Thursday, February 28, 2013

Box of Thanks

A while ago I came across of few of these "Thankfulness Jars" - the basic idea being to have a jar (or container of sorts) that you write things you are thankful for (or just happy things that have happened) as your year goes.
 
I loved this idea!
 
Every November I try to do my 30 days of Thanks so this was a fantastic idea. I've been falling in love with my life more and more and this is a wonderful way to remember all the joyous things that have happened to me in a year.
 
I keep my container (for now) at work  - not because all of the good things happen to me there, haha, but mostly because it's a space where the box won't get as easily destroyed (read: cats) and I don't have to worry about it getting knocked over, sat on, crushed or buried.
 
The box was NOT a used take out container. A beautiful origami crane was inside and was a gift this last holiday from the Staff Council at work. I though a box that already says "Thank You" on the outside and secretly housed a beautiful creature would be the perfect container for my "thanks".
 
I have a number of slips of paper inside - from celebrating my birthday with friends in Long Beach, seeing my love, having an adventure to see Cirque du Soleil with my mother.... So far my life in only two short months has been full of many joyous events and experiences.
 
I can only imagine the overwhelming feelings of love and happiness I will experience once I sit and read through these slips of memories at the end of the year.

Cookie Crack (aka Homemade Thin Mint Cookies)

It's the time of year when I hate going shopping; on some level more than during the holidays. Why? Because sure enough there are 4-foot temptresses in little green uniforms outside every store hawking their more-addictive-than-crack cookies.... I am talking about Girl Scouts.
 
Don't get me wrong. I support the Girl Scouts and will probably put my daughters (if I have any) in a troupe some day. If only the cookies were so yummy!! My favorite are the thin-mints. So when my mother sent me this recipe for Homemade Thin Mints I knew I had to share. I'll probably be buying the ingredients later this weekend. I'll let you know how they turn out.

Yum Yum.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Today's Pin-up Pinspiration

If you've been following along (or if you know me personally) it shouldn't be a surprise that I love the style, class and sex appeal of the 1940s and 50s pinup. And if you didn't know before than today's "Oh How Pinteresting" entry should clue you in. :)

I had a ball pinning a number of Pin UP inspiration pieces today! Inspiration for what you ask? You'll just have to wait and see....promise there will be pictures.

Alrighty here we go (these are just some of what I pinned today. To see more you can follow me here)

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Caribbean Pork w/ Sweet Potatoes

I was organizing and sorting my Google Drive and came across a document FULL of different recipes, ones I obviously collected wanting to try and just forgot about. So I'm going through and not only sharing with you, my lovely readers, but also making mental notes about which to try when. (Yes, I promise to share my results).

One that looks just delicious is a Caribbean Pork with Sweet Potatoes. Yum Yum! It's definitely going to be tried out next week for a dinner one night - I love pork, mangoes and sweet potatoes! Can't wait to try.

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Monday, February 25, 2013

Potato and Kidney Bean Salad

This was another one that I came across today, that sadly I've never actually made. 

However, I love Indian cuisine, I love potatoes and if I could I'd live off kidney beans. I think this might have to be added to next week's dinner menus as a side dish - maybe to a nice grilled chicken breast. Mmmm

Tomato Artichoke Salad

The salad above also has capers tossed in.
Came across this lovely salad recipe in a stack of old recipe cards. With the seasons turning to Spring soon there's nothing I love more than a fresh lovely salad. You can use this as a base, add to chilled pasta for a pasta salad or toss with baby mozzarella balls for a caprese like side dish.  

I think I'll be using this as a base the next time I make panzanella (an Italian bread salad).

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Word Verification (Apologies)

I want to apologize to my readers. I've currently (temporarily) turned on the word verification option for comments. I've been bombarded with a large number of spam comments lately - I'm hoping to get off these spam-bot rotations. *sigh* Here's hoping.

Salt and Straw (Food Passport Project)

Since February is almost over and I want to get going on  my Portland Food Passport I figured what better way to start than for some homemade style ice cream.  Mmm.


And it was a beautiful, sunny, blue sky day! It was a perfect day to head to NE Portland and stop at Salt and Straw Ice Cream. It's a place I've heard about time and time again is Salt and Straw Ice Cream (in the Alberta neighborhood).

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Portland Food Passport

As part of my 30 during 30 list I've decided to create a Portland Food Passport. My goal - one new restaurant a month for the next year.
Now there are SOOO many amazing restaurants in Portland, you could eat out every meal for a year somewhere different and probably still not try every restaurant and food cart in town. Which is what made creating this list so hard. I ended up with a couple more than twelve, but I figured it gives me some wiggle room; some are restaurants, some food carts and some specialty places.
Here is the list (in no particular order) including links to their website and what looks like a "must eat" in my opinion...yes I know there are more than 12 (meaning more than one a month) but I know that I won't be able to ACTUALLY go once a month, and sometimes I may be able to do more than one...at least there is some cushion. 

Food Passport Ideas needed

I'm creating a Portland Food Passport with the top 12+ restaurants I want to visit in the next year (as part of my 30 during 30 list). What are some of your must-eats in Portland? Can be a restaurant, food cart, specialty shop, doesn't matter. If your suggestion makes the list you'll get a little something special from me.

Please try to limit to the Portland area and immediate suburbs. (I.e., no beach town restaurants)

Friday, February 22, 2013

30 DURING 30

Recently I wrote a blog about having not made a 30 before 30 list and trying to rush accomplish 30 new things in the month of my birthday...but I'm realizing this isn't what I want to do. I don't want to rush and do 30 random things "just because". While a 30 before 30 list is a fun idea and motivational tool to try new things. I've never been one to conform to "social expectations" or, hell, rush into decisions.
So, here I am 20 days into my 30s and I've decided to do a 30 DURING 30 list. To welcome my 30s in with a thought out list of (not only new things or things I've accomplished these last 20 days) things I want to do, experience and accomplish in the next year.

Chocolate Nirvana?

A few weeks ago I watched an episode of the Food Network channel's The Best Thing I Ever Ate: Chocolate.

Now anyone who knows me knows I love chocolate, so this episode was pure heaven. The one that stuck with me the most was the Dark Chocolate Chip Cookie from Levian Bakery in New York City.


The ooey-gooey centers were just too much for me to resist... and while I do encourage everyone to support small businesses and buy cookies directly from Levain. However, I couldn't help but to find a way to make my own version.

Life Plan

The other day I was reading one of my regular reads (Ech & Will) who had a post on "Life Plans. She wrote about where she thought she'd be at 26 and where she is now aren't exactly in line. Below is my comment on her post:

I'm unmarried (although I do have my honey), no children, and don't own a home. All things I remember thinking would happen when I crossed over into my 30s. Well here I am now, 17 days into being 30 and none of the above are (as far as I know) on the horizon. I learned long ago though that life brings you things when you're ready. I have a wonderful career, the time to be co-chair for my alma mater's reunion and still plenty of baby-making-years ahead of me. Sometimes things may not go as "planned" but then when has life stuck to a schedule?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Languages of Love

So last week was the BFs and mine first Valentine's Day...and he (in his own words) FAILED. This was the first Valentine's he's been dating someone in over two years and had been busy traveling during the week...so I didn't even get a text message. *sad face*

However, I'm right there acknowledging that Valentine's Day is an over commercialized corporate holiday and that you don't need a special day to say I Love You. The BF and I say it at least once a day to one another. But it was our first Valentine's  and while I wasn't asking for diamonds it kinda stunk to have it skipped all together.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Needed: Vacation from Vacations

I normally think of myself as a semi-busy person. Work usually feels more than the standard 40hrs/week but that's because of the types of things I do. Dealing with angry students battling the budget, trying to find solutions so students feel safe coming to campus despite stalking ex spouses, juggling meeting after meeting and still find time to organize graduation.....I feel like I could fall asleep at my desk any moment. 

However, the last month I have learned what it means to be busy (well busy for a single childless person). Yes, most of it has been fun and adventure with a trip to Seattle and one to Long Beach. But this weekend will be my third in a row traveling (heading to SoCal again) and I'm sure I'll be a complete zombie come next Monday. 

All I want is for next weekend (23/24th) to be a pajamas only, in bed watching movies, kind of weekend. I know there are a few errands that have to be done and I am contemplating going to the movies (got a gift card to the theatre for my birthday) but even that may be done in my jammies. 

It's been a lot of fun and this has been an amazing way to start my 30s but as a friend said I need to slow down - I have plenty of time. Haha.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

30 Before 30

I never made a 30 before 30 list but in the month of February (okay and the last weekend in January) I have done, eaten or accomplished 20 "new things". 

It's February 13th and I think by Feb 26th (because my first "new thing" was on January 26th) I want to have done an additional 10 new things - giving myself my 30 list all within my birthday month.

I basically need to do one a day.

So far my list is:

  1. Try absinthe
  2. Have a store-bought princess cake
  3. Drink alcohol on a plane trip
  4. Eat Cambodian cuisine
  5. Go on a tour of Warner Brother's Studio
  6. Eat Spanish tapas
  7. Visit Seal Beach/Pier
  8. See the Hollywood sign
  9. Visit Grauman's Chinese Theater (John Waynes footprints!)
  10. Visit the famous Forest Lawn cemetery
  11. Go on a double date
  12. Meeting Mr. New Jersey
  13. Visit Iz and her Mr. K (first time meeting Mr. K)
  14. Go to Venice Beach
  15. Have my palm read
  16. Explore LA beach towns
  17. See a Cirque du Soleil show
  18. Travel to Sherwood Forest
  19. Try borsch 
  20. Eat at a Brazilian Steak House
So if you have ideas or suggestions let me know. 

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Indiana Jones and the Amtrak of Doom

This weekend is part three of my birthday celebration weekends. My mother and I are headed to Seattle for a weekend of Cirque du Soleil, Pike Place Market, Brazilian Steakhouse and visiting my BFF.


Ever since we moved to Portland my mother has talked about wanting to take the train up to Seattle. She doesn't think she's been (to Seattle) since she was twelve or thirteen years. So I'm looking forward to the weekend (Sat-Mon) and showing her around.

I've been to Seattle a number if times. Both prior to moving to the PNW (when the BFF was getting married) and afterwards. A few times by plane but nowadays I only go by train. I love it! It doesn't take any longer than driving from Portland to Seattle, the seats are more comfortable than a plane and the view is just beautiful!

So when it came to deciding how my mom and I would travel to Seattle this weekend there was no doubt about it - the train!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Meeting Mr. New Jersey

Yes, I fuzzed his face. Give us a little time before
we start showing off the handsome BFs face
I mentioned in my last post how Mr. New Jersey and I finally met for the first time this last weekend. 

For those that haven't read the three part New Jersey blog posts I'll give a quick refresh. We met online this past summer (on a dating site devoted to BBW/BHM and admirers) when he emailed me directly and struck up a conversation. 

An email a day quickly turned into day and evening long conversations over IM and just as quick that turned into text messaging one another at every opportunity.  Things just seemed to work, others we had been talking too didn't matter any more, and we became smitten with one another. 

Only a few months in and we were discussing how, despite it seeming quick or "odd" since we hadn't yet met in person, we considered the other one our GF/BF and not long after that the L-word was being said.

The way I explained it to friends is that I feel I've known him my whole life. That he's always been there and we just recently fell into the steps of being more than friends. I feel like I can tell him anything, my deepest darkest past and that he won't judge or turn away (which I have and he hasn't)

Being that we are in a bicoastal long distance relationship and that he travels extensively for work it hasn't been the easiest to try and get together in person - despite trying. However, with my 30th birthday approaching and me making plans to be in SoCal - once again the stars alined and my Mr. New Jersey was being sent to the same area for work!

Someone how not nervous* at all we made plans to spend Friday night together (the one evening our two trips overlapped) - dinner with the friends I was staying with and then an evening being alone together. 

Some have questioned me having our "first date" be with other people....but I did it for a few reasons:
  1. Online dating "safety" (not that I thought Mr. NJ was going to turn into a serial killer and murder me after dinner but it's being safe nonetheless)
  2. It gave us both an "out" (we've been online together for seven months now and the chemistry has been fantastic. But online and in person is very different so in case either of us decided "hell no" we had an easy out - me going home with my friends)
  3. I just knew that Mr. NJ and my friend/her hubby would hit it off. We're all foodies, they are all world travelers and something told me it would be okay
  4. I kind of felt bad having just arrived in town and then saying "see ya" to friends so I could go on a date. 

Any-who....The evening went off without a hitch. 

Iz and Mr. K dropped me off in front of the restaurant while they went and parked. I texted Mr. NJ that I was just outside the restaurant and he should come out and meet me. 

*Now up until that point I had been amazingly calm. Calm and relaxed to the point it was making Iz nervous. Calm and relaxed to the point I was making the BFF in Seattle nervous. But there wasn't an ounce of nerves inside me. I knew that I was finally getting to see my Jersey man and nothing could spoil it. 

However, those few seconds between me hitting "Send" on the phone and him walking through the restaurant doors I had a lump in my throat and the butterflies in my belly began to flutter in knots. 

What if we didn't click in person like we did online?
What if we have nothing to say to one another?
What if he doesn't like me back as much as I like him?

Every nervous thought and feeling that could flood over me did in those 30 seconds it took him to come outside and get me. 

But the moment he walked through the double doors. 
The moment I saw him and he smiled at me. 

It all melted away. 

I knew this was my love and I had nothing to worry or be nervous about. We hugged and kissed hello and it felt as if this was just another date with the BF. Not a first date to be worried about. Not a first encounter with a stranger from thousands of miles away. Just me and the BF on a date. 

I found out the next morning when giving Iz the after dinner report that when she and Mr. K approached the hostess and asked to be pointed to our party she didn't believe that we were the couple she was looking for. Our backs were to them, sitting in a window seat, and as she put it "looking like a real couple". She told me her approving observation that we didn't seem anxious but rather we were in tune with one another the whole evening - my hand on his back, his hand on my knee, or holding hands - and just looked "good" together. 

The dinner itself was wonderful. He was charming and funny. They discussed places they have traveled and would like to travel again and bonded, despite rooting for opposing teams, over how they had all been at the same USC v Notre Dame football game. We laughed, we ate and drank and the two and a half hours of dinner just flew by. 

At the end the two couples went their separate ways to enjoy the rest of their evenings. The BF and I spent the evening just enjoying one another's company. Finally getting to be in the presence of the one we had spent the last seven months falling in love with. When morning came and it was time for him to fly back to New Jersey and me to head to LA with Iz for our tour, it didn't come as a sad goodbye. 

Tears didn't flow. 
Anxiety didn't return. 
I knew that this was just a temporary separation.
We promised to find a way to see more of each other and soon.


As I write this my heart is bursting with love in shapes and forms I don't think I've ever experienced before. The tears that are sitting just inside aren't from sadness but rather in joy. I have found my Sparkle and know this is only the beginning to our journey together.  

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Welcome Thirty

Me at Seal Beach
Holy smokes! I feel like it's been forever since I blogged. But that's because I've been busy with having an AMAZING birthday!

You heard me A-MAZE-ZING!

First it started off last Friday with landing in Long Beach late afternoon, strolling down to the water front and Seal Beach pier. I was in a strapless blouse and sandles and most others on the beach were in sweaters and scarfs! Haha. It was so beautiful - 70s and sunny. Oh, how I miss the beach. 

That evening came to a fabulous climax with getting to meet my sweet Mr. New Jersey (for the first time)! *insert shit eating grin here* He happened to be in Long Beach for business, overlapping one evening with my plans for Long Beach.

We had dinner at Sevilla - a Spanish tapas restaurant - with my friend Iz and her hubby Mr. K and my Mr. NJ. It couldn't have been a better evening (see more about the date in an upcoming blog) - we ate, we drank, we laughed, we had a great time. In the end the BF (<- like that new transition) and I got together for the most perfect 12 hours imaginable!

I fuzed his face for the time being - we'll ease him into the idea of a "public" life
The only thing that could have made the evening better was if it had last longer. It was the best 12 hours of my life but I'm greedy and wish I had more. The next morning, after the BF had to head back home to Jersey,  Iz and I stuffed our bellies and headed to Burbank, CA! 

We had tickets for a VIP behind the scenes tour of Warner Brother's Studio!! It was so cool. I had seen the tour highlighted on someone else's blog (I wanted to insert a link to their blog here but damnit if I couldn't find it - so if you've blogged about this tour please give yourself credit below! And a big THANK YOU for the idea). 

We were the last tour of the day, so instead of the regular 2 1/2 hour tour ours pushed the three hour mark. Our guide, Mark, was so funny and well knowledgeable about everything. He mentioned to us on a break at the Warner Brother's Museum, that he tries to watch at least a season or two of shows filmed at the studio so he has talking points for all fans.

Me in front of Patrick Jane (the Mentalist's) car
He certainly made my day when he took us to the sound studio where they film The Mentalist. I not only got to see the squad room, elevator and staircase that leads to Patrick Jane's "office" but I got my picture taken with Jane's car!!! (see above). The only thing that would have made it better is if I was allowed to lay on the couch. Haha. Oh well.

Iz and I on the set of Friends
We also went to the set (recreation) of Friends Central Perk coffee house, film studios for Ellen and the Big Bang Theory and a great tour of various building facades. It was totally worth the money ($50/each) for life long memories!

John Wayne's footprints
Afterwards we continued the "birthday firsts" for me and headed into Hollywood and Grauman's Chinese Theatre.  If anyone has ever watched the old television show I Love Lucy than you might know why of all foot prints I took my picture with John Wayne's.

No I'm not an old western fan (although I do love McClintock) it's a tribute to Lucy and Ethel and the shinnanegans they always are getting into. There is an episode, during the Hollywood season, when Lucy tries to steal John Wayne's footprints to take home as a souviner. The whole episode is them trying to get a replacement after it's broken, crawled through, walked and and otherwise destroyed. 

And if you're wondering - NO I didn't try to steal them for my own souvenir.

When we finally headed home we stopped in Long Beach'es CambodiaTown for a delicious dinner (another first for me - Cambodian not a delicious dinner). Iz and Mr. K have traveled extensively in SE Asia (a life long dream of mine) and she was fairly impressed with their food. We ordered a number of dishes and ate family style - rice paper spring rolls with shrimp, lemon grass chicken and a (papaya?) salad, shrimp fried rice with a yummy garlic sticky sauce, mixed greens and a creamy hot and sour coconut chicken soup (below). 


Everything was incredible. Maybe it was because it was all delicious or maybe it's because it had been  eight or nine hours since we had breakfast...either way I would have licked the bowls clean if I hadn't been so stuffed! On our way back to the house we swung by Coldstone and grabbed some ice cream to eat while watching Greg and Stacey.

The next day was my day to head home - but not until later in the evening. So we thought we'd continue my "firsts" list and head up to Venice Beach for the afternoon. I had never been to Venice beach despite being raised in Southern California - I was always a San Diego beach girl. It was fun. We strolled the boardwalk, I bought a piece of art from a street vendor, we stopped and had a drink with chips and I got my palm read (another first).

The palm readers french bulldog
Iz laughed and told me afterwards I had lied to the 'psychic' with some of the questions she asked. I see it more as not feeding her information.

She saw that I date often and don't stay in relationships long - wrong. I tend to be a lifer (relationships having been 2 year, 3 years and now 7 months).

She saw me being married once or twice, asked if I had been married before. 'No'... she then said she thinks that there must have been a "lived - in" relationship or one that came close to marriage but that I ended it. So while Mr. HK and I had talked about marriage for a while (before he changed his mind, not me) and did have a boy friend live with my family in high school I didn't think it fit well enough to give her that point.

She also said she saw me having 2 to 3 children, and asked if I had any 'No'..... that's when she asked how old I was.

She ended with saying she didn't want me to be in this relationship for 2 years, 3 years with no doors opening. If my current relationship didn't have "doors open" by one year than I was to keep dating other people.  Haha. Okay Jersey. This is your 5 month warning!

No. I didn't go in.
We finished strolling the boardwalk and started towards the airport. Finally heading home that night I couldn't help but know that I just had not only the best weekend ever but also couldn't be happier with the way I entered into my 30s. 

If this weekend was a sign to how the remainder of the year or the decade will bring than I have one thing to say:

BRING IT ON 30!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Last Week in my 20s

Last week I was given a "happy last week of your twenties" birthday wish. Which gave me a fun idea - to photo document my last week as a 20-something. So the week prior to my 30th birthday I'm going to take a picture of "my day" and here I'm sharing it with you.

January 25th (7 days):

Sadly this wasn't the way I wanted to start this blog. I stayed home with some upset stomach issues. There's been a bug going around the office so I didn't want to take any chances - I have too many big weekends coming up to get sick.


So I'm staying home, watching M*A*S*H, blogging, cleaning and getting ready for the family to come over tomorrow after dinner. Hopefully it'll just get better from here on out.

January 26th (6 days):

Today is the day of my 1st of 3 birthday celebrations. Being that it was a "birthday celebration" day I figured do a few things for myself and get a little pampered before heading out for the evening. So I made an appointment at Nails by Donna, my local nail salon.


I was due for a new set of nails and the woman who did them (Donna the owner) talked me into (having to oh-so-twist my arm) to get a flower and heart on my ring fingers. :)  I also had my first-ever, professional, leg wax. I had two ladies double-teaming me and really the only part that was PAINFUL (not just uncomfortable or shocking) was around my ankles. Ye-ouch! But now I have baby-butt smooth legs for at least the next few weeks. 

Then it was time to get ready for the evening. Dinner with family and good friends. Then cake and presents back at my house. 

January 27th (5 days):

Today was just low key around the house. Went grocery shopping, picked up frames for some artwork my sister bought me at Christmas (below), made fried chicken and packed for next weekend. 


I also spent a good portion of the day editing photos from last night, blogging a review about my new dress from eShakti and had my mother cut a few inches off my hair (don't have time for a real cut so just a massive trim). Now to get through the next four days of work and then off to Long Beach I go!!

January 28th (4 days)

I just realized my numbers are off a little...I guess there are four more days until I wake up on my birthday...so I guess it works...maybe? Oh well.


Anyways.

Today my mother and I finished planning/reserving things for our weekend in Seattle (not this weekend but next). We'd already purchased our Cirque du Soleil tickets and bought train tickets...but tonight we reserved a car and booked a hotel. AND all for cheaper than I had originally quoted ourselves earlier - thank you Costco car rental discount and double checking hotel prices (fyi - cheapticket websites aren't always the best deals. I booked directly with Marriot and got the same room for about 20$ cheaper with our AAA card than what cheaptickets.com had priced).

Now we're ready for a weekend in Seattle.

January 29th (3 days)

I'm getting more and more excited for this upcoming weekend. Today Lizzie (the friend I'm visiting) and I finished plotting out the Saturday (my actual 30th) itinerary.


Yep, we're doing a VIP tour at Warner Brother's Studio.

How fun is that?

Multi-person golf carts, green screens, movie sets, prop shops and who knows what else!! We've also planned a number of things to do in the LA area that I've just never done before.

So today (as last night) was planning my birthday! Haha

January 30th (2 days)

I'm sooooooo glad that I'll be leaving for my birthday weekend the day after tomorrow. Life has just continued to give me one challenge after another these last two days - whether personally or professionally. Thankfully today had it's shinning moment!  
 


I filed my taxes today and I'm getting money back!!

Let me explain why this is such an amazing thing. Last year I owed the feds and state (combined) a total of over 900.00 It was my own fault. I had an error on my W4 that wasn't fixed until after the new (2012) year. But it was fixed, and I had extra money taken from every paycheck, so now I get money back! Yahoo!

The plan is to move to a new place (all my own) with it.

January 31 (1 day)

Today's my last day in the office before heading for a three day weekend to celebrate my birthday. At work we always try to do something special for coworker's birthday...and since this was a "big one" according to one coworker.....


...Eight balloons (she wanted to do 30), streamers, gold stars and "Happy Birthday" confetti EVERYWHERE! :) Also some delicious baked goods (They got me a special cupcake that I could have bathed in the frosting it was so good).

It is great to have such wonderful coworkers.

February 1st (0 days!!)

I'm off to Long Beach my dears!


Tomorrow is my 30th Birthday and tonight I start the festivities (or at least round 2). :)