I relocated…to a closet.

entry way and walk-in closet on the right

I moved into a closet.

Not the Harry Potter kind, but the “I’m-living-in-the-big-city” kind. Once I found out I was accepted at the very chic, vintage Phresh Spa & Salon on Grand Avenue, I snabbed a 300 sq. ft efficiency.

Why? I love walking to work…and I’m cheap. I told a client I was moving to an efficiency, rarely driving my ’94 vehicle because I was cheap, and he corrected me: “You’re not cheap. You’re responsible.”

Yes, responsible.  I like that.

A friend told me he lived in an efficiency once.

“That’s great!” I said, “what advice do you have for me?”

I was beginning the packing process, which is similar to being stranded on a ship and choosing about three things to take with you.

His advice? “Move out.”

Me: “just signed the 1 year lease.”

Him: “Don’t have any full-size couches.”

Me: “That’s what I sleep on at night.” (No worries, it’s a hide-a-bed couch)

Sigh.

It’s an odd time to move, the week of Christmas, when you’re ending a job you’ve had for a fifth of your life and beginning a new one, as you’re wrapping up Christmas shopping and gifts for the season. Thanks to the lack of ice and my stress adrenaline pumping, the move was pretty smooth…besides the fact that three weeks later I still have no coffee for my coffee maker.  Then again, Caribou, Starbucks, Café Latte, Bread and Chocolate, and Brueggers are within a 3 minute walk from me—and these places have internet, unlike my apartment.

Also, I have no television, and I don’t want one.

No, I am not accepting Amish friendship bread at this time.

My freezer and cupboards are well stocked (especially with chocolate, thanks to Christmas!) because I live near Trader Joes and a connection to Costco through my best friends. I also have a well-stocked wine table…not to say I have wine. In the wine compartments of my table: Pam cooking Spray, Olive oil, Gummy Vitamins, Lemon juice.

bathroom mirror for tall people.

Other quirks in my apartment include:

1) My ceiling fan looks like the claw in a vending machine, it’s so wilted.

2) My bathroom mirror can reflect my eyes and above.

3) My refrigerator sounds exactly like a stomach gurgling.

4) “Low” on my Space heater resembles a partially cloudy day in the desert.  Have I mentioned that I dream about bringing my humidifier to my apartment? Literally, I dream this.

So my plan of attack for moving in, was to move in as though staying on a two week vacation: bring what I really need and then bring in other things as I need them. But let’s be honest, when you’re packing a car and making multiple trips, you want to pack as many things as possible that you can.

Despite this, thanks to my recent bouts of deep cleaning, things turned out alright. I rather enjoy my space now, and can’t wait to hang artwork on the walls and organize that last cabinet of papers and office supplies.

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Tis the season to be crafty…

Now, before we begin, I must already justify my terrible title. By crafty, I don’t mean deceptive. Although, Christmas in general has become crafty, since it sneaks up around Halloween!

On Black Friday, I stayed home. Oh wait, by “stayed home” I mean I didn’t go out Thanksgiving night, like my crazy boyfriend, nor did I go out before 11am on Friday, when all the “door buster” deals were happening.  Personally, I don’t need microfiber towels or 9$ DVDs for my invisible television–nor do I know others who needs these things.

I did, however, go shop after work because it was my upcoming anniversary–the next day–don’t ask how long–it’s no matter. Time flies when you’re having fun!

Ah, yes. You must be wondering what would drive my boyfriend to Walmart at that ungodly shopping hour, Thanksgiving night. I will tell you, right after I prove what a great cook he is. We had salad with the freshest ingredients, and the perfect dressing: a tiny bit of caesar, mixed with a bit of Raspberry vinaigrette.

Yummy appetizer!

If you think the food looks great, you should see the cook! *Swoon*

Also, I created Ben into a Mii

Oh, what? How’d that get in there? That’s right. Ben stayed up and traversed Walmart for a Nintendo Wii! We made characters for each other, and continued to play Just Dance 3 and Ben let me play Zelda for a few hours 🙂 I know.We’re nerds. But it was fun!

Overall the evening was a success!

Don’t you like how I began this blog telling you it would be about crafts and instead talked about playing video games on my anniversary? I am so crafty.

For real, I did shop that Friday afternoon and picked up materials for scarfs and fabric flowers, painting, and accessorizing. I can’t tell you what I’m making, as it should be a surprise to a few of my readers. However, here are some excellent craft ideas for Christmas, where it’s not too late to start!

Why not save some money and give someone something with a personal touch? After all, too many people have what they already need.

My creativity is inspired by Pinterest.

Explore and stockpile projects and ideas yourself with Pinterest.com

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I don’t like reading. Cure me!

I have a confession.

Recently, I organized a book club to meet with NWC friends and keep reading. I knew I needed accountability.

As an English student, and student of life (hahaha), I know reading is an essential tool for a full life. It is a way to explore and learn about paths and options to take in life. It’s a way to avoid the “hard way” of learning while gaining more depth on topics than one could muster from his or her own life. It’s about sharing experiences and teaching, about sorting truth from lies, logic from…non logic. It makes me better at Scrabble. I’m not up-to-date enough to have a smart phone with Words with Friends.

I even dream about reading to my kids today and avoid reading (like Harry Potter) arguing that I’ll read them when I have kids…

But when I pick up a book on a hot afternoon to escape the heat, I get an urge to go for a run. When I try to knit as I read, I suddenly gain an intense focus on my knitting to see if I can discover a new pattern for a few rows. I could read at night to calm my mind, but why not problem solve my real problems and calculate my average income I make on commission-based work one more time? I could spend some time in a bookstore–but Michael’s is always having canvas sales. Then after a few chapters, I want to give my eyes a break. I want them to span distances–something majestic, tangible, real to me.

I don’t enjoy reading.

I enjoy gaining information, stories, the depth of knowledge coming from reading. I enjoy the smell and look of books and even book bags. But I can’t stand dropping all hobbies just to read.

This is very bad. Especially for one who graduated with an English degree.

It wasn’t always like this. I don’t remember a single math class in highschool that I didn’t read other fiction books during. By sixth grade, I had read all of the American Girl, Anne of Green Gable, and Babysitter club books. I couldn’t read enough!

Since then, my tastes have matured. No–I don’t dig into Shakespeare, Bronte, or even Tolstoy much. I discovered that I like “muti-ethnic” literature and many memoirs–which may not have appealed to me had I not taken classes on them.

There’s just something about the syntax in some books that makes me itch. Or the dialogue was read twice because of absent tags. Or I begin to count adverbs or how many paragraphs start with the same word. Then some characters become flat and boring.

Perhaps I have an editing bug.

Perhaps I have an addiction to working with my hands.

Is there a cure to better reading habits??

What’s worse? The few good books that did manage to consume me have spoiled me for movies. I am disappointed with nearly every new release movie or TV show I watch. Chick flicks are lame. Even movies based of books–like Twilight–fall short. Very short. There is no character development anymore.

What am I to do? Jog up to a hill and knit?

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Strengths

Now that I am on the job search again, I have been updating my resume. Also, you wouldn’t believe how many people have asked me what my strengths are (think Strength Finders). 

Strength Finders is a book that most college students read. As a student at Northwestern College, I had to read Strength Finders 2.0 and take an online test. 

At the time, it seemed like a meaningless assignment. However, since then, I’ve found three excellent reasons to visit my strengths test:

1) My best friend’s dad asked her husband what his strengths were, back when the hubby was a boyfriend-to-be. 

2) My last employer asked what my strengths were.

3) I didn’t know how to discuss my strengths. (Ex: “Me? I enjoy talking with people, making them feel good about themselves, making them feel important. I enjoy listening.”)

With that, here are my top five strengths (descriptions are copied from the Strength Finders Website):

Restorative

Driven by your talents, you spend considerable time examining exactly why something has gone wrong. Whenever you experience a personal or professional loss, make a mistake, or experience failure, you tend to investigate. You are likely to be restless until you have answers to all your basic questions: What? How? When? Where? Who? Why? Because of your strengths, you often consider what you need to do better so you can rank in the top tier of performers. Being “number one” is of less interest to you than making continual progress in your personal and/or professional life. Instinctively, you frequently promise yourself to do something better than you did it the last time. As you examine the consequences of your words and deeds, you usually recognize ways you could perform a similar task or problem the next time with a higher degree of knowledge or skill. Simply put: You are determined to gain insights from your mistakes so you do not repeat them. It’s very likely that you intentionally keep abreast of current events. You study areas of special interest to you either personally or professionally. You consistently acquire new information to make needed upgrades. You seek to understand things that most people do not comprehend. You want to make things better tomorrow than they were today. By nature, you repeatedly decide you need to do things better. You hope these upgrades will prompt many your teammates, classmates, coworkers, or family members to befriend you. You want them to view you as a person of influence and/or importance.

Futuristic

Driven by your talents, you now and then pause to envision what you want to accomplish in the coming months, years, or decades. Perhaps you think in terms of possibilities. Maybe this allows you to recover from certain kinds of setbacks, problems, disappointments, or disasters.

People may marvel at your ability to remain somewhat upbeat in the face of life’s difficulties and its unpredictability. It’s very likely that you may be viewed by some people as an innovative and original thinker. Perhaps your ability to generate options causes others to see there is more than one way to attain an objective. Now and then, you help certain individuals select the best alternative after having weighed the pros and cons in light of prevailing circumstances or available resources. By nature, you create detailed and vivid images of what the future promises. You can describe it long before others can imagine it. Instinctively, you routinely imagine what you can do better in the coming weeks, months, years, or even decades. You envision in vivid detail the things you need to enhance and perfect. These could include your environment, yourself, another person, a system, a project, a product, or a job. Because of your strengths, you may be enthusiastic about the future because certain visionaries describe it so clearly. Perhaps their ideas for products, medicines, or inventions increase your determination to take action.

Empathy

Driven by your talents, you occasionally tune in to another person’s subtle or perhaps not-so subtle yearning to be cheered up, supported, motivated, or inspired. When you take an interest in someone, maybe the individual is inclined to acquire knowledge, engage in unfamiliar activities, make needed changes, or gain new skills. By nature, you encourage people express their innermost thoughts and feelings, and you refrain from judging them. You like knowing that others depend on you to listen. Moreover, you have noticed that individuals come to you for advice. Because of your strengths, you might bring an emotional awareness to certain kinds of conversations. Sometimes you can ease the stress of individuals if they are about to make an important decision. Perhaps you can calm those who are struggling with the uncertainty of change. Once in a while, you pose probing questions to direct the thinking of others. To some degree, you refrain from telling people what they should or should not do.

Instinctively, you occasionally have insights into what individuals are thinking or feeling. Even so, you might refrain from invading certain people’s privacy by commenting on their moods or ideas. You might be more comfortable if they introduce the subject. Chances are good that you occasionally sense your own feelings of regret, failure, disappointment, or loss.

Perhaps some of your talents help you deal with certain negative emotions, people, or experiences.

Includer

Driven by your talents, you usually prefer to partner with others to accomplish things rather than work alone. This explains why you welcome a wide range of personalities into your life.

Instinctively, you prefer the company of people to being alone. You automatically welcome a wide array of individuals into your workplace, classroom, team, family, club, or social circle.

Chances are good that you may perform at an optimal level — physically or mentally — later in the day. Perhaps you have figured out the exact hours during the late afternoon or evening when your concentration and your capacity to work hard are strongest. It’s very likely that

You gravitate to situations where you will be in the company of others. You are much less inclined to be solitary or a loner. By nature, you may notice that life is better for you when people accommodate your innate need to work in the evening. Perhaps you produce optimal results during the evening or in the hours after midnight.

Connectedness

By nature, you automatically establish links between people. This usually requires much persistence and patience on your part. You argue that relationships should be nurtured slowly, not rushed. Instinctively, you choose to associate with people whose philosophical perspective gives them both balance and courage in the face of adversity. It’s very likely that you may feel that your life is more meaningful and you are happier when you can dedicate yourself to something important to humankind. It might be something simple rather than something grand. Perhaps you sense that your acts of kindness influence certain individuals to perform good deeds. Maybe you inspire generosity in some people. Chances are good that you spontaneously connect diverse people with one another. You approve of individuals as they are rather than as you wish them to be. This surely frees your mind to search for ideas, interests, or personal experiences you have in common. Because of your strengths, you demonstrate a heightened sensitivity to the challenges facing various members of the human family. The faces you see in the news often strike you as familiar, not foreign. You usually feel a strong bond between yourself and these individuals. You intentionally refrain from being surrounded only by people who remind you of yourself.

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My First Half Marathon…and more…

My training for this? Poor.

I’ve been “training” (running 6-8 miles a week…maybe. Ok, so I pretty much took off July. It was hot!) since May. The training was enough to keep me in shape. I am down to the dress size I wore since freshman year of high school.

On second thought, I shouldn’t brag about that.

Still, I am bad at running,

but better than I thought I would be.

Last week, I decided to take my training seriously. I was vacationing near Temperance river, and took a nice 8 mile jog along Hwy 61. Yes, grasshoppers were rampant. Seriously. Think of the dirty kid in the Charlie Brown comics, Pig Pen–only instead of clouds of dust, clouds of grasshoppers.

Imagine the dirt as grasshoppers.

So, the grasshoppers and I hobbled our way along the highway, making it to the North Shore Market, turning around, and running to Temperance River, where I met some friends trying to catch up to me on my tan.

From there, we hiked to a swimming hole, swam, ate, then hiked the Superior trail another 2 miles (up and down hill) and another 1/2 mile back to campsite. A great workout.

And then, it was back to my poor training.

Yesterday I worked 8 hours straight, sculpting back-to-school haircuts. Then I went straight to my best friend’s bachelorette party. Fortunately, there were some yummy snacks left over. After stylings a couple more heads of hair for “going out,” we were ready.

Jessica is an amazing hostess. Not only did she take time to make snacks, she picked up a massive crown for Julie (YES!), baby crowns for us, along with glow-in-the-dark hoop clip-on earrings, and bachelorette banners–pink. Add that to some blue eyeshadow, pink dress, and extensions. What do you get? Barbie, apparently. Me and 6 other Barbies,

and Dolly Parton.

What? we had to make the big crown blend in!

Also, Jessica got reservations at the Melting Pot! Despite that one of my dear friends worked there in high school, I had never been. We dipped away in cheese and chocolate until 9. However, the cheese and chocolate, along with what we were dipping, were gone within 10 minutes of hitting the table. I also tried a lemon, ginger spritzer…thing. I thought it was tasty. The other Annie at the table thought it tasted like chlorine. I did drink about 3 glasses of water, but it was a long time between fill-ups.

My boyfriend was a dear. He picked me up from Melting Pot (since we had all carpooled) and brought me to Caribou for some oatmeal..which I was too tired to eat. And, I love Caribou coffee, but the oatmeal there is a little too sweet and syrupy. Then I got to my car and drove home to hit the hay!

So I slept 5 hours after being in heels most of the day. I’m smart.

At 5:15am, I rose. The day of the race was here! I found out that it was meant to be (despite that my Ipod maxed out and didn’t transfer my carefully crafted playlists). My mom was sweet enough to cook me an egg, and pour me a tall glass of orange juice. I took multi-vitamins with iron (never race without them!) and drove away.

As I approached the lake, I felt like the Canaanite woman. The sunrise was a bright orange and pink with purple–my favorite color combinations! I knew that God was with me–and would be for the entire race. I knew that God would strengthen me, that I would run the whole race. Not because of who I was–how I approached him or how I trained for this run, but because of who God is–his mercy and compassion for me.

Minneapolis is stunning in the morning, and the weather? Perfect.

I planned on running a 12 min mile. I have never ran more than 8 miles this summer, and never more than 10 in my life. I am a lazy runner, who jogs only to relax and stay productive while enjoying music.

The best part of the race? Finding a pace buddy, a running soul mate (for the race). It’s like finding a bird in Avatar…only not.

Not at all. (See picture).

How to find a running partner? You just know.

Finally at mile 7, I found him. Or he found me. Bob ran in blue with headphones and a hat.

“I liked the downhill part best!” He told me. I had been jogging near him for two miles as I listened to Sara Groves “Add to the Beauty” album. I jogged ahead of Bob at upbeat songs, and slowed down for songs without a strong beat (majority of my music). Bob kept up.

“Oh hey, your favorite part,” I told him at the next hill. Then we began talking. Bob has ran 9 13.1 races, starting at age 54, after he quit smoking. He is now 64, and plans on running half marathons in 25 states. His aunt began running in her fifties, too. She has ran ultrathons (50 mile races) and won the Boston Marathon Award three times in a row in her age bracket! Needless to say, we had great conversation, keeping each other motivated. His son was running too, and caught up with us around mile 9.

His family was cheering him at the sidelines. He told them I was setting the pace for him, I told them he was setting the pace for me. I wish I had a picture with him! Bob was cool!

So the race went quickly! I loved it–it was relaxing and got more challenging around 12.3 miles.

The real challenge hit at 2 hours and 37 minutes, ten minutes after I had finished. My knees began to lock.

Ben met me and we left….remembered I had a gear check which included my keys, so went back, then found the World Vision tent and ate some pizza and ice cream–yay! He let me come over to crash his couch. He massaged my feet–what a guy! And let me sleep for three and a half hours! That’s a longer nap than after skydiving. Of course it wasn’t just adrenaline shock–it was sheer exhaustion.

I transferred home to crash on the couch with ice packs on my knees and my mom made me rice for dinner–what I had been craving for three days! (I ate fast food at 3pm, too).

So now that I’ve showered, I am feeling hopeful, even though my knees are pretty darn sore.

Now you know all about my first half marathon–and I doubt it will be my last (even though I’m limping).

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Bridal tea party!

Arrival

My best friend is getting married in three weeks!

She has the gift of hospitality and has been most generous and loyal to me. Also, she is the queen of tea parties. So it was time to give back!

I could not have done this without the inspiration from Pinterest and the help from my mom and boyfriend, Ben.

Ben not only helped me dip peanut butter pretzels in chocolate, he also set up the lights, netting, crepe paper and balloons in hot, humid weather. Seriously, he amazes me!

The weather was hot and humid, and after two games and eating, we were melted! We ended up staying inside for opening gifts and eating dessert.

Menu:

Ice chai tea (big hit! Should’ve made a quadruple batch!)

Iced tea

lemonade

 

 

rainbow fruit skewers                                         

triscuit bruscetta

chicken/craisin sandwiches

meat/cheese/cracker tray

veggie tray

blueberry scones and devonshire cream

peanut butter and chocolate pretzels

red velvet cake

owl cupcakes

Giant cupcake cake!

 Bridesmaids & moms

Bride to be!

Of course the weather was perfect once everyone left...

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Me? I’ve been busy fasting from chick flicks.

Tonight, I did something naughty.

July was my month that I set to fast from movies–especially from chick flicks. But after a rowdy game of cards….O.k…like two hours of cards with my beautiful four friends on girls’ night, we decided to watch a “wedding themed” movie–after all, it was a bridal shower party.

I helped pick it out. It was a movie that we had never seen, and it shared the title with a film I loved as a child which had starred Home Improvement’s Richard Karn. Title? Picture Perfect.

But this version was disappointing, despite that it featured Jennifer Aniston and Kevin Bacon. It was nothing like the family-friendly TVversion.

While there were good concepts in the movie–honesty is the best policy…unconditional forgiveness, etc…it had some seriously skewed, glamorized identities.

I guess I just really had a problem with the main character, “Kate” in the movie. She was completely insecure….thoroughly power hungry and manipulative…and “hot.”

And she, and many other attractive “bad ass” or “executive” and insecure women are the “ideal woman” in our culture.

Psychology Today (PT) featured research of the ideal woman from UC at Davis:

Subjects viewed movie clips where the female protagonists were attractive [Angelina Jolie] or less attractive [Kathy Bates] in both aggressive and non-aggressive roles. Of the four heroines, Jolie’s Tome Raider character–both hot and aggressive–was judged by both genders to be the best role model.

So attractive/aggressive women are voted as “hot.” But what gets me, is when they are attractive, aggressive, and HUGE, SELFISH BABIES that makes me appalled.

Kate, played by Jennifer Aniston** in “Picture Perfect” was just that.

She manipulated two men in the show. Make that four. But two men, she manipulated “romantically”–if you could call it that.

One guy, the “bad boy”–Kevin Bacon,** she manipulated into sleeping with her by making it appear she was in a committed relationship with a different man. Seriously, why would you want to sleep with a man who not only has a mullet, but was only interested in unavailable women? Hmmmm…red flags.

Then she manipulates the “nice guy” into taking her out to dinner, pretending to be her fiance, and faking a break-up–while he liked her, of course. Why did he like her? Because she was hot. Seriously, there could be no other reason. None. She was a total snob to him.

So of course, in the heat of the “romantic” moment–Bacon (don’t remember his name in the movie) finds out she’s not committed, and jumps off the burner and stops sizzling (sorry to play on “bacon” so much). She leaves him, realizing he only likes her when she’s unavailable–duh…isn’t that the game she chose to play?

Then, she “misses” nice boy. After completely humiliating and manipulating him, she shows up while he is videotaping a wedding and insists on talking to him while he’s filming. How selfish can you get? Seriously, she can’t wait until after the ceremony?

Nice boy with mean, hot girl

And of course, he forgives her. Why? Again, because he’s attracted to her.

Best part? All her discernment issues are chalked up with “missing father” syndrome. Viewers are supposed to think “oooo, that’s why she turned up the heat with greasy Bacon man instead of super-nice, family man…her father wasn’t around.” Understandable? maybe. Excused? no.

Women, in this culture, are taught by movies like these:

If you are attractive enough, value-loving men will ignore your attrocious behavior and remain “turned-on” by you.

Wouldn’t that be lovely? Just have the perfect body, and do whatever you want.

Sigh. Such lies.

Sexuality is so much more than just physical connection. There needs to be effort to serve one another, not just look good for one another.

I also despised the use of “good” and “bad” in the movie. The nice guy was totally angelic and unrealistic, Kate portrayed a traumatized little girl in a hormone-flaming, woman’s body, and Bacon was only interested in “bad-girl” activities and his Mercedes. These are such extremes. Nobody’s purposely that bad and purposely that good–but I guess that would be a whole other topic.

I am just so disappointed by chick flicks. I am sick of insecure women falling for the wrong guy and being “rescued” by the “right” guy. I am sick of aggressive women manipulating men and remain labeled as “sexy.”

…tell me there’s a better alternative….hope for relationships….healthy families….whole men and women…compatibility and friendship…

I know–chick flick are light-hearted, just for fun.

But I do believe sexuality is a very touchy subject for women, and there is a high-standard for what it means to be attractive in this culture. We know the media is skewed, but I needed to rant anyway.

There has got to be more than just good looks and career ambition to make a relationship healthy….

**Now, do I dislike Jennifer Aniston or Kevin Bacon? No. I don’t even know them. I disliked the characters they portrayed. They are both normal, above average looking (but yes, the mullet should have been gone…and Bacon is better at dancing and being a scary, bad guy).

Thoughts? Opinions?

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