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!

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.

How to make a Watermelon Serving Bowl

Baaaahhh, summer is here and I want to eat this!! Nom!! (Apologies for the lack of posting, it’s move in week for me!)

Strawberry Pepper

Summer’s coming! Well for those of us living in the non-temperate Northern Hemisphere it is anyway. And with summer comes the bountiful fresh fruit and frequent summer barbecues. Usually when I go to a barbeque I’ll like to bring some sort of dish with substance, to show off the homemade veggie burgers and quiches, but sometimes, you just gotta be lazy. Let someone else do that work for you.

When that happens my go-to dish is often a fruit salad. Because they’re delicious and healthy and there’s almost nothing better than fresh fruit! And it’s really something you can’t have too much of.

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Who Took My Peanut Butter?

Now, I’ve been trying to be a dedicated, healthy vegetarian for about three months now, which I think I’m doing fairly well, I’m also well aware that there are still a lot of changes I can make to do it better. (Helpful suggestions for a newbie? I’m kind of cheap too so I can’t be getting too fancy). I still eat seafood though… it’ll be a slow process for me to completely take that out of my diet because tuna is really cheap and delicious (I know, I know, lame excuse). It’s even harder when eating out; I didn’t realize how much of the menus would typically contain some kind of meat in the options. I usually just end up picking something with seafood or one of the few ‘vegetarian’ options they may have, haha.

Or I make my friends go to vegetarian-friendly places instead.

So far, they haven’t fought with me.

Yet.

For example, I went out to a Bravo’s with a friend for their brunch specials without realizing that the majority of their options would include sausage and bacon. I mean, of course, it does, but I went in with high expectations of a classy meat-less meal haha. I ended up getting Crab Cakes and Eggs (seafood, I know!), which contained: Jumbo lump crab cakes served atop sautéed spinach and artichokes, paired with poached eggs, Hollandaise sauce and BRAVO! breakfast potatoes.

My excuse was that I felt fancy. Ignore my friend’s meaty entrée

Sometimes, when I come home late at night after a long day of work, errands, and mindless responsibilities to tend to, I have moments of distraught for food that my dinner would end up being this:

Don’t judge me, I love cheese with a fiery passion!

However, I’ve been doing a lot of small things with fruits, my sweet love! And believe me, I about died when I saw strawberries and blueberries back in season! Especially so I can avoid getting ‘bad’ sweets, no matter how pretty they might appear, like this:

To be fair, I bought these for my co-workers, not just me.

In order to steer myself in a better (right?) direction, one type of snack/lunch I’ve been doing are variations of peanut butter sandwiches. I have a fond love for peanut butter (almost as strong as my love for cheese). I can’t say exactly when it started, or which brand I prefer (as long as it’s smooth, not crunchy), or if I have any traumatic episodes that made me almost turn the other way, but the love is strong. After doing a continuous stretch of peanut butter and honey on English muffins for breakfast, I thought, ‘Oh, why don’t I just make sandwiches for lunch?’

Cue light bulb.

The first type of sandwich I did was peanut butter and banana. I know, I know, pretty standard stuff. I tried to make it a little more exciting by adding honey, but even that seemed boring. Any ideas on how to spice it up a bit?

My next expedition with peanut butter sandwiches was peanut butter (whoa), apple slices, honey drizzle, and cinnamon. Now, maybe I was having a moment, but this was pretty amazing. I would always pair my pb with apples as a snack and just the sheer idea of putting it between two slices of wheat bread seemed genius to me.

Paradise on bread. No?

The next, more commonly used, peanut butter snack I tend to make is a peanut butter yogurt dip.

1/2 cup peanut butter

1/2 cup flavored yogurt of your choice (I tend to pick strawberry, blueberry, or just vanilla)

1/4 cup powdered sugar

Throw it in a bowl or container, stir it up nice and smooth, and ta da!

Best Midnight Snack Ever

Get another bowl, chop up the fruit you want (usually apples and bananas, but no need to hold back), and start dipping (with or without a fork). I think the dip is so good, I end up eating it by itself by the spoon, haha.

But don’t do that, you’ll get sick from too much.

I have a feeling that my next food/fruit-related post will be about strawberries. Prepare yourself.

Thanks for reading! Any suggestions, tips, or peanut butter ideas, please deposit them in the comments below. 🙂

Ideas, Inspiration, Motivation!

Ahh, I can’t believe how lazy I have gotten in trying to keep up with this blog. I have a habit of just getting caught up in the moment of things; when I finally get home, I’m just tired and want to crawl in bed. However, I don’t have any real excuse for that. Today will be a discussion of happy things and good news.

I finally got myself to go on a (short) run this morning before work with my sister’s dog. It was nice to get outside and feel my body trying hard to keep the pace, but unfortunately, the dog has a habit of just being all over the place. Hence, the tripping, the confusion, the general annoyance followed and the run was only for ten minutes. (You can just simply imagine a stick figure awkwardly tripping over a large dog through a ditch on the side of the road for the most likely imagery) So, all in all, it was a failing success. It definitely gave me motivation though, so HOPEFULLY *crosses fingers* I will try to keep up with it. I thought about keeping some running clothes in my car but I like to wash my makeup off beforehand, so I would have to carry facial cleaner and I’m not even sure where I’d end up jogging if it was somewhere not at home. I would need my water bottle with COLD water and possibly a towel… I would look like a hoarder (not that my car doesn’t already express that).

Moving along, in one month, I will be finally moving to a new place with a friend of mine! It’s a small duplex, but it’s nice inside and we have the liberty of painting, gardening, hanging stuff, etc. It’s also much closer to my work, closer to a lot of friends, closer to downtown of the city, closer to alternative transit systems (rail trolley and buses, so to speak), closer to just a lot of things I’ve been wanting to be closer to.

Newly redone. I love the little lamp and the stone outlining the door.

With that in mind, I will be looking for a new weekend part-time job to replace my old one since it’ll just be too much of a drive to get to. I got time to hunt around, but I’m hoping that I don’t end up with something that makes me want to yank my hair out! My library (full-time) job is just so nice because the people want to be there! They want to talk to you, want you to help them out, want to read books and learn, participate in community events, and just simply enjoy life more than sitting on your couch watching MTV marathons of Jersey Shore. The sad thing is that it’s not quite enough money for myself to live by so until I get further into the field, I’ll still need some extra income on the weekends. On the plus side, I genuinely enjoy working…. so whatever job I may pick up, I will find reasons to like it. 

There’s a thrift store called Avalon Exchange in my city with two neighborhood locations. Basically, it’s like your Goodwill and Salvation Army, but it’s specifically aimed at a younger crowd (AKA people like me) with the type of clothing they promote. The clothing options are usually better than the various Plato’s Closets we have here (another ‘younger aged thrift store’), so it’s pretty nice be able to find a pair of jeans in great condition for $12!! I’ve been reading many other blogs on here about how other ladies (and gentlemen, I suppose haha) work with what they have, shop below their means and use creative ways to make something old into something new. While I do like to clean out my closet every couple of months, I have been trying pretty hard to see what sort of combinations I can make first. 

Being open-minded with the clothing…. a new goal for me this summer. And shop cheap. Why do I need to spend $45 on a new shirt at AE when I could get one for way cheaper and of basically equal quality some place else? 

One other personal resolution I’ve been working hard to keep is my vegetarian diet. While, personally, I don’t find it horribly difficult to negate the meat out of my diet (admittedly, I still eat seafood…. it’s a slow process), I’m realizing that there’s so much I could experiment with the produce, pasta, breads, cheese, spices, etc that I already have. I plan on hitting up a local Farmer’s Market sometime in the next week and stock up on some goodies (soooo excited!!), plopping myself in the kitchen with a couple of vegetarian cookbooks and see what magic I can create. Or ruin. Regardless, I’ll still eat because I would feel awful for it to go to waste. 

This is a quite a long post with not very many pictures. Sorry about that, I just wanted to get a lot of happy thoughts and resolutions I’ve been working on, off my chest and into this blog. The next posts are going to be way more interesting, colorful and picture-iffic. 

Questions for you guys! Got any vegetarian tips and secrets? What kind of house-warming parties should I throw if I decide to do one? What sort of motivation do you guys use to get yourself into an exercise routine? Thanks for reading! 🙂

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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