26 February 2010

A Big Change

After a winter filled with many happy memories but also too much negativity, I'm finally starting to see that Spring is coming. This week has brought a more positive and productive attitude than I've seen in a while, & I'm so glad I've gotten over the hump that I was stuck climbing. To celebrate a new attitude and the coming of warmer weather, I decided I needed a change. Since my life is pretty great the way it is, I thought a change in my hair might be nice. Time to clear away the heaviness of winter & negative thoughts--and cut my hair short!

me a couple of weekends ago (before a 1920s-themed party)

this morning, after showering & before cutting my own hair

lots of hair cut off - just the beginning!

the final result - loosely curled

this evening, after fixing the style a bit. straightened, for another look.

While it's difficult not to miss my long locks, my hair feels light & healthy. There's a lot I can do with my hair now that it's not so long (especially since my hair is super thick & I don't have much patience for styling it), & I'm excited to try out some new things. Plus, it won't take a million hours to dry, & with the cold weather still around in Bristol that's a big plus! In general, I'm feeling pretty good about it :.)

What change do you plan on making in preparation for spring?


25 February 2010

21 [Out of 50] Steps to Simple Happiness

The other day, Jo posted a snippet about The New York Times article 50 Steps to Simple Happiness. More than half were about places to go in New York, and the gist of those was: Treat yourself to indulging experiences of the body & soul. I picked out my favorites to share, & perhaps starting on Monday I'll provide some of my own.

2. “Make your bed. Go figure, but outer order contributes to inner calm. Especially if you’re living in a small space—but even if you’re living in a gigantic loft. Start each day with a concrete, albeit tiny (and therefore manageable!), accomplishment.” —Gretchen Rubin, Author, The Happiness Project
4. “Leave your mouth in that slightly upturned position it takes after saying ‘Cheez Whiz.’ It’s a relaxed, confident look that will convince other people you know what you’re doing.” —Debra Benton, Executive Coach
6.Try what I call the poor man’s massage. Roll out all the muscles from your hips to your knees with a foam roller—use the black ones with the harder foam—for two minutes on each leg or until it doesn’t hurt anymore. It opens up your IT bands, glutes, and hip flexors and relieves the tension that’s pulling your pelvis and lower back out of alignment.” —Ari Weller, Personal Trainer, Fitness Results
8. “Never show up for drinks on an empty stomach, or for that matter let yourself get so hungry you’ll eat street meat.” —Kristin Mcgee, Pilates and Yoga Instructor
10. Offer to help a stroller person up the stairs.
12. If you see a parking cop working his or her way up the street, put a quarter into someone’s expired meter. [I might note that this is illegal in some cities, so don't get caught!]
13. “Just say yes every time your partner wants to have sex. It’s only twenty minutes out of your day, and it makes you both feel better. If you’re not in a relationship, say yes to your own private date night at least three times a week.” —Claire Cavanah, Co-Founder, Babeland
15. Tone your midsection in transit. “When standing on the subway, knit your front ribs together and zip up an imaginary zipper as if you had on a very tight pair of jeans. Or when you’re in a cab, tighten an imaginary seat belt from hip bone to hip bone. You’ll end up with a strong midsection, toned abdominals, and a strong back and spine.” —Kristin Mcgee, Pilates and Yoga Instructor
16. “Eat one ounce of dark chocolate a day. It’s the new superfood.” —Dr. Jeffrey Morrison, Integrative Medicine and Nutrition
18. “Don’t be afraid to change up your style. Your hair is your best accessory. Besides, what are you afraid of? It will always grow back. And invest in a Mason Pearson brush, with a mixture of boar bristle and nylon tufts. It’s worth every penny.” —Sally Hershberger, Hairstylist
19. “Give the people pushing in the subway or rushing in the streets the benefit of the doubt by imagining that it is really important for them to get where they are going.” —Rabbi Irwin Kula, President, National Jewish Center for Learning And Leadership
23. “When you’re in an elevator, put down the BlackBerry and engage in small talk. There is simply no social-networking site that can replace that connection.” —Faye Rogaski, Professor of Communications, NYU
26. Work out while you work. “At your desk, take five minutes to do back exercises—scapula retractions. Put your arms straight out in front of you and pull your shoulder blades together to get blood flowing and reduce tightness. Do shoulder rolls back and forth to increase circulation.” —Robert Morea, Personal Trainer, Great Jones Studio
27. “Move your body for 45 minutes three times a week. Doesn’t matter what kind of exercise you’re doing. Just keep moving.” —Julie Rice, Co-Owner, Soulcycle Spinning Gym
32. “Carry yourself more erect. Poor posture is a self-fulfilling prophecy of gloom. You can improve your outlook and confidence simply by improving your posture.” —Eva Pelegrin, Founder, Attune Holistic Fitness
33.“Start an old-fashioned correspondence with a friend. Handwriting a letter forces you to express yourself in a totally different way.” —Jonathan Arnold,General Manager, Dempsey & Carroll Stationery Engravers
34. “Diversify your cognitive portfolio: Museum Mondays, Tennis Tuesdays, Writing Wednesdays, Tango Thursdays, Learn-to-Frittata Fridays, Socializing Saturdays, Socrates Sundays. We need to rotate activities weekly to fire up different brain regions.” —Dr. Gayatri Devi, Neurology and Psychiatry, NYU School of Medicine
44. “Think like a shark, act like a 5-year-old. Our bodies are meant to be in motion. Don’t stay in the same position for more than 30 minutes at a time.” —Dr. Jeffrey Gross, Rehabilitation Medicine, NYU School Of Medicine
45. Find a spare seat on the mostly tourist-freeleft side of the Main Reading Room at the New York Public Library[or any library, for that matter], and read—not from a mobile electronic device or a newspaper or even a magazine. Read an actual book.
48. “Surround yourself with things that smell like green apple or cucumber, two scents that have been proved to reduce anxiety and boost mood. Candles, shampoo, lotion—anything.” —Dr. Alan Hirsch, Neurological Director, The Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation
49. “Pause. Allow your neck to relax, your nose to slowly lower, and the crown of your head to rise. Release your whole spine into length. Notice extra tension and release it. Breathe fully and slowly; smile. Begin your morning with this, end with it, use it as many times during the day as possible.” —Mark Josefsberg, Alexander Technique Teacher


24 February 2010

Taking Stock

It's good to step back & see how your life looks, at least I'm told as much. Here's where I am right now.

  • Jonty & I have booked our flight to KENYA!!! (Thanks to those who posted such supportive and insightful comments the other day.)
  • I told my grandma about Kenya today, & much to my surprise she was all for it. Phew!
  • I have a cold. It was pretty bad this morning but has gotten better throughout the day.
  • Today I decided to start the Couch-to-5k Running Program. It's a nine-week program that gradually gets you in good enough shape to run 3 miles (5k). I got the idea from my high school drama teacher (my friend on Facebook), who is in Week 5 I believe. For me, today was Workout 1 of Week 1. I know I'm just starting, but I feel really good that I've decided to do it. I'll keep you guys updated on how it goes.
  • My eating habits weren't so great last week, & my skin was really dry & weird last weekend. So I've been trying to fix that this week. Especially with this cold, I'm trying to concentrate on eating fruits and veggies.
  • Jonty's taking me to see Jack Johnson in June!!! JJ is one of my very favorite musicians, & I've never seen him in concert before. I've also never had tickets for the standing section at any concert. Should be awesome!
  • Work is going pretty well. I'm still a little worried about finding topics for my essay and dissertation, but I'm remaining confident.
  • I've been looking for a small part-time job. I haven't been searching too hard, but it definitely would be nice to make a bit of money on the side.
  • Today is a good day. I feel more inspired and positive this week, and especially today, than I have in a long time. It must be the good weather we saw this morning. Hopefully I can keep it up in the rain tomorrow.

Postal Surprise

Today I received a surprise in the mailbox (or our landlord's excuse for a mail area), in the form of a puffy red envelope. Sissa sent me some treats!

In the envelope was:

  • a valentine card with paper doll cutouts and accessories (the paper doll, not the card, is pictured because I got overexcited and popped the doll, etc out right away)
  • some lovely postcards from the Oregon Zoo of a cheetah and a polar bear family (which are now hanging on my wall)
  • a Big Hunk, an All-American candy bar that I haven't had in forever (Jonty was confused and excited about this candy)
  • a fabric cutout of a heart (heart cutouts are one of our family's quirks)
I know I've said before that my sister is awesome, but this just sums it up!

Thanks, love!


16 February 2010


I apologize in advance, as this post might be a crazy flow of consciousness but I'm about this close { } to having a mini breakdown.

I'm just so overwhelmed. And I realize that my life is really not that overwhelming but for some reason I just can't handle it now.

(1) The Stepmother. I realize whatever went on last week is over now, but I still am always checking my e-mail, waiting for a message from Sissa saying that she's yet again responded like the witch she is. Perhaps I am just way too overprotective over Sissa, or maybe I just can't let some things go.

(2) Kenya. So I've been avoiding posting about this until I made a decision but here's the problem with that: I suck at making decisions. I've said it before and I'll say it again. My friend Syano (who is in my program here at the University of Bristol) has invited me (and hence also Jonty) to stay with his family in Nairobi over spring break. My first reaction was YES YES YES! And I started making plans. My mom told me that I should take the opportunity if I wanted to, and she even sent me a bit of extra cash. Then I freaked out about my dad, knowing he would disapprove. I know most people would say, "I'm an adult, and if he doesn't like my decision, too bad!" But the thing is... I don't completely disagree with him. On Sunday we had a huge conversation about it, and it ended with him saying that I should do it but that I should keep in mind that I need to at some point take it easy, especially with money. I really appreciated that he understands that I'm trying to be conscientious and that I've thought about it enough to have made an informed and conscientious decision. But now that I have "approval," I'm still iffy. I think the main reason is that Jonty and I have so many other plans, and I'm afraid that Dad will disapprove of those plans. And I think I'm afraid that he'll disapprove because I do too, in a way. I promised Jonty I would go on holiday with his family this summer, and we plan to go to Berlin with my German housemate Michael, and we plan to visit his sister in Brighton, and my mom wants me to go speak to someone in the Philosophy Department at University of Edinburgh. And I think maybe I'm overdoing it, especially since I have no job. But, on the other hand, I'm incredibly worried that later on I'll kick myself for not taking the opportunity to go to Kenya and to stay somewhere safe and be taken around with someone I know. When will I ever get that opportunity again? Out alternative is to go somewhere in the Mediterranean and lay on the beach for a week. With all the (probably unnecessary) stress I feel at the moment, that sounds reallllly appealing. Ugghhh I don't know what to do. And I need to decide, like, yesterday.

(3) Philosophy. I feel like I'm grabbing in the dark. I've never really done philosophy this way, where I have to think up something to write about that's new or in some way different. I miss essay prompts! And especially with an Essay Unit (where I can write on whatever I want, with a supervisor) and a Dissertation coming up, I feel so lost! I had one idea, and a meeting with one of my professors earlier today told me that basically that's not going to work. While he was very helpful, I realized that all I really have at this stage is the fact that I want to write about Plato, and probably an early dialogue. And now I just need to read more Plato, pick a couple of interesting arguments/themes in his works, and read a bunch of secondary literature. In other words, I'm starting from scratch. I know that's what I'm here for, but I feel like other people here are more on the ball. They have defined interests, and topics they want to write about. All I know is that I want to write something. I feel like I'm really not cut out for academia, and I'm just trying to get through this until I'm done. Which is completely the opposite of my views on life: I try to embrace and enjoy every experience. But I'm having trouble at the moment.

Do you think I should go to Kenya? How do you cope when you're overwhelmed?


14 February 2010

How We Met

Sobrina mentioned the other day that I haven't said much about who Jonty is and how we met. What better day than Valentines Day to tell our story :.)

In Fall 2008, I did a semester exchange program at Oxford Brookes University in Oxford, England. A couple of weeks after arriving, my university's Study Abroad coordinators came to Oxford, and I was asked to attend a meeting with them, the Brookes Study Abroad coordinator, and some Brookes students who were interested in studying at Sac State (my university). This is where Jonty and I first met, and I knew that day that I wanted to get to know him better. I gave the potential exchange students my contact info, in case they had any questions or needed any help with anything. We didn't get in contact right away, but a couple of weeks before heading back to America, we starting chatting often on Facebook. I spent quite a lot of time talking to him instead of writing essays that were due that week, but I just got along with him so well and couldn't get enough. We hung out a few times, first with the intention of meeting in Oxford before meeting in Sacramento, so he would have a friend before arriving. Later, it was obvious that we just enjoyed each other's company. The first time we hung out, we stayed up talking until 6am, and the second time until 2am. The last time I saw him before leaving is when I started to realize that he might share my feelings, since he came to meet my sister in Oxford (he lives about 30 minutes away) because he planned to do some Christmas shopping anyway, but he came and went without an attempt to shop. Before leaving for a trip around Europe with my sister, I text messaged him saying farewell for now and that I would see him in the New Year, and his response was that he was "looking forward to the new year now." We kept in contact in the meantime, and when he came to Sacramento we were instantly friends. I made every excuse to be around him, and eventually we told each other how we felt. That was over a year ago, and I'm thankful for every minute I've gotten to spend with him.

It's funny how life works sometimes, isn't it? I could have studied in a different city, or even a different country. I could have stayed at UC Santa Barbara and gone on a completely different exchange. I could have studied abroad a different semester. I could have overslept that day, or gotten lost in town and missed the meeting, or simply decided not to go. A billion things could have separated us, but somehow everything aligned.

How did you meet your loved one?


12 February 2010

Quite a Quote: Homer Simpson

"All right, brain, I don't like you & you don't like me - so let's just do this & I'll get back to killing you with beer." —Homer Simpson

I found this quote today, and for some reason I just love it! It completely captures my attitude at the moment.

Just editing my essay now. Will hand it in in the next half hour or so, and then I'll be free! After it's turned in, I'll head to a philosophy talk and then I'll walk down to Temple Meads Station to meet Denise! This weekend is sure to be full of good times.


11 February 2010

On My Mind

I have lots of things swirling around in my mind at the moment. I thought listing them out might help calm my brain waves down a bit.

1. I like the new Blogger post editor!
2. I plan to redecorate my blog soon. Getting pretty excited about it. So far my plans are: banner with simple lettering and an outline of a hot air balloon, background with a light design of some kind of shape or other.
3. My stepmom, or as she will henceforth be known The Stepmother, is evil. I was really angry earlier and have calmed down quite a bit, but am still tempted to write her an e-mail saying "If you talk to my sister like that again, so help me God you will regret it" or "Your attempts at being nice/'nice' don't negate the fact that you're a manipulative bitch" or "FYI, you will henceforth be known as The Stepmother" etc.
4. My sister handled the stupid e-mail my stepmom sent so very very well. I'm so proud of her, and a little bit envious of her patience and even-headedness. She's pretty much my hero.
5. I'm really trying to stay positive and motivated regarding the essay I'm writing... and I really hope I can stay that way all night long... since sleep definitely isn't in sight. It's nearing ten o'clock and I can slightly feel the pull of home and bed.... Thankfully, I'm working at the Grad Center so bed doesn't tempt me as much.
6. My friend Denise, who lives with her husband in Oxford, is coming to visit me this weekend. I'm super excited for our weekend which will be filled with lots of good stuff: sangria, painting toenails, The Office, light saber fight, 1920s birthday party, and showing her around Bristol. (I just have to finish this essay first.... argh.)
7. My baby sister turns 20 next week. Crazy.
8. I'm so proud of/excited for my mama. She starts a new job on Monday, and she got a part-time online professorship too.
9. I need to get a job, but I know I can't juggle school with many hours. If anyone in Southwest England needs a babysitter, let me know!!!!!
10. I'm tired. And I need to get back to writing. *Positive thoughts!!!!*


06 February 2010

Winter Veggies

My latest craze is eating seasonally. I've been attempting to eat only fruits and veggies that are in season, which has been a bit difficult at times (I love tomatoes & peppers) but mostly it's been a great learning experience! (If you're interested this, check out the Eat the Seasons website.) Root vegetables are of course the main item on my list at the moment, and last week this recipe was a big hit with Jonty & my housemates!

Pasta with Roasted Squash & Sweet Potato
[amended from this recipe]
1 of your 5 a day.

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
Serves: 2 to 3

half of a butternut squash, diced
1 large sweet potato, diced
1 large shallot, sliced
2tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 large sprig fresh rosemary, chopped
1 - 2 cloves garlic, chopped
50g Cornish Larder Mature English Goat's Cheese. diced
25g pine nuts, toasted (I didn't toast mine but will next time)
250g fresh orecchiette or penne pasta

Preheat the oven to 220°C, gas mark 7. Toss the butternut squash, sweet potato and shallot with the olive oil, rosemary, garlic and seasoning.

Place in a roasting tin in a single layer, then roast for 25 minutes, stirring once or twice, until tender and charred. Add in the goat’s cheese and pine nuts and toss to coat in the cooking juices.

Meanwhile, bring a large pan of water to the boil. Add the pasta and cook according to pack instructions until just tender. Drain, then toss with the roasted vegetables, check seasoning and serve with some grated goat’s cheese.

Voila! You have a delicious dinner that goes a long way and is made with winter produce. (I might add that it tastes 10x better than it looks!)