Saturday, October 31, 2009

Persona non grata

Indeed. I feel a bit . . . dejected. As stupid as that sounds, I really am feeling a bit lonely today. I don't want sympathy or whatever, but I'm finding that I really need to do a better job of reaching out. I'd really rather be here right now:

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Picture this . . .


Except it's shrill and coming from my mouth . . .

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Baby steps . . .

So I didn't wake up at the unholy hour of 5:30 this morning, I settled for 6:30. Or rather, I woke up around 5:30, but kept resetting the alarm and hitting the snooze button until 6:30. To-may-to, to-mah-to, right? Baby steps . . .

Anyway . . . Still feeling pretty awake. Relatively rested despite a marathon phone conversation with A that lasted until 12:30-ish. How are we able to talk sooooooo long about what seems like nothing??? I mean, I learn something new about him with every conversation, which is amazing, but it seems like we cycle through fairly uninteresting questions that always end up turning into long discussions. Clearly, the boy and I will be able to chat for years to come . . . or so it would seem.

He's pretty stinkin' awesome. I'm a lucky girl, indeed. :o)

Friday, October 23, 2009

The challenge . . .

I am hereby undergoing a complete and total revolution . . .

I'm giving up sweets. Cold turkey. None of this "oh, it's been a little while, maybe I should get a cupcake" junk. No more "maybe just one piece of candy." And I am so done with this "well, I had a salad for lunch . . ." crap.

I'm done.

Over it.

No more sweets! (For at least a month.) I figure once Thanksgiving rolls around, I'll reevaluate the plan and see how things are going. However I think this may have a much more long-term effect than I am anticipating.

Simple solutions to deeper needs.

Sometimes, I feel really sad. I mean, really sad. Often because I get frustrated about things I am not able to control.

Today, things that have happened over the last couple of days cropped up in my brain and started percolating. Coupled with the realization that my "I love being a homebody" attitude is becoming something of a hindrance and now I just feel crappy.

So I went to get a cup of coffee.

Nothing fancy, just coffee and some half-and-half, but it really has done wonders to improve my mood. Even though there's coffee here at the office, I think it makes it a bit more special to go and have someone make it for you. It gives me a reason to pause, smile and remind myself that sometimes things are out of my hands for a reason.

And then I smile because I realize I have bigger (read: better) things to care about.

Seems a little cryptic, I know, but I just wanted to say . . . I love coffee moments.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Sometimes, improvising can be better...

I forget things. Little things, things that are really forgettable up until I really need them. Namely stuff at the grocery store.

Tonight was no exception as I hit up Trader Joe's after work. Knowing that I needed black pepper and chicken broth for the soup I am wanting to make, I shop around and pick up a crusty, delectable loaf of sourdough bread, mango mochi ice cream balls, produce, etc. I kept going right down my list, paid for my loot and went home. In my kitchen, I start cooking the chicken, seasoning it a bit and simultaneously boiling broth. I chop and put in the veggies and noodles.

Then and only then do I realize: I've forgotten the broth (I had some but was sure it wouldn't be enough) and the black pepper.

I made do with the pepper grinder (on normal occasions, I prefer fresh ground pepper but it's not practical for cooking).

The tricky part was the broth... Thankfully, in my cupboard was a box of vegetable broth. Not what I would have liked, but doable. I poured some in and later added some water, but surprisingly enough, it turned out good. Really good!

So sometimes plans don't work out, but tonight showed me that the last-minute, make-do improvisations can be even better...

Robyn's Chicken Soup:
- about 20 oz. chicken broth
- one chicken breast, cubed
- spaghetti noodles (about two servings)
- celery
- carrots
- green onions
- 1 small yellow onion
- oregano, salt and pepper

1. Cook chicken covered in a pan.

I seasoned the chicken with oregano, garlic powder (because I was lazy and didn't feel like mincing garlic), and salt & pepper.

2. While chicken is cooking, chop about two celery branches (sticks?), one medium carrot and the onions
3. In a stock pot, pour in broth and veggies. Bring to a boil, stir in noodles

Lookin' good so far!

4. Season chicken with oregano, garlic powder and salt & pepper.
5. When noodles are soft, stir in chicken. Let simmer for 15 minutes

Okay, that's kind of a haphazard recipe, but it was good... Really good. The vegetable broth I used gave it a nice golden (non-yellow) tone. I had two bowls and there's leftovers for lunch tomorrow.



P.S. Please ignore my cluttered couch . . . I've been organizing paperwork all week. Er, trying . . .

On "why being a grown-up sucks sometimes."

Being a grown-up really sucks.

Don't get me wrong, I love being an adult. I like taking care of myself, I like cooking and cleaning for myself . . . I even like the whole paying bills bit (somewhat) because it reminds me of my freedom -- I am supporting myself, I am making my life as comfortable as I can.

But sometimes, it really stinks. The whole budgeting thing is something I still feel like I'm getting used to . . . and part of the reason why I wish my parents had decided to give us allowance as kids. (They always had the mindset of, "if you need it, we'll find a way to make it happen" . . . as well as trying their best to make sure we had what we wanted as well, to some degree.) I feel like not having been given an allowance, not being allowed to have an after school job in high school has somehow contributed to bad financial habits. But I know I'm not the only one.

Example: A friend of mine grew up not knowing what having an allowance was like, not learning firsthand about spending money wisely and didn't immediately grasp that having a debit card is NOT like having a credit card. Within a few weeks of having the debit card, they had racked up over $250 in bank fees, not to mention what they overdrew by . . . A $3 cup of coffee at Starbucks that now costs $25-30 because of the overdraft charge is a little ludicrous to think about.

Another friend: This friend of mine really aggitates me at times. For working for a tax firm, they have no concept of spending wisely. I lent them some money a couple of years ago . . . which I still haven't seen. But redecorating their house (to the tune of about $700 -- enough to cover what I lent them almost 10 times) is apparently a more worthwhile cause than paying down debts. What if I were a bank? What if I charged interest? Would this have guaranteed payment sooner? Now, I have always struggled with being assertive about the things that I need - especially when it comes to money. It's the most difficult thing in the world for me to say, "Umm, you do remember that I let you borrow money, right? Borrow." It's even more difficult to say that when what I want to say is, "Are you going to pay me back or not?!? Because if you're not, just tell me so I remember to never help you out again."

But that doesn't come across very nicely, does it?

Today was pay day, but because of the timing of my bills, my paycheck shrunk drastically in about 5 minutes -- the length of time it took me to make my car payment online, put some money into my savings account, write a check for my rent and balance my checkbook. The leftover is less than 1/4 of what came in, and even though it's more than enough for groceries and gas for the next two weeks, it still leaves me . . . wanting. Still makes me wish a tiny bit that I could just fill my apartment with things that I like.

Silly I know since I can use that money not just for the necessities, but for greater pleasures like hosting friends for a weekend or driving up to see Alex for a couple of days -- all infinitely more worth being able to buy a couple of bar stools or hit up IKEA for some mixing bowls any sooner.

But the 'wanting' thing is hard sometimes, which is why I'm trying to get a new perspective on things.

I'm learning though . . .

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Idea in the works...

I've been following the Nester off and on this month as she features daily tips/ways to make one's living space even more personal and nest-like. Given my affinity for learning to cook, it challenges me to ask myself: could I commit an entire month to cooking? Could I actually attempt such a large-scale blogging task?

I really think I could...

Details to be determined, but preliminary ideas include:
- a new recipe every day, though not a new recipe for each meal
- no repeats (yeah, you read that right)
- blog daily about recipes, results and (hopefully) include photos with each post

So there you have it. A challenge in the making... Like I said, details are going to be worked out soon, especially since I don't know what my holiday plans will be. I'm already liking the plan though...

Bacon cheddar potato soup

Yesterday, the dreary, Edgar Allan Poe weather began again, which naturally made me so happy and inspired me to attempt potato soup again. This time, I decided to make some modifications and perhaps not follow the recipe quite so rigidly.

Bingo -- about a hundred times better than last time . . .

Potato Soup
- 4-6 strips of bacon cooked and cut into small pieces
- 2 large Russet potatoes, cubed
- 2 14oz. cans of chicken broth
- 3-4 green onions chopped, greens and whites
- 1 1/2 cups milk (I used 2%)
- roughly 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
- shredded cheddar cheese (I like extra sharp, but to each their own - colby-jack is also a good choice for potato soup)
- salt & pepper

1. Cube potatoes and put them in stock pot. Cover with chicken broth and bring to a boil.
2. Reduce heat and let simmer for 15-20 minutes.
3. Remove from heat and mash at potato pieces with a potato masher or fork (don't do this too much, you just want to break them up a bit more, not into too-tiny pieces)
4. Return to heat and stir in bacon, onions, thyme and milk. Cook for 15 minutes covered.
5. Serve with shredded cheese and salt & pepper to taste.

Soooooooooooooooooooo good and really tasty the second time around.

Friday, October 16, 2009

On eating and eating well.

I live on a block with a Trader Joe's. (Yeah, it's pretty freaking great.) Theoretically, I can walk to get groceries. I haven't yet, but I'm optimistic.

Having the accessibility to good, wholesome food has completely changed my diet . . . for the better. I cook as much vegetation as I can get my hands on and I'm madly in love with goat cheese. I'd give up just about any other kind of cheese (except for extra sharp cheddar) just to be able to keep goat cheese in the mix.

Since I've started cooking my own food, I've noticed better habits developing:
- cooking vegetables . . . for any meal
- lighter salad dressings (some days, I opt for a bit of olive oil and some lemon juice)
- more whole grains (sadly, I didn't have the "love it!" response to whole wheat pasta that I thought I was going to have, but I'm hopeful that it's just an "acquired taste" that I will acquire soon enough)
- eating less junk food

Now, with that last one, it's a bit of an interesting thing to me that since I have started eating better, I just don't crave junk food as much. I have a far more weakened lust for cupcakes (though I won't lie . . . I'm seriously jonesing for one right now . . .), I drink less alcohol and surprisingly enough, I find that I just don't really want it.

Of course, when I do indulge in a trip to Sprinkles, I find that I feel really gross afterwards. @#%$! This healthy living crap just shot cupcakes for me.

Of course, I know it's for the better . . . I mean, most days I need a cupcake like I need a hole in my head, but I really really really really really really love my cupcakes. A lot. But it's nice to see my newer, healthier habits are starting to take over my older, not-so-great ones.

Who knows . . . Maybe I'll start hitting the gym soon.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

My new semi-life.

I have no life.

Really, I don't. I confessed to Alex the other night that I'm partly afraid of finishing the unpacking process because that would mean there's nothing left on the "to-do" list of things in my apartment.

Living with my parents made me so excited to move out because I felt like I would really stretch my wings, get out and socialize more. The only thing I've learned in the last several weeks is that I'm a major homebody . . . and I'm growing to accept this.

I love cooking . . . I like cleaning . . . I dig organizing. If I had the space, you bet your boots I'd be trying to learn how to garden -- the idea of growing my own herbs and vegetables thrills me beyond belief.

Part of me is willing to believe that having long-distance boyfriend also contributes to my desire to stay home, but I don't really think that's the case. Alex and I mutually trust and respect one another, so I know I don't have anything to worry about when I think about going out with girlfriends or whatever. I just like staying home. I like being cozy on my couch and watching some terrifying movie. (I really like the idea of watching some terrifying movie with Alex -- you know, so he can keep me safe and all.) But at the end of the day, I just want to be at home.

Now, this is not to say that I don't enjoy a good girls' night out from time to time. I would like to scratch "pub crawl" off of my lifelong to-do list. But I think it's time to come out of the impeccably-organized closet on this one:

I am a homebody and I am proud of that.

I think this blog is morphing into my homebody life reflections, but I think that was where I wanted it to be all along.

To be continued . . .

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Where'd it go?!

My rain is gone. One day of 50+ mph winds and almost ten inches of rain (no joke) and now it's GONE?!!?

I need to move somewhere where there are hurricanes and frequent storms/rains. Seattle is looking ever-so-tantilizing because I know it rains all the time there.

I'm itching. Can I move there? Just live on top of the Space Needle and be happy with the rain? It makes those fleeting sunny days so precious, I think.

Californians are weather wimps. I'm fairly certain of this. We don't have tornadoes, hurricanes or blizzards (unless you're in the mountains). Generally speaking, we don't have to worry about thunderstorms and hail. Sand bags are referred to so infrequently that I have a sneaking suspicion most Californians have to remind themselves of what sandbags are for any time they hear mention.

I crave living in a place where the weather is just a little more violent. I want to see lightning light up a sky. I want to play with hail. I want to feel the build of heat and humidity that cracks with an afternoon or evening thunderstorm.

Gosh, thunderstorms are such amazing sleeping weather. My freshman year of college, I lived with a girl who was TERRIFIED of thunder. Having spent the first 10 years of my life on the east coast, this was unheard of to me. I cannot recall a single time in my life where I was afraid of a storm.

Yesterday's storm feels like such a teaser . . . I'm itching for violent weather. I want something intense enough to watch.


Can I tell you a secret? I've always admired the people who take cameras and go chase storms. I feel like I would LOVE that experience . . . Maybe someday I'll take my family on a cross-country storm-chasing trip. Of course, with my luck, I'll end up giving birth to some seriously weather-phobic children . . .

My heart breaks just a little at the thought.

Zen and the art of . . . potato soup?

I don't think I could ever adequately describe how much I am loving learning how to cook. I mean, I've never really practiced. Mom and Dad usually took care of meals for us, but for the brief months I lived in Fresno, I got to try out cooking a bit.

Now, living by myself, I'm looking into recipes 'made for two,' mostly because I can make enough for myself and lunch the next day. I dig the idea because I think it helps me stretch my food options a bit more -- I'm majorly guilty of falling into food ruts when I don't have anything interesting to pique my interest.

Last night, I picked up some onions and broth to combine with stuff I already had and made myself a pot of really good potato soup. It was just so meditative and soothing to go home and spend about a half hour cutting, slicing, simmering and stirring. (Of course, the drinking of the pint of Guinness probably didn't hurt this relaxing process.)

If I had to grade my project, though, I'd probably give it a C+/B- (for now). It was tasty, however I think there are some modifications that could have been made and I'm picky about doing things well in the kitchen. (I have no idea where this has come from -- my family used to tease me about not knowing the recipe for boiled water.) Next time around, we're adding some turkey bacon and sharp cheddar cheese. You know . . . just to try . . .

Other menu options for the week:
* sauteed zucchini, mushrooms and edamame with basmati rice
* whole wheat pasta with homemade basil mushroom marinara
* pizza with spinach and goat cheese (okay, I confess -- this is coming from a box but I still have to manage not to burn it!)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Today it is pouring in Palo Alto and San Jose. I will be needing to hit up Target after work for an umbrella, but I'm so excited about the weather. I felt the flick-flick-flick of tiny rain spatter on my face waking up this morning (slept with the window open -- rain was blowing in a little bit).


I love the rain. Alex and I have talked about how cool it would be to live in Portland or Seattle, where it rains a great deal.

Of course, prolonged rain does get depressing after a while, but generally speaking I love it. I have a sixth sense for when it's going to rain. I can feel it, smell it, KNOW that it's going to rain . . . Of course, the grey clouds are a pretty big tip off, but even on overcast days, there's something distinctly different that goes along with the rain.

Tonight, on the way home, I'm picking up broth, green onions and a few other ingredients I'm missing so I can make potato soup.

Will blog about how this turns out . . .

Monday, October 12, 2009

I tried Twizzlers Rainbow Twists just now, thinking the fun new colors and flavors would somehow make me hate licorice less.

Didn’t work. Licorice still tastes like plastic.

What the heck is that?!!?

I am amazed at just how rude some people can be. As in, I am willing to overlook a multitude of transgressions, but I will stand in awe of bad manners.

There seems to be a growing awareness of just how rude our society is becoming and though it was mocked to no end, the interruption that Kanye West gave during Taylor Swift's acceptance speech at this year's VMA's was a perfect illustration of what I'm talking about.

Saturday was an in-depth look into rudenss and more over, is rudeness contagious? Growing up I always thought my parents were nuts for not liking ALL of my friends, but the older I get the more I'm finding that maybe they were onto something . . .

I have a friend who has a boyfriend. Her boyfriend is very rude and perhaps a perfect illustration of how rudeness is contagious. When I politely offered to help his girlfriend out so that he could focus on something specific, he criticized me to my face and shot me down. Now, I understand "everyone is entitled to an opinion," but since when did someone's opinionated-ness become superior to good manners? Even if he had still refused my offer to help, there were many ways to do this to not be so . . . rude.

This same friend (the one who has the boyfriend) later left with him early from a very special event in which she was a part. Without going into the gory details, I can say that the event in question was a big deal. The person that the event was focused around is supposedly a best friend of my friend with the boyfriend. So my friend let her rude boyfriend talk her into being even more rude? The excuses given were exactly that: excuses. What blows my mind is that had this person stayed just a few more hours, it would have been over, not a big deal, and there would have been extra hands to help tear down after the party was over with.

But no.

And now, I can't help but wonder if this friend will regret leaving her best friend's big day when she's looking back after she and this jerk boyfriend (inevitably) break up?

This may become my new catchphrase . . . (Steph was onto something!)

Friday, October 9, 2009

Tricks & treats . . .

I love this time of year.

October for me means dusting off my volume of Edgar Allan Poe and scouring library shelves for books that will make my hair stand up. Pumpkins and cold, rainy days and crisp air . . .

Fall means spooky stories and scary movies. An excuse to get cozy with my handsome guy . . . ;o) Alex doesn't share the same level of enthusiasm for the holiday as I do, but I'll work on him, I'm sure.

I'm still in a place of "settling" into my new apartment . . . If I were pregnant, this would be called "nesting." Actually, I don't think being pregnant is a prerequisite to nest, so we can safely say that I'm nesting . . . So many projects! So many things to take on!

The living room has a blue and brown color scheme going on . . . The bookcase is almost finished being painted a rich brown with blue inside. I'm growing increasingly fond of colored glass as decoration . . . I have red glass in the black/white/red bathroom, I have blue glass in the living room, purple in the kitchen and green in the bedroom.

My bedroom is still evolving . . . I know it's probably better to focus on one room at a time to really enjoy the process and take my time, but I'm having a hard time controlling myself. My suitcases are becoming decoration pieces and there are three clocks on the back wall that tell the time of San Francisco, New York and Paris. (There's kind of a travel theme if you hadn't guessed . . .) I'm having visions of vintage post cards tucked under the glass of my nightstand, framed maps on the wall, newspapers as decoration (though I'm not so sure how . . .).

I itch for projects . . .