I don’t always eat your food out of stress, but when I do…

It’s true, I’m not that great of a blogger. I get easily distracted, I tend to start something and not finish it, I find something more exciting, or I’ll just get a fantastic idea, then it’ll will just totally die on me like a dried up earthworm on your sidewalk in the middle of the summer.

Image stolen from here: http://www.itlookslikeitsopen.com/2011/07/catch-worm-man.html

The Horror!

However, today, I’m looking forward to things. For one, it is the Gregorian calendar’s official first day of spring. Granted, in Pittsburgh, it’s still in the 30s and will probably snow later, but the SUN IS OUT! There is a blue sky! It’s nice to look at from the inside of your warmer home… Anyways, with spring in mind, I’m looking forward to many things this year, such as:

1) Farmer’s Markets

2) Attempts of small gardening (I’m talking little cups on the windowsill)

3) Bike riding (Haven’t done this in over 10 years)

4) Zoo (Haven’t been to the zoo since I was in high school!)

5) Arts Festivals (technically the big one in Pittsburgh isn’t until June, but I’m still excited!

6) BEING OUTSIDE WITH NO WINTER COAT, SCARF, AND GLOVES

Isn’t this exciting?! April better start picking up the pace here and giving us some temperatures above the 50/60 degree mark, along with some flowers and bright colors to look at. Nobody wants this winter weather nonsense anymore, yeah?

(I was going to post a “winter blues” picture, but most of the searches led to odd, anime-styled fanart and babies. My point wasn’t going to get across.)

In other news, I shall be going to Boston for the first time in my life this weekend. Am I totally stoked? Yes. Granted, I do have to spend one day at the PAX convention (the manfriend’s biggest excitement: This is what I’m talking about). I’m not super knowledgeable about video games (I tried playing a demo of Dead Space 3, and the manfriend had to hold the controller with me in my hands and push the right buttons for me; I got so stressed out, I started eating his pizza.)

Image stolen from here: http://gifatron.com/tag/crying-while-eating/

Tears. Food. Swings. This is usually how I react.

The other days can be spent sight seeing, but I’m pretty sure everything we do will be pretty awesome. It’s gonna get weird.

Image borrowed from here: http://www.braco.net/boston-massachusetts

Look at the strikingly beautiful city.

As for the actual PAX, who knows. It’ll be nerdy and creepy, I’m sure. There will be a lot of loud noises, flashy lights, excellent & terrible cosplay, hot girls that never touched a controller in her life, and probably these guys:

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This guy knows what he’s doing

I’m feeling pretty good about life this year though. Even if everything doesn’t work out completely, I’m confident that things WILL come together in the end. There’s something else happening today, but I’m not going to talk about it until I get a result out of it. I try not to be all superstitious, but I’m always afraid I’ll jinx myself. Either way, I’m staying confident and keeping my head up.

‘Til the next time, kids!

Chances

It’s 2013 and honestly, I feel as if I have a lot of things to look forward to. This is the year that I wish to make an advancement in my company and hopefully end up with a new position that is truly worth working for. I am eternally grateful for the opportunities that my current position and location allows me to take advantage of, and even more so grateful for the support I receive. This is a company I would love to grow and develop my skills over a long run, and hopefully this will lead to greater things down the road.

It is a little strange, in that I would love to stay in my position and do the things I am doing, but since it’s very little money,

Write something good that happened to you every day

Write something good that happened to you every day

I know that I must move on further in order to make anything of myself. We live in the times where if you don’t have any internal connections and/or prove your worth by killing yourself to exhaustion, you better start liking the change in your pockets and the cheap ways to everything (which, admittedly, are neat to find when it comes by).

However, this isn’t a post about jobs or my company in particular, this is just a post about life and making the most of it. When a new year comes, it’s always exciting to think about the possibilities that will come your way. Will you take the chance or will you pass it up for something else?

Last year, I took a business-oriented purpose and started a MeetUp group in order to attract a larger audience of people in order to increase attendance for my work’s programs. Now, MeetUp is a website whose intentions are to allow people to meet and hang out based on similar interests, and make friends in an alternative way (via internet). It’s not exactly uncommon for people with more business intentions to take advantage of this though, as you are generally

giving people an opportunity to explore something new (and my promoted programs are typically free, so everybody wins), but it somewhat takes away from the social aspects of the group. I didn’t really explore the possibilities of really getting to know people in my group until a few months in when it seemed like I was getting a more steady, consistent group of people attending.

I suppose my point is that I didn’t think of myself actually getting to know and making friends through the website, as I initially treated it as a business opportunity to show my company the advantages of reaching out to another audience and allowing us the chance to actually try more things for those said people. Now that I have actually attended to some events outside of my work with those meetup people, I feel more included in my own group. It’s strange, right? I wanted to take the chance of getting to know people though, and this was one way I figured would be most comfortable for me, and I’m definitely glad to be doing so.

On a more personal note, I’m taking another chance of getting to know about those friends as well as my coworkers’ and my boyfriend’s interests in order to get to know what other people are getting into. I wish to be open-minded about as much as I can find out and allow people to express themselves comfortably without feeling as if they will be judged. Really, this is an outlook I think everybody should live, but we don’t have much control over that.

Roll with what you can manage, right?

There’s so many ways to attach “Bro” to something: Brobama, Bronasaurus Rex. Brotato Chip…

I confess.

It’s been a very long time since I have done any blog postings on this website. I went through the whole sch-deal of being a standard 20-something girl: Getting involved in my job, getting a boyfriend, getting into new side activities, doing additional programs, having a sort-of-there social life, etc etc. Don’t get me wrong, everything has been super lovely and exciting. I still seem some interesting hurdles ahead of me that will prove my ambition to get somewhere with success (varying on my energy with correlates with my coffee intake). I started a Crafters group on a social website called MeetUp.com to meet and craft with people in my area. I’m applying for a higher position in my company and I have graduate school to look into in my future (after I take the GRE’s, then apply, then try to get some scholarships…). I don’t want to forget about this though!

I’m just going to throw out a couple key thoughts of things that have been running in my brain. Small exercises that will lead to larger things.

1) “Portlandia”

I’ve never been so conflicted on my liking for a television show. Mind you, I don’t even have any form of cable at my home (I depend on people’s Netflix when I visit or DVD rentals at work) and yet, I came across this show somehow. It spoke many things, mostly confusing feelings and uncomfortable laughter at understanding (usually some of, and occasionally most of) the jokes. They recently released a “Welcome to Portlandia” guide book (check your new non-fiction titles at your local library *winks*), which I, of course, checked out. When I read it, I will possibly write more about it.

2) Libraries

They’re awesome, right? I work in one and it’s awesome. I never loved going to work as much as this job. I’m currently looking to advance my position while looking into graduate school for library science (but specifically for “archival studies”), so my argument is a bit biased. However, they’re useful. They got all sorts of free stuff for rentals (books, movies, audio books, cds, comics, mangas, reference, health books, children’s stuff, video games, etc etc). Unless you live in an unfortunately tiny, desolated are where the nearest library is about 20 miles east of the white barn on your right, I highly suggest you should take advantage of your local spot. There’s probably a coffee shop nearby, so it’s like a double whammy of wins. I like wins.

3) Books for Young Adult/Teens

Admittedly, I generally dislike most “teen reads.” They’re usually overly emotional, heavily clique-y, typically take place in high school (honestly some of my less than favorable years of living), and at times, a little too uneducated. However, I have come across some unusual gems as of late. Books with a bit more realism, characters that are strangely more believable (and relatable?!), and doesn’t take place in the back of the movie theater or your parent’s basement! Amazing, right? They’re quick reads to boot. 

4) Do-It-Yourself. DIY. Seriously, just make it.

In the past year, I’ve picked up on the crafting trend. Yes, I have my times of laziness and “yeah whatever, I’ll just buy it cheap somewhere” (believe, it’s never really cheap), as well as stare listlessly at etsy/pinterest/craftster/thisiswhyimbroke/etc for ideas, then immediately list those other things I need to do in my head.

This is the part where I get a beer and watch Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law. If you haven’t watched this in Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim’s glory days, you’re missing out bad

Anyways, I have my basement halfway turned into a workshop AND I have also started a crafts program at work for adults to get together with their genius ideas. There are good and bad days, naturally; I consider it a work in progress. I’ve made things I’m pretty happy with and things I know I could have done better. But I’m still making them.

5) MeetUp.com

This website was a big turning point for me. It introduced me to additional ways to reach out to people based on interests and events, but it also showed me how flaky people can be, even online where the website gives you the option of saying Yes or No to any event that has ever been created and you have zero obligation to attend (so saying “yes” out of sheer politeness or laziness (??) is just wasting everyone’s time, including your own). End rant. It’s an interesting website. I gave the create-a-group option a shot (because it let you do a 50% off for the start up price), but I’m not sure if I see it going past the 6 months. I certainly learned a lot in reaching out to people though and how to connect on interests.

6) Write Something Happy Every Day

There are two things I make myself do every day before bed. Write on a slip of paper about something good that happened that day and put it in a jar, then write in my trendy-looking daily log about what happened that day. One reason is motivation. It makes me want to write something good on that damn piece of paper so I can reflect on it at the end of the year, and be all like “Heck yeah, I was awesome this year.” 

The other reason is that I really do have terrible memory. I just simply forget things instantly that I have to get in the habit of writing down ideas, lists, events, dates, etc. to keep anything in mind. I used to try to update my Google calendar for upcoming events, but it became an ordeal so I really just have been trusting my brain to keep things on the ball.

7)  Vegetarian Lifestyle

In a little over a month, I would have been living the veggiesaurus lifestyle for a year. Now, I have eaten seafood here and there, especially considering I just went into the vegheads cold turkey. I didn’t ween or go through my colored meats like baby chicks.

I just stopped altogether. It was interesting. I learned to substitute other things and in general, I just learned to eat healthier. I pretty much drop all of the fast food and rarely eat out much because I’ve been enjoying cooking at home and trying to make new things. Granted, my lifestyle is a bit of a rarity among friends and I prove to be a difficult person to please when out to eat (if the restaurant doesn’t even offer any seafood options, they’re doing it wrong to begin with). On the flip side, the veggiesauruses in the city have proved to be numerable and the options of places to eat out has substantially increased in recent years. I’m really not that difficult, honestly. I eat what the “normies” eat, just take the meat out of it. No harm done.

8) Music- Like the dubstep, house, rave kind

My music tastes haven’t really changed, I just haven’t listened to it as much as I used to. I still enjoy a show here and there, and I play stuff in the card. However, now that I stopped downloading AND buying music altogether, I just listen to whatever I already have on hand, and then do the Spotify/Pandora/WTFSILTN (http://whatthefuckshouldilistentonow.com/) for further interest. However, I have noticed an increase of the dubstep/house music creeping in my clicking around. It’s interesting and keeps me moving, but is it considered real music? I don’t have a real answer to that.

9) Moving

Last year, I moved into a cheap duplex with a college friend. We’re your standard 20-something female roommates who are trying to figure out what’s worth living for, adapting to real world policies, and making a name for ourselves (in whatever format). We have different interests, ambitions, views, habits, and everything else, but we manage to be decent roommates to each other. And seriously, the place is a goldmine for cheap living. it was an exciting time and it was the first I really, REALLY felt I was going on my own.

Ermagherd, I can decorate however I want? I don’t need stupid movie poster, I’ll paint something! Ikea bookshelves! Crockpots! Decorated washi-styled tape to put on the edges of shelves to make them look awesome?! You got it!

Don’t judge me.

10) Blogs

I still read some randomly. Some are funny, some are inspiring, some are creative, and unfortunately, some are dull. I’m certain this falls under the “dull, stupid, waste-of-my-time, omg-get-a-life category, but who cares? I enjoy it enough. 

Life update. Check.

Requirements: Zero Thinking

The majority of my friends are technologically/media-inclined, which I’m obviously okay with, but that gives me a severe lack of people who would want to be crafty with me. I’m typically the ‘art-sy’ one; I like to write, I like to draw, I like to create stuff, I like to read stuff for ideas, I like to stand outside and admire trees (well… not really… I mean, I’ve looked at trees, but I’m not admiring, really…). It’s not that other people I spent my time with didn’t, it’s the level of interest that was different.

Insert sad face.

I’m sort of in this transition phase where I’m essentially rebelling against watching television; however, it’s not out of spite or some sort of offensive imagery I may have come across (I mean, I have seen some… but I saw more through the INTERWEBS LULZ), it’s just simply to get me to do other things. It’s a ‘What do I do if my television broke or it was stolen?‘ sort of game I enforce on myself every day. It did help me discover a little more of the blog world and the increasingly popular DIY projects trend I see coming along (and love, love! I want to make so much of the stuff I see almost every day), so I’m hoping that the ideas I come across will both motivate and inspire me to do more with my life.

I did have one night of art fun though, which made me super happy and hope to do it again soon. Myself and a couple of friends got together and decided to do a Round Robin version of painting a canvas. Basically, we played some dance/techno music in the background and when the song ended, we switched canvases and continued painting. The starting point and the end results were pretty drastic, but they actually turned out pretty awesome! It’s definitely a fun indoor (although there’s no reason why you can’t do it outside too!) activity for any age.

Gather your items…

We used basic painting supplies: An array of brushes, a multitude of acrylic paint in many shades, a bucket of water, and many paper towels.  The purpose of this is to just start painting with no real clear idea or thought in mind. Just put that brush on the board and let your hands move wherever.

Drinks optional… what kind is also optional…

I will mention that Shiner is one of my favorite beers to drink.

Music starts… and go!

The first painting I did was actually the one with the multi-colored swirls before passing it over. Round shapes are easier for me to etch out than straight edges… I couldn’t tell you why though.

Second song! Quick, switch!

This painting in the front looks nothing like its end result. However, that’s the awesome beauty (ugliness?) of Round Robin. You just really don’t know what to expect.

Next song! AHH!

Technically this picture is from Instagram (username: shaylross :)). As you can see, I was actually doing different photo edits for all these pictures through Picasa (except the Instagram one) because I’m not very good with Photoshop and general picture-taking. Forgive me for my lack of photographic artistic abilities.

One participant chose to observe instead

If we weren’t concerned about the mess and the overall toxicity of the paint, one of us thought about dipping the kitten’s paws in paint and printing them on to the canvas. However, we decided against it because we like cats and somewhat clean apartments.

What number song is this? I lost track, too much paint… ugghh…

See how the left painting has weird prints? I accidentally dropped a pretzel I was trying to munch onto a blob of paint and it was a sudden genius idea to make pretzels stamps on the canvas. Accidents create beauty… or just paint marks shaped like pretzels. Ha!

Step back and admire/cringe at the masterpieces/work of destruction.

The end results are not what you expect. You’re not allowed to tell others what to keep on the canvas nor do you have to follow any sort of pattern on the canvas in front of you. I’m so happy to get back into art again.

Do you guys have any fun art projects or stories to share? Thanks for stopping by!

Plan. Create. Live. Smile.

I’m a pretty firm believer of making your life something you can enjoy. I want to live every day thinking, ‘what can I do to make this day a little more awesome?’ Usually I try to meet up or at least chat with a friend (in person, on phone, via chat on Gmail, Facebook, etc.) to gain my comfort in socializing, but I also like to try to find a new topic or activity to explore. One of the many reasons I enjoy working at the library is that there are always surprises to be found, whether it’s a new book to consider reading at a later date (because I’m such a slow reader anymore) or something a co-worker talks about or new projects that I get to take over (…. or continuing with the projects I still have to finish, haha). I love the different types of people that come in every day, the interactions I get to have with them (conversation topics range all over the place, I  never know what to expect), and the things I get to see. Since it’s essentially a non-profit community center, there’s always events and activities for people of all ages to partake in; a lot of them which I get to participate myself.

When I’m not at work, I always crave an adventure. Even if it’s just taking a walk in a different direction I never gone before… what’s down at that end of the street? Maybe it’s a store I never seen before or maybe it leads to a nice view? Do you know? No? Why not check it out, right? However, I can understand the busy life a lot of people have. My weekends typically invovle working from 9 am to midnight for two jobs, which means I don’t have a weekend. And for that, I spend a lot of my free time during the week catching up on errands, laundry, bills, grocery shopping, cleaning, etc etc etc. Despite all that, I still like to make time to have a moment of enjoyment because I think I deserve. Actually, I think we all deserve moments of happiness in the midst of our busy lives.

In order to get myself a little more motivated (as well as giving myself a reason to write stuff down with the horribly poor memory I have), I bought this awesome little gem of a planner at Barnes & Noble:

Motivation! Yeah!

It’s a planner (monthly and weekly), contact list, notepad and sketchpad with inspiring little quotes thrown in it at random. I would say this is one of the best random purchases I’ve made in a long time. When I have this out, it makes me want to actually do something worthwhile to write in it. (Also gives me a reason to write, period. I love to write, but I can’t get myself to sit and do it, haha!) For example, say I decide to meet up with a friend for lunch, why not try a new place we haven’t been to? If I decide I want to take a walk on a nice day, why not try finding a park, walking path, or just another neighborhood to browse through? There’s one area I love going to on a really nice day because it has such a pretty view of the city across the river:

Pretty City across the river 🙂

Either way, the planner has been a great motivational tool in the past few months. Every time I look at it, I constantly think ‘What can I do this week that would be as well as sound really awesome?’ Heck, just hanging out with a friend and doing a puzzle is more than enough to make me happy and find it worthwhile to remember. What do you guys do to motivate yourself to enjoy the little things in life?

Walk, Talk, and Chow

In my little city, there’s an event called the ‘Burgh Food Tour’, which is essentially a tourist type attraction that takes into a neighborhood of your choice and the guides discuss a bit about the history of the area, why the area is known for whatever it is known for, and, of course, the food deemed the best. It’s a roundabout two hours tour that involves walking, talking, and eating. Of the six that are currently offered, I’ve been to two of them, one last year and one this past weekend.

Obviously, since I’ve done it again, I clearly enjoy it. What’s actually kind of funny about it, aside from the random people from nowhere in the US, most people who participate in the tours are typically from somewhere within the city area (such as myself). Did I feel like a tourist? Not at all. Well, perhaps a little with my iPhone out to take pictures and the blatant obviousness of our group taking up all the space in the buildings we go in to listen to the shop owners talk, but really, it’s a social event.

That explained and rambled, the recent tour I took (with my mother and sister) was in a place considered as “Little Italy“. I think you can figure out why it was given such a name (I’m craving ravioli again). While the first food tour the previous year has a special place in my heart for popping my tourism cherry in this city, I can’t deny the fact that this one was pretty fun.

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There were five main stops (to eat stuff) and then a couple random places that we paused by to gawk awkwardly at the buildings, strain to hear the guide talk over the street traffic behind us, and wonder how many locals were hating on us for taking up sidewalk space. Strangely though, the “tour” kind of all took place within two city blocks, as the guide was trying to do this constant-crossing-the-streets-to-stare-at-this-church-then-run-back-to-point-out-an-empty-store’s-ceiling-and-retrace-our-steps-a-block-to-discuss-a-women’s-boutique sort of business, which would’ve been fine if he didn’t keep stopping in the middle of everything. He was a nice enough guy, he just seemed a little scattered.

Two of the stops were Italian grocery stores: Groceria Italiana and Donatelli’s. It’s not like we were searching for the lost art of Da Vinci or anything, with everyone’s names being something of the Italian/Sicilian nature. Food samples: Shells with marinara and biscotti, Pasta shells with homemade, as same with the biscottis.

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Have I mentioned I have a slight obsession with biscottis? Nothing compared to a well-made biscotti with a fresh cup of joe in the morning. When that happens, nothing can fail. Nothing.

I also greatly enjoy the fact that the shop owners/managers genuinely enjoy their craft. They liked explaining everything they do at their stores, how things are made, how their business came to be. The gentleman from Donatelli’s gave us the lowdown of all his pasta making machinery in the back station, which made me desire a ravioli maker for my kitchen. Could you imagine? Any filling you want, just stamp those pasta pockets out!! I was completely enthralled with the idea, disregarding the fact that one of those bad boys would probably burn a nice-sized hole in my change pocket.

Another stop: Grasso Roberto, to sample gelato. The interior of the store was small and cute, with many things on display to check out. The manager was pretty amicable although she stayed behind the counter and watched us do our tourist-y thing. There was a pretty standard list of flavors (I ended up getting Honey Vanilla), but it was smooth and creamy, so I can’t complain.

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Of course, no Italian food tour would be complete without the inclusion of pizza, no matter how Americanized the food has become. However, our pizza place (Angelo’s Pizza) that was selected was a little ghetto and the pizza was pretty unmemorable. Who knows, maybe pizza has become such a norm in the American way that we can’t really differentiate between good and bad pizza? Granted, I had my long range of various pizzas in my college days; you know, that one place that makes $1 slices for those crazy inebriated kids wandering around after dark, and then that other place down the alleyway that nobody really knows about but their pizza is crazy good.

The final stop of the tour was, at first, the inside of a gift shop, Merante Gifts, which was Italian-based home decorations and decors. However, the cool part was going upstairs through the doorway outside, right next to the store. We walked up some very steep steps and encountered the first room:

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Very pretty, the picture doesn’t do much justice, as the front room continued on back with the same style, along with various other pieces of art to look at. The upper floor extended back down the hallway to another room, and then finally the center of the show: Maria’s Kitchen!

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Her choice of food sampling: Chocolate cake with rich chocolate butter-cream, a side of whipped cream and strawberry, and a sample cup of espresso (We are in ‘Italy’, not Spain). Can you tell which stop was probably my favorite? Maria was very outgoing and friendly, and clearly seems to love what she does. She offers cooking class in this kitchen once a week, where the students learn different variation styles of cooking, types of food, travel to purchase ingredients and even take a trip to Italy! I am definitely considering checking this out if the cost of the class is within my price range (AKA cheap), but I imagined it’s only classy people that go. All in all, the tour was fun, my mother and sister had fun, I got to buy some artichoke and gorgonzola stuffed ravioli and biscotti mix (vanilla, almond, and wine & almond).

P.S. Did you notice the light fixture in Maria’s Kitchen?

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I smell a nice DIY project in the near future, if I find the right tools.

Thanks for reading and please share with me any tours you might have done in your own towns!

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