Things I’m Super Thankful For

1. Last week at work I participated in this workshop where we basically spent two whole days working on our personal goals.

I’m not going to lie.  I’m a crap goal-maker.  I know I’ve mentioned this before.  Some people are good at goals and planning and knowing exactly what they want.  And then there’s me.  I suspect that my spontaneity and easy accommodation of life’s curve balls are great traits for some OTHER course, but I’m not sure what that course is yet.  Let me know though, cause I want to go.

Anyhow, we’re talking about things we’re thankful for.  And you know what?  I’m thankful that I can be good at goals or bad at goals and it doesn’t matter.  Remember all those people who say you should always just TRY?  That TRYING is the most important?  I think they’re right.

2. Balsamic glaze.  It’s a really awesome thing I can buy at Trader Joe’s and I kind of put it on anything.

3. I really wanted to buy a new car.  For the past 6 months, I’ve been certain that a new (to me) car was in my future.  I could SEE my new car.  I TALKED about it.  It was going to be so great.

And then I realized that you shouldn’t just buy a new car because it seems like you need one.  And a new car is actually a big decision, especially when a shiny Prius with a car payment does not *actually* save me money in the long run.  So, I scrapped that idea.  And I got new tires on my old car and vacuumed up some sand in the trunk space and, well, I’m really thankful for my totally functional, comfortable, easy OLD car with the windshield wipers I changed myself and the gum wrappers in the cup holder.

4. Meghan Trainor.

I want to be like Jennie

Jennie recently completed one of those internet survey thingys (which always seem like they come from the good old days of the Internet, the kindler/gentler/more emo (for me) days).  And I like reading question and answer posts, so… I stole it.

1. What is your favorite type of cheese? I’m basically a no-discrimination zone when it comes to cheese.  All kinds, all day long.  But I especially love raw milk cave aged Gruyere.

2. What are you excited about? The family trip to Tahoe, coming up in a few short weeks.  My nieces and nephews get awesomer and awesomer as they get older and I just know it’s going to be a blast.  (This seems as good a time as any to share this adorable story about my 6 year old nephew: Over the long Memorial Day weekend, B had a tooth emergency that resulted in an extraction on Monday morning- the first tooth to ever exit his mouth.  When my sister told him that he should put it under the pillow for the Tooth Fairy, he sadly replied that “she only wants shiny, clean teeth.”  My sister told him to try her anyway.)

3. How did you celebrate your last birthday? Oooh, an excellent weekend in Napa, staying on the Silverado trail.  Tons of wine and pool lounging (thank you, Summer birthday that sucked FOREVER AND EVER but is now FULL OF ALL THE BEST THINGS).  It was pretty perfect.

4. What is on your bedside table? A framed photo from Hawaii, a book that I keep meaning to read (I don’t remember the title of it- I usually bring my Kindle to bed and forget it’s there) and a ring holder I DIYed recently for the A&C blog.

5. What do you order from the movie theater concession stand? Oh, sweet, sweet movie food.  I mostly care about the popcorn, but I usually cross my fingers that concessions will also have Coke Zero.

6. Do you have a garden? What’s growing? I have no garden.  I WANT a garden.  A few months ago I bought a sweet plant stand and three medium sized terra cotta pots, full of ideas for at least a pretty herb garden.  The pots are empty.  I approach my front door with the slightest hint of tangible shame each and every day.

7. Any summer plans? Tahoe in a week or two.  July is shaping up big with a long visit from Alyssa so that we can head to BlogHer.  (There are house hunting/moving plans, so there’s not much else planned yet.  I bought an entry to the Kauai Half Marathon over Labor Day weekend, but between the murky house plans and the last minute Cancun trip, that whole idea is TBD.)

8. Which TV couple(s) are you rooting for? Crap.  Somehow I’m not watching a TV show with a couple?  That seems wrong, but I’ve been watching a lot of House Hunters and The Daily Show these days.

Oh!  Wait!  Jess/Nick and Mindy/Danny.  BUT THAT SHOULD REALLY BE OBVIOUS TO EVERYONE IN THE WHOLE WORLD.

9. What’s the last thing you bought? Viktor & Rolf Spicebomb in the Mexico City airport.  I came home and found out it’s for men.  But it smells like heaven, so I’m not too bothered by that.  Spicy fragrances are my thing, but the versions for women always add strong floral notes.  This one smells like the soap from the Hotel Nelligan in Montreal (friends from blogging days of old will remember it as my Scent Holy Grail).

10. What’s one thing you are passionate about? Oh heavens.  Most recently?  I’m still thinking of the kid trying to calculate GED test-taking fees versus Chipotle hourly wage ratios.  (I posted it on Facebook, but it’s here if you missed it.)

11. What are you grateful for this week? My oldest sister’s health insurance.  I will never stop being grateful for it.

Things I love on 3/24/14

1. Kate Somerville ExfoliKate ;-) Intensive Exfoliating Treatment

Actual face magic.  Let it sit for two minutes (it can be a bit stingy), remove and see how bright you are.

2. I already put this baby on Instagram, but I’m pretty damn happy I bought this Denim Dress from H&M.  It might look like chambray, but it’s not denim at all.  The fabric is stupid soft and the cut is fancy and flattering without being boxy.

 

A Small Survey of Things

After hopping on board with Ginger's May posting extravaganza and signing up for the latest (my first!) CDP exchange, I remembered that I was going to Japan. Hm. Er. Well, that was a busy blip. 

My first attempt at playing catch up is to post the mini survey for the CDP Exchange and beg forgiveness for the jet lag fog that may erase my productivity for the next few days.

(Hi! I'm back! Japan was incredible!)

  • What is your favorite color? While in Japan, I discovered an extreme fondness for extremely light blues and greens.  But I always love teal! And yellow! (Odd since I mostly wear black.  Maybe white or gray- for fun.)
  • What is your favorite season? Since I live in a gorgeous climate and love being warm: summer.  (What great timing!)  I suspect this would be harder for me in a really humid climate or one with extreme temperatures, but I love long days and eating outside and corn on the cob.
  • What is your favorite treat? Cheese!  Champagne!
  • What is your favorite scent? Probably lavender.  I also like super fresh linen scents (like… cotton-y? Bath and Body Works makes me feel like that a thing, but I'm not sure if it actually is.)
  • What is your favorite ice cream coping mechanism? Venti Sweetened Black Iced Teas from Starbucks.  Fancy grocery stores.   Cooking things.  Buying hair conditioner I don't need.  Walking around craft stores.  (I LOVE making things but never know what to make.)
  • What do you like to do in your free time moments? Take pictures.  Read anything (including, but not limited to: blogs and books and cereal boxes).  Window shop.  Clean things (preferably dishes, laundry or anything involving bleach).  Listen to music.  Visit flea markets and thrift shops.  Learn about/travel to new places.
  • What do you not enjoy doing, and why, but have to do anyway?  Organizing things/putting things away.  I AM NOT GOOD AT THIS.  I WANT to be good at it, but I don't know how.
  • If someone gave you money with the instruction that you had to spend it on something frivolous for yourself, what would you buy?  Probably a pretty blanket/throw or some sort of dishware (melamine, my fave!).  Or towels! (I bought towels I DID NOT NEED in Japan because they were pretty and soft, so CLEARLY I do not need special frivolous money to make bad spending decisions. (Whatever, when is the next time I'll BE IN JAPAN?))
  • Do you have any decorating themes in your home/office? Not especially, although I do love elephants and piglets.
  • Is there something that you REALLY, REALLY like?  (Burt's Bees, horses, cats, fairies, unicorns, birds, patriotic stuff, babies, chocolate, Diet Coke, etc….)  Whoops, jumped the gun on animals there.  I REALLY like tea- not really fruity teas, but varieties of black or white tea.  Oooh… office supplies. I ALSO love office supplies.
  • What is the VERY! BEST! present you have ever received and why was it the best?  (The purpose of this question is to give people another idea of the sorts of things that make you happy.) A few years ago, I was explaining to Kevin that Easter was The Big Catholic Holiday and after I got home from Leah and Simon's wedding I was surprised with an Easter "basket": a gift bag of small things (a few bean cakes and little candies) from Japantown (because that was just where he happened to be at the time) and a bouquet of white roses.  Because it was a Big Important Holiday to me.  
  • What are you passionate about? Being as good and thoughtful and supportive of a friend as I can be.  Forcing myself to be a runner.  Taking pictures (but not necessarily for me).  Education and reading.  Cooking delicious things.  My (insane) family (you can't quit family).  Paying off my student loans.  Being the type of person who has nice nails and pretty hair… all the time.  Helping.

Operation Bring Back The Words

(I'm copying Ginger with her Operation Bring Back The Words idea.  She's a smartie.  Never too late to join!)

Nothing jumpstarts my desire to post like a little Blathering excitement.  Since they announced the smaller group size, the attendee list has grown (as of this minute there is only ONE TICKET LEFT. GO GET IT!), I want to write things and get back in touch with all my favorites. 

This post is short, but I wanted to share these links from Kristin (from Iowa Girl Eats) trip to Charleston so that you can get excited if you're coming too! One, two and three.  YUM and OOOH, PRETTY.

Other People’s Fun Ideas

Copying this guy from Ginger! (Laura did it too!)
Do you have any strange phobias? I fear I have kind of a lot of strange phobias.  Goats. (SQUARE EYES.) Birds. (SHARP BEAKS. Plus DIRTY, if you're in a city.) 

Do you sleep with or without clothes on? It depends on where I am.

If you are outside, what are you most likely doing? Running.  Commuting to work.  Walking to lunch. SOMETIMES hiking, but I do this much less than I'd like to.

Simple but extremely complex. Favorite band? Ever and EVER? I can't answer this, I don't think.  There are SO MANY.  Plus, I'm more of a song person than an entire-body-of-work person.

Do you believe in karma? Yes. Definitely.

Who is your celebrity crush? Landry Fields. (Currently playing with the Toronto Raptors.) Bradley Cooper. Channing Tatum. (Even BETTER? STEP UP CHANNING TATUM.)

What’s a sound you hate; sound you love? Hate: Oh gosh, someone chewing with their mouth open.  (I just twitched.) Love: Waves.

Choose: East Coast or West Coast? West.  But if my family lived somewhere else, it could very easily be East.

What was the last book you read? I'm reading Wild by Cheryl Strayed right now. So far, AMAZING.

Do you like the smell of gasoline? I don't go out of my way to sniff it, but I don't mind it.

Do you have any nicknames? Charlie (surprise!), but more recently one of my coworkers started calling me Chuck and I LOVE IT. 

What was the last movie you saw? Les Miserables.  I took myself out on a solo movie date because I was so sad that I missed it opening weekend.  It turned out to be ok since I was not a fan.

What’s the worst injury you’ve ever had? I guess my broken collarbone as a kid? (I got it falling off a shelf in the back of a one-ton truck where I was taking a nap while it was driving.  Weird.)

What’s the last thing you purchased? I was lucky enough to win the random drawing the first week of Biggest Blogging Loser and I but that money toward some Project Life items.  SUPER excited about it.

Can you touch your nose with your tongue? Nope. And I look absolutely ridiculous when I try. 

Is there anything pink within 10 feet of you? I bought a pink belt for $2.88 from the Loft yesterday and it's still just sitting there on my loveseat.

What’s your favorite animal? Elephants! Monkeys! Piglets! Rhinos! Hippos! Giraffes! (Sorry, hard question.)

What were you doing last night at 12 AM? Sleeping, actually.  (Most nights that's not true.)
What’s a song that always makes you happy when you hear it? Make Her Fall In Love With Me Song (George Strait)

What is the single best decision you have made in your life so far? Changing industries, career-wise.

What’s the last song you listened to? Well, honestly, the song I mentioned two questions ago.  But before that it was Red Light Special by TLC.

What is your current desktop picture? I don't use one! Isn't that strange?
 

You accidentally eat some radioactive vegetables. They were good, and what’s even cooler is that they endow you with the super-power of your choice! What is that power? Isn't there a power somewhere in some book I read where you can change the emotion in a room/for other people? THAT. I would do that. You know how you hear people and you want to just take away the anxiety and self-doubt? I would totally be able to DO that.  AWESOME.

You can re-live any point of time in your life. The time-span can only be a half-hour, though. What half-hour of your past would you like to experience again? It's absurd how long I've been thinking of an answer to this question.  I don't think I have one yet.

You just got a free plane ticket to anywhere. You have to depart right now. Where are you gonna go? Japan! Packing my camera and heading for Alyssa.

 

The Year 2012 and its kind of, sort of suckitude

It appears that the last time I did this Sundry questionnaire was for the year 2010 and although I SWEAR I've done it for other years WHO KNOWS.  It could have been a WHOLE DIFFERENT BLOG.  In any case, here it is for 2012.

1. What did you do in 2012 that you’d never done before?

Besides the Blathering (which somehow feels like it could populate MOST of the answers on this list), not much.  On a somewhat down note, the only thing that comes to mind was the emergency landing on Oahu when I expected to arrive on Maui/ complete with fire trucks and screeching brakes and people screaming.  Hey, did you know I HATE FLYING unless I do it REALLY REGULARLY?  It had been months since I'd been on a plane at that point.  Bonus: I still ended up in HAWAII. So.  I guess it was FINE.

On an UP note (because I can't just leave a stupid DOWN note, whether or not it resulted in Hawaii), I completed a Whole 30! Yay, me! 

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
  

I'm not GOOD at resolutions and I really want to be.  So, I'm going to make some this year, both personally and professionally.  And I'm giving myself another week or two to get those written down because it's going to take at least a little bit of crowd-sourcing and one nice lovely, new pen and some crisp, thick paper.  

As far as last year… I didn't make any so I didn't NOT keep them.  NEUTRAL. SWITZERLAND.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?


Many, many friends had tiny little nuggets who are VERY CUTE and many of my Pocket Friends had babies who I would like to meet (and settle for Instagram photos of).  A bit more closely, my sister had her third baby in October- a sweet little girl who is pretty darn adorable.  (Some interesting background: my sister has two boys and was told the second boy was going to be a girl until a very late ultrasound revealed the inaccuracy of the FIRST ultrasound.  We kind of didn't think she'd have another, but she did and it's the girl that she already had  A LOT of pink for.  Which is awesome.  My sister is the type of person who informed my brother in law just before Christmas that the 9-wk-old needed a jewelry box.  I'm delighted for her.)

4. Did anyone close to you die?
 

I received a text at work one afternoon that my very first boss had passed away.  I point out that I received it via TEXT and while I was AT WORK because I think it's kind of a strange way to tell someone that someone has passed when THE PERSON RECEIVING THE INFORMATION is not expecting the news at all.  It was an absolute shock and I had tears down my cheeks before I even remembered I was at work.

She was an amazing woman who was vibrant and a real community presence who loved the CRAP out of her kids (I was a Day Camp Leader, she had none of her own so she took on the entire city's worth of little ones).  I can only hope that I am able to remember her spirit by passing on that love, concern, attention to others in her honor.

5. What countries did you visit?

Hm. No countries this year!  In fact, this might have been the slowest year of travel I've had in ages.  I went to Hawaii in March and New Orleans in November.  

6. What would you like to have in 2013 that you lacked in 2012? 

A clearer definition of my current relationship.  A business that's at least a small bit more than it is right now.  Some growth on my career goals (and clarity on what those are).

7. What dates from 2012 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?  

Oct 13th and the surrounding weeks when one of my very best friends got married.  It was wonderful to have her in town (from Tokyo) and get to help her and just be with her and her family and share some of her friends and make them my new friends.  

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Work.  Which I feel good about, because who doesn't WANT to be able to say that they're good at their job and that they really love it (which I do)?  It's also a growth area for me because I know that I need to be able to more clearly define my career path and I also need to figure out how to be better about working AND living.  (To clarify, I mean my full-time job here, not my photography business.  For THAT, working IS living.)

9. What was your biggest failure?

I want to be calmer, I want to be fitter, I want to be more me.  All the time.  It's less of a failure and more of an ongoing quest.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?  

I continue to have pretty rotten immune system that invites every bug to take up residence, but nothing major.  Yay!

11. What was the best thing you bought? 

Anything Blathering related.  Getting to meet my favorite internet people was so amazing and so rewarding. 

12. Where did most of your money go?

Just bills.  I'd like for more to go to travel and champagne, however.

13. What did you get really excited about?  

In September, I finally got to meet Jennie in person when she came into town.  I have lots of things to say about Jennie, all of them marvelous, but mostly I have this: knowing Jennie makes everything else better.  She has this ability to amass love in this huge way that just lets you know that she GETS IT and that she wants all the good and important things to come raining down upon your shoulders and that she ALSO wants you to find a really nice pair of shoes.  There is nothing too big or too small that she won't wish for for you.  I can't think of a more wonderful quality in a friend and I feel incredibly lucky and delighted that I get to keep her.  FOREVER.  (Not creepy.)

So, not only was I excited to see her in September (and then again in New Orleans), but (to answer the question) she excited me about ME.  About being the things I want to be and, specifically, having the business I want to have.  Since September, I've become inspired and reinvigorated and EXCITED about growing and it's SUCH a huge, huge gift.  

14. What song will always remind you of 2012? 

Somebody That I Used To Know (Gotye feat Kimbra)

15. Compared to this time last year, are you:


– happier or sadder? I'm going to call this flat.  I have had an incredibly rich and lucky year in SO many ways.  But there are bits that are sadder and so… it's a wash.

– thinner or fatter? Um. FATTER. 

– richer or poorer? Poorer.

16. What do you wish you’d done more of?


Traveled more.  Exercised more.  Worked smarter (less).  Seen more friends, both quantity and consistency.

17. What do you wish you’d done less of?


Less worry and anxiety.  Less reading of Yahoo Comments.  Less stress bagels.  

18. How did you spend Christmas? 

On Friday night, I got into a car accident on the way to pick up my mom, sister and nieces for an evening shopping trip. (Thank God it happened before they were in the car.)

On Saturday, I picked up a rental and retrieved them all for that trip and fielded very stressful questions all day long.  This was a bad choice.  I know that now.  I should have stayed at home and had tea and watched Netflix.

On Sunday, full of anxiety I exploded into a ball of frustration that didn't dissipate through Christmas Eve.  I tried really hard, but I didn't set myself up well.

I hoped Christmas would pick up after Mass, but then at our celebration my family didn't tell me what time to arrive and started opening gifts without me (I live three minutes away.  Literally.)  Considering I am the only one without children, that gift opening is the only Christmas I have and it was… hurtful.  Unintentional, I'm SURE, but I was holding back tears.  (Did I mention the ball of frustration?)  I felt better after a bit and it was A GREAT evening with tamales and cheesecake and my aunt and uncle.  They live close and we saw them ALL the time as kids, but rarely now as all my cousins have moved away and don't really visit.  My uncle brought board games and card games for the bigger kids and we played and it was SO FUN and, whew.  CHRISTMAS.

19. What was your favorite TV program?

Parenthood.  It's a good thing.

20. What were your favorite books of the year? 

I read both too much and too little.  I don't have a favorite, but I enjoyed the last 1/8 of Night Circus immensely.

21. What was your favorite music from this year?
 

Fun.

22. What were your favorite films of the year?  

Hm.  Nothing super notable, actually.  I did get to go see Hunger Games with the girlfriend mentioned above before she moved away and it was SUCH A TREAT and we cried in the theater and didn't bring enough napkins for popcorn grease AND tears and it was a fantastic time.

23. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? 

My family had a little party for me in the afternoon.  I went with Kevin for Mexican food in the evening (after trying to secure reservations somewhere yummy unsuccessfully), but it was an emotional relationship time so it was… strange?  Not awkward, just not as expected.  I was 31.

24. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?  

Consistent exercise.  

25. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2012?

Um, is lounge wear a fashion concept?  I bought Toms too! And soft scarves.

26. What kept you sane? 

Feelings Club. (Thank you, THANK YOU for this, ladies.  I know I missed a few due to work (I'm working on getting better at that), but the standing appointment to see you and talk and have a nice dinner has truly, seriously meant so much to me.  Let's have more Feelings.)

Alyssa.

Pocket Friends.  Especially those who I feel are real, awesome LIFE friends like Miranda (who is close enough to SEE and HANG OUT WITH) and Jess and Susie (well, mostly I just want to kidnap Susie and make her hang out with me all the time.  She's totally my speed.)  (These ladies join my pocket friends from Feelings Club above, who are TREMENDOUS and LOVELY and I want to see more of. Especially Leah.)

27. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2012.

I don't have a good answer for this one.  I learned a lot and I'm still mucking through it and I'm grateful for the lessons of the year.