28 December 2010

My First Article!

You guys! I'm so excited to announce my involvement as a writer on Vhcle Magazine's new online blog, Vhcle NotesMy first article was posted today!!! It's about being a Westerner in Africa, particularly some insights on my experience as a traveler in Kenya last spring. Please go check it out & keep up with the new, the fabulous Vhcle Notes!

P.S. I met with one of the founders of Vhcle today, & some charity event planning just might be a possibility in my future... I'm stoked!


27 December 2010

Baby UGGs

How sweet are these miniature UGG boots for babies?? They make me want to tickle tiny toes.


16 December 2010

Vhcle magazine

["Cinch Cioat" by Christopher St. Leger, pages 058 & 059]

The latest issue of Vhcle magazine came out today. I'm completely in love with Christopher St. Leger's paintings (see one above), & there are some interesting, intelligent articles about art, fashion, music, & life. "Object and Context" by Tim Sunderman (on pages 026 to 029) really caught my attention; I keep reading & rereading it. I highly recommend that you head on over there & have a gander! Oh, & if you haven't checked out this mag before, take a look at some of their previous issues.

[polaroid by Katja Sonnewend, page 086]


15 December 2010

Quite a Quote: Backbone

"Stop wearing your wishbone where your backbone ought to be." -Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love)

I'm currently listening to this book on audiobook, & it is giving me imminent inspiration. Every word lightens my soul. I wish I could share the whole thing, but for now, here is a quote. Be strong, be your own, don't wait for what you want/need. What better day than today?


08 December 2010

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Today, I have a new favorite cookie. Second only to the Snickerdoodle, in my book, is the Pumpkin Chocolate Chip cookie. I had some extra pumpkin puree & wanted to cheer up a friend, so I searched the nets for a cookie recipe & found this great one. Below is my amended version. They turned out so amazing! I rarely bake, but I definitely see myself making several more batches of these while pumpkins are still in season!

2 cups pumpkin puree
1 cup raw sugar
1/2 cup coconut oil
1 egg
2 cups whole wheat flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon milk
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (Next time, I'm trying cinnamon chips!)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional - I didn't put walnuts in this batch, but I think I will in the next one!)

1. Combine pumpkin, sugar, vegetable oil, & egg. In separate bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, ground cinnamon, salt, & milk. Add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture & mix well.
2. Add vanilla, chocolate chips, & nuts.
3. Drop by spoonful on greased cookie sheet (leave room between each spoonful - these puppies really grow!) & bake at 350 degree F (175 degrees C) for approximately 10 minutes or until lightly brown & firm.


01 December 2010

Ten Holiday Faves

In response to Arianna's post about things that make her happy during the holidays, I've put up some of mine!

1. The air: crisp, cool, fresh.
2. The smells: fires, evergreen, cinnamon.
3. Christmas lights: I love a tastefully done holiday decor, especially if it's simple white lights with a winter wonderland type theme.
4. Autumn seasonal produce: many varieties of squash, persimmons, tangerines, cranberries.
5. Layers: Style made easy (& cute).
6. Scarves: Fun to make, lovely to wear.
7. The attitude: Smiling strangers wishing a merry holiday season always brighten my day!
8. Comfort food: warm soups, homemade breads, hot apple cider.
9. Holiday gatherings: 'Nuff said!
10. Ugly Christmas sweaters: so out they're in.

What are some of yours? Head over to Arianna's blog & send her a link to your post!


30 November 2010

The Must-See YouTube List

The other day, I was speaking to some friends & discovered that one of them hadn't seen several must-see YouTube videos. I've decided to compile a list for him, & to share it with everyone else. Here are a few vids you just can't miss out on.

Ze end of the world

Charlie Bit My Finger
This classic is a bit old, but it's still a must see.

Charlie Bit My Finger: Auto Tuned
A remix of a classic.

David After Dentist
Another classic.

Meg Ryan After Wisdom Teeth
This one is not so much a classic but I just discovered it & am obsessed!

Boy Sees Lobster for the First Time
"Can I touch it?" "Yeah, you can touch it." "No?"


Backin' Up Song made from a Hilarious Robbery Eyewitness

Please feel free to add more must-sees in the comments section!


Upcoming Product Review

Hey guys! I'm really excited that I'm doing a product review for CSN Stores soon! They've got loads of items, from wardrobes...

to kitchen appliances...

to exercise gear.

I've been on the site all evening & can't decide what to pick! You'll find out soon, though - stay tuned!


Pumpkin Soup & Eating Local

Pumpkin Soup (amended from recipe found here)

4 cups chicken stock
2 cups vegetable stock
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
4 cups cubed fresh pumpkin
1 teaspoon fresh parsley
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup reduced fat milk
5 whole black peppercorns

1. Heat stock, salt, pumpkin, onion, thyme, garlic, and peppercorns. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, & simmer for 30 minutes uncovered.
2. Puree the soup in small batches (1 cup at a time) using a good processor or blender.
3. Return to pan & bring to a boil again. Reduce heat to low & simmer for another 30 minutes, uncovered. Stir in milk. Pour into soup bowls & enjoy with whole wheat bread or crackers.

This soup was yummy, but I might do some things different next time. First, I think I would add some other flavor: either curry spices, nutmeg, or other veggies. It may be that my cold has taken away my taste buds, but this soup seemed slightly bland to me. Further, I would definitely have thrown it all in the slow cooker for the day, rather than standing over it on the stove. But I'm a slow cooker kind of gal.

I love experimenting with new vegetables that are in season. There are so many reasons to shop seasonal & local. This morning, I read a great article in the December 2010 issue of Women's Health Magazine about one guy, Tyler Florence, who promotes eating from your locale. I thought I'd sum up his main points to emphasize their importance:

1. Locally produced foods don't add miles onto your meal, so they are greener.
2. They aren't pumped with preservatives to stay fresh while they travel to you.
3. They are harvested at a riper state, since they don't have to travel as long to get to you. (I might also add that Michael Pollan states in his book In Defense of Food that riper fruits have more nutrients, since it is at that point that the seeds are ready to germinate, & thus the plant wants its fruit to be the most enticing and/or to soften & fall off onto the ground in order to spread the seeds.)
4. Eating locally supports local jobs & community.

So run over to your farmer's market if you're lucky enough to still have them in your town, & try something new with the autumn produce it has to offer! Here's another delicious squash recipe to try. Or, if you have a day to spare, take a drive to a nearby farm, orchard, or ranch & get it straight from the source! Jonty & I are thinking of doing that later this week, weather permitting.



18 November 2010

Quite a Quote: What Others Think

[image source]

I try not to re-post other bloggers' stuff too much, but this post-it from Things We Forget rings so true with me right now. Ever since I started my job, I've put so much of my energy into trying to decipher what my co-workers, boss, & customers think of me, when I should just do my best & what I think is right. This is a great thing to keep in mind, especially with the holidays (e.g., family time, gift giving) approaches. Let's try to be our best, not the best in anyone else's mind.


16 November 2010

Babbling Baby & other news

How awesome is this baby, talking her little heart out?! I remembered it while reading this great article about baby babbling, via A CUP OF JO.

Hi guys! Sorry for being MIA for the past week. Guess why... I started my new job! I'm working at Whole Foods Market in the Specialty Department (cheese, chocolate, beer, wine, tea, coffee, housewares). My position is a new one, sort of created with me in mind. I will be the department's demo specialist, meaning I'm in charge of samples & talking to people about our featured items. At the moment, it's only a seasonal job, so I'm trying to be awesome so WFM will want to keep me! The past week has been crazy (8 hour workdays, on my feet the whole time, 5 days straight), but I think I've started to get the hang of it.

I have today & tomorrow off, & I don't think I've ever enjoyed a day off more than I enjoyed today. OH & it's a ridiculously beautiful week here in Sacramento. It was almost 80 degrees today! Jonty & I cycled downtown/midtown, went thrift shopping (Jonty bought me a super cute shirt at Freestyle Clothing Exchange, my new fave shop!), & drank iced coffee & read in the garden at Weatherstone. It was fantastic.

Then we hit the gym, where I ran 3 miles, yay! For dinner, we made swordfish tacos with homemade mango salsa (my new obsession!), cabbage, & avocado. Our dessert was roasted marshmallows on a fire in our chiminea out back :.)

Well, I hope you enjoyed the sweet little babbling baby! I'll try to keep up with my blog more this week. Oh, is anyone else excited for the opening of...

I am. I've heard that critics aren't loving it, but it will still be fun to wait in line with friends & see it opening night.

Anyway, have a great night! It is suddenly much later than it should be, & I'm plumb tuckered!


09 November 2010

Getting Current

I realize that I am in dire need of a life update on this here blog. I've decided to get creative to (hopefully) prevent it from getting too long-winded.

Currently reading:
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

Currently listening to:
Anarbor, The Dangerous Summer, Sara Bareilles

Currently in need of:
Money, ingenuity

Currently excited about:
My new job at Whole Foods Market (It's only a seasonal job, but it will get some cash flowing into the bank & should be fun! I have orientation on Wednesday.)

Currently not excited about:
Visa difficulties for Jonty, figuring out details for upcoming holiday family visits, more job apps

Currently thinking about:
Where I'll be living/working next, starting a new project (Have you voted yet?)

Currently obsessed with:
The gym, cycling instead of driving, sunny weather

Currently eating:
Lots of spinach & tomatoes, more ice cream than normal

Currently drinking:
Lots of water, coffee, & the occasional glass of wine

Recently visited:
San Francisco (photos soon)

I suppose that makes me all caught up! Now how about you guys?


04 November 2010

George Takei Calls Out an Anti-Gay "Douchebag"

Just wanted to share this with you, as it's a fantastic response to the disgusting anti-gay comments made by a school board member in Arkansas as well as being generally hilarious.

Perhaps I'll be back later with a Travel Thursday post.


02 November 2010

Leftover Turkey Soup

My mom cooked a turkey breast in the slow cooker the other day. (It's so easy! Just defrost, then throw it in the slow cooker before you leave for work. We add some garlic too.) Last night, we had lots of leftover turkey and not a lot of ideas for dinner. So I threw a soup together that turned out amazing! Here's how it went.


1 12 oz can of chopped tomatoes
1 cup water
3 carrots, sliced
2 zucchinis, sliced
4 cups chopped kale
2 cups diced turkey breast
Broth from turkey breast (I saved the juice that was left when we took the turkey out of the slow cooker)
1 tbsp chopped garlic (= about 2 cloves fresh)
1 tsp garlic powder

Throw all ingredients, except the kale & turkey, into a big pot on the stove. Cover & cook on high for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to low. Add kale & turkey, then cover & cook for 30 minutes. Enjoy!


Quite a Quote: Be Yourself

"Be yourself; everyone else is already taken." --Oscar Wilde

More yoga class wisdom. Take it in, my friends.


29 October 2010

The Power of Positive Thinking

At the end of Vinyasa class yesterday, my yoga instructor left us with some fantastic parting thoughts:

"You should know that you have the ability to change your body so that it will do what you want it to do, & you have the power to change your thoughts, to put a positive force into the world, & to get a positive response."

These words are so important, & they really hit me today. I've been in a bit of a funk lately, & these were just the words I needed. We are infinitely capable. Our attitude to life has so much influence in what we get out of it.

My instructor told us a before class that, at the restaurant she works at, customers who come in grumpy always tend to have a messed up order, & then they leave in an even worse mood. As we end our week, let's try to remember not to be like those customers.

You have power over your thoughts. And your thoughts shape your world.

Jonty & I are seeing a couple of our favorite bands & attending a Halloween party or two. What are you doing this weekend? Have a great one!


Travel Thursday: New Mexico {The Ranch}

Hi lovelies, here are some more photos from my trip to New Mexico a couple of weeks ago. These are from my grandma's ranch in the mountains.

A peek of golden leaves! 

 Before working in the creek

The beaver dam we tore apart & attempted to move to a better location 

After (You should have seen my boots!) 

My grandma's old tenant (She rents out a house near hers.) used to keep his birds in here.

The attic, where I helped replace two windows 

This beautiful house is for sale. Send me an e-mail if you're interested! 

My grandma painted those flowers years ago. It's hard to even imagine her doing something like that now.

Jonty & I are working on putting together some video clips taken in Kenya. Hopefully it will be ready by next Travel Thursday!


28 October 2010

Travel Thursday: New Mexico {Balloons & Santa Fe}

As promised, here are a few more photos from the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. We were camped out in a Target parking lot, so we weren't in the best location for shots, but you can still get the gist of how cool it was.

The next day, we ate lunch at La Fonda in downtown Santa Fe. I always love looking at the beautiful Cathedral by the square.

Luckily, during the time we were there, we had some beautiful, sunny days. Fall definitely started to show its colors, too. I've never seen such an abrupt change from green to gold. From the time we arrived to when we left a week later, the leaves went from all green to about half yellow/gold in color. And it was sunny, so they didn't get all wilty and brown or anything and were actually quite bright and cheery. It was so beautiful! I regret not photographing the changes, but I guess you'll just have to take my word for it.

Did you get to watch autumn's arrival this year?


25 October 2010

Inspiration: Originality

I love this scene from Garden State. Lately, I've had a bout of Blah, the disease of lack of inspiration and motivation. When Jonty & I watched Garden State the other day, though, I could tell that the Blah was starting to subside - thank goodness! I hope this scene gives you the same heart-pumping, exhilarated feeling that it gives me every time I watch it.

And this next video is for a fantastic song called Radar Detector by Darwin Deez. It is seriously kooky, in a mind-bending way. Enjoy!

My inspiration this week is originality. What's your inspiration?


12 October 2010

Ranch Monday

Today has been a very ranch kind of day. I stuck around the house this morning, waiting on a call for my grandma. While I waited, I made a yummy salad lunch & my fave winter veggie pasta recipe to have for dinner later. (Both were a big hit!)

This afternoon, I helped by the creek. The beavers rebuilt their dam in a place that has led to too much land erosion in a bad area. So we had to tear it down. We felt bad but did our best to help lug all of the supplies further down the creek to a better spot & start building their new dam. Hopefully they feel at home in their new place! It was pretty hard work, & we left wet, covered in mud, & with water-filled boots, but it was fun. And it just felt good to use my body for something worthwhile.

After we changed shoes/socks & drinking lots of water, my mom & I fixed a window pane in the house my grandma owns down the street.

Afterward, I decided to go on a run to keep up with my 5k training plan. (I'm on the second to last week.) Perhaps due to the high elevation, or maybe the work I did earlier in the day hadn't caught up with me yet, but I definitely did not make it the whole 2.75 miles! The shower felt amazing anyway. And I'm pretty sore now.

This evening, we watched North to Alaska. It really set in the ranch feeling even more! I loved it. If you haven't seen it, buy it the next time you come across it at the store. (It's usually really cheap - $5 or less - since it's an oldie.)

I hope everyone else had a good Monday too!


11 October 2010

Up Up & Away

Hello friends! After only two days at home, I'm out of town again! This time, I've headed to The Land of Enchantment (New Mexico) to visit my grandma. My mom & I flew into Albuquerque, where my grandma met us, & then we stayed overnight to watch the final mass ascension at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. It was pretty cool to see! Definitely worth the braving the frigid morning air. I have better photos, but you guys will have to wait, as I left my camera cord at home. For now, here's a camera photo.

I'm looking forward to a week at my grandma's ranch: hard work, good company, reading, watching movies, & lots of picturesque scenes. More soon.


08 October 2010

Something Awesome: Considering Careers

The other day, I was stressing thinking wondering about my (near!) future. I turned to Jonty & asked, "What am I going to be when I grow up?"
He replied, "Something awesome."

Being a philosophy major (and master, degree to be conferred in December) that has decided, for the moment, not to continue on to a PhD program, there is no straight answer as to what my next move is. While some people are under the impression that philosophy is next to worthless in the real world, barring law school, it actually is the opposite. Philosophy requires analysis, attention to detail, and knowledge of many subject areas (depending on your concentration - from environment to education to physics to mathematics to ancient history). Good writing skills, ability to work individually with little supervision, and interpersonal skills also help in a big way. These are broad and important skills that could apply to so many careers.

But I'm still searching for mine.

At the moment, I'm looking into teaching at the (junior) college level - preferably online, so I can be flexible if Jonty finds a job elsewhere. I've also checked out some Office/Admin/HR Assistant positions, since they could possibly allow me to understand the company's setup better and lead to entrance into a higher up position, but at minimum I will get paid while I search for other opportunities.

I've also been checking out positions with the UN & other international organizations, & so many require a master's in a related field (Is philosophy related? My bachelor's is also in government...), some really specific knowledge, or, like, 10 years' experience in, for example, international mediation in areas of conflict. Gah.

Having "so many" options, right now, is seeming more like not having many options. I think one major obstacle is not knowing how to get into a field. Perhaps I need to get my network on.

A chat with my sister, while visiting her in Portland last weekend (photos coming soon), made me think about the different things I've wanted to be "when I grew up." Here are just a few:

* editor
* writer
* fire fighter
* singer/actress/model
* teacher
* astronaut
* FBI/CIA staff (not an agent - too dangerous)
* humanitarian
* psychiatrist
* doctor

While some of these options can be abandoned, barring further eduction (perhaps an option later...), I've still got some possible "dream jobs" on my list.

Even though it seems like a long shot right now, I have a feeling that I'm on the path to "something awesome."


04 October 2010

Worry Wort

For the next couple of days, I'm in Portland, Oregon visiting my little (20-year-old) sister. (We call each other Sissa.) Anyway, my sissa & I were chatting before bed last night, & she made a remark that was exactly what I needed to hear in a way that only she can. She told me that I worry too much.

I worry too much.

I'm sure we can all say that about ourselves, to some extent or other. But lately, worry has really been affecting my life: my mood, my happiness, & my productivity. Starting today, I want to concentrate on clearing my mind of unfounded stress, of problems that I just can't solve, & of responsibility for other people who can & do take care of themselves. We all deserve to cross a few worries off our list.

Also, the lovely Persis over at Miles of Style posted this quote today, & it did its job of inspiring me. I'm usually not one to re-post, at least not this quickly, but I really wanted to share.

"Bunkum and tummyrot! You'll never get anywhere if you go about what-iffing like that. Would Columbus have discovered America if he had said, "What if I sink on the way over? What if I meet pirates? What if I never come back?' He wouldn't even have started."  -Willy Wonka, Charlie & the Great Glass Elevator


01 October 2010

Just Another Studio Friday

My mom's fiance plays Scottish Celtic music, & this weekend he is finishing up an album. Last Friday, & again this Friday, I'm at Skyline Studios with him, watching the mixing/mastering process. It's a pretty cool experience, & I thought I'd share some photos.

The studio is in Oakland, which can mean we hit some pretty gnarly traffic if we're not careful. Luckily, there are some amazing views of the hills.

Oh, did I mention that Jonty is here with me?!

Yep, I picked him up at SFO yesterday afternoon. Customs almost didn't let him through! The day was a bit of a mess, but we had In-N-Out (We got off the BART train & walked! = Dedication) & then hung out with our friends Ally & Kenny at their house last night. Today we're at the studio all day & plan to see some friends back in Sac in the evening. And tomorrow we head to Portland!


29 September 2010

Scattered {Jewelry Display} Creativity

I love the jewelry holder I made for my place in Bristol, for almost nothing! I bought a picture frame at the 99p Store (the UK equivalent of the Dollar Tree) & placed some funky free handouts I had been given behind the glass. Next, I stuck some sticky-back hooks to the front. Finally, I tied some ribbon to the hooks on the frame & hung it on my wall. It both displayed my jewelry & acted as a piece of art in itself! And it was so easy to make.

This one, spotted yesterday on design me daily is a beautiful, simple rendition of the jewelry frame, too.


28 September 2010

Going (Happily) Overboard at Target

Yesterday, I finally made my way to my beloved Target. I knew I couldn't walk away empty-handed, but even I was surprised at how many items I wanted. Here's what I bought:

Pretty much all of my skirts are denim, black, or gray, so I'm excited to pair this lacy green skirt with lots of tops! (It was on clearance, too!)

Yes, this is the same top as above in a different color. It is seriously the perfect top. I wanted it in white/black plaid & purple, but I contained myself. 

Lately, I'm a bit over plain ol' blue jeans, so I'm loving these gray ones! 

Anyone who is a leggings person (which I very much am) needs to go to Target right now & buy these. They are nice & thick (so they can be worn as pants or with a skirt), the perfect length (& they come in cropped length too), & they're only $5! I might go back for them in gray...

Target had loads of cute cardigans, too, but I thought I'd save that purchase for when it's not 100+ degrees outside.

Love love love Target & sprucing up my wardrobe! Now to concentrate on the search for the perfect boots!


Birthday Day & Birthday Soiree

veggie kabobs from my birthday bash

My birthday (last Wednesday) was pretty low key. I just hung out with my mom for the day, which was so nice because until only two days before I hadn't been home in eight months! We shared steak nachos at Dos Coyotes, went shopping at the mall (no purchases - I wasn't in a decision-making mood), then hung out at the park (she practiced her penny whistle while I painted my toenails & read).

For dinner, we got takeaway salads & sour-cream-&-chive mashed potatoes (heavenly) from Jack's Urban Eats, one of my fave restaurants, where I worked the summer after graduating high school after the manager commented that I was there more than some of the employees. (I've toned my consumption of their food down a bit since then, but I still love it!)

In the evening, I met a couple of friends for a drink at The Corner bar & restaurant near my neighborhood. While I waited for mis amigas, I made a new friend - apparently the Head Chef, hanging out after hours. He bought me a shot, which is not usually my thing, but it was my birthday so I was feeling adventurous. Plus, I'll be honest, I wanted my birthday to be acknowledged since for the most part it was so relaxed. While chatting with my pals, my new friend brought over warm, gooey chocolate chip cookie with ice cream on top! Everyone in the bar sang to me, & then we devoured the dessert in all of its goodness.

This weekend was my planned celebration, & I must say I planned it well! For beverages, I made white sangria (a hit!), red sangria, & berry margaritas. They really took the bite off the hot day. And my food theme was kabobs:

* veggie kabobs: red peppers, yellow peppers, eggplant, zucchini, red onion, & button mushrooms. oven cooked.
* chicken kabobs: marinated in Sioux-Z-Wow, and alternated with either pineapple or apple slices. oven cooked.
* caprese kabobs: cherry tomatoes (red, orange, & yellow), mozzarella chunks, & basil leaves. served fresh, with olive oil, basalmic vinegar, & freshly ground pepper.
* fruit kabobs: apples, oranges, plums, strawberries, & pineapple. served fresh.
* strawberry & chocolate kabobs: whole strawberries with shaved chocolate sprinkled on top.

My mom & her fiance also made a huge bowl of amazing guacamole that was gone in minutes!

[I somehow managed to completely fail at taking photos, but the veggie kabobs are pictured above, & the caprese ones are below, pre-dressing.]

Overall, it was great to see the friends who are important to me. I got lots of love - hugs, cookies, cards, a few gifts, & some catching up. I was happy to find that my high school friends & college friends really like each other, too! My only real regrets are (a) that I didn't take many photos & (b) that I didn't get any games going (so I guess I'll have to plan another get-together soon).

Over & out for now, but I do plan to get back into blogging more regularly, so keep your eyes peeled!


22 September 2010

scattered {back from england} thoughts

My ramblings today will be brief because, at 9:30pm, I am soooo ready for bed. I wasn't feeling too jetlagged last night - I even drove home - but today I'm definitely feeling it. It has seemed like bedtime since I woke up!

It's good to be home though. My mom and her boyfriend completely cleaned my room before I got here. They vacuumed & hand dusted the whole place (which, having hard wood floors, gets very dusty), & washed all my bedding, including my pillows & duvet, & even the cushions on the crates I have set up under my window (to look like a bench). That took lots off my to-do list & made getting under the covers so snuggly, even on my first night back.

I saw my friend Rachel today, which was fabulous. We ate strawberries & caught up on life. Then I ran some errands, met my mom for a salad wrap lunch, unpacked a bit, went on a jog, & made dinner. Whew, what a full day! I still have more unpacking to do, & I need to clear some closet/drawer space before Jonty arrives next week. And, of course, I need to start the job hunt, but we'll save that topic for another day.

Tomorrow is my birthday. I must say, turning 23 is a lot weirder than turning 22. Or 21, for that matter. I think it's going to be an exciting year. Considering it's completely up in the air, it must be, eh? My plans for tomorrow are pretty low key. During the day, I'll hang out with my mom. We plan to make omelette wraps & head to the park. She wants to go shopping for a present for me, but I'm not really interested in stuff, so hopefully I can persuade her to just hang out in the nice weather & read & relax. Maybe even whip out the nail polish, if we start feeling frisky. Then, in the evening food & a drink with friends. I'm having a soiree of sorts on Saturday (more on that later - I'm excited about the menu!), so I'm not doing anything big. I didn't even really invite anyone, just threw a last minute post up on Facebook telling people that if they're free & want to help me celebrate another year to let me know. I haven't even decided where to go yet. Hopefully, it will work out to be a fun day.

That's all for now. I seriously need to sleep. For like ten hours. Night!


P.S. My mom just texted me this from the other room: "I want an alligator sandwich. And make it snappy." Oh, how I love being home.

21 September 2010

Just What I Need

As I write this, I am on a long-haul flight from London to San Francisco. But when you read it, I will be safely at home, where I haven't been for over eight months.

The past month or so has been pretty crazy: lots of stress, coffee, moments of inspiration, then surges of stress again - with a side of nostalgia. But my dissertation is completed, printed, bound, & handed to the proper authorities, my flat has new tenants, & I've said my good-byes to everyone in the UK. If you're reading this, I've also made it through an eleven-hour flight, thanks to free alcohol & coffee, my laptop, & my new read, Catch-22. Oh, & a lack of sleep last night, which I have made up while sitting upright, somehow.

Anyway, on to the the point of this post: Jonty. Through all of my stress breakouts, anxiety episodes, flashes of genius, & confidence waxes & wanes, Jonty has been such a trooper.

And I realized something about him, something very important. He is so good at knowing just what I need. Even when I don't. He knows when it's time for a break, & when I need a hug. He can tell when I need to go on a run or punch a pillow to get my tension out. Sometimes, I try to refuse his suggestions, but once I give in I know that he was right all along. He gives me pep talks when I'm down & space when I need time to chill out. He makes me breakfast in the morning (& gets upset when I even step foot into the kitchen). If I need to work hard without distraction to meet a deadline, he makes lunch or dinner (or both).

Even when he's not sure what will help me, the boy tries more than I've ever seen anyone try. He makes such a conscious effort to assess what will cheer me up, get me into a productive mindset, or whatever. And I have to say, What more could a girl ask for? He is such a blessing in my life.

But actually, as I write this, I'm thinking, "There is more a girl could ask for." Intelligence, passion for interests, a good family relationship, open-mindedness, comedy... Somehow, he's got these too.

Sorry for drawling on & on, but my guy deserves some acknowledgment.

Thank you Jonty, my love, for knowing just what I need. The truth is: All I need is you.


04 September 2010

Versatile Tuna

Lately, I've been going a bit tuna crazy. The fish is an easy, light lunch option, & it's just so tasty & versatile! Here are some of my favorite ways to eat tuna:

* Kiddie sandwich (a favorite in childhood): tuna with mayonnaise &/or light plain yogurt, slices of cheddar cheese, dill pickles.
* Adult sandwich: tuna with ranch dressing, tomato slices, alfalfa sprouts, lettuce. (Also delish with mayo/yogurt & lemon pepper, instead of ranch.)
* Fancy sandwich: tuna with pesto, sun-dried tomatoes, provolone cheese, lettuce.
* Tea sandwich: tuna with mayo &/or light plain yogurt, lowfat cream cheese, cucumber slices.
* Tuna melt: tuna with mayo &/or light plain yogurt, cheddar or colby jack cheese. Made like grilled cheese (pan-fried or grilled).
* Waldorf tuna salad: tuna, a dab of light plain yogurt or mayo, diced apples & celery, raisins.
* Garden tuna salad: tuna, a dab of light plain yogurt or mayo, cucumber, red or yellow bell pepper, red onion (optional). Served on a bed of lettuce or spinach.

Be creative. But don't go too crazy, though, because canned tuna often contains mercury, which is fine in small doses but can be harmful if too much in ingested in a small period of time, especially for pregnant women and children. To avoid this, buy "light chunk" tuna, and don't eat it more than once or twice a week. (This is advice I haven't followed this week... oops!)


01 September 2010

Yum: Vietnamese Spring Rolls

Hi friends! Firstly, thanks for sticking with me through my recent lack of posts. And more than that, thanks for all the lovely dissertation wishes in comments lately. They actually do give me a little extra positivity & a little extra push. Seriously, I love you guys. I didn't create a blog for the people at all, but I realize now what a great thing it is to have that little connection with people around the world who have similar interests, problems, etc.

Because you guys are fabulous, & because I don't have enough procrastination options (hah), I've decided to tell you about a lovely little meal I made recently: Vietnamese spring rolls (aka salad rolls).

I fell in love with spring rolls during my sophomore year of college. There's a Vietnamese restaurant by the library at Sac State, and I discovered that their spring rolls are the best combination of healthy & cheap on campus. When I passed by an Asian supermarket on Gloucester Road the other day, I popped in & inquired about the harder to find ingredients (specifically, the big noodle that you wrap it all up in, called Vietnamese rice paper). I bought these and the noodles that go inside (rice vermicelli). The total was about £5 ($7), but the packages gave me enough noodles to make lunch for the rest of the year!

This is suuuch an easy meal to make, whenever. I like to make one set for dinner and extra to save for lunch the next day.


For wrap:
Vietnamese rice paper
Rice vermicelli (thin rice noodles)
lettuce (romaine is best)
bell pepper
frozen shrimp

For sauce (optional):
Peanut butter (preferably crunchy)
Hoisin sauce
Any oil - I used olive (optional)

1. Place the rice vermicelli in a bowl of lukewarm water for about 10 minutes.
2. Microwave the frozen shrimp. (It should take about 2-3 minutes.)

3. While the noodles are softening, slice the vegetables into thin strips. I used a vegetable peeler for the carrots. (The lettuce can be a little bigger.)

4. Once the vermicelli is done, you can start making the wraps. Dip a sheet of rice paper in lukewarm water for five seconds, then put it on your work surface.
5. Place all of the ingredients on the rice paper in a line.

6. (Make sure the line of fillings is horizontal, &) Roll up, starting with the edge closest to you. When the roll is halfway done, tuck the sides over & continue rolling. It's best to try to get the roll as tight as possible without breaking the rice paper, but getting it right can take a few tries. Practice makes perfect.

For the dipping sauce, I mix crunchy peanut butter (straight up ground peanuts, not Jif) & hoisin sauce (bought at the supermarket), with a dab of olive oil to make a bit more saucy. I use about 3 parts peanut butter, 2 parts hoisin sauce, & 1 part oil (or less).

Thai sweet chili sauce also works well as a dip. Or you can just have it plain & fresh!

Vietnamese spring rolls are very versatile. You can put pretty much any combination inside them. This is my favorite combo, but you can also take out the veggies you don't like and/or add new ones (cucumber and zucchini are also good ones). Another yummy option is to throw leftover chicken in it instead of shrimp, which goes well with some avocado or even strawberries inside in addition to or instead of the carrots and/or bell pepper. Get creative with what you have and what you like and ENJOY!