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.

Bleh. And non-bleh.

1. I'm not NOT writing about last Friday for any particular reason.  SO many people have done it and have crafted beautiful posts, etc.  It's not just that I don't have anything new to add, it's not that I think nonsense on my blog (me me me) is more important.  I just have Very Big Feelings about it while ALSO feeling like it's so far away from anything I can understand (although I don't think empathy really equals assumed ownership) and I can't sum it up and, well, it's there.  Like it is for everyone, I think.

2. I assume everyones schedule is jam-packed and insane right now, but hopefully yours involves more cookies and parties and sparkly dresses.  I haven't had a cookie (save for a few Candy Cane Oreos I used to hold me over from my morning stress bagel to my 4pm lunch) and I skipped a party I was SO excited about last Friday because it started at 8pm and I got home from work about 830.  I don't own a sparkly dress.  I have bought three gifts for Christmas and this afternoon I realized that THAT IS HAPPENING IN ABOUT THREE DAYS, HOLY BAJEEZ.  One of the gifts I bought turned out to be a microscopic doll and although my 4 yr old niece is small, she's not THAT SMALL, AMAZON.

I'm fortunate (?) that my company closes down between Christmas and New Year's, but while this seems exciting! and wonderful! and permissive!, it is also a bit of a PAIN IN THE ASS because it just means that there are THINGS that have to be accomplished NOW and if they are not accomplished there will be NO ONE to do them later and then I'll be over a week behind.  I am having stress nightmares about our international partners emailing me and saying if I miss a deadline before the New Year something won't happen and things won't ship and I WILL DESTROY EVERYTHING.  But I won't GET that email because we're TECHNICALLY CLOSED and I will come back on Jan 2nd or 3rd (I should clear up when that date actually IS) and everything will be ruined.  RUINED.  

Clearly, I am a hair stressed.

And then tonight was my first big Christmas-y event, the Christmas Pageant/Concert/Thing at my nephew's school and I picked up my mom to save her from driving and parking and taking herself since she's on the way and I use my heater (I suspect she doesn't use the heater in her car because it uses up some expensive… car resource that does not exist).  It was so cute and my nephew actually sang with his class this year (the first graders) and the kindergartners BELTED their song and everyone was DARLING and I got to hold my two-month-old niece who was wearing a penguin hat and LO! HOLIDAY SPIRIT arrived on the wings of a brilliant, packed church and small-people voices.

3. I have a lot (A LOT) of good.

    I shot an AMAZING wedding earlier this month and got to hang out with some internet friends and it was PHENOMENAL.  (I shot ANOTHER internet friend just after Thanksgiving and her family was so beautiful and I had so much FUN.  I sometimes find it odd that I ever thought the internet was full of strange people (although, well, at the time I had plenty of experience backing up THAT theory too).  I'm so pleased to have found all the BEST Internet People.)

    My family made Christmas tamales when I was in New Orleans.  This means that I don't have to do ANY dinner cooking for the day and ALSO, I did not have to do any PREP in November and I THINK WE CAN ALL AGREE THAT WAS GREAT PLANNING.

    My tiny niece was baptized last Saturday and she's so cute and it's fun to REMEMBER that and there's Chrism and AH.  THAT was a good day.  My sister made tacos.  I got her a fair trade stuffed lamb.  (Hippie.) (Me.)

    I LOVE my job.  Even the stress dreams don't take anything away from it.

    Last night I met up with an old coworker (from the Job from Hell) and it was fun and she's looking for a new job and I might be able to help her.  It would be nice to have more people I like around me and it would be AWESOME to get her on board with my company (for everyone).  Also, there was wine and beet bruschetta and avocado bruschetta.

    My Birchbox had Kerastase samples. Who could ask for anything more?

*** 

I'm going to post the rest of my New Orleans pictures here because (at my posting rate) you'd still be seeing them in MARCH.  Ah, New Orleans.  That's ANOTHER great thing.

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On Nice Pocket Friends

I've been hesitant to respond to comments (or even post) since my post before last where I talk about food and eating and how I just don't feel like myself.  Thank you, everyone, for your nice words and you all are lovely and I wish you could come over for champagne.  I have VERY nice pocket friends and VERY nice out-of-pocket friends and I am a lucky, loved girl.

***

1. New realization: good intentions don't really matter if you don't DO THE THINGS YOU WANT TO DO.

Ok, so this is kind of a dumb statement. I get it. Not Earth shattering. It's another variation of needing to get organized and remembering the things that I want to do, the things that are REALLY important to me that I, I don't know, push further and further down my to-do list.  Actually, THAT'S the problem.  I don't HAVE a to-do list.  I get these ideas and I'm excited about them and I start on Step 1 of 5.  But then shit stays at Step 2 for an ungodly amount of time until I REMEMBER and THEN it happens.  New idea (which I'm CLEARLY the FIRST PERSON IN HISTORY TO HAVE): WRITE THINGS DOWN. FORCE YOURSELF.

This doesn't happen at work. I don't miss things and I'm actually (annoyingly) the kind of person who is frustrated if OTHER people miss things.  Certainly, when someone is PAYING you MONEY to follow through on a set list of tasks, most people are going to do that. (Surprisingly, not all! It's shocking!)  But at work, I always know what I'm supposed to be doing and when it's supposed to be done and I work well under those conditions. Make a to-do list, SELF. THIS IS SIMPLE. GEEZ.

2. I am terrified of goats.

Several years ago, when my boyfriend and I had just started dating, we were talking on the phone late at night.  I guess he didn't know about this goat fear of mine and we started talking about it and I'm like "LOOK. Goats. They are TERRIFYING." As someone who grew up on a farm in the middle of nowhere, who HAD goats and thinks baby goats are some of the cutest creatures EVER, well.  Let's just say he didn't understand.  "Goats are great!  They climb EVERYWHERE and they eat things and they're really nice! They're just goats! What kind of person is scared of goats?"

THIS KIND OF PERSON RIGHT HERE.

So, to bolster my argument surrounding goats and their sheer horror, I told him that they have scary devil eyes.  And, although he wasn't in the room or even within a 30 mile radius, I decided to Google image search "goat eyes." Because I am clearly not smart and ALSO, I must have FORGOTTEN how the internet WORKS. YOU probably know what happens when you Google image search "goat eyes" because you're an intelligent person who knows that you're just going to have about TWENTY GOAT EYES STARING AT YOU FROM A LUMINESCENT SCREEN.

About this time, I notice that someone is shining a flashlight into my window.  I was renting a house with my best friends and their two babies at the time (long story involving an under-water townhouse and a fast adoption) and despite the crowd, I was still my regular paranoid self.  Our back yard kind of backed up against the neighbor's yard and they had dogs (well, we ALSO had dogs) and I'm thinking it's the guy next door looking for poop/raccoons/runaway pets.  But it keeps happening and, given the fact that an entire goat farm just climbed through my computer screen and violated me with their square beady pupils, I GET SCARED.  ANYTHING COULD BE HAPPENING.  UFO? SERIAL KILLER WITH BAD FLASHLIGHT SKILLS? OFFENDED GOATS?

If you don't agree that I had every right to be completely and OUTRAGEOUSLY terrified, well, I just don't understand your nonchalance.  I'm still on the phone and Kevin is saying "go to the window and LOOK, I'm sure it's NOTHING", but I've watched enough Law and Order to know that the people who go to the window either get killed first or see things that they don't want to see that THEN makes them the NEXT person to get killed somewhere down the line.  Someone who is 30 miles away who IS NOT SEEING THE FLASHLIGHT IN MY ROOM isn't helping me and the house is SILENT and no one else knows about the murderer/goat hoard/aliens and so I get OFF the phone ("yawn, it's SO late, I'm just GOING TO GO TO BED, night night now, NO BIGGIE.") and decide that I will SLEEP ON THE COUCH because THAT IS SAFE. (This is poor thinking, I know.)

I'm laying on this cold leather couch, stiff as board just WAITING and the damn cat won't shut up and he comes over and tries to lay RIGHT on my CHEST and I'm convinced that this cat (who is old with no teeth and who doesn't like to cuddle) is having some sixth sense about the criminal danger that we are both in when there is a HUGE crash and a deep rumble and the house shakes and then rain starts falling in bucket-sized drops.

And that is how I learn that lightening storms sometimes disguise themselves as serial killer with a flashlight.

***

Still on New Orleans shots from the Garden District.  (Jess- I can't wait to see if you have something similar!!)

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