thought was, "Why did someone leave eight little dried cherries in a baggie?" and secondly, "Why would I do that to myself??" Rummaging through my kitchen, frantically searching for a substitute left me with throwing in the dried cherries and white chocolate chips like I initially planned on but also adding in some shredded coconut. It was a shot in the dark but came out pretty well! I wish I could have had some more colors going on in the dough but as long as it tastes good, I shall be proud.

All packaged up and ready to go: 

These will go great with some chai tea or hot chocolate!