Wednesday, March 31, 2010

At the end of the day...

What do you look forward to most?

You have been sitting in a stuffy office, answering phones, sending emails, and avoiding annoying bosses. You snuck around quietly and tried to fly under the radar while everyone got yelled at or criticized for something. You checked all your go-to internet sites, you did everything on your to-do list, and now it's time to go home.

You sit in traffic for an hour just trying to go 3 miles, you deal with all the idiots in your city who apparently never took the same driving course you did, and you finally make it home and you are WIPED. You probably have plans to make or go to dinner, head to the gym, or even just sit down on the couch and watch your favorite TV show.

But what is the FIRST thing you do when you walk in the door?

For me, it's taking off my work shoes, putting them back in their hanging bag on the door, getting out of my work clothes & hanging them back up in the closet, and sliding into my grungiest, most comfortable clothes. Even if it's only for 15 minutes while I prepare myself for a workout or for dinner with a friend, there is something comforting and relaxing about being in my 2001 Pi Kappa Alpha rush tshirt that has holes in it, a pair of xxl basketball shorts that my belonged to my dad and somehow ended up in my drawers, and my slippers.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Christmas... in March

Ever since my parents have re-located to Florida, my sister & I have made it our personal mission to never spend a Christmas in Florida. Somehow, for the last 4 years, we have managed to accomplish this. 2006&2007 were spent in Atlanta, 2008 was spent on a cruise ship, and 2009 was spent in 24" of snow in Minnesota. Needless to say, Mission: Spend Christmas Not In Florida 2010 has commenced. So where would you go at Christmas, if the world was your oyster?

I've been informed that we are going on a 6day/7night Western Caribbean cruise. Bear with me while I complain about my first-world problems: I've already been there. I've done that cruise before. Over Christmas. In 2003. And sorry, but there are far more interesting places I can think of spending my Christmas than Cozumel, Mexico and Grand Cayman. I want to see more of South America. I want go to back to Colombia and Panama and really explore. I have a feeling this Christmas vacation isn't really up to me at all, but if it were, that's what I would choose. Or a ski trip in Colorado. Or maybe, just a nice, leisurely Christmas spent in Florida with the people I love most in the world.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

NCAA March Madness

I am competitive with every fiber of my being. I can't stand losing, and if (read: when) I do lose, I make sure there is a damn good reason, even if there's not. So, when I was invited to participate in a couple of basketball bracket things (what are they called?!), I said, "YES!! BECAUSE I LOVE HEALTHY COMPETITION AND BEATING ALL MY FRIENDS AT SPORTS KNOWLEDGE AND PREDICTING THE FUTURE." Really I just said "Yes!" though.

In case you were wondering, here are my picks. I picked pretty much the same across all my groups because my reasons for choosing who I chose were just so logical, I couldn't argue with myself. You may be wondering what those reasons were. I'll explain the top 10.

1. I chose Notre Dame because it was my dream school for as long as I can remember. I love the Fighting Irish.
2. I chose Georgia Tech because well, duh.
3. I chose Kansas because Dan the Valentime attends Kansas.
4. I chose Florida because Dan the Valentime attends Kansas and therefore I felt guilty choosing Kansas State, and also because sometimes I like the underdog (in the FL/Pittsburgh game that will happen because I said so).
5. I chose Vanderbilt because I used to know someone with the last name Butler and I didn't like them. Not be confused with the Butlers I do like, which I just now thought of... too late.
6. I chose Clemson because they are in the ACC and I like it when the ACC does well.
7. I chose New Mexico because my bossy, annoying colleague who is also my favorite went to New Mexico, and he is a freak so I just assumed all New Mexicans can do anything.
8. I chose Duke because "Duke is Puke" makes me laugh. Plus they are really good.
9. I picked Minnesota because DUH THATS WHERE IM FROM DONTCHA KNOW!
10. I made no logical picks and chose from my heart, which is how I know I'm going to win.

Good luck to the rest of you! Or, if you're in my group of challengers...fight 'til the death!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Books Galore

I remember very vividly one disastrous summer that I read and read and read until my eyes were practically bleeding, and on August 1, or whatever the deadline was to turn in your list of books you had read that summer (I had like 7 pages stapled to the standard copy the library gave you), we came downstairs to find that my sweet pup had CHEWED MY LIST. I was devastated, heartbroken, and distraught. My mom taped and glued as best she could and I still remember taking the tattered shreds of paper that were my reading list to the children's desk at the library and saying, "The dog ate my summer reading list." The memory still haunts me, and I won't be putting any reading lists at doggie height EVER. AGAIN.

So now that you all know how giant of a book nerd I am, I have to tell you that I have started going to the library again. I live in Fulton County, so that's the library I have to go to. I miss my Cobb County Library system, but these are the sacrifices we make to live in the city. I start by looking at the NY Times Hardcover Fiction Bestseller List. I like to print it and highlight the books I want to read. Then I mosy on over to the Fulton County Library Search Page to search for the books I want, and find out where they are. You can also create an online account (your library card number including the first letter, and the PW is "changeme") and reserve and renew the books online. It's like a book nerds dream!

But sometimes you just have to go in and browse. I like to know if there are 1 or 2 books that I know I want to get, because I just HATE walking out of the library empty-handed. Recently, I have used my library card to check out these books:

Shattered Dreams: My Life as a Polygamist's Wife by Irene Spencer - Fascinating, captivating autobiography that allows many insights and even understanding of the world of polygamy.

The Pact by Jodi Picoult - I like any/all Jodi Picoult, and in fact had already read this once, but forgot what happened, so I re-read it.

The Captive Queen of Scots by Jean Plaidy - I'm only 75 pages in. This book is TOUGH to read, and long. The words are small, and I feel like I've read 200 pages rather than only 75, but it is interesting, and my love for historical fiction makes it tough to put down.

Second Glance by Jodi Picoult - Ok 2 Jodi Picoult books were right next to each other... what else was I supposed to do? I haven't started this one yet, but it's waiting patiently on my nightstand. I'm sure I'll pick it up one Tuesday afternoon and have it finished by Wednesday morning.

What are you reading lately? I'm always looking for more recommendations! I'm also thinking about hosting a book swap. My bookshelves, as you can see, are chock full of a wonderful variety of books, and I'd love nothing more than to trade a few books for a little while. I don't know if I could part with my books forever, although maybe if I was getting a few in return it wouldn't be all that bad.
We could do a girls wine night paired with a book review/swap. Everybody brings 3 books and leaves with 3 "brand new" ones. I think it would be a blast! Boys are welcome too, but I don't think they 'd find much of interest in my book collection... maybe others have a more boy-friendly collection, but not I. Anyone interested?

Monday, March 8, 2010

DIY Headboard

I know it's only Monday, but I already know what my week and weekend will hopefully involve. This week, I plan to frequent JoAnn Fabrics, Hancock Fabrics, Lewis & Sheron, Home Depot, and maybe a Wal-Mart or two to pick up all the supplies I will need to make my own tufted headbaord. I will be using that link as a guide, and with the help of my dear friend and excellent crafter Rachel, an equally awesome looking headboard will be at the head of my bed by next Sunday.

These colors are my inspiration. The blue color (crashing waves) is what I want to paint my bathroom, or maybe a shade lighter. Then I want to paint my bedroom walls the shortbread color, which is the yellow on the bottom right corner, and I plan to incorporate chocolate brown as much as I can. My furniture is currently a dark cherry wood, and I think finding a chocolate brown fabric for the headboard will go perfectly! Maybe I can even find some patterned fabric to glue on to the buttons to give the headboard a little pizzazz!

So, my first step is to figure out what height I want my headboard to be. Tricky. Then I have to go to Home Depot and have them cut the plywood. Then I have to get it home (which I think is going to be trickier than it sounds)! I also need to decide how I am going to mount this sucker to the wall, if I am even going to mount it to the wall. I think yes, which requires buying a stud finder (it will actually be the 2nd stud finder I purchase, as the first went as a gift to my ex. Bummer!), and some brackets to get it to stay up. Then I've got to get the fabric, the batting, the foam, the spray adhesive... so many things to purchase, but I think this will be fun, and a very satisfying project.

After I finish the headboard, I plan to move quickly into my bathroom and get that paint job out of the way. Once I get the space painted, I will be more motivated to start incorporating other things from my color scheme, such as rugs, paintings, possibly a new shower curtain, and some tchotchke things to put on my over-the-toilet shelf. I may even change out that bad boy, although it really isn't all that old.

This whole interior decoration thing is addicting.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Lenten Sacrifices & A Yummy Recipe

So for Lent, I decided to give up grocery shopping. This may seem silly, but I have somewhat of a grocery store addiction. I wish I could show you my pantry... it's STILL slightly out of control, and Lent is now halfway over. You should have seen it before Lent started. And don't even get me started on my freezer. But, as Lent has progressed and I have attempted to a) eat healthier and b) eat up the things I have in my kitchen, I have had to do some improvising. I am a creature of habit, so changing up what I eat with what and how I prepare things has been tricky.

A few nights ago, I was rummaging through my freezer trying to figure out what I could come up with for dinner and I came across a lone pork chop. Oh yeah! I remembered those pork chops. They came in a pack of 2, so I know there's another one in there somewhere just waiting for me to find it and eat it. That will be a good day. In the mean time, I cooked up this pork chop on the stove. It was about an inch thick (woah baby!) so it took a little longer, but was worth the wait. I also made some rice pilaf & steamed broccoli to go with it.

How I cooked my pork chop:
1. Defrost in a bucket of hot water in my sink because I forgot to take it out of the freezer before I left for work.
2. Sprinkle some celery salt, garlic powder, and some other mix that I had on each side. Generously, people.
3. Heat a skillet with some oil in it and 2 tbsp. BUTTER - this is a crucial ingredient! Get the skillet reallllllly hot.
4. Cook on side 1 for about 7 minutes
5. Cook on side 2 for about 7 minutes.
6. If you're me, get impatient and cut into pork chop only to see that it isn't done and you can't eat yet.
7. Cook on side 1 for about 3 more minutes.
8. Cook on side 2 for about 4 more minutes.
9. Cut into it some more because you are paranoid about eating pork after this whole swine flu outbreak.
10. Realize you are crazy and just take it off the heat and eat your freakin' food.

So, you could probably cook it in approx. 5 steps, but it took me 10. It's fine, I like to do things my way.

Then, I was on a roll so I kept cooking. I really wanted some chicken tortilla soup, and I didn't really like the recipes I was finding on the internet (and I didn't really have ALL the ingredients...) so I improvised.

Katie's Chicken Tortilla Soup
about 2 chicken breasts worth of meat (more or less is ok just use whatcha got)
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 can cheddar cheese soup
1 can of chicken broth
1 can of rotel
1 can of corn
1 can of mexican corn (but only if you like it spicy!)
1.5 packets of taco seasoning (you can use just 1 or you can use 2, I use it out of a large canister so I don't know how much it actually was.. enough to taste right!)
1/2 c. rice

Sour cream to put on top later
Shredded cheese to put on top later

Dump it all in a crock pot. If you don't have 2 cans of cream of chicken soup, use 1. If you don't have cheddar cheese soup, don't use it. It'll be fine, I promise.It might even be better, who knows! I know my soup was a little thicker than I would have preferred, so I tried to add in more chicken broth at the end but it's still kinda thick. Oh well, it tastes AWESOME. And I didn't even eat any when it was done, just put it all in individual soup containers, froze half and refrigerated half and called it a night. Who knows when I'll eat 9 containers of soup, but eventually they will get gone.

So now I have zero plain frozen chicken, I am down 3 cans of soup and a couple cans of corn, and I used up a half-used container of chicken broth that was in the fridge. Oh yeah and I only have like 2c. of rice left. So, I'd say that was a pretty successful day of sticking with my Lenten sacrifice. But... I really miss the grocery store.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

I'm Proud to Call Them My Friends

A few good friends of mine have chosen to participate in a fundraiser that supports St. Baldrick's Foundation. I thought I would include the letters they sent to myself and countless other close friends and family.

From Ben: In the fall of 2006 I began dating a girl named Sara Keene. By April of 2007 she was in the Hospital at Emory University starting her treatment for Acute Myelogenous Leukemia. Like many Cancer patents undergoing chemotherapy, Sara chose to shave her head rather than undergo the emotionally painful slow loss of her hair. She asked me if I would shave my head with her. Knowing the strength and confidence it would bring her I willing agreed. It was the least I could do to support her through this tough time. In January of 2008 I lost Sara to Leukemia. Not a day has passed that a memory of her does not bring a smile to my face; I was lucky to have her in my life, even if it was just for a short time.

I was recently asked to shave my head once again. Without hesitation I said yes. On March 10th I’m going to shave my head in support of the St. Baldricks Foundation. St. Baldricks raises money for childhood cancer research and brighten the lives of numerous childhood cancer patients by shaving the heads of thousands of volunteers. With the loss of my hair I want to instill courage and hope in all the children supported by St. Baldricks, but I need your help to fund the research that saves these children’s lives. Please visit and support this great cause.

From Chris: Hey guys, just wanted to let everyone know that I've decided to participate in this years St. Baldrick's event. In case you don't know, St. Baldrick's is a foundation which raises money for childhood cancer research by getting donors to donate their hair as a sign of solidarity. Yes, you heard that right...I'll be shaving my head. Anyways, I wanted to send this out to all my good friends since I know each and every one of you have been affected by cancer. I'd ask that you go to my page below to get more information on St. Baldricks. If you would like to donate money and sponsor me, there is a "make a donation" link on the front page if you would like to pay by credit card. If you would rather do cash/check, please give to me and I will submit the money online. Thanks for your time and I hope everyone has a wonderful day! Let me know if you have any questions.

I will be donating to each of them on behalf of my father, who is a cancer survivor, and even if you aren't able to help financially at this time, please keep them in your thoughts, as I think this is an extremely honorable thing to do. Feel free to share other philanthropic activities you are participating in, whether you need financial or spiritual support. I'm happy to help in whatever way I can.

Monday, March 1, 2010

New Shoes

Now that I have been living in the world of "wake up and go to work Monday through Friday every week no matter what" for 4 months, I remembered what I missed about not working in a traditional office. There are a lot of great things about being a personal assistant, but the most important of these things is clothing and attire. As a personal assistant I wore whatever I wanted to work. Jeans, ok! Sweatpants? Probably only on the day when Phipps Plaza was on my list of places I had to go. Mainly because that's just my luck. But I could wear them, and I could be happy with my sweatpants and flip flops and sneakers and tshirts.

But now, I go to work every day. I sit in a cube. I have a desk and post-it notes and a computer and a boss who sits down the hall and likes to startle me just when I think no one is paying attention to me. So clearly, my wardrobe has changed (although apparently not that much). And now I need work appropriate shoes. The ones I had to start quickly bit the dust after wearing them every single day, and I realized on more than one occasion that uncomfortable shoes NEVER GET MORE COMFORTABLE. But, shoes are expensive. Or at least more expensive than I want them to be. And I learned my lesson, and will not be purchasing $8 Payless shoes to wear to work every day.

But, it's like a catch-22, because I didn't want to spend the money to buy new shoes, so I keep wearing out more and more of the shoes I have, until now today I am left with no functioning brown shoes, black shoes that make that clicking sound every time I walk on the tile floors because I wore out the tip on the heel, and white stripper shoes that really aren't work appropriate. Or comfortable.

I have been perusing Aldo, Zappo's, Dillard's, Bloomingdale's, and a bunch of other shoes places I think with the hope of magically finding free shoes. Obviously that didn't happen, and I decided I was just going to suck it up and order shoes from Zappo's. I did it. After having them in my shopping cart for almost 2 weeks, I just hit PURCHASE today. 3 new pairs of work appropriate shoes will be at my door in probably 2 days. My feet are doing a happy dance and my wallet is crying, because shoes are expensive.

Hopefully these are the last non-fun shoes I buy in 2010. Plain black and plain brown are just no fun, although I did make a small attempt to spice it up with brown crocodile. It's the little things people, the little things.