November 23, 2009

My Life Philosophy Nicely Summed Up

"The greatest crimes in the world are committed not by people breaking the rules but by people following the rules. It's people who follow orders who drop bombs and massacre villages.

As a precaution to ever committing major acts of evil it is our solemn duty never to do what we're told: this is the only way we can be sure." -- Banksy

(via Intellectual Properties)

I'm going to keep this in mind over the next few weeks because I'm mulling over some pretty big decisions. I want to make sure those decisions are being made based on what I truly want, not based on someone else's arbitrary idea of what is right.

I love finding clarity when I least expect it!

November 20, 2009

What Can I Do? What Can You Do? What Can We Do Together?

So you all know I like to cook. I come from a family that loves food and has about a million wonderful recipes all year long -- so as you can imagine, the holidays are a pretty good time of year. Well, not really for my waistline, but hey that's not the point right now, is it? My family has always served some pretty traditional dishes for Thanksgiving, and whether my mom was cooking, or one of my aunts, or grandmas -- it didn't matter, I always knew I could count on Thanksgiving to be amazing.

One year while living in Los Angeles I cooked Thanksgiving dinner for some friends by myself (OK full disclosure: I let Whole Foods cook the turkey and stuffing, but dammit, I made all the side dishes) and it was really quite comforting to be able to recreate some of the tastes of home, even though I wasn't. Food definitely is a powerful emotional currency -- ask any toddler who has been threatened with 'No Dessert' -- and although I did miss having my family sitting there with me wearing our special "stretch as you grow pants" and complaining that Lordy, we could not eat another bite if you paid us -- oh but wait, there's pie? -- OK, well maybe just a little slice, I mean it's Thanksgiving after all -- I felt lucky that I could create that same environment for my friends with just a few strategically prepared things. If you can't have your whole family together at home to celebrate, it's at least comforting to have a special meal.

So what about all those who don't have that good food and family, or hell, even a selection of the "stretch as you grow" pants of which I am so fond? What are their options on Thanksgiving -- the most comforting and gluttonous day of the year? (Also the 2nd most effluent if you want to know the truth. Only Super Bowl Sunday is worse, but you know, that's neither here nor there right now. I'm sorry, poop talk makes me laugh. I have the sense of humor of a 12 year old boy and I can't make it stop.)

ANYWAY. Back to the subject at hand.

As you probably know, homelessness is a big problem in Sacramento. You may recall hearing about all the tent cities on this little show called Oprah a while back, and there is no time that I feel a more pressing urge to Do Something, than during the holidays. What is hard for me is to see beyond the enormous big picture. I know that I can't solve the problem of homelessness. I know that I can't find all these people homes. That I can't find them safe places, warm beds, or good hospitals, if that is what they need. And it's heart breaking to me that those problems are too big for me to solve. But I'll tell you what I can do -- I can cook a mean a dinner -- and this Thanksgiving, that is just what I am planning on doing. For over a hundred people. Holy moses, what have I gotten myself into?

This Thanksgiving, my family, my boyfriend, and my friend Courtney are cooking what should be an amazing dinner for St. John's Shelter here in Sacramento. St John's Shelter is a homeless shelter for women and children whose sole purpose is to help women go from a state of crisis to self sufficiency by partnering with community resources that help reintegrate them into society in under 90 days. It is a wonderful program, and serving dinner there as a part of my involvement with Junior League of Sacramento has been a moving experience for me, so this year I thought -- why the heck not do Thanksgiving Dinner, since it is one of the most treasured meals that I am lucky enough to have each year.

Now I know not everyone can run out and ditch their families on Thanksgiving -- even though some of you might want to. Dysfunctional Families For The Win? I dunno. However, there are plenty of things you can do from that cozy little chair where you are sitting right this second. For example, if you are feeling generous, St. John's has an Amazon Wish List that automatically sends your purchase right to their door, or if you are local, maybe you'd consider volunteering to serve lunch or dinner? I can tell you from experience that doing this is so much more rewarding than you would even think. And it already sounds pretty rewarding! St. John's also happily accept monetary donations, and seriously every little bit helps. Just as a side note, St John's has a budget of 25 cents per person per meal without the help of others (Holy Budget Batman, did your brain just explode trying to plan a 25 cent meal? Because mine totally did.)-- so just think how far your $5 or $10 or $20 could go? I spent $4 on a peppermint mocha yesterday (which doesn't include the $40 parking ticket that I received along with it in the process -- ARGH), and boy do I feel like kind of a dork when I think of how many warm meals that could have provided to women and children in crisis.

So here's the deal -- I'm not trying to get preachy on you and tell you to go out and support my cause just because I support it (Next I'll be telling you to jump off a bridge just because I'm jumping off of it!) But I guess what I am saying, (a point! I do have one!) is that in the spirit of the holidays -- maybe just take a moment to think about areas in your life where you have abundance, and then figure out how you can share that abundance in your own community. Often times it doesn't take much but a little forethought to make a big impact. I provided those links above, because if you are anything like you me you are willing to Do Something, but often just don't know how to make it happen. So, you know, to my fellow overwhelmed friends with good hearts -- here are a few opportunity with St. John's to make a differences. But if that doesn't speak to you -- that's cool too -- I mean we all have our own priorities and causes that are near and dear to our hearts. So today, do a little internet research (if you are at work -- they typing will make you sound busy, right?) and check out your local resources today.

After all, 'tis the season, right?

November 17, 2009

Do You Know What Today Is? I'll give you a hint, and it involves Tony Toni Tone....

From our humble beginings slinging mochas side by side at Peet's Coffee & Tea...

Peet's Employees for Halloween life has definitely been more fun with you around, Garrett!

Somebody slap him!

You are my absolute favorite person to be silly with, and sometimes it blows my mind that you see me at my craziest and still love me.


You always remind me not take life too seriously, and keep me grounded when I get a little too high strung.

We're on a boat, yeah!  Uh...I mean a plane!

Whenever I think of my happiest times, your face is the face I see beside mine.

Shiny Happy People

I know it's only been 4 years, Garrett, but in some ways it feels like a lifetime. I hardly remember what my life was like without you in it.

Avila Beach

I can't wait to spend the rest of it exploring this crazy world with you because there is no one I'd rather have by my side.

Still Cheesy

Happy Fourth Anniversary, Baby!

November 10, 2009

A Completely Unorganized List About Organization

Last night my cousin Kelly tweeted that she needed to be more organized in her life and wanted some time management skills. Oddly enough I tweeted at THE EXACT SAME TIME that I needed some blog inspiration. Ok if I'm being honest, I was far too lazy last night to get up and tweet and besides Garrett was commandeering the computer and my cell phone is totally from like 1997 so that wasn't even an option , but I was totally THINKING about tweeting "I need some blog inspiration" which is almost like actually tweeting it, right? Right.

Anyway, I fancy myself fairly organized and I'm pretty OCD with some of the Standard Operation Procedures around our house. Granted, that doesn't mean I don't know how to procrastinate and avoid like it's going out of style, but the foundation is there, you know. Part of the reason I am so crazy for being organized is that I think it simplifies my life which in return makes me sooo much less stressed. With that in mind, I thought I would throw out some of my own philosophies and link to a few fun resources about organization for Kelly, and well, for you if you are looking for some inspiration. Come join my crazy organized world, friends! There is a place for everything and everything has a place!

*So, first and foremost, declare your intentions, and mean it. I find this is by far the most overlooked part of any life change that you are embarking on. So in this instance, think about WHY you want to get organized -- what improvements are going to come about because you are choosing to get organized? Is the clutter detracting from your quality of life? Are you finding you forget things or pay bills late? Think about how much better it would feel if you didn't have stress from (insert stumbling block here). Bottle that intention. This is so important is because in times of trial, you will be tempted to not stay on track so I find it helps to have a mantra or intention to keep you focused.

*Find some visual inspiration. Whether it is something like the Pretty Organized Flickr Pool that will inspire how a room looks, or a fun Mantra Poster to hang in your office or otherwise unorganized area, or a gorgeous, but functional weekly planner that actually makes you WANT to use it -- whatever it is, find a token or a tool that makes being organized fun, pretty or stimulating. You will have a better chance of sticking to it and staying on track.

Simplify! This is one of the easiest ways to have an organized life in my opinion is to simplify at all times. Whenever you are doing something, planning something, or scheduling something, ask yourself -- is this making my life simpler or more complicated? Is this necessary, or could I do it another way? A few Food For Thought resources on simplifying are: This list 27 Simple Ways to Simplify Your Life and this collection of quick tips100 Tips to Simplify Your Life

*Control Your Clutter. Unfortunately, in my opinion, clutter and organization are mutually exclusive. I am a recovering piler. I used to have very nice, neatly stacked piles of things all around my house that I rationalized were acceptable because, of course, I knew exactly what was in them! And I had put them in that very specific pile on purpose. But honestly, piles are just a euphemism for clutter, and clutter is oh so energy sucking! This article on clutter control is pretty enlightening, I think. And I especially love that this article calls out the "It's fine. I can always use another (insert item here)..." philosophy. To me, wrapping your arms around that idea -- that you don't need 500 of a certain item (thank you cards, notepads, pens, pencils, books, rolls of toilet paper, whatever your items are) no matter how useful they are -- is paramount when it comes to effective clutter control. Too many items leave you scrambling for space, and juggling that space management does NOT simplify life.

*Last but not least, I'm including a link on Scrapbook Organization because as you can imaging Scrap_girl77 does enjoy the scrapping once in a while, so Kelly, here is a quick link that not only tells you how to organize your oodles of supplies, but how to find more time to actually scrapbook. I thought the last part was sort of universally useful, I mean, even if you don't scrapbook, who doesn't want more time for...well, anything, right?

November 06, 2009

Recipe Roundup: Orange and Yellow Food Edition

When I lived in Los Angeles, my adorable old roommate Fredo worked quite a bit and was also a full time student. (By the way, do yourself a favor and click that link. His adorableness is palpable!) Anyway, he lived a rather harried life as one is wont to when juggling multiple priorities and rarely did normal things like, you know, grocery shop. But somehow he would always manage to bring home arbitrary hand me down food items -- from his mother, from a professor, from a restaurant, who knows -- and it was a common subject of amusement among our other roommate Kelly and I. He was very good natured about our ribbing, but the random morsels were always an easy target -- in fact, there was even a lovely John Mayer cover tune about an Economy Sized tub of Soft Spread that showed up in our fridge one day and seriously, almost 10 years later when I even think about margarine I still get a bit of a chuckle!

So one week, he brought home an entire bowl of persimmons. I woke up one morning and our empty fruit bowl was overflowing with exotic orange fruit and of course, mostly because we were jerks, we turned our up noses just like we did when we brewed a smoky, hot pot of Lapsang Souchong. To this day I have not acquired a taste for Lapsang (or any China Black teas, really) but oh my god -- persimmons? I take back every bad word I ever said. I can't imagine a time when I didn't love them, and the following are two fun recipes featuring persimmons courtesy of Garrett over at Vanilla Garlic (who by the way is from Sacramento -- Can I get a little love for the local food bloggers? whoop whoop!):

Persimmon Chips -- I haven't made these but they look like an awesome alternative to the Office Candy Bowl, which, where I work is like Post-Halloween-Diabetic-Apocalypse waiting to happen. yargh!

Persimmon Bread - I am pretty much enamored with any kind of baked bread, so I'm fairly sure this recipe is a fail safe.

Now, besides the elegant persimmon, the other delight that pretty much wholly represents Fall to me is the butternut squash. If it wasn't such a pain to get my knife through, we might have it with every meal during the autumnal months. Instead I usually reserve it for days when I want to make my dishes with care, and the following are fun ways to incorporate it into your dinnertime routine on perhaps a cold weekend coming up.

Butternut Squash Crumble -- First of all, they had me at crumble, OK. Cheesy, crusty goodness on one of my favorite vegetables? How can you go wrong?

Guatemalan Chicken Stew - Making the same old stew can get a bit boring. I thought this looked like a fun alternative to the traditional meat and potato stew. I haven't tried it, but I just may whip up a batch this weekend.

Butternut Squash and Sage Lasagna - First let me tell you that the idea of lasagna does not romance me. It's alright, but never my first choice. But this lasagna -- THIS LASAGNA -- has changed my life. The white sauce, the sage, the bite from the balsamic, the asiago crusted noodles mixing with the tender sweet squash -- if it doesn't change your life I will offer you a money back guarantee. Hands down, the best lasagna I have ever had. It may take every dish in your house to make it (or maybe I'm just betraying our lack of cookware) but it will be worth every delectable bit.

Happy cooking this weekend if you are doing any! After a long week I am looking forward to be a total netflix obsessed, down blanket wrapped, curled up with a good book shut in, but I just may not be able to resist the Farmer's Market tomorrow. Fall won't be around for long, you know.

November 04, 2009

Different Strokes

Garrett and I have a lot of things in common. In fact, part of why I found myself so attracted to him when we first met was because it seemed like he enjoyed so many of my favorite things. We loved a lot of the type of music (including a borderline obsessive love for Radiohead), had very similarly aligned morals, we enjoyed the same types of nerdy activities (pub trivia anyone?), and most importantly we had (and still do have) the absolute same weird sense of humor and I can honestly say there is nothing as comforting than saying something off the wall that amuses you and having your partner absolutely know where you are coming from and laugh hysterically right along with you. He makes my life so much more enjoyable in a million different ways.

But even though we have alot in common, we have more than once compared our relationship to a venn diagram (of course we both agree that it's the Best Venn Diagram Ever!) but it is nonetheless quite amusing how we are absolute opposites in so many ways. This morning Jess's post got me thinking about some of the bigger ways that Garrett and I are nowhere near alike.

Thinking vs. Feeling Brains -- Garrett is a thinker. He was an Econ major in college, has a very analytical brain, and always approaches every situation first silently and with rational thought. I, on the other hand, was an English major in college, and was raised in a household where it was very important to articulate feelings and opinions. I am very in touch with my emotions, and can talk about them endlessly. Also, I make many of my decisions on how I feel at the moment. Garrett loves nothing more than marinating on an idea or decision -- He loves to turn things over and over in his head and think about every possible angle. I, however, am way too impatient for that.

Friends/Socializing Philosophies -- I definitely need my alone time, but I also LOVE LOVE LOVE meeting new people, talking to strangers, throwing parties, and having people over. I could probably do it 3 or 4 nights a week. Garrett doesn't necessarily socialize regularly. He loves all of our friends and hanging out with them, but he is far more likely to want to have a quiet night and home and less likely to be a social organizer. Interestingly though, Garrett has the same core group of close friends that he had in high school. Those boys are tight, and I find it very admirable. I'm kind of the opposite though -- I keep in touch with a few close friends from high school (and even some not so close friends on Facebook, of course), but my social network is wide and I enjoy acquaintences from all facets of my life -- work, hometown, high school, Junior League, the internet, etc. As a result I have fewer "best friends" than Garrett (actually I would really only call members of my family best friends), but oddly enough I end up doing more socializing.

Household Disagreements -- Both Garrett and I enjoy a very tidy house. Our house is very modern, minimalist, and everything has a place. I'm not going to say we're anal, but, well...ok we're anal. (Reason #572 why I love him -- when I first saw his "bachelor pad" you could practically eat off the floor). HOWEVER, Garrett has a tendency to open cabinet doors (ours slide left to right, they don't open like a door) and then just walk away, which OMG drives me bananas! It doesn't seem to bother him when random doors are open in the kitchen, in the laundry, wherever. What does bother Garrett though, is that he has a practically origami-like formula for all the trash bags in our house, and I clearly do not have the understanding nor the dexterity to ever do it "correctly." Our disagreements in these areas, though a total non-issue, do offer lots of pot-calling-kettle debates about anal retentiveness and who is right in our house -- which almost always end up in mutual hysterics over how ridiculous our preferences are so I don't really mind that we disagree about these things.

Computer Usage -- Both of us are avid computer users, but the similarity really ends there. Garrett has this behemoth gaming computer which he uses primarily for the purposes of..uh, gaming (obvs). My computer, on the other hand, is a bit smaller and most notably, a Mac. We don't have a lot of Mac vs. PC disagreements (we are fans of both depending on the application) though the fact that mine doesn't have a mouse prompted Garrett to go out and purchase one solely for the times when he uses it. But it is more in the way we use computers. Garrett uses his computer for alone time (games, usually) whereas I generally use it to connect. If I bother to get on the computer it is basically for a steady stream of twittering, facebooking, blogging, shopping etc. Garrett is pretty much uninterested in social media in general and I'm pretty much uninterested in games, so we are happy with our two computer office arrangement which allows us the simultaneous ability to tune-in/tune-out.

Movie Preferences -- So yes, we both like movies. However, I like going to the movies, and really, to get Garrett to go to the theater to see something, takes like months of planning and coercing and usually by the time I get an affirmative, the movie I wanted to see has gone straight to DVD. Which I'm sure says more about my movie taste than it does about Garrett's preferences regarding entertainment. Mostly, I'm not discriminating. I'll see just about anything, although my preference is usually for small indie flicks, typical chick flicks, or awful Nicolas Cage type blockbusters. (Your respect for me just diminished right there, I know, but what can I say, I'm just being honest). I enjoy the experience of going to the theater more than I really care about the movie. I like to pack a lunch and hit an early show, and just relax. Garrett really likes watching movies at home though, and we can rarely can find something we both want to watch that makes me want to sit on the couch for 2 hours. I usually get restless and end up doing something else or falling asleep. Not to mention, whenever Garrett picks a movie those movies are usually of the TCM variety, which means he and my grandma have a lot in common when it comes to movie stuff, but, not so much. Also he really loves classic horror films, which are fine and all, but just not really my cup of tea.

Handling Stress -- Last but not least, might I remind you that Garrett is one who stress eats a salad???? I think that one item alone really just says it all -- we have so much in common, which is what makes me love him so much, but holy moly when we differ, we reeeeeeeeeally differ.

November 02, 2009


You know what is a challenge for me -- writing about something as I'm going through it. I mean, yeah I can sit down and pen a number of complaints or talk about my favorite things at a moments notice, but to actually gain some perspective, corral a feeling into an bigger purpose idea, identify it and make sense of it -- like with words -- can be a real struggle. And there is a lot going in my head right now, things related to work, health, geography, scary next steps (Hi, have I mentioned I'm writing a book. There I'm just throwing that out there because OH MY GOD, it's just scary to say)...and I just don't have the perspective to get them down right this second. But I'm working on it, I promise.

Today, though, you get only tidbits.

1. I need some new clothes. We've had this "Casual Dress" thing going on at work as a part of a United Way fundraiser where you could purchase dress down days. So basically for about 3 months now, I've been wearing jeans everyday to work and it was AWESOME! Today was the first day back to business casual and golly gosh darn it, I hate everything in my closet. Also, I need to purchase some warmer things. But not warmer things like this, even though, hi I want to drop like $100 on cute fleeces and pj bottoms right now. Why can't we wear those to work?

2. My allergies have been something fierce lately and I'm starting to think it might be food related. Or the seasons changing? I don't know what it is but can I just tell you....The NOT glamorous. And it happens everywhere: at home, grocery shopping, at work, running errands. My allergies know no boundaries and it has been embarrassing on more than one occasion as of late.

3. My Netflix queue is kind of empty...what have you watched lately that is worthy of a rental? We are currently making our way through The Wire, which is enjoyable. But I'm thinking more along the lines of crisp Fall/Winter evening movies. Ideas?

4. We had a little get together this weekend to watch some football and I had so much fun cooking for it. I made Mexican Chicken Soup, Shepherd's Pie, Red Velvet Cupcakes, Banana Chocolate Bundt Cake and a bunch of other simple appetizers. I think we had a metric ton of food, but it was such a fun time, and now we have LEFTOVERS! And tasty ones to boot.

5. I'm going to go to the gym 5 times this week, dammit. Oh, hey -- I guess that little tidbit was more for me than for you. Wish me luck?

Hope you all have fabulous weeks also!


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