Monday, December 31, 2012

On Marriage, Engagements and being Maid of Honor...

Rachel, my best friend and roommate, got engaged on the 23rd!!!
While the wedding is set for June 2014, we have already started planning. Rachel even bought her dress already!!!
I have to say that I'm excited (and slightly stressed) to be her maid of honor. While we live together now, we won't for the majority of the planning process, which will make it hard, especially since ALL the bridesmaids are scattered over the country. I'll be in Chicago, Rachel will be in Texas, and the rest will be who knows where by then. However, I am endlessly excited for her and I LOVE HER DRESS.

Monday, December 17, 2012

On How It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas...

Another picture for my picture goal. I took this before I actually wrapped the rest of my presents. I am so excited to have a tree this year. Last year, we lived in an apartment and just didn't splurge for one. I'm glad we did this Christmas. We also put lights up on the doesn't look that good. Half the lights are blinking while others are out and others just shine normally. Don't know how that happened, but it's the effort, right?

On Love vs. Hate...

Love vs Hate, Sandy Hook, candle vigil
I just wanted to touch briefly on the tragedy in Connecticut. A million things have already been said about the  shooting, and I don't really have anything to add about how to prevent this type of tragedy from reoccurring or how to cope with such a loss, but I would like to say something about how I reacted to such a situation.

As with the Aurora shooting, I am deeply saddened by the events and my heart goes out to all who were affected. But in a time where great Evil has taken place, I just want for people to hear that Good can win. In fact, Good will win. Evil may prevail in certain situations, taking lives and causing tragedies, but it is up to us to react with love, not hate. Don't rail against the shooter or get in arguments over gun control. React with kindness, not only to those affected but to all those around you. It is easy to forget how much good there really is in the world. It's not always as loud or obvious or splashed all over the news. But in moments of great loss, it becomes really evident to me. Think about how the country came together after 9/11 (minus the hateful actions of some against American Muslims) or about all those across the country sending money to help the families of the fallen children.

We may not be able to help the children who fell victim to an incredibly disturbed man on Friday, but we can help those we interact with in our day-to-day lives. Let that car merge in front of you in traffic. Forgive a person's thoughtless actions toward you. Donate money to St. Jude's Hospital, a hospital that never turns down a cancer patient for not being able to pay. Smile at everybody you meet today. Good can and will win. There is too much of it for it to lose.
Despite events like the Sandy Hook shooting, our world is getting better. And it is up to us to continue standing up for Good, for Kindness for Love.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

On Dreams and Goals...

All I really want to do is spend my life travelling the world, reading books that take my breath away, drinking all kinds of tea and occasionally write some thing. I mean is that too much to ask for?
Ok new life goal you guys.
I should have been born fabulously wealthy with no responsibilities. Then I could fulfill my dream of becoming a world-traveling bum.
I need some real goals...
How about my picture taking goal?!

Ok, so I've only taken one picture, but it kind of goes along with the top picture. I was reading A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway, and that is my bookmark that my college roommate got for me while she visited Mexico. Yep..traveling...great book...reignited desire to be a writer... If only.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

On My Happiness Project pt 2...

So I think I have been doing a relatively good job on keeping to my November goals. I've had a lot of help, thanks to my roommate (and best friend), who has been waking up a little earlier to pack my lunch and make me breakfast. This has helped me save time in the morning and eat better. I don't know how I end up with such good friends, but I am extremely lucky like that :)
The only goal I haven't kept to is to cook more. My roommate has been doing all the cooking since she is on that Paleo Diet, but at least we no longer have food in the house that is easy to eat. EVERYTHING now requires cooking. Healthy food can be like that.

Goals for December:
1. Take more photos.
OK, so that has honestly been the only goal I could come up with for this month. I formed it after my trip to Chicago to visit James, where I took no pictures! The reason I did that is because a year or two ago I actually resolved to take LESS pictures so that I could try to be in the moment more and not focus so much on what Facebook would think of what I was doing while I was doing it. However, if I don't take any pictures, I feel that I am going to end up forgetting a lot of events, so I want to start taking more photos...without going completely overboard with it like some people I know who treat the picture taking as if it is the actual event.

Funny side note about this goal:
On my first night back in Arizona after Thanksgiving I actually had a dream about getting married (in a double wedding with Heidi Klum weirdly enough), and only at the end of my wedding did I realize that there had been no photographer, and when we checked other people's pictures, they were all of themselves and not of the actual wedding! I think that was my unconscious trying to tell me that this should be my December goal.

Monday, November 19, 2012

On Traveling...

The Bean in Chicago
Tonight at 2 a.m. I embark for Chicago to spend Thanksgiving with my boyfriend and his family!
I cannot begin to tell you how excited I am. Not only will I be able to add a new state to my travel list, but I will also get to see my future home city (and my boyfriend, whom I miss terribly, of course).
I just checked the weather forecast, and it will be a balmy 58-60 degrees for Tuesday through Thursday, with it dropping down to the 40's for Friday, when I leave, which is not bad. I think I can definitely handle that.
I am really excited about moving to Chicago in March. I know the weather will be hard for me to handle, being a Southern California girl through and through, but I am an adventurous soul deep down and am excited about moving to a new city and state. I never had that much opportunity to travel as a kid, not counting the one trip my family took to Colorado and back. In fact, most of my travelling experience didn't happen until college, when I first made the trip up to San Francisco (had never been to this city despite living in CA!), Oregon, Seattle, and of course Italy. Then once I graduated, I had a job that allowed me to travel to Salt Lake City and Birmingham, AL, which were definitely cool experiences.
Now I'll be moving to the Midwest! That blows my mind. I never saw myself moving to Chicago in a million years. I love the surprises that life throws at you.
And my wonderful boyfriend James promises that we'll keep traveling together because he knows how much I want to see the world.

Oh yeah, and since he's working tomorrow, guess who is picking me up from the airport? His mom, whom I've never met. Not nerve wracking at all.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

On my Happiness Project...

I just started reading "The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean my Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle and Generally Have More Fun" by Gretchen Rubin, and while I've literally only read the introduction, I am totally inspired to start a happiness project of my own.
My happiness project isn't about making drastic changes to my life, but rather about increasing my appreciation and happiness in everyday life. While I would describe myself as happy already, there is always room for improvement. The happier I am, the more positively I will affect the world. So here I go.

My first month's goals are going to be about health/energy. I try to take good care of myself, but sometimes I make bad choices.
1. Fit in three gym sessions every week. I can't tell you how much better and more energetic I feel since I started working out again a couple months ago. I can feel the changes in my body, and I want to keep it up. The problem is that when I skip working out sometimes, it becomes harder and harder to get back in the groove, so I want to make sure that I keep to my three times a week promise, even if that means getting up earlier on weekends! Which brings me to my next goal...
2. Eat better on weekends! So I tend to eat pretty well during the week, but then the weekend rolls around and I start vegging out...or more accurately not eating vegetables at all. I want to make sure I'm making healthy food choices all week long because I don't like feeling sick when Monday comes around.
3. Cook more.It's not that I can't cook, it's that I usually wait until I'm starving to start cooking, so I end up opting for something quick. I would like to get into cooking more and try out different recipes, without relying on my roommate to make things for me. The weekend is a great place to start this goal since I want to eat better then :)
4. Eat breakfast. I never used to skip breakfast, but since I got my current job, I've been having a hard time waking up early enough to eat something. It is so unhealthy and energy-zapping to skip breakfast, so I'm going to start again. If I have to, I'll make an egg sandwich or something at night and heat it up in the morning.
5. Don't beat myself up when I don't meet a goal! I am doing this for my own happiness after all. It's counter productive to beat myself up if I have pizza two days in a row or miss a workout session.

So that is my goal for the next month. I know I'm starting pretty late in November, but I feel like I can get in the groove by December. Just remember that you shouldn't wait to start making changes to your life. Don't think that you'll start working out when this happens or that you'll eat better once the new year rolls around. Make changes today.

Monday, November 12, 2012

It was an elephant kind of day...

Necklace I wore (A couple years old from Ruche)

Detail on coin purse
Sometimes you just have to give in to what you like. For me it's elephants. Actually, it's elephants AND peacocks, but this weekend it was just elephants.
I went to the local swap meet on Saturday, and I just happened to be wearing one of my favorite necklaces when I ran into this booth of Thai-imported bags with elephants on them. That's fate, right?
The picture above is one is a coin purse I bought for myself. I also bought one with red and black swirls on it for my sister, who is turning 15 on Wednesday. I hope she like elephants...

Thursday, November 1, 2012

On the best cupcake frosting...

Cool Whip cupcake

Ok so this might not be the prettiest cupcake in the world, but it is pretty dang good, and it's all because of the frosting.
I have to admit that I'm not the biggest fan of the normal frosting you can get at the store. I find it far too sugary and rich and thick, and I just can't eat it. THIS frosting, however, is AMAZING, and not too calorie filled either (at least compared to normal frosting). So what is this amazing frosting, you ask. Well, let me tell you: Cool Whip and Jello's instant vanilla pudding. Yep, it's as simple as that. 

Jello Instant Vanilla Pudding pack (I used the bigger box but I don't think it makes THAT much of a difference).
8 oz of Cool Whip
  • So start out by mixing the pudding pack with half of the milk that the box directions call for. I used a whisk and whipped it real good. 
  • Then I took the entire Cool Whip pack and slowly folded it into the mix. Don't stir or mix too hard on this one. You don't want the Cool Whip to get runny; you want it to stay fluffy.
  • Once it is properly folded, spread onto cupcake and voila! There you have it: an amazingly delicious cupcake.
  • Sprinkles are optional.

What is great about this recipe is that it is easy to customize. A couple of summers ago, I made a fruity version. Instead of using milk, I added crushed pineapple. The frosting was so sweet and tasty that way. I even added sliced strawberries to the top of each cupcake for some extra flavor. I also tried it with pureed strawberries, but I wasn't nearly as pleased with that frosting. My friends said they liked it, but it wasn't nearly as sweet as I would have liked. It might have been better with powdered sugar mixed in, but I never tried. Maybe you guys can experiment and perfect it. :)
Want to make it chocolate? Use chocolate pudding instead of vanilla. This frosting will complement any cupcake so explore your options. Although, I did actually try Angel food cake one time and it didn't work. Angel food cake is really light, and in cupcake form with frosting on top, it was really top heavy and toppled easily, so I wouldn't recommend that. Learn from my mistakes people!

So I'm obviously not the best baker, and I'm definitely not experienced, but it can be fun to play around with recipes, so if you're a beginner like me, try this frosting on for size :)

Monday, October 29, 2012

On heading home again...

So I went home this past weekend in order to celebrate my 23rd birthday with my family (my birthday is actually today if you were wondering), and I had a really great time. I took Friday off from work to make the 5 1/2 hour drive into San Diego county, and then that night I went to a local elementary school's harvest festival to see my aunt who had a booth set up for her jewelry. I wish she had an updated website to show you because I ABSOLUTELY LOVE the jewelry she makes. My collection is quickly being taken over by her creations. I should post pictures of the pieces I have one day because they are one-of-a-kind funky pieces, which is something I greatly enjoy. Well anyway, I got a new bracelet from Creations by Pauli on Friday, which she said will be accompanied by birthday earrings she will send me soon. I'm excited!
Garden pickins from my mom's fall garden
I also spent the night catching up with my nearly-15-year-old sister and all of her awesome high school drama. It was surprisingly fun.
Then Saturday involved Tri-tip sandwiches with peppers (see above), shopping for my birthday present (I got an amazing heather-grey sweater, comfy knit scarf and gorgeous peacock scarf. Can you tell I'm preparing for fall and winters in Chicago?), cheesecake and seeing my cousins, whom I haven't seen in forever! I would talk about Sunday, but it involves football and crushing defeats of both my San Diego Chargers and fantasy team, so I'm pretending like it didn't happen.
On my actual birthday, I'm at work. As you can tell you guys, I am clearly working :)
I have more plans tonight. I'll let you know if anything good happens. I'm hoping for more cake. 
Oh! Check out this present my brother got me from the Hallmark Store. It is hilarious. Sorry about the terrible filming. I realized I couldn't hit the button with one hand. 

Monday, October 22, 2012

On Missing Him...

So James left today. I'm going to try not to be consumed by missing him, but I can't lie, it's going to affect me.
I'm just glad we had a pretty awesome weekend celebrating our anniversary and his last few days in AZ. We went to Gameworks, which is an arcade, stayed at the Aloft hotel in Phoenix and went to a really nice restaurant called the Keg. I couldn't have asked for a better weekend.
I don't know why I can't make normal faces in pictures...

So now that James is gone, I'll try to use my extra free time doing things I like: reading, painting...sobbing quietly into my pillow (joking on that last one!).
Hopefully my blog will be a little more interesting when I start my projects.

On another note, I can't wait till Halloween! I was planning on dressing as a Masquerade party goer, but now I'm thinking it might be easier to reuse my Panda costume from a couple years ago. I guess we'll see when Halloween gets closer. I'm excited!

Friday, October 19, 2012

On being an honorable mention...

Last month I entered an art contest at Ruche, a great website, and while I didn't win (winner got their art made into a downloadable desktop wallpaper) I was an honorable mention!
Honestly, I'm not even sad.  Looking at all the amazing work that was entered has me grateful that I was picked at all. The painting I entered was the one of Isola dei San Giorgio Maggiore I have to the right of this blog with a couple of other paintings.
If you want to see my painting included on the Ruche Blog, click on this link here!
Also check out the amazing art of the other ladies.

And on the note of art, I just want to say that I never did any art, especially watercolor, until my sophomore year of college. Learning to paint has taught me that it's never too late to start a new passion. Even though I'm not very good at it, I wouldn't abandon painting for the world. I haven't painted in a couple months because I've been so busy, but I definitely want to start up again.

I'll have to remember to post new projects here.

Friday, October 12, 2012

On how it's beginning to feel a lot like fall...

Ok people, it is 68 degrees right now!  Can I get a hallelujah?
It is FINALLY beginning to feel like fall.
And I have chosen to celebrate this fact by sharing a video with you.
Every day on my way to work I pass this field with flocks of birds "dancing" as a flock. It is gorgeous! While I don't have a video myself (I'm always driving), I found this one that looks very much like what I see on my way to work.
Simply beautiful.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

On the next two weeks...

Our Halloween wreath on our front door
The next two weeks are bringing me two pretty major events in my life. The first one (Oct. 17) is James and my one year anniversary :)  The second one (Oct. 22) is when James leaves me to go to Chicago :(

I'm not really prepared for him to go. We have been practically inseparable for the entirety of our relationship (especially after we moved in together). Until now, the longest we have ever been apart was nine days for Christmas and New Years. While I think it might be good to have some time to reacquaint ourselves with our individual selves, five months is just too long. It is going to be really hard. How am I preparing myself for such a move? Denial.

Him moving out (along with Josh, another roommate) also brings me another problem: finding a new roommate because Rachel and I cannot afford this house by ourselves (Rachel's brother also lives with us but he doesn't make enough money to pay for a third of rent and utilities along with his other bills)(Am I using a lot of parentheses?). While we haven't found a new roommate yet, we are in the process. I put an ad on Craigslist (yikes! Trust me I know), and a few people have responded. Unfortunately it looks like the most likely candidates are all guys, which doesn't have to be a problem, but I'm the one who has to share a bathroom with them. Luckily no creepers have responded...that we know of...yet.

Other than that, I'm looking forward to this month. James and I are going to celebrate our 1st anniversary and my 23rd birthday before he leaves. Then the weekend before my birthday, I'm going home and maybe getting an iPhone 5 from my parents!! And then of course is my birthday...and Halloween shortly after. Too bad they're both during the week.

Monday, October 8, 2012

On the Office...

I love having a coworker (whom I share a desk with) that shares my love for the office. This is just one of our many The Office themed whiteboard posts and references that takes place on a near-daily basis. Everyone should aspire to be a DWIGHT, no?

Monday, October 1, 2012

On Good Luck Ahead...

Man, I gotta go somewhere where it rains.

On Phoenix Heat...

The worst thing about Phoenix?  The heat!  While I must admit, the weather in California isn't much better right now, Phoenix has me resenting the sun way more than when I lived in California.  Call it an Indian Summer or a heat wave or whatever, but it should not be above 100 degrees in October anywhere.
It was frequently over 110 degrees this summer here, and I am ready for it to cool down.  I'm not asking for cold weather, but maybe in the 80's.  I mean, it is Fall!
Although, it's in the low 60's in Chicago right now...that might be too cold for October.
Maybe I'm just hard to please.

On another note: I am so excited to decorate for Halloween!  We got an early start last night, and I'm going to add a few things outside tonight.  Not too much though.  I don't want anything to melt.
Since we were living in an apartment last year, we didn't get any trick-or-treaters, but there are plenty of kids on our street now, so I'm hoping our house draws some people in.
Pinterest has me brainstorming decoration ideas :)
If I do anything cool, I'll add pictures!

Friday, September 28, 2012

On Caffeine...

So I'm trying to give up caffeine for about the tenth time this year (I have a soda addiction.  So bad for you!), and I'm not going to lie; it's really hard, especially when I'm trying to work.  But yesterday I managed to leave a little early on my way to work and picked up some Starbucks.  I got to tell you:
A 1 1/2 hour commute is sooo much better with coffee.  I actually showed up to work in a good mood.  Starbucks to the rescue!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

On Venice...

Picture I took at Sunset over one of the canals

I don't know if it's the magic of Venice itself or just what my trip there represented to me, but I often find myself wishing I could go back.  Right now is definitely one of those times.  As I look out at the stark Arizona landscape, I like to imagine it turning into the faraway canals that glitter in the sun, while the tan stucco houses transform into the gorgeous decaying palazzos of Venezia.  The history, the romance, the tourists?  Ok so Venice isn't perfect but it's hard not to be drawn into it.  Which is why now, over a year later, I am still reading books set in that beautiful place.  Right now it's The Glassblower of Murano by Marina Fiorato.  I want to share a passage from this book because I feel like the character's first visit to Venice so clearly mimics my own.

"But those she charged with her ill-preparedness were the artists, the writers.
Canaletto, why did you not adequately depict this place?  Why were you, in all your mastery, not able to describe this to me?  Why did you merely sketch, not capture the details of this beauty?  Turner, why couldn't you capture the sun bleeding into the lagoon as I see it now?  Henry James, why did you not prepare me for this?  Evelyn Waugh, your passages of praise were faint insults when faced with the real thing.  Thomas Mann, why leave so much out?  Nicholas Roeg, even with your cameras and your celluloid, why could you not tell me either?"

I thought this was perfect, especially since I prepared for my trip with the rest of my class by reading, painting and learning as much as I could about the city before visiting.  Nothing can capture the city's beauty. As the books says, "even the decay is beautiful."
One of the watercolors I painted of the Redentore church while sitting on the canal

Saturday, September 22, 2012

On true love...

Right now I'm reading The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho because I've heard that it is one of those amazing books.  If you've never read it, it talks a lot about following your personal legend, and this particular line struck me.  I've always held a very similar view:

"You must understand that love never keeps a man from pursuing his Personal Legend.  If he abandons that pursuit, it's because it wasn't true love...the love that speaks the Language of the World."

I just thought that line was beautiful...if love stops you from following what you, in your heart, know to be right or stops you from doing what you believe you should do, then it's not true

Friday, August 31, 2012

On trying to find peace...

My Peace watercolor
I've been feeling surprisingly zen lately.  Here's to the search for peace...

"Peace is the result of retraining your mind to process the world as it is, rather than how you think it should be."

"Let loose of what you can't control.  Serenity will be yours."

"It isn't the experience of today that drives men mad. It is the remorse for something that happened yesterday, and the dread of what tomorrow may bring."
 - Robert Jones Burdette

"Don't fill your time with worry - fix what you can and let the rest take care of itself."

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

On Life Now...

That last post was actually written about two months ago, but for some reason I didn't want to post it.  I guess a small part of me--or I guess a rather large part of me--wasn't over the whole unemployment thing.  I know it seems silly to treat not having a job like it was such a traumatizing event, especially since I wasn't living on the streets or starving or anything, but to me, it really was traumatic.

It made me feel worthless--like a failure.  It felt almost like I lost my identity.  And it also caused a lot of strife between me and my best friend who I was and still am living with.  I guess I still have a lot of resentment toward that.  My friend and her boyfriend viewed my unemployment as a burden on them, even though my boyfriend was the real one supporting me.  If I had lost my job and immediately moved out, their financial affairs would have been just as bad as they got when I stayed.  Yeah, I wasn't paying rent, but I acted as live in maid for a long time.  And I felt like shit about myself.  Every. Single. Day.
And now they're making me pay back rent.

I really don't want money to get in the way of our friendship.  I know how weird people can be about it...and I think in time we'll be ok.  But for now, I haven't let it go.  It's still affecting me.

And I think that's why I just want to get out of Arizona.  To me, this barren desert represents a very hard time in my of the hardest.  It's not about getting away from my friend.  I really don't want to separate from her, but I feel like to truly start anew, I need to do it physically.
I guess that's because I'm dramatic like that.

So here is my announcement to the universe (not that anyone will read this) that I am going to be moving to Chicago.  Probably not until April, but I am going to do it.  My boyfriend will be moving in November, and I will follow a couple months later.

Then I guess I'll have to call my blog East of Somewhere: A Southern Californian's Adventures in Chicago.

It should prove interesting.  My bet?  I'll turn into an ice cube because my body has literally never been in the cold before.

Until next time...

On Life, the Universe, Everything...

So it's been a while.
To tell you the truth, I just didn't feel like writing.
It felt like I was going through the same thing everyday--the same feelings--the same problems.
I even didn't like being in my own head, so I really didn't want to talk (or write).

Let's just say that being unemployed for 4 months kicked my ass majorly.
Now that I'm employed, it's easier to talk about it...kinda.

Mostly I just want to move on.

Monday, March 12, 2012

On My Life East of Somewhere...

Rainy Skies in the desert

A flower pot in the windowsill.
I was really missing California greenery.

My heart plant.  
To help fill the bleak landscape.

How I have been spending my unemployment.
I missed painting too.

My boyfriend's zombie game.  
We like to play it before The Walking Dead comes on :)

Those are just some of the images that fill my life here in the desert.  Things aren't so bad now, but they're heating up.

On Where I Am Now...

Before moving to Phoenix, I had no idea what this move would mean.
I knew it would be significant.  I knew it would be an adventure.  But I don't think I was truly prepared for what would come.

Phoenix has not been easy on me.  I have been unemployed twice (the second time being right now).  I have struggled to support myself.  I have had to quit a job for the first time.  I have also been laid off for the first time.
But Phoenix has also brought another first...a good first.

It has brought me my first love.

And to me that has been the most significant part of this adventure.  I think maybe this was the reason God brought me here.  Maybe I'll never find a great job here.  Maybe that won't be until later down the line.  Maybe I ended up in Phoenix in order to meet James.  Maybe Phoenix is just a stepping stone to the next phase of my life.
If it is, it is a rough stepping stone.  But I think I need it to be.  It is shaping the person I am and am going to be.
I feel like that stone being knocked around in the ocean.  I'm being knocked around...but also being polished.

I'm healing in some ways...growing in others.  

Nobody said adventures would be easy.  But I think I'll be fine.  I got love on my side.