Monday, November 15, 2010

An Autumn Wedding

In the middle of October, I ran away from the dreary Northwest fall to sunny, dry Arizona. Actually, I left behind crisp, clear fall mornings and changing leaves for sun-scorched cacti and highs in the 90s. It seemed like a great idea in the planning stages, but when I landed in Phoenix at 8 am and the temperature was already 88 degrees, I thought maybe I'd made a mistake. However, when I saw my mommy waiting for me at the baggage claim, the extreme (to a Seattleite) heat became irrelevant and I didn't care if I missed every beautiful fall moment for the sake of spending time with her and the other Arizonan immigrants that I love!

Then, Mom added the cherry on my vacation sundae by showing me a giant diamond sparkling on her left ring finger! "Surprise," she said. "The wedding is tomorrow and I need your help!" Some people may have been astonished that their usually painfully methodical mother was about to partake in a shotgun wedding. Some people may have taken a second to think about the potential groom (who is wonderful and lovely and treats my mom like a princess) and whether he deserves to marry their mother. Some people may have had mixed feelings about the shifting family dynamics and adding 4 new step siblings and a step parent, but I heard the words "wedding" and "help" and was excited instantly. I was ready to spring into action with thousands of ideas fueled by my wedding blog obsession.

We spent much of the car ride home talking about what was important to Mom, and what was appropriate for a courthouse wedding. And of course, Mom had to rein me in a couple of times, when I started imagining all the beautiful and creative wedding things I could have put together within 24 hours. Mom had to remind me that her aesthetic is a little different from mine, and while sundresses with wildflower bouquets are adorable for brides in the 20s, she was interested in something a little more polished.

I thought Mom's shotgun bridal party should look like this group from Green Wedding Shoes, with
adorable bouquets and sundresses, but the bride had visions of a more "mature" wedding.

The next morning, our first stop was the florist. Mom had a small nervous bride moment, when she was totally inarticulate about what she wanted in the bouquet, but I, like a good maid of honor, helped her clarify her expectations and communicate them.

Then, we went wedding dress shopping. I have watched so much "Say Yes to the Dress" that I feel like I could be a Kleinfeld's consultant, so I knew I was up to the challenge! Of course, Dillard’s is no Kleinfeld's, and the only dress that stood out to us was something Mom would never normally try on. Just like Keasha (my favorite consultant) would, I encouraged Mom to stretch her boundaries a little bit and it ended up being the perfect dress. I indulged my inner Keasha, when I stood in the mirror behind Mom and said "Is this your dress?" It was so stinkin' fun!

Then, it was time to get ready and go the courthouse for the wedding. The ceremony was quick and pretty standard, but there was a great moment when Mom was so overcome with emotion that she couldn't talk. Then, she cried a little. It was pretty sweet. Also pretty sweet was that she and my new step dad, Alan, let me pretend to be a wedding photographer and take a million pictures of them.

The whole wedding process was super quick and super fun and I was so glad to be a part of it! It was a great experience because it was so low stress, but it was also a great womanly adventure. I was glad I had a knowledge base to be able to help my mom on her special day, and I was especially proud of myself because I really listened to and focused on her. There was so much potential to try to take over or push my ideas onto her special day, but I didn't do that. Instead, like a mature woman, I was thoroughly helpful and pleasant and my mom got everything she wanted. I'm becoming so womanly!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Ten Years Later

I graduated from high school in 2000.  Because of this, I've spent 2010 thinking vague and fleeting but none the less stressed-out thoughts about my 10 year high school reunion.  In January, I thought, 'I've got months to upgrade my life, including loosing 20 pounds and finding a boyfriend and becoming rich and famous and successful.'  In May, I thought, 'I'm a runner now, surely I'll be beautiful and fit by the end of summer and everybody from high school will be amazed by how amazing I am.'  In July, I thought, 'Good Lord, the reunion is less than a month away! I haven't lost 20 pounds or found a boyfriend; I haven't become rich or famous; I'm not going!'  In August, I realized that all of my stress and panic was silly, and the only thing keeping me from a 90s-music-filled evening of adventure was my own insecurity.  I decided that I'm too womanly to let the small, ugly voice in the back of my head control me and decided to brave the reunion.

Me and my great friend, Al, the summer before our senior year. Based on this picture,
I'm pretty sure neither of us had a super cool reputation to maintain at the reunion.

Me and Al  now, significantly cooler, except maybe the bad lighting and hair in Al's face.

My adorable and steadfast friend, Al, and I decided that together we could relive high school for a night, as long as it was preceded by some massive retail therapy.  We dedicated a whole grueling day to shopping.  Even though Al found her dress right away, she stuck with me through Macy's and Nordstrom and the Gap and H & M and little boutique stores, until finally I found a dress that suited me perfectly!  Then, we repeated the whole process for shoes and accessories.  Despite being tired at the end of the day, I was stoked because I felt like I was going to be able to walk into my reunion with a ton of confidence.

It took a lot of patience, but I found the exact perfect dress that's grown up but still super fun.

I even found shoes and a headband that are so totally me! 
After shopping with me, Al defined my style as "Preschool Sock Hop,"
 which I thought was perfectly descriptive.

This burst of confidence melted into panic by the day of the reunion. As I got dolled up (with a serious amount of help from another friend), I felt like there were giant, steroidal butterflies in my tummy. As I drove to Al’s, I had to call another high school friend for a pep talk. I thought about telling Al I’d been in a terrible accident and wouldn’t be able to make it, but then I thought she’d probably want to come visit me in the hospital. There was really no way to get out of it, so I sucked it up and went.

The reunion turned out to be WAY less scary than I had anticipated! It was great to talk to people I haven’t seen since graduation. I loved that there were people who hadn’t aged a day, although many, like me and Al, have grown significantly more attractive in the last 10 years. My classmates are all at such different stages. Some people have kids or spouses, some have been much more career oriented, and many are still searching for their passion. It was so good for me because I’m not really where I thought I’d be 10 years ago, and seeing my peers shows me that I’m not “behind.”

Instead of focusing on how impressive my life is not, I spent the evening trying to really connect with people. I found out even the super cool and together people were nervous. Despite not thinking my life was a perfectly polished package to show off, I feel great about going to my reunion. It showed me that I’m happy with who I am, where I am, and the choices I’ve made to be here. It also reminded me of how glad I am not to be 18 anymore.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Grown Up?

I read blogs as a pleasant escape from the mundane, so I think blog-land should be mostly sunshine and rainbows and general frivolity. As such, I like to maintain a low-whine threshold here at the Woman in Training.  Today is going to be a bit of an exception.

This picture, from desiree cherisse's photostream is a great illustration of how I often feel:
like a little girl, playing dress up.

Every day I get a little more comfortable with the fact that I am a grown up.  I'm pretty proficient at going to work and paying the bills.  I'm much better than I used to be at getting regular oil changes and rotating my tires.  I'm even good at keeping my shower scrubbed and soap scum free, but every so often adult responsibilities are really lame!  Sometimes I catch my self feeling outraged or put upon because I have to do something that millions of adults do every day.
I especially dislike being a grown up with tasks that involve creepy crawlies.  Most of the time when I see a spider in our two-woman apartment, I ignore it and hope Roomy is the bigger person, who kills it.  If it's in my bedroom though, I suck it up and smoosh it, but you'd better believe that I'm grumbling to myself the whole time about how it should not be my job to kill spiders. 

A couple winters ago, when I lived by myself in the basement of a house with absentee landlords, I had a rodent problem.
Rodents have no place in my semi-adult life! 
It should DEFINITELY be someone else's job to deal with this!

First of all, it made me mad because I had a terrier at the time.  Terriers were specifically bred to kill rodents, so that stupid dog was NOT earning his keep!  Secondly, I felt like it was so not my job to deal with a rodent carcass after it got caught in the trap that was so not my job to buy or set!  I was so horrified about the whole situation that I actually called my dad crying.  He gave me advice about which traps to buy and how to set them, but he was very firm about the fact that it was most definitely very important that I, his adult daughter, deal with it myself.  I started with the no-touch/no-see traps, because they obviously have the lowest gross factor. When those didn't catch anything, I moved onto the old-fashioned snap traps, which also proved futile. Then, I tried glue traps, even though I almost passed out at the thought of a live mouse with its feet all stuck down, crazed and trying to bite my fingers off when I disposed of the gluey mess.  God must've stepped in there and protected me from myself because while I caught a lot of spiders and even a set of mousey footprints on the glue traps, I did not catch my rodent invader.  (My coworker says it must've been a Jesus-mouse because it walked on the glue like Jesus on water.)
Then, I thought maybe it was a rat (I still shudder even typing that!), so I bought some giant rat snap traps.  As I set them, I prayed hard that 1) I didn't accidentally trigger the trap and sever a finger and 2) the rat traps would not catch anything because I might actually die if faced with a dead rat, or a live one for that matter. 
Whatever this creature was, it was smart enough to avoid every trap known to man!  Finally, I was so desperate to get rid of it that I tried poison, even though my dad assured me that it meant I would probably find a dead, smelly, partially decayed rodent.  After spending approximately a billion dollars on rodent traps and countless hours obsessively bleaching every surface in my house, my little rodent genius quietly disappeared.  I'm not sure where it went, but I never again saw any evidence of rodent.  The whole situation left me feeling 1) grossed out beyond belief and 2) ready for a vacation from adulthood.  I did not sign up to deal with this kind of thing!
Sometimes general housework makes me want to stop being a grown up too.  You've all seen how hard it is for me to keep my bedroom clean, but it's also really hard to take out the trash.  In my head, I think up lots of reasons why it should be Roomy's turn to take it out, not mine, but I force myself to do it because that's the grown up thing to do.
When I was younger, I kept waiting for the magical moment when I would finally feel like a grown up.  Having a full time job and my own apartment didn't do the trick.  I still felt like a kid playing house.  I still held my own tiny pity party when I - instead of my dad - was stuck with dentist bills, or faced with a giant pile of laundry.  Now I realize that magical moment isn't coming.  I'm resigning myself to adulthood gradually. Every time I kill a spider or take out the trash, I grow up a little.  (I was super grown up the other day when I cleaned my oven!)  With any luck, by the time I'm ready for retirement, I'll have stopped looking around for whose job the yucky tasks really are.  Fingers crossed that by then I'll have a husband who kills spiders!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Wedding Obsession

The other day, I received an invitation to my adorable and amazing friend's wedding to her unbelievably perfect fiance.  I'm over the moon for them and can't wait to see their lives grow together, but it has really shined a light on my (not-so) secret obsession, weddings.

I'm seriously wedding obsessed.
So obsessed that I recently sent the following email to a friend (and hopefully future bridesmaid).
I have a totally hypothetical and irrelevant question for you...if I were to get married in the next 6-8 months, how long would you be able to be here to be a bridezilla buffer for me? I ask not because I have any intentions of getting married in the next 6-8 months, or even a romantic lead in my current life narrative, but because I was thinking today about how I came down to Arizona for a week and it was lovely and I really had time to say good bye to single you, but some of your other friends had significant others and commitments and they were not able to be there for a week. Since you now fall into the "having significant others" category, does that mean you can't be here to play for a week? Once again, this conversation is totally hypothetical and irrelevant.
I heart you!          
I'm so obsessed that I stalk Etsy to find the best products for my potential future wedding.  My current favorite are to-die-for paper sculpture wedding cake toppers from Concarta.  I dream about a custom made, all white one with a dress that will match my future wedding dress. Sort of like this one...

So obsessed that I used to have an idea binder complete with tabbed dividers for center pieces, favors, dresses, etc.  Now though, my obsession has moved into the digital age and mostly involves "starred" posts in my Google reader.
Like these starred wedding invites from Hostess with the Mostest.

These great wedding favor ideas from Giver's Log are also starred.

And while we're talking about My Bride Story, if you're planning to propose to me any time soon, I definitely wouldn't say no to this ring...

Actually, the whole site is pretty obsessable!

I would happily look through wedding photographers' portfolios all day long, or spend hours browsing centerpiece ideas.  Don't even get me started on dessert tables

 Because I'm a little perfectionist and a lot detail oriented, I think planning a wedding just might be the funnest thing ever, but I do worry that these characteristics might also lead to me alienating my closest friends with bridezilla tantrums.  I also wonder whether my future groom-to-be will be thrilled with the idea of being slotted into the groom-shaped space in my totally preplanned wedding.  How will I cope if he has an idea about napkin rings that doesn't match my perfectly designed table scape?  I understand that there is no economic sense in having a down-payment-on-a-house sized budget for a wedding, and I know that trying to micromanage every detail of a 300 person event would probably lead to a nervous break down, but I have been dreaming about this day since I can remember.  I want it to be special and memorable and perfect. 

Much to the consternation of my parents, I'm pretty much the most single person I know.  By the time I'm ready to get married, I know that I will find a balance between my dream wedding and the manageable (but still pretty special) wedding that I and my talented, crafty, adorable family and friends can throw together, and if the man I love wants plaid napkin rings on my floral, polka dot table top......I sure hope that I'm womanly enough to smile and compromise.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Sugar Cookies and Failure

I'd like to begin this post by addressing the elephant in the room....It's been over a month since I last blogged and I am deeply apologetic to my loyal readers for leaving you hanging.  In my defence, I've spent the last few months in a relationship that was rapidly spiraling into dysfunction.  I was spending a lot of my time and energy dreading the moments we would be together.  Then, when I couldn't avoid "quality time" any longer, I would be antsy and impatient until it was over.  Finally, I admitted that my needs were just not being met and moved on.  I broke up with my old laptop that made blogging and photo editing a SLOW chore and upgraded to my new love, a super fast, super sleek Dell with a giant HD screen!  I can't wait to really put it through it's paces with some hard core picture editing, but in the mean time, here's a little something that I've been dying to share with the blog world.

When my friend decided to have an Independence Day potluck, I knew immediately that I would be bringing chips and Pioneer Woman's Restaurant Style Salsa, but I also wanted to bring a cute 4th of July themed dessert.  I  browsed my go-to favorite blogs until I saw these beauties on inchmark.
Photo courtesy of inchmark, where Brooke shows off her cupcake
(and pretty much all-around) adorableness.

I don't often make sugar cookies because they do not taste good enough to justify the amount of work involved.  I mean, seriously, rolling out, cutting, icing, flooding....Who has that kind of time or patience?  I am a WOMAN in training, not a SAINT in training!  I found a recipe (on Pioneer Woman's blog of course, do you think she should be concerned about me as a potential stalker?) that seemed easy-ish because it made use of an egg-yolk glaze pre-baking for color, instead of icing.  I felt much more up to painting on a glaze than trying to flood a cookie with icing.  I'm not really sure how to flood, but it seems fairly hard and impressive to me.  PW warned that they weren't "Martha worthy" cookies, but after seeing her pictures, I thought they'd be okay for my purposes.
Christmas cookie photo courtesy of Pioneer Woman.

The process began well.  The dough was so good that I could have happily eaten the whole batch raw.  Of course, I couldn't because I was working toward the noble goal of making impressively adorable cupcakes to make my friends think I'm super cool and womanly.  The rolling out process was alright, although I let the dough get a little warm and it was sort of mushy. 
 Inserting the skewers provided the first hurdle.  I thought I'd be really smart and soak my skewers in water before baking them into the cookies.  You have to soak them so they don't get black on the BBQ, right?  I thought it would be the same thing in the oven.  Wet skewers + mushy dough =  slimy, gross, mushy dough. 
Then I tried to apply the egg yolk wash with a tiny water color brush, but it would not stick to the cookie dough.  So, I brought out my big silicone pastry brush.  Still no luck.  Finally, I decided to be really smart and efficient and pour the egg wash on top of the cookies.  This coated the cookies but definitely created a gross, eggy crust around the edges of the cookies.

I tried trimming the crusty egg wash, but it was pretty happy clinging to the cookies.

If you don't look too close, they turned out alright, but they definitely did not help convince my friends that I am adorable or womanly.  I thought some simple, white powdered sugar icing might improve the situation, but I added too much milk and it was too runny to add much detail.  Also, my skewers were much too long, so the stars flew high above their cupcake bases. 
Given that the end product was tasty and enjoyed by all, it might be a touch on the dramatic side to call this adventure a failure, but I am a bit of a perfectionist, especially when it comes to cupcakes, so I'm going to go ahead and say it was a sugar cookie failure. You can keep your sugar cookies, I'll stick to baking the good old chocolate chip variety!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Blog Redesign

Don't you LOVE my new look?!  It was lovingly created by Jackie at Memories by Design. She is amazing and helpful and let me be super knit-picky and detail oriented.  I really enjoyed working with Jackie through the design process. I especially enjoyed getting her services for free because I won an online raffle!

A few of my favorites from Jackie's portfolio.

Back in January, I bought a few random raffle tickets at Hope for Haiti.  I thought it would be a nice way to donate some money to a worthy cause, but did not really expect to win anything.  Imagine my surprise when Jackie emailed me to let me know that I had won her blog design package. 
Ummm...great news, but I wasn't even a blogger yet.  I had been toying with the idea of blogging for a few months, but wasn't sure I was ready to commit to a blog.  I took my raffle win as a sign that the universe was desperately hungry for my voice.  Providence was telling me to start a blog.  So, I did.  And now the blog I started to be beautified by Jackie is officially beautified.  Thanks, Universe, for compelling me to start blogging.  I'm really enjoying it so far!

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Last Frontier

Please excuse my long absence.  I was away for most of May and I'm having trouble adjusting to being home.  In fact, the other day I woke up super confused about where I was.  I spend several long seconds analyzing the painting above the bed and the contents of the bedside shelves before I realized that I was in my own bed.  Then, I got in my car, which felt oddly foreign, reached for the gear shift in the wrong spot, and had to think really hard about how to turn on the windshield wipers.  Living in the Seattle area, windshield wipers are a feature of the car that I use quite frequently, and it pretty much freaked me out that I was discombobulated enough to forget how.  I've decided that I was away much too long and I promise not to do it again any time soon!
If you've forgiven me for abandoning you, let's  move on to the "How I Spent My Vacation" portion of this post.
My aunt and uncle, who have a home in beautiful Anchorage, just had TRIPLETS  (That's three brand new babies!), and asked me to come up and help out.

Precious new-born triplets.  Just looking at this picture makes me want to fly back to Anchorage to snuggle up to one or two of them!
They mostly wanted help with their two year old during the transition home.  So, I pretty much got to practice being the mother of a two year old for three weeks.  Let me just say that I gained a WHOLE new appreciation for parents of toddlers!
Isn't she ADORABLE?!  But watch out because, given the chance, she will EAT YOU ALIVE! (PS Please excuse the fact that her cute, little pig tail is the only part of the picture that is in focus.  She's speedy and this was my very best shot of her.)

Initially, I thought it would be a very "Woman in Training" idea to write a post with all the tips and tricks I learned about caring for a two year old. Then I realized that there are approximately 1 billion "mommy blogs" out there. I'm pretty sure that my meager three week experience, harrowing as it was, did not lead to a level of expertise on par with most of those lovely and talented women.

Instead, let me share my reflections on Anchorage.
Before I arrived, Lonely Planet told me of the fantastic wilderness in and around Anchorage. My mom and my step mom warned me that Anchorage is smaller than I would anticipate. My grandparents, who lean towards the crotchety end of the spectrum, told me that Anchorage was not nearly as beautiful as one would expect.  In a way, they're all right.
Don't get me wrong, Anchorage is spectacular!  It sits on a little bit of land where the soaring mountains meet the ocean.  All over the city there are little birch woods, which become magical in the right light.

The mountains are rugged. The ocean is majestic.  There are outdoorsy things to do everywhere you turn.  Overall though, I probably would have been more awed by Anchorage if I was not from Seattle, where we have some fairly rugged mountains and majestic bodies of water.
The surprise hit of the trip was when my eighteen year old cousin and I decided to take a road trip to Seward to go on a half-day cruise.  Not only did we see beautiful scenery and tons of native fauna, we had a great adventure getting there.  In our minds, we barely escaped being eaten by both zombies and vampires.  It was totally worth it though to see a pod of orcas swimming yards from our boat and mountain goats with their kids that were just days old!

My cousins also took me to see Portage Glacier, which was both tragic and beautiful.

Tragic because the Portage Glacier visitor center was built on the edge of an iceberg filled lake with an amazing view of the glacier.  There is even a viewing platform with those kitschy quarter operated binoculars.  Unfortunately, the glacier has melted so much that it's no longer visible from the visitor center.  You can't even kind of see a tiny corner of it. I don't want to get political here, but I'm pretty sure that alone is significant evidence of global warming.  It's definitely enough to make me sad.
I cheered up outside, however, when we went down to the water's edge and threw rocks at the chunks of ice.  The water is an amazing milky light blue color and the biggest ice blocks maintain their vibrant, eerie, glacial blue.  Playing by the icy lake was surreal.  Especially when you take into account that it was in the  60s outside.
I had a great time in the Last Frontier!  I loved visiting family, chasing two year olds, snuggling babies and all, and I got to spend some time communing with some pretty incredible natural sights!

Okay, since this is supposed to be all about being a woman in training, let me share the top 3 things I learned about dealing with a two year old.
1) Preparing for transitions is vitally important!  One day I forgot to remind my cousin 75 times that nap time was coming and trying to put her in bed caused a Chernobyl-style melt down. Lesson Learned!!!
2) A full toddler is a happy toddler.  I learned the hard way that food deprivation leads to whiney tantrums.  Of course, I probably should have know this before I went to Alaska; I get cranky when I'm hungry too.
3) Stay calm!  When my cousin got belligerent, it was so tempting to get belligerent right back at her, but I found out pretty quick that the more worked up I got, the more worked up she got.  It was sometimes tough to keep my cool, but I only had to put myself in time out once!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Viva La Diva

Main Entry: di·va
Pronunciation: \ˈdē-və\
Function: noun
Etymology: Italian, literally, goddess, from Latin, feminine of divus divine, god
1 : a usually glamorous and successful female performer or personality ; especially : a popular female singer
2 : a vain or undisciplined person who finds it difficult to work under direction or as part of a team
A Diva bride, but DEFINITELY not a Bridezilla!

The Divas are my very best friends from college.  There are 5 of us, all with vastly different personalities and interests that somehow compliment each other perfectly.  Sometimes when we hang out I feel like we might be characters in a Baby-Sitter's Club-esk series of novels. Each of us fits well into an archetypal fictional role.  Dianna is the perfect one, but in a TOTALLY lovable and not alienating kind of way.  Sarita is the organizer and a small business owner.  Jello is outrageous and politically active.  Molly is adorable and crafty and a Catholic school teacher.  I'm not really sure what my role is, but I think it mostly involves creating zany situations.

Baby-Sitters club cover courtesy of What Claudia Wore, which is one of my new
favorite time wasters!  If you are a child of the 90s, like me, and devoured these
books, like me, you've GOT to check out this blog!
If this was a picture of the Divas, I would probably be the one kneeling with
my mouth wide open.

I'm not exactly sure why we started calling ourselves the "Divas" - the word certainly has negative connotations that do not fit any of my lovely, talented, smart friends- but now that I see it's the Italian word for goddess, it makes PERFECT sense!
The initial Diva bonding began my second year at Washington State University, when we were all RAs together.  Despite being so different, we found that we had much more in common than just a passion for dorm living and a dislike of underage drinking.  We became pretty near inseparable that year.
Diva Dinners became a Friday night tradition.  Every Friday, a different Diva hosted a themed dinner party, complete with a minimum of three courses and coordinating outfits.  I hosted a "spring" themed night, where I served spring mix salad, spring rolls and desserts topped with caramel springs, and everybody dressed in floral attire. 
In my mind, the most memorable Diva Dinner was Greek night, hosted by Jello.  We wore togas and ate an obscene amount of garlic, but the baklava was the highlight of the evening.  It sort of caught on fire in the oven.  Sarita sprang into action, pulled it out of the oven and ran out the front door with it.  Jello, trying to keep the rest of us from seeing the flaming baklava, ran out of the apartment after Sarita shouting "Everything's normal!"  They stayed outside a few minutes and then came back in, acting just like everything WAS normal.  They had pulled the top layer off the filo and expected us to eat the dessert that filled the whole apartment with smoke.  To this day, we all shout "everything's normal" at each other, despite the fact that it is a poor diversionary tactic.

Jello's baklava pretty much looked like this one, except,
you know, on fire.

Since college, we've all gotten pretty wrapped up in our big-girl lives and we definitely don't see each other as often as we'd like, so we've decided to reinstate Diva Dinners!  This time, we're doing them potluck-style.  To avoid more flaming baklavas, I was assigned to dessert.  To match the Mexican theme, I made Mexican Fried Ice Cream Cupcakes, which I found to be both impressive and delicious!

I am so thankful for my lovely, fabulous friends and for the adventures we've shared and all those yet to come!  And I L-O-V-E that we've decided to bring back Diva Dinners!

The most beautiful discovery true friends make is that they can grow separately without growing apart.
-Elizabeth Foley

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Week 4 is KILLING me!

 Recently, I came across the Cool Running Couch-to-5k training program.  I had been toying with the idea of trying to become a runner for awhile.  I have a few friends who are runners and they seem so fit and happy.  I wanted to be fit and happy too, so Roomy and I left our couch behind and decided to become runners.

My pink, extra wide, New Balance balance cross
trainers and my pink I-pod, the accessories that
belong to my new runner lifestyle.

The first day was MISERABLE!  I mean MISERABLE!  It was eight intervals of 60 seconds jogging and 90 seconds walking.  After the third jogging interval, I literally thought my chest was going to explode into flames!  Every breath felt like a million tiny knives shredding my lungs and esophagus.  As I jogged at a snail's pace, questioning my decision to try this insanity, I chanted to myself, "I'm not a runner.  I'm not a runner."  I did not think there was any way I could make it up the steps to our third-floor apartment.  I'm sure it was a pain greater than child birth!  I vowed I would never run again.
A few days later, Roomy somehow convinced me to try again.  And it was easier!  In fact, every day it got easier to run.  I felt myself getting fitter and stronger and my lung capacity increasing.  My gasping chant to myself changed to, "I am a runner. I am a runner."
Roomy's totally in the "runner zone."  It's just her and the track! 

It was so motivating that I became a sort of Couch-to-5k evangelist.  I couldn't stop telling everybody what an amazing program it was!  I waxed poetic about the greatness of the gradual increases and how nice it was to have a program to follow.  I almost begged people to download the podcasts (specifically the Chubby Jones podcast). I told everybody they needed to be awesome, like me, and become runners.  I looked with scorn on all the people I knew who weren't tenacious enough to be a runner like me. 
And then came week 4.  It is HARD!  It involves "running" 5 minutes straight... more than once!  I know jogging for 5 minutes does not sound like that long, but seriously, I know I haven't done it since at least high school.  It is HARD!  I think I've reached what they call a plateau.  I'm stuck on week 4 because week 5 is even HARDER!  Seriously, I've attempted the week 4 workout at least 5 times and only successfully completed it once!  
I guess I have to celebrate the victory that I have been able to complete week 4 one time.  If I did it once, I can do it again.  And of course, I really appreciate the chance to look back at where I was when I started and see where I am now.  I feel so close to my 5k goal, but stupid week 4 is KILLING me!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun!

I am so sorry for...#1 that EXCELLENT song embedding it self in your head for the rest of the day, and #2 the horrifically cliche title for a post about an 80s party.  I couldn't resist!
Roomy had an 80s bowling party for her birthday because she's, you know, from the 80s.  It was super fun and super silly and all our friends got super into it!
My outfit started with a trip to the thrift store, where I found a lacy H&M mini dress and an over sized, acid washed sweatshirt.  I wanted to channel vintage Madonna, but I think the look ended up a little more mish-mashy.

I wasn't really old enough to wear makeup or style my hair in the 80s, so I did an exhaustive Internet search to make sure my outfit was authentic.  I'm glad I googled because I had TOTALLY forgotten about the stripe of bright blush!  I also was inspired by multicolored eye shadow, so I did the inner halves of my eyelids pink and the outer halves blue.  Heavy, black eyeliner and bright lips completed my totally 80s face!  We all felt like we had WAY too much makeup on though!

I'm not sure why 80s  Party = mouth open so big, but at least half of the pictures of me from this night have this EXACT facial expression.  Maybe it's a tick?  Also, PLEASE note my fabulous bowling pin earrings inherited from my great grandmother!

 I realized that 80s makeup was so bright because it had to compete with all the BIG hair.  That was a tough one for me because my hair is stick straight.  Seriously, it's fine and straight and barely stays in a pony tail, but I had a plan to make it big!  Roomy is lovely and generous with her time and graciously agreed to put my hair in french braids while it was wet.  The one flaw in my plan was that I had to wear the braids all night and all day so that my hair could dry and look crimpy.  I rocked my three french braids at the track, when I went for a jog.  I even felt okay with them in at the grocery store, but I definitely felt awkward with my three french braids in at work.  When I mentioned it to a coworker, she said it looked fine.  Then, I asked, "Really?  Who wears not two, but three french braids?" 
She replied, "Snoop Dogg?"  Who is EXACTLY the person I should be channeling on a regular basis.  I'm SO hood!

Overall, 80s night was a smashing success, even though I had to wear Snoop Dogg braids to work and plaster my face with outrageous makeup colors.  I think Roomy should have birthday parties more often!

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Lost Art of Ironing

On Easter, one of my friends dressed up as the resurrected Jesus and took pictures with all the Sunday school kids.  Some might call that irreverent, but I call it good, clean fun.  Part of my job was to help "Jesus" get ready for his photo ops.  When we pulled the costume of of storage, it was REALLY wrinkly.  I tried to fix it with a steam wand, but it definitely needed a good old fashioned iron! Even though many of the pictures are adorable and quite kitschy, ALL I see when I look at him is the wrinkled robe!  For the love of all that is holy, somebody get Jesus to an ironing board, STAT!

Actually, this is not the first time that my pictures have been ruined by wrinkled clothing.  My iron and I are not really friends.  In fact, I don't know when I last used it.  Part of my problem is that I only have a baby-sized ironing board.  It's tough to maneuver woman-sized pants on it.  The larger problem is that I have NO IDEA how to iron! 
Seriously, I am kind of a nightmare around that hot, heavy thing.  Best case scenario, I end up with creases in weird, inappropriate spots.  Worse case, I often end up with burns and one particularly memorable time, I glued the iron to the ironing board with a pair of brand new pants that melted when I used the "cotton" setting. 
Living with Roomy has made me realize that this might be a generational problem.  She irons more often than I do, but definitely prefers to de-wrinkle her clothes in the dryer.  Her ironing nightmares include melting her carpet with the iron because she too dislikes the baby ironing board.
Why didn't our mothers teach us this valuable woman skill?  In the case of my mom, it's because she doesn't really know how to iron either.  So, I'm searching for an ironing mentor.  If you are an accomplished ironer, please share your tips and tricks!
With sincere thanks,
Hopeless with Heat

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

On Coworkers and Whimsical Thinking

This post is dedicated to Kate and Allison, who follow my blog even though they are not obligated to do so.  They are both coworkers; Allison is mine and Kate works with Roomy.  Ladies: Thanks for reading and making me feel like a real blogger!  I sincerely hope you enjoy this. :)

Coworkers can make or break a job.  Even the worst job in the world can be bearable with great coworkers!  I'm super fortunate because I work with a really fun group of people.  Despite the fact that I work at a hospital, where things can get busy and intense, I spend an inordinate amount of time laughing.  My coworkers are definitely one of the best parts of my job.
Part of the greatness of coworkers at the hospital is that I have a whole bunch (honestly I think the hospital has 3,000 employees!) of them from many departments.  There are people from some departments that I see frequently, but never really interact with.   I sometimes make up stories about them.
Specifically, I make up stories about the staff members of the Inpatient Psych Unit (IPU).  In my mind, if the hospital was high school, they'd totally be the cool click.  They're all attractive and cool and always look like they just stepped out of an Anthropologie catalog. When someone from the IPU gets on the elevator, one glance at their cute little outfit and their amazing accessories tells you where they work.  The fact that they work on a locked unit really adds to their air of mystery and coolness.  It's like they're all members of an exclusive club from which I am excluded.

The IPU communal closet where they all find their adorable outfits.
An IPU staffer hanging out, waiting for group therapy to start.

An IPU charge nurse getting ready to round on patients.

The whole IPU gang.

Just kidding!  Although many of the people who work on the IPU seriously dress like this - at work - the above captions are totally made up and all images are in fact from Anthropologie.  In reality, there is not some hipster version of Grey's Anatomy happening in the super-exclusive IPU.  Actually, they do some amazing work with tough patients and every time I talk to any of them on the phone, they are lovely and kind.

My own unique brand of whimsical thinking extends past the end of the work day. A good example of this is occurred when Roomy and I first moved into our apartment.  I kept seeing a small shadow out of the corner of my eye.  Naturally, I decided we had a ghost cat.  Roomy sort of humored me and it was sort of a peripheral inside joke for a while.  Then, late one night, I noticed some smudges on our sliding glass door that looked like someone had written us a note.  I squinted and turned my head and I thought I read "LET ME OUT."
I looked at Roomy, who was getting ready to go to work and leave me home alone for the night and said "I think something is trying to get out of our apartment."  I began that statement with a casual flippancy, but by the end, I realized that it was a statement that really belonged in a horror movie.  I started to freak myself out.  Then I thought about the spectral shadows that I had seen and I really started to freak myself out.  Of course, as a grown woman, I do not believe there is really a ghost cat in our apartment, but what grown woman doesn't have a small remnant of a little girl lingering inside, and Little Nicole is terrified of ghosts!  "Roomy," I said. "You CAN'T leave me home alone all night with Ghost Cat!"
We all know that hysteria is catchy, so within a microsecond, Roomy, our friend, Christina, and I all went from casually hanging out to genuinely scared.  I was about to beg Christina to stay the night so that I didn't have to be alone, but decided to suck it up and investigate the lettering on the sliding glass door more carefully.
It turned out that it actually said "LET ME IN," which scared me significantly less.  It is much less scary to have a creepy thing lurking outside the apartment than inside. Then Grown-Up Nicole started thinking about how words might have been written on the outside of our third-story apartment.  I thought back to a few months before, when we had a party and some of the boys locked another boy on the deck.  I suddenly recalled that he had breathed on the door and written LET ME IN and made a sad, puppy dog face until they unlocked the door.
Mystery solved. But Roomy and I decided it was much more fun to imagine that we had a Ghost Cat than to own up to the reality that we do not clean our sliding glass door very often.  Since then, Ghost Cat is the official third member of our household.  He's the destructive, messy one.  He's constantly doing naughty things, like spilling bleach on the carpet, eating the last cookie and bending the tips of my expensive knives.  He's a jerk.  He's also a whimsical figment of my imagination.