Everyone goes through periods of time where things in their life just aren’t balanced. We all have to juggle things like school, work, relationships, eating, sleeping, exercising, and cleaning up. I know the latter half of that list is usually lumped into “basic” “life” stuff, but I have not mastered the art of getting those things done while also maintaining positive relationships and doing what is needed of me at school/work. If you have, then good for you!
Over the past month, I have been putting a lot more time into my day job. We had a major project to work on and it is finally wrapping up – it was so rewarding, but the experience came at a cost. One of the first casualties of this experience was my blog – it’s been almost a month since I have posted something new. I didn’t feel great about this, but I decided that having enough time to make sure I am eating decent foods and getting sleep were more important – and that taking care of myself meant that beating myself up over not being able to do everything isn’t worth it.
I wish I could share what I was working on, but one of the [very few] rules I have about writing on this [public] blog space is that I don’t disclose specifics about where I work [this is to protect both myself and my employer]. But I will say that I do like where I work, and in this case the team I worked with and the results we got were worth the 60+ hour weeks and gallons of coffee. At the end of it all, I was so inspired about the collective potential of a team of individuals who are passionate about something. Isn’t that one of the biggest keys to life? Finding and unlocking your passion?
So, um, yeah. How was the last month of your life? The seasons are changing and San Francisco experienced a little mini-heat wave (I slept with the windows open all night! twice!) and I got to enjoy the fruits of my basil plant. Simple, delicious foods are just so amazing. My dad’s cousin passed away from cancer (really, really sad) and the whole family got together to remember her. I’m thankful for the time I got to know her and the memories I’ll always have. The cooler weather returned, and now everything is pumpkin-themed. I’m so excited about this…and about ORANGE OCTOBER! I really became a San Franciscan when the Giants made it to [and won] the World Series in 2010 and this year I even ran in the Giants Race so even though I’ve been too busy to watch the games I’m pretty excited. Oh! and I’m turning 25 tomorrow…I guess this is kind of a big deal? I’ll no longer be young enough to plausibly be “just out of college” and now I’ll be in my “mid twenties”. Eek!
My (one and only) “baby” sister is turning 21 today! It seems like just yesterday I had my 21st birthday (how life has changed in four years!) and the day before that we were living at home together. It has been 7 years since we lived in the same house…or lived in the same town. I don’t get to see her often enough, and we definitely very different people…I won’t always admit it, but I miss her a lot. I never miss an opportunity to (humbly)brag about her!
But when I’m on this inter-net blog-thing I get kind of shy. I guess I don’t know who is gonna read my personal feelings on my sister.
So I will say this:
Thanks sister for ending my days as an only child. No, really, I mean it! I probably needed to be put in my place. Thanks to you, I learned how to share my stuff and get along with other people and avoid some of the social awkwardness that can come with never having siblings. Plus, you always tell me when I look terrible – and how to fix it. It takes a long time to find a friend like that. And when Mom does something weird or Dad laughs at something nobody thinks is funny, I have someone who can understand what is going on with me. Having someone to share all those childhood experiences with is a gift that I am so fortunate to have received.
Thanks sister for teaching me all kinds of things. Like how to properly apply makeup, or what styles are hot this season. And that sometimes you just gotta go all in on what your passionate about, because you just gotta be true to you. (Even if it’s not what your big sis does, or what anyone else says is the “practical” thing to do.) I’m seriously inspired by the path you’ve decided to take in life, even if neither of us have it all figured out yet. I hope you know that no matter what, I love and support YOU!
Okay, enough of the fuzzy feeling talk. I will raise a glass to you tonight in SF while you celebrate in Southern California!
The thought and experience behind a single-minded drive for consumer goods.
Every so often, I’m reminded of how much of a consumer society we live in…and how I’m definitely playing a part in it.
Do you participate in the Black Friday madness every year? I personally have never done it, but always thought it might be fun…the main problem being that I never need to buy anything that is going on sale. I’ve also got friends who will stand in line all night to get a pair of shoes, and I’ve walked past the Apple store prior to new product releases and found myself disgusted with the disparity between the guy who is waiting to buy a new gadget – with two previously purchased gadgets in hand – and the guy who is also sleeping on the street because he has nowhere else to sleep.
I mean, it’s kind of hard NOT to wonder what the world is coming to when you see that happen for a week straight every time the newest iPad comes out. But if a guy wants to camp out to spend his money on something, I suppose he has a right to spend his money on those kinds of things.
For what turns out to be the first and the last time ever, I decided to buy something on the day it releases. This is a huge deal for me, since I don’t even see movies on their release dates!
I’ve been needing a new phone for a while – the camera is pretty much shot (pun intended!) on my iPhone 3GS. I have waited (and saved up) for the iPhone 5 to release, and I felt like I deserved a new phone. It’s got a pretty indispensable part of my life nowadays. When Apple announced that you could pre-order it at midnight tonight, I made the choice to stay up late and buy my phone. It sounded easy enough…and I didn’t want to be “that person” who camps out (oh yeah and I have a job to go to as well!).
Well folks, it’s kind of like I always expected. The hype is more exciting than anything else. I had a way less than stellar customer experience and I do not think I will be buying my phone online ever again (and since I’m line-averse, I will just have to wait until the hype has died down for whatever I want to get.)
First, everyone advertised that you could pre-order your phone at midnight. But when that time rolled around, nothing happened. Nothing continued to happen for about half an hour! Normally this would just be kind of annoying, but I began to fear that the thing would be sold out. Also, since it was midnight, I was kind of tired and easily excited/irritated.
Then I got locked out of my AT&T account, even though I KNOW the password is correct! So I went to the Apple store website and ordered through there. My AT&T account info worked and everything! But this created a new problem where I had to ship my order to the billing address, and I have never changed my billing address from the address I used when I bought my first cell phone in college. I could have changed it if I was able to get into my AT&T account, but the only one I can get access to for another hour is the account for my home internet. I don’t know how, but i have three different AT&T accounts registered to my one social security number/identity, all with different passwords.
So now my parents will be receiving a shiny new phone on their door step next week.
All because I didn’t want to wait in line for my phone.
Now I have to go to bed, and try to fall asleep despite the self-loathing and disgust I’m starting to feel about a) “having” to get an iPhone 5 and b) getting all annoyed when I couldn’t order my phone likerightnow and get it delivered to my place.
I wonder what I could do if I put this much zeal and effort into doing something for humanity, rather than my own self-serving needs….oh the guilt.
A few weeks ago I was perusing Facebook and I noticed that a friend of mine, Jessica, was doing something at a craft fair….so of course I clicked on the photo she posted because um hello I love me a good craft fair.
As it turns out, she and a few friends have STARTED THEIR OWN STATIONARY/PAPER GOODS COMPANY! They have named int Sable and Snow, and there are so many adorable cards and notebooks to choose from…it took me a long time to decide on ONE thank you card when I was shopping online. Sable and Snow is a San Diego-based operation, so if you are ever in the area you should check them out.
Speaking of cute stories, I will share one with you about Jessica: when we were in high school, Jessica always drew her own birthday cards for her friends, and unlike most of the crap I made, they were really cute. (She draws bunnies standing up like people! I always admired her imagination.) And I remember her saying that she was going to become a greeting card designer when she grew up. Seven years later, she’s doing just that!
It’s so inspiring to see people getting to do what they’ve always wanted to do.
Now, go check out Sable and Snow! www.sableandsnow.com
I picked up this striped dress at Nordstrom Rack the other day for $29! It love the longer sleeves, it makes the “body con” look a little more modest, and it makes it an easy piece to wear in the spring or the fall.
I had a whole idea of what kind of a look I wanted to pair with it. Forest green or burgandy tights, some chunky socks, a pair of camel-colored boots, a scarf, and a blazer to give the look some structure. It’s the first “fall” look I’ve dreamed up in a few months, which is a sure signal that I’m about to make a huge dent in my pocketbook if I’m not careful – the urge to revamp my whole wardrobe for the whole season is coming up.
I’ve been guilty of buying one article of clothing, and then never wearing it because I want to buy a whole bunch of other stuff to “complete the look”. Often times the “look” includes losing a couple of pounds or curling my hair up fancy. But this time around I told myself that this thing was NOT going to sit in my closet. I had to wear it in a week, or I was gonna make myself return it….the challenge to shop my own closet was issued.
Not quite the same as the look I had in my head, but I’m still satisfied! The sweater was lying around from a couple of years ago, and I chose my Anne Klein shoes because the only boots I have are black – I wanted to dress the outfit down a little by adding some brown or tan to it, rather than harsh blacks and greys.
What are you most excited about for Fall fashion? For me it’s bringing my sweaters out, finding a perfect pair of boots, and who knows…maybe I’ll buy some colored jeans.
Maybe it will be different when I have a husband/kids/whatever to cook for, but the act of cooking in and of itself is essential to my emotional well-being. I love eating out – you can eat cuisine from just about everywhere in San Francisco, and I love exploring it – but being in the kitchen, starting with raw ingredients, and making something to nourish your body is important. Cooking allows me time to process my day and there is something about putting a meal together that centers myself.
The realities of my life mean that I often don’t have time to make a complicated meal, and really I’m not after something that requires a ton of stuff to make. So lately I’ve been finding myself drawn to dishes with simple, basic ingredients.
One of my favorite hot-weather dishes is soba, or buckwheat, noodles, served in a cold broth. I’m not well-versed in the ins and out of “authentic” Japanese cuisine, but I grew up eating hot soba every New Years Eve for good luck. When I was a kid, I didn’t like the noodles very much – the gray-brown color is a little off-putting to those accustomed to spaghetti and ramen – but the hearty flavor and texture has really grown on me as an adult.
I won’t tell you how to prepare soba, or the sauce that goes with it – you can check out Just Hungry for that – but I will say that it is not complicated at all! If you don’t have a Japanese market near you, you should be able to find all of the ingredients you need at Whole Foods – that’s where I bought my noodles. My favorite accompaniments for soba are cold tofu and edamame – green onions are great too, but I never have them on hand.
Whoa…August went by quickly! But I suppose that is okay, because September is going to be pretty awesome. I am “running” in the Giants 5k, my mom and grandma are coming to visit me, and my sister is turning 21! So much to look forward to…but first a look back at August.
- I started August with a day full of naps. It was great. You know what else is great? The pattern on my duvet cover! I got this at Ikea last winter and I am loving how it goes from season to season!
- This was a little craft project that I worked on…donating my graphic design services for a good cause!
- The finished result…a menu banner for my Nakayoshi friends. I even helped make the noodles in the booth too…it was a fun weekend!
- Every fun weekend is even more fun with a little Sapporo…on an unrelated note, my camera on my phone kind of started going wonky so toward the middle of the month everything is blurry =(
- (See, blurrrrryyyyyyyy.) Pinkberry recently opened in downtown San Francisco, and they debuted a seasonal flavor…chocolate hazelnut. You know I was allllllllllll over that the second I heard about it!
- We had two days of hot weather, so I made cold noodles! I’ll share more about that later!
I have been really taking advantage of my days off and packing in all kinds of fun activities….not. Mostly I’m keeping my hands busy folding laundry or cutting paper and letting my mind wander. Here’s a few things that I’m currently thinking about!
Book I’m reading: Messenger of Truth, book #4 in the Maisie Dobbs series. I am totally in a Brit-centric funk right now! You can blame the olympics, or Downton Abbey, or episodes of various BBC comedies, or you can blame it on this post-WWI historical fiction series that is set in London.
Thing I’m Eating: Sesame seed bagels. After a decade or so on the “you are the devil” list of foods, I have decided to let bagels back into my life. They are just too good not to eat! And there are not one but TWO local bagel shops in my neighborhood…how lucky am I?
Object I’m Loving: my new bag! I decided I wanted a bigger bag because stuff was bursting out of my Kate Spade bag. I apparently have discerning tastes though, because I couldn’t find anything under $500 that I truly liked (I’m trying this new thing called “living within my pay grade” because like it or not I am not going to be Mrs. Moneybags anytime soon), so I turned to Etsy and managed to find a neutral bag that I liked for less than $75!!
What’s even better is that is canvas (animal-friendly) and I was pleasantly surprised to find out that it is REALLY lightweight, yet durable! All of those pioneers and gold rush miners might have been onto something when they were using canvas for everything back in the day.
Food I’m Craving: Cheddar and pickle sandwiches. I told you I’m having a british moment…
This weekend I did something I’ve never done before…I dyed my own hair! I have had my hair dyed by professionals off and on since I was about 16, but I’ve always been too broke/lazy to do anything that requires a lot of touch up and upkeeping. I don’t even blow dry my hair 99% of the time, so actually touching up my hair every 6 weeks isn’t really a feasible idea for my life.
Back in June I visited my sister, who happens to be finishing up cosmetology school in Santa Barbara. We had a lot of fun and she made me wear all these fun outfits I would never wear in San Francisco (see photo!) where it is perpetually foggy.
On my last day there, she also gave my hair a makeover into the “ombre” look. Initially I loved the dip-dye effect of it all, but I thought that I would never be able to pull it off. But then my sister told me that because you don’t really have any roots, it is super easy to keep! So I begged her to dye my hair. I will NEVER do it again (there was a lot of pain involved in achieving the look) but the good news is that touching the color up is a million times less painful. Yays!
I decided it was time to change things up a little bit because my ends were getting a little off-color and too blonde/brassy. Just kind of icky. Oh and the ends were kinda/really dry. I mean the color was fine back in June, but sun exposure and shampoos and water will all start to change the color of things and I just wasn’t feeling the direction the color was going. (Luckily I do not work in a conservative environment, or I would not have been able to pull off this hair in the first place!) I told my sister and she mailed me some supplies. She suggested that I add an all-0ver demi-permanament red to my hair to make everything shiny and smooth and even out the brassy tones in my hair.
Except, she didn’t mail me an INSTRUCTIONS probably because she sent me professional stuff and usually they already know what to do and how to use everything. Oops. So after a few hundred text messages between me and my sister, and a promise to my mother that I would go see a professional to fix things if I screw it up, I finally decided to stop walking around pretending my hair looked the way it used to, and just own up and dye my hair.
Of course I was warned about a bajillion times that dye stains EVERYTHING and my bathroom is WHITE so I had to make some preparations….I took out anything that I cared about and filled up a washbasin with soap and water to clean up any spills and then I covered up anything I didn’t want to stain.
Then I had to mix the dye up (I made WAY too much!) and start applying it to my body. I mean hair. Although a lot of it did end up on my face/neck/arms in the process! I pretty much just had to paint it onto damp hair, let it sit for a while, and shampoo it out. Way easier than the intial ombre process (let’s just say that my scalp does not take kindly to my hair being “teased” with a rat tail comb) although about halfway through I began to wonder if it wouldn’t just be better to (once again) pay someone else to do all of this – what can I say, I love DIY, but when they require me to cover up my entire (shared) bathroom I begin to think that it would be nice to treat myself to a salon!
In the end, it turned out pretty good and I am happy with the result. I am also happy that I saved $65-$100, which is what a salon visit would have cost me (and another $50 if I had decided to get a cut as well!). I am not advocating that we all stop patronizing salons (after all, they are trained professionals, and sometimes you really need that) but since we don’t have any doctors (I am still paying for a visit I had in April) or carpenters (can you imagine the custom furniture I could design and build!) or accountants (my small business needs one) in the family, you gotta take advantage of the perks that you do have!
On top of that, I now know that I can actually dye my hair like tons of women do all the time. I am pretty challenged with makeup and hair and all sorts of other things and I tend to live in this little bubble where I think I look a certain way (fabulous all the time) but really I look a different way (tired and pale). Hair and makeup are more of my sister’s thing, but she lives 350 miles away…now I don’t have to wait six months to update my appearance. Yay for empowerment! Next step: learn how to use a curling iron.
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about food and memory lately. There’s something about the tastes, scents, and smells that unlock moments long forgotten or shoved aside to make room for dealing with reality. Some of my strongest memories of my time in Italy are of us in various bars drinking the local drink, or crowded into a room eating the best butternut ravioli I’ve had in my life, or of my mother, grandmother, and myself eating pasta while watching the sun set along the canals of Venice.
It’s true that sometimes what takes my mind back there is a tourist on the street chatting away who says something about “la foto” and I fall in love with the perfect male/female disagreement in that statement. And sometimes when I’m stressed by work and my skin shows it I long for a week by the lake in Perugia again, because I never washed my face properly and I was sweating all the time, but somehow my skin looked perfect and smooth and you could wear a sundress without freezing your buns off, too.
But usually it is a glass of white wine on someone’s deck, or the sounds and smell of the espresso machine, or a tiny little fried doughnut that takes me back to a time in my life that continues to shape my perspectives to this day.
So naturally, I am a HUGE fan of a favorite both here and abroad….la Nutella. The best crepe I ever had was at an Ikea store in Italy, and Nutella was the star of the show. I am getting to that point in my life where I feel guilty just eating it…but I have been known to consume whole (tiny) jars (that double as juice glasses) in one sitting with a bag of pretzels.
Instead of just eating it plain, I find myself incorporating it into whatever I can. Nutella and banana sandwich? Sounds good. Nutella-peanut butter cookies for the holidays? I brought them to three separate events last year. Nutella toffee brownies? Diabetes in a pan, but they are always a crowd-pleaser. Oh and there’s a cafe near the train station that serves a Nutella latte…but I only take the train on holidays when the cafe is closed. It’s on my SF bucket list to try that thing out though.
On a rational level, I know Nutella is not any every day food and that it’s kind of terrible for you (like most things, if you over do them), but my mind can never say no to it. (This is why I hide the Nutella behind all my canned tomatoes.) I think it’s because Nutella is associated with so many things that are all wrapped up together…first it was this weird thing that this super posh girl I knew fed me once on some bread at her house (in my house, we had sugar toast, but this girl spoke French so it seemed natural that she ate differently too), then it was something I ate on crepes in college…then I ate it with pretzels when I was stuck indoors with a broken foot in a foreign land for a month. It’s a symbol of what I had yearned to become as a child – cosmopolitan and always exploring new things – and a part of a culture that I love, and comfort food to boot.
Living in a foodie mecca like San Francisco, I have the opportunity to try new tastes and cuisines all the time. I’ve grown to like the sour taste of Ethiopian inerja, I can kind of cook thai curry now, and I’ve discovered that I can eat a lot of El Salvadorian pupusas. But it is only when I have an experience or a memory to tie food to that I really love it.
What’s one of your favorite dishes or confections? What memory makes you love it so much? I’m curious to know.