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 :)