Saturday, March 30, 2013

Life, Interrupted

Perhaps that is a cliche title for when things go a bit wonky in life but...the evil world of electronics have interrupted my blogging life!

My little old Dell laptop took the "big sleep" this last week. I got the final diagnosis on Friday and have been researching other options. I AM OVERWHELMED. Luckily, I work with an amazing computer guy who gave me the numbers I need to look for and some places to start looking as I research a new laptop. My brain is now consumed with weighing the options of cost vs. durability vs. ease of use vs. all the other things that I have no real idea about. I should mention that my laptop was 8.5 years old so really, it is about time that I get in the know.

Other updates?

  • Starting April 1st, I am going to get this healthy lifestyle thing into high gear. The stress has died down a bit (despite the above issue) and there are no major holidays that involve candy so I need to reign in the sugar intake and get my ass back in the gym. My body is CRAVING physical activity and routine. I'm excited to get back into my routine after a long hiatus. 
  • I have been writing down positive things in a notebook every single day since January 1st. Even on my worst days, I write a little something down. 
  • I have been drinking at least four glasses of water every single day since January 1st. 
  • Planning what I want to do on my birthday next month. 
  • Saw Seth Meyers on Thursday and he was HILARIOUS! I had no idea he would be quite so funny on his own. There were two jokes in particular that had me almost crying because the visuals and the story were so funny. 
  • Have y'all seen the Summerland Tour? They better be adding some more tour dates or I might just be a little cranky that I get to miss this awesome 90's reunion. 

Hope everyone is doing well! Happy Easter! 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Day Trip: Charleston, Part I

A mini vacation! I desperately needed some time to myself and decided to splurge and go on a one-day excursion. Originally, I was going to head up to Charlotte but those plans changed and I figured it was just as far to Charleston as it was to Charlotte. SOLD! Many, many people have expressed love about Charleston so I took Friday off from work and headed out to the coast early to get a start on the day.

I researched a lot of the biggest things I needed to see when I was there. I looked up authentic "low country" restaurants and many of the "can't miss" attractions (thank you Trip Advisor & Yelp). Thankfully, you can pretty much park and walk everywhere and I definitely got my workout for the day.

First I hit up the Charleston Museum. I am not as proficient with my Southern history so going to the museums down here is always enlightening (there are no covered wagons and very few Native Americans!). There were exhibits about plantations, cotton, the slave trade, wars and artillery, and some random stuffed animals that creeped me the heck out.

 Walking around, there was definitely a lot of tourist sites but also just so much culture and history. Seeing churches, cemeteries, and streets that were over 200 years old was just overwhelming at times. For some reason, I am always incredibly interested in walking or being somewhere that we have read about in history books.

 And some food! I was too busy walking and taking 146 pictures to really care about eating but I did make sure to indulge here and there. 

I felt awkward taking pictures but here is my review of Poogan's Porch from Trip Advisor  "I decided to splurge on myself today for lunch and came upon Poogan's Porch. It had a very relaxed vibe and warm interior with dark woods. Immediately, I had the most amazing, warm flaky biscuits and fresh butter brought to my table. I had to stop myself at one to save room for lunch but you bet that I took that second biscuit home with me. The meal itself was a generous portion of two fillets of fried fish, lightly battered, topped with stewed tomatoes and okra. The veggies provided the perfect acid for the fish and helped to lighten up the grits. The grits were incredibly indulgent and well seasoned. I savored each bite and enjoyed watching the waiters cater to a huge party upstairs. The service was great, quick and non-intrusive, and I didn't feel rushed even during lunch time."

Moon Pie General Store. Can you believe I have never had a Moon Pie? I didn't even really know what they were besides a treat wrapped in cellophane that probably isn't health. Here in the general store, they had all sorts of SC and Moon Pie paraphernalia you could ever want AND a bunch of different flavors. It was overwhelming! I went low-key and just grabbed a single decker vanilla pie which I ate on the way out of town while sitting in traffic. It was tasty! And....apparently it is a "Southern Thing" to drink it with an RC cola.

Last little indulgence was to grab a piece of Jestine's Coca-Cola cake to go. In addition to the restaurant, there is a little bakery just around the corner where you can grab so many freakin' amazing things but this one little piece of cake has a reputation. (Food Network) (Travel Channel)

Truly, Charleston is GORGEOUS and AMAZING. I didn't want to leave. I could have stayed there a good week. I will have to do separate post for all the churches and cemeteries that I saw. Yes, I may have gotten a little carried away...

Orlando, A hoy!

A few weeks ago, I attended the First Year Experience Conference in Orlando. This is a chance for all student affairs & academic affairs folks to get together, discuss new and innovative ideas of reaching out to first-year students, and basically socialize with some free food and free books. FREE BOOKS. Seriously? Geek girl heaven.

This was my first time at this particular conference but not my first time in Orlando. It felt great to be back in a familiar city and I even got to have lunch with former O-Teamers. It was also great to enjoy the warmer weather but the humidity is something that I will never get used to in the South. My hair + humidity equals Gilly. Save for the small money snafu, it was a great experience.

The conference breakdown is like this: sessions running all the time about various subjects. You have to be pick and choose what you want to see the most including some of the conference activities and luncheons. There were several publishing houses there to promote their books as first-year reading selections which also meant lots of author meet and greets and the open area with booths that also sold products aimed at college campuses. This was all held in the Rosen Hotel and my crew and I stayed at the Rosen Plaza Hotel. These are gorgeous hotels and the staff know their business. It doesn't hurt that the Rosen Campus of University of Central Florida is just around the corner.

I have a stack of notes and handouts about two inches thick from the conference that I am still needing to sift through but the greatest thing about any of these conferences is the fact that you get to share ideas, see what other schools are doing that may or may not work, and network with other professionals. It is exhausting, exhilarating and enlightening!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Quotes of the Day: Get Happy, Get Movin'

“Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen.” - Michael Jordan

“Achievement of your happiness is the only moral purpose of your life, and that happiness, not pain or mindless self-indulgence, is the proof of your moral integrity since it is the result of your loyalty to the achievement of your values.” - Ayn Rand

“Choose yourself.” - Seth Godin

“Know the true value of time; snatch, seize, and enjoy every moment of it. No idleness, no laziness, no procrastination: never put off til tomorrow what you can do today.” - Lord Chesterfield 

“If you obey all the rules you miss all the fun.” - Katharine Hepburn

“I always like to look on the optimistic side of life, but I am realistic enough to know that life is a complex matter.” - Walt Disney

“Continuous effort - not strength or intelligence - is the key to unlocking our potential.” - Winston Churchill

“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go. - T.S. Elliot

“Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.” - Lucille Ball

Monday, March 11, 2013

Fill in the Blank: Monday Edition

 I am slightly caught up on blog posts. I am crazy involved with my Netflix instant queue. I need some pure sunshine and a big ol' drink. On a beach. With a man friend.


Here's to a new week! And a random blogger meme.

What interesting things would we find in your refrigerator right now if we were to open it?

A mexican bottle of Coca-Cola
An expired container of silken tofu.
A grip of Chobani yogurts of various flavors and sizes (the bites line is delicious!). 
Several containers of Egg Beaters. 
Two bottles of white wine.

What is your favorite sound in the kitchen?
I like the sound of popcorn popping in the microwave.

What three ingredients can’t you live without?

Ingredients for baking: flour, chocolate chips, butter.
Ingredients for cooking: quinoa, eggs, cheese.

What was a high point of your last week?
I was able to advise quite a bit which I love and makes the day go by much faster. I also made black-bottomed cupcakes and oatmeal lace cookies for work and people seemed to like them.

What was a low point of your last week?  
I started getting sick last Tuesday with some sort of stomach/head cold thing and I made it til Thursday without it just taking me down. Had to take a few days of laying on the couch in a comforter cocoon and watching many, many Netflix documentaries but am finally feeling normal again.

Coolest things found on the internetz lately: 
More people look for love at Wal-Mart: No really, just read the comments section.
Nathan Ripperger, Dad, Makes Posters Out Of The Crazy Things He Says To His Kids

What about y'all, any kitchen or week reflections you want to share? Anything else random going on in the world?

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Quotes of the Day: Confidence & Go

Be confident, not certain.

"To be yourself is all that you can do." 
- Audioslave
"To think is easy. To act is difficult. To act as one thinks is the most difficult."
- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
"Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, 
or any experience that reveals the human spirit."
  - E. E. Cummings

“Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen.” 
- Michael Jordan 

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” 
- Winston Churchill

“Choose yourself.” - Seth Godin

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Oatmeal Lace Cookies

Confession: I actually prefer desserts that aren't chocolate. Carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. Snickerdoodles. French macarons. Coconut macaroons. Coffee Heath Bar Crunch ice cream.

So then there is the oatmeal cookie. Most people are not a fan but I blame that on the whole raisin thing; some people love 'em, some people hate 'em (for the record, I love a good raisin). I think oatmeal cookies can be delicious on their own but are also perfect to add tons of mix-ins (chia seeds, nuts, dried fruits, shredded veggies, etc.). This particular cookie recipe is almost toffee in taste and texture but the addition of oats add a bit more bulk and the butterscotch chips get all melty.

Oatmeal Lace Cookies with Butterscotch
 1 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened

Cream all those together. Yum, right?

Add in: 

1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla

Then add in the dry ingredients:

1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup oats
3/4 cup flour (I used combos of white, whole wheat pastry flour, and even oat flour)

And technically you could just leave well enough alone but add this: 

1 cup butterscotch chips

Mix it on up. Using a cookie scoop or fancy spoons, plop a hefty tablespoon of batter down with about three inches in between each cookie. Bake at 375 degrees for about 8-10 minutes. They might start to look a little toasty but that is normal. When done, take out of the oven and let rest on the cookie sheet for a few minutes. Once stable enough to move with a spatula, let cool on a cookie rack or paper towel. They will be crispy, delicate, and delicious.

Bake them. Do it now. 


Inventory Assessments (aka Professional Personality Tests)

Working in higher education can be challenging and rewarding. We work with students every day, we develop programming and initiatives that support the campus, and we work with others who have a passion for what they do. When you are able to find the right "fit," amazing things can happen. On all college campuses, collaboration and communication is huge HUGE in getting anything done. We are constantly asking for help, input, and brainstorms to make sure that what we create is going to be effective and interesting.

One of the biggest things in higher education and especially student affairs is understanding how each of us work best and also what we hold important in a work environment. A big part of our professional development/team building is inventory assessments. These assessments, available in endless ways, tell us how we relate to each other, how we relate to students, and how to get us motivated to do good work.

Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)
The Myers Briggs is very well-known and often used in corporate settings to help breakdown the commonalities and differences within the staff to see how they can be more efficient and collaborative in their working environment.

I really, really enjoy this indicator because I believe it to be very accurate. I actually had my class of freshmen last year take the MBTI and they really, really loved interpreting the results and hearing about how these traits relate to learning, career, and life situations. At the time I had an MBTI certified (it's a thing) person from the career center come in and speak to the class. He was awesome, engaging, and incredibly patient with all of the questions and excitement.

Truly, ask anyone what their MBTI is on a campus and yep, they'll know. If you ever get the question "Are you an E or an I, are you an J or a P" then you know they are talking about MBTI. For your information, I am an ESFJ (on the cusp with the E/I though).

The MBTI website breaks it down perfectly:
     "Favorite world: Do you prefer to focus on the outer world or on your own inner world? This is    called Extraversion (E) or Introversion (I).
Information: Do you prefer to focus on the basic information you take in or do you prefer to interpret and add meaning? This is called Sensing (S) or Intuition (N).
Decisions: When making decisions, do you prefer to first look at logic and consistency or first look at the people and special circumstances? This is called Thinking (T) or Feeling (F).
Structure: In dealing with the outside world, do you prefer to get things decided or do you prefer to stay open to new information and options? This is called Judging (J) or Perceiving (P)." (Source)

This is one of the many websites available where you can take the test for free.

Strengths Quest
This is something that I had no previously known about until I started my current position. It does cost money to do the "official" test but there are plenty of free options as well that might be useful.
This assesses your personal strengths or "raw talent" out of a list of 34 attributes. From that list, you focus on your top five core strengths. Here is a full description of the attributes. The idea in recognizing your key strengths is to then create a cohesive working environment that can then identify the right fit or position for people within an office and utilize them to the best of their ability. In our office, all of our professional staff, graduate students and student assistants have taken this and found it very enlightening

My results:
• Individualization - one who draws upon the uniqueness of individuals to create successful teams
• Connectedness - one who seeks to unite others through commonality
• Relator - one who is most comfortable with fewer, deeper relationships
• Empathy - one who is especially in tune with the emotions of others
• Developer - one who sees the untapped potential in others

Simple breakdown can be found at the wiki site.

True Colors (here is a free version and explanation of colors)
If you ever hear anyone say "Oh, you are totally a blue" then you have been attacked by the True Colors squad. This is a fairly simple assessment to show how you approach the world and your personality style and type. The biggest thing to remember is that most people are a mix of two colors and we all have a little bit of each color within our personalities.

The breakdown of colors:
Gold--structure oriented, traditional
Green--cognitive oriented, visionary
Blue--relationship oriented, nurturer
Orange--impulse oriented, adventurous

I am definitely a blue/gold. My blue side needs the human interaction and validation to feel complete and connected. My gold side needs stability in some form and is more realistic and systematic in how I approach things. My colors explain why I am in the profession that I am, academic advising, and also why I do well in a setting where I explain to students the requirements of a program but also can talk with them about things affecting their success like life responsibilities and distractions.


As with all personality quizzes and assessments, your current situation in life can affect the results. My E/I coding for Myers Briggs depends heavily on where I am and who I am with. In my graduate program I was definitely an E and most people saw me as such. In my current situation, I feel more like an I observing my surroundings and taking it all in while quietly assessing how I can be useful to my co-workers.

Some people may think these things are a little ridiculous or silly but I find them fascinating, even just to get a conversation started about how people process the world around them. Have you done any inventories or assessments like these? What ARE you?

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Free Will Astrology: Like, Whoa

Aries Horoscope for week of March 7, 2013
Verticle Oracle card Aries (March 21-April 19)
Maybe you're not literally in exile. You haven't been forced to abandon your home and you haven't been driven from your power spot against your will. But you may nevertheless be feeling banished or displaced. It could be due to one of the conditions that storyteller Michael Meade names: "We may experience exile as a lack of recognition, a period of transition, an identity crisis, a place of stuckness, or else having a gift and no place to give it." Do any of those describe your current predicament, Aries? The good news, Meade says, is that exile can shock you awake to the truth about where you belong. It can rouse your irrepressible motivation to get back to your rightful place.

To find your own horoscope reading, visit Free Will Astrology

Can I just say....whoa? Like, whoa.

Be Present.

I had the chance to reconnect with one of my close friends the other day. The past few months have been really rough for her. She lost her mom, her very best friend in the entire world, unexpectedly, but still remains the positive, bubbly person I have always known her as. She puts on the big, gorgeous smile and tries to be strong and I can't help but want to be there for her even though she is thousands of miles away.

I've had a lot of friends that have lost loved ones this year so far; mothers, childhood friends, and cousins. I can't even begin to imagine how they get through the day-to-day feeling like a little piece of them is just missing. Those "reality checks" always make life seem so fragile, and it is, but why do we then take it for granted?

The friend I spoke of above doesn't want to be sad, she wants to live her life big and to the fullest and she wants to make her mom proud. Each person who has lost someone wants to live just a little more intentionally and make every moment count. It's clique, but for good reason. We should all be living intentionally, presently, and proudly each day.

I keep finding those that have amazing strength and light even in the face of adversity and sadness. Those that have made the best out of horrible situations and I always think to myself, "Seriously, you are so lucky!" there is absolutely no reason to not be happy for each day given to me. And us.

I think it is hard to be thankful each day when you get annoyed in traffic or you slam your foot into the edge of the coffee table or your dog pees on the carpet. It's easy to get bogged down in the stupid, pointless, crappy things that just happen because they do.

So...don't let it get to you.

Be thankful.

Watch stupid (non-reality) television that makes you laugh about life.

Watch movies that make you remember that we are all human with hearts and souls.

Watch little kids laugh and play because it is the BEST thing in the entire world.

Breathe in deeply the air that surrounds us, even for a moment.

Be present.