Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Consultation Station

Since today is Social Media Day*, I thought I'd tell you about last week, when I had the opportunity to partake in one of my first consulting gigs.

The nice and creative Jennifer Avedian at Gala Ink, who fashioned my wedding invitations, was looking to develop a bigger and better social media presence--and she called me! Since previously we'd spent the majority of our time together selecting the the right combination of cream and navy papers that would say "elegant, but not stuffy," I was surprised and honored that she asked to learn from my experience.

Overall, I think our consultation went very well. I'm not going to give away any of the oh-so-secret slew of tips, but I am going to share one thing: Don't neglect your pages.

If there is one Cardinal Rule not to break when developing a social media presence online, it is to not create channels that you will forget about, ignore or update once in a blue moon. We've all come across a cool-looking page for a business, only to find out the last time it was updated was November 2008. Anyone seriously sch-lacking like this has no hope to create a genuine brand that people can connect to.

However, I am not saying that you should constantly update your constituencies about lunch, your child's soccer practice, or what deodorant you bought on sale. Besides drifting into over-share territory, people are not interested in this. They're interested in the quality content you provide, which is a mix of original and shared information. That's what makes you a worthwhile association and brand.

I think that Jennifer is on her way to developing the Gala Ink site and social media into exactly that. Looking forward to seeing the progress!

What do you think, social media mavens? Is there a rule that tops this Cardinal Rule? Share your thoughts in the comments.


Full Disclosure: I did receive compensation for consulting services to Gala Ink.


*Today really is Social Media Day. Check it out!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A Name is a Name is a Name

While watching a sitcom the other night, I got a little chuckle from the following:

Dad: "(on the phone) I can't leave right now; I'm hosting my son's birthday party."

Kids (yelling): "Yay!! AAAAAAH!!"

Dad: "Who was that? Was that you, Tyler? Or, was is the other Tyler?"

I have been thinking a lot about names lately. No, we are not expecting (yet...) although I like learning the names of those family and friend's newly-born bundles of joy.

I'm talking more about people and the names, given to them at birth, that fit with their personalities, temperaments and intricacies, all while being a reflection of their family, and really, their era.

I like thinking about how what we are named determines the kind of person we become. While I don't think there are any evil names (hmm...), or that your name makes you especially nice or good at piano playing, I believe certain names perfectly fit the people who own them.

I haven't quite figured out how a name can do all this, but take me for example.

I am a Jennifer. It just fits me. It certainly comes from the time I was born (thank you, mid-80's), but was a name my mom had decided she liked years before I was a glimmer in her eye. And, it just fits who I am. I can't imagine being the same person that I am today with someone else's name.

Nicknames, too. Even with nicknames, they develop over time to truly fit the person they belong to. If we earn a nickname, it usually just fits us. Has anyone else noticed this phenomenon?

And now, my little advocacy moment:

We live in America. You can name your child whatever you want. However, I think that people should wait until their child is born before they name them. Besides the great likelihood that you will give your child a name that all of his or her friends will have, I feel you have to meet your child before you determine the name that fits all his or her unique components.

I understand, there's a lot of pressure to find this perfect name. Think about whether or not you are OK with saying "No!" or "Stop it!" before this name for the rest of your life. Think about if their kindergarten teacher will be able to pronounce it. Consider if it is prime real estate for future bullying. Sleep on it.

That's all I ask.

Your future children and all the Tylers of the world thank you.

Monday, June 28, 2010

HI STEPHANIE!

This weekend, at various locations and with a variety of beverages in my hand, I learned that real people read this blog. Real people who have jobs. Real people that actually want to take time to know how I feel about martinis. To me, this is very interesting and humbling and cool. If you are reading these words right now, thank you. You made this blog that much more fun.

And you may not know it, but you also make this blog interactive.

Many of these real-life readers offer advice. Sure, some have comments about what I wrote about, but most have tons of ideas of what I should be writing about. Part of this is great; their editor-like precision gives great ideas and sparks creative juices, all without the pain-inducing red pen. However, some of these topics are not exactly in my expertise. I mean, when I write up a post, I try to make sure I have hazy experience with the topic.

So, to demonstrate how scary things can get when I haven't lived what I'm writing about, I've picked up the various suggested topics and done a mashup. This is partly because I couldn't justify a whole article on any of these suggestions, but mostly because I really like the word "mashup." Plus, by my writing up these suggested topics (read: reader demands), you will: a) get a good laugh because you have suggested one of these topics, b) get a good laugh because you do not understand what the heck I am talking about, but still enjoy the randomness, or c) not laugh and just take a look at this weirdness. Read below if you dare:

Stephanie is my sister. Stephanie has requested a blog post dedicated to her. Stephanie is funny. She will tell you this persistently, even if you agree. She has tons of energy and loves having a good time (preferably at Disneyland). Stephanie does not read this blog. Stephanie, however, does interact daily with people who do read this blog. Stephanie gets irritated when people bring up the blog. MAKE SURE TO MENTION THE BLOG TO HER! HI STEPHANIE! (te-he-he)

If you know me, you know that my faith is a big deal to me. What is a big deal to my husband is that I am not political, in the sense that I pick a side to be on. Sure, I have my convictions, but when it comes to doing the right thing and solving some problems out there in the world, I think there needs to be more cooperation between parties than warring to see whose idea "wins." It's better that things get fixed.

HI STEPHANIE!

I have never owned a pair of cowboy boots. I do not ride horses. In fact, most animals, to me, are one step above horror movies. Pets are scary things, and animals that are 10X larger than Fido are reasonably 10X more intimidating. The fact that I need specific footwear around them worries me greatly. My favorite pair of boots are my Uggs. I might wear boots one day. The day they are bedazzled.

HI STEPHANIE!

In an effort to avoid ostracizing my male readers* I will now spontaneously list out words I think of when I hear the word "man." Cave. Beer. Fire. Mustaches. Football. Steak. Barber shops. Extreme cage fighting. Grunting. Men, all of these topics hold hope for a future blog post.

Actually, after finishing this post, I think a lot of these topics would be good for expansion. Thanks editors! Keep up the suggestions because they are lots of fun (for me at least).

We will return to logically coherent, one-topic posts tomorrow. Enjoy the rest of your job today.

HI STEPHANIE!


*Thanks for sticking through all the Fashion Fridays fellas. I will hit some men's fashion topics in the next few weeks.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Issuing the Skirt

You would never know it by my super-pale skin (read: glow-in-the-dark), but I love the summer. I love that it is like, eighty-five degrees, when you wake up.* I love the overall casual vibe. And, one big thing I love about summer is skirts.

I actually love skirts year-round, but they are often neglected in the winter because, well, pants are warmer. But, if you are like me, and relish skirt-wearin' weather, you probably feel this way because:

a) You get to: Doris Day, Rosemary Clooney, and ladies, I’m with you—I enjoy being a girl. Skirts are strictly female fashion. Based on the exclusivity factor alone, skirts are awesome.

b) They're uniquely feminine: Skirts give you that alluring, desirable hourglass figure. They are inherently girly. Plus, you can twirl in them, and there are days I live to twirl.

c) They're dressy: Skirts automatically make you look like you tried harder this morning than yesterday, when you wore pants (or pajamas, if you are lucky enough to work from home).

d) They're ladylike: You stand up straighter. You keep your legs together. You might even curse less. I mean, not at all. You never have.

e) They're flattering: I’ll let Stacy London, co-host of TLC’s What Not to Wear, take this one. “It's much easier to find a skirt that's flattering. With pants, you have to consider the rise, the width of the hips, the legs, and how they fall on the tush.”

f) They're easier than pants: ...Especially during restroom breaks.

By now I know you are just dying (read: not bored enough yet) for me to link you to some of my favorite skirts. Well, here you go!

For all your school-day needs

For your next picnic

For gallivanting in some Mediterranean countryside

For fun!

For the office (or "The Office" if you like watching TV in character)

For a stroll along a hidden creek

For my closet

Do you have a favorite skirt style, color, or overall feel? I'd love some more recommendations!

Dresses will receive their own post very soon! (Speaking of dresses, somebody's Shabby Apple order came in...and I'll try embedding a picture soon!)

I do not receive any compensation from Banana Republic, ModCloth, Macy's or Ann Taylor, except for the satisfaction of a skirt-search well done.


*I mostly feel this way because I HATE to be cold. Yes, I understand this is confusing because my honeymoon was indeed in Alaska. I'm a complicated gal.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

None of Your Bistro

Apartment living (on the second floor of our building) is hot. We are in a west-facing unit; when I get home from work, our living room is about 137 degrees Fahrenheit. That place must be aired out to keep you sane, which means that we are trying to take better advantage of our balcony.

The balcony is cute, and has enough room for a little table and a couple chairs. So, we are in hot pursuit of some patio furniture.

We truly began our hunt at The Patio Place (the one that took over the old Hollywood Video on Cedar and Shepherd). We ventured in on a Sunday morning after church, thinking that they would have just opened; they had already been open for an hour and a half. I guess people normally begin their patio furniture hunting at dawn.

Anyway, the store had a really relaxing atmosphere. Cool breezes coming from quietly humming fans were accompanied by a smooth jazz store soundtrack. This, combined with the furniture that begged for lounging, made me very relaxed. The fact that a salesperson complimented me on my skirt as we looked around was a bonus.

Another salesman came up to us after we browsed for a minute and asked what we were looking for. We explained that we live in a tiny apartment and can't have a huge bulky patio set taking up what little room we have on our balcony. We pointed to a sample size of the type of furniture we were looking for.

"Oh, you're looking for a bistro set."

Um, LOVE IT! "A bistro set." I can just imagine sitting outside early morning (er, maybe mid-morning Saturday), enjoying a cup of coffee, listening to Edith Piaf, and mocking all the bistro-set-deficient commoners walking around my apartment complex. I could even wave to them. I am totally calling all small tables I ever come across again "bistro tables."

The store had about three potential future Huerta "bistro sets" on the floor. We sashayed our way over to simplest looking one to check out the price.

$498.

We couldn't get out of there fast enough.

We've heard of a few good places to try to find our set, but no luck. Where do you recommend we go to fulfill my fantasy (at a realistic price)?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Birthday Mysteries

Someone in my life (who may or may not have given birth to me) is celebrating a birthday on Sunday (that may or may not indicate that they have been alive for an entire half century).

This person in my life is also the most difficult person to shop for. In. The. World.

They don't need anything. No particular hobbies to speak of. No spas. No favorite restaurant. Doesn't wear jewelry. Can travel wherever they want on their own.

Knowing this person for my entire life is not enough to know what they want for their birthday, because they will say they don't want anything. It's nice knowing the gifts don't matter, but I say that for a fiftieth birthday, that just doesn't cut it. In addition, being low on funds might cause a summation of shopping stress that results in temporary immobilization.

Please help me.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A Look at St. Thomas More

A few years back, I was part of a college-age church group that studied the saints. Being in that group allowed me to realize that I really liked learning about the people who have walked on this earth and, despite personal and social challenges, offered everything they could to Christ.

We studied some pretty cool people in that group, and one of those cool people's feast day is today. That is St. Thomas More.

I can't truly begin to highlight all the awesome things about this saint (scholarly, witty, faithfully married, defended the Church, wrote "Utopia"), so I'm leading you to some sources should you be so inclined. I'll definitely be sharing more in the future about certain saints that have been a big inspiration to me.

St. Thomas More Wikipedia (but fairly accurate) bio here and some awesome excerpts and notes here. For a more (ha!) in-depth look at the saint, click here.

Enjoy!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Classically Cool

After a long winter and pleasant spring, we are really looking forward to combating the heat with activities like barbecues and ball games. The best component of these activities, besides family and friends? I think we all know the answer to that one: consuming cooling libations. Yet, though this should be simple, I found a way to begin my summer torn.

In the last couple weeks, I have come across some recipes for new summer cocktails*. Yesterday, while trying to decide between The Melontini or a Summer Solstice Sake Sparkler, something hit me.

I thought about all of the new ingredients I would need to make these drinks: this juice, that mixer, random pieces of fruit. Things like that. Even with all of this work, these drinks will likely never hold a candle to the great mixed drinks of yesteryear, the classics, developed out of regional ingredients and flavorful alcohol. The cocktails I was considering were meager attempts to be the next big thing. They cannot succeed.

Think about the drinkers, nay, the culinary pioneers of long ago and all the classic drinks they invented. Some were out of necessity, others to highlight a new fermentation. They didn’t base their creations around tasteless, but alcoholic, vodka, or search high and low for a strawberry-kiwi-banana juice with pineapple schnapps to hide any harsh alcohol taste.

True mixologists sought to find the best flavors, and even textures, to compliment their liquor of choice. The non-alcoholic elements were intended to serve the premier ingredient, not hide it. It was way more cooking than chemistry lab.

And what was I going to do? I was going to aggravate this ongoing social problem by putting more money into the mixer-makers' pockets. Well, no more!

With this revelation, we have totally reworked our summer drink strategy. We have recently bought all the natural ingredients, including Agave Syrup, for a proper Margarita. Never have we been so concerned about the type of tequila that was in our bar. We seek truth, the drinks that have so much more soul than any slushy concoction I may find in Real Simple. After all, these drinks are classics for a reason.

How about you? Have you felt this tug of the heart for classic drinks? Is your favorite drink a gone-by-the-wayside-type, or is it a new-fangled, juice-driven cocktail? Or, are you upset because you read this whole blog entry hoping that I would talk about wine or beer? (Don't worry; their time will come.)

Oh, and if you’re with us, check out the origins of 11 classic drinks, or the backgrounds of the famous gentlemen on your favorite liquors.


*Did I say some? I mean, like, 2,643. If I was ambitious, I would get to like 5% of these recipes from now until winter.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Soapboxing

Last month, I attended the way-fun Arroyo Grande Annual Strawberry Festival. I definitely recommend it for three main pleasures. The first is entire crates full of unrealistically-good-tasting strawberries available for purchase (and pretty much immediate consumption). The second, tons of food booths offering everything you could imagine, including some deep-fried items that only appear in your nightmares. And third, without discounting the strawberries or fried inedibles, are the vendor booths.

Need some lawn decorations? Low on crocheted purses? Seeking Rastafarian garb? Look no further! Really, the place has a lots of stuff that you would never consider buying unless you had been walking in the hot sun for three hours with a soggy corndog in your hand. However, with the hundreds (yeah, hundreds) of booths we visited during the festival, one did make my heart flutter. That would be The Soapdishes.

The Soapdishes (I later learned) is based out of Ventura, CA, makes all of its products out of natural vegetable glycerin, and blah blah blah....

You don't care about all that, and neither did I! What do you care about? FLAVORS!

Lisa, who owns and creates all of the delicious "dishes" and is pretty funny, had over 35 scents to choose from. There was a soap for any type of buyer you might be, any kind of gift you might need, and any potential shower mood you could ever have. Obviously, she had no idea I was coming to the festival and would need a half hour to figure out which scents I couldn't live without.

I ended up with Cherries Jubilee and Juicy Apple*. I busted into Cherries Jubilee within the first week of buying it (yes, even though we have three other soaps open in our shower). It is like bathing in Twizzler juice. It lathers so nicely, and smells so good, that it takes a lot of personal convincing that my shower is over.

My sister, Stephanie, got the Juicy Apple, too. She also got Black Tie Affairre and Angel's Kiss. Jamie was seriously considering some of the body butters, but has a stronger will than I, as she left that booth with all her money.

I totally plan to buy more of of these delectables, since they are actually pretty affordable. In the meantime, I can't wait to ignore my other soaps and try the Juicy Apple.

Anybody else try The Soapdishes before? Know of something even better?**


I do not receive any compensation from The Soapdishes. I did, in fact, pay for my natural vegetable glycerin soap.


* I can't find Juicy Apple on her Website. I don't know whether to be sad that I can't buy it again, or special that I have it and you don't. My brain hurts from this dilemma.

** Wait, maybe you shouldn't tell me....

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Convince Me, Lady

Yesterday I played teacher. I, of all of the people currently residing in the "real-world," was asked to speak in a summer school junior English class to actual students.

I was never one of those kids who, when considering what they wanted to do when they grew up, said, "I want to stay in school forever!" Teaching is a way-difficult profession, certainly not for the faint-of-heart. Kids that are not yours to parent and discipline are a whole different adventure. You have to have patience for the young kids, but a quick wit to defend against the older kids--all while teaching them! I haven't discovered any radioactive goop to give me all of those super powers yet, so I think I am going to leave the day-to-day teaching to the professionals.

Anyway, I was asked to speak at Selma High School* about persuasive essays and writing. I am certainly familiar with this writing style. I use persuasion daily in my job, and occasionally when I have to convince my husband that I need a new top. Us Americans are getting more dependent on reading 140-character snippets of information to tell us "all we need to know." Succinct, persuasive writing is a necessary skill.

I tried to relate my job to what these kids were about to attempt. Grant applications are real, grown-up essay prompts that say, "We might want to give you money; prove that you are worthy." Grants are persuasive essays, attempts to convince the reader that the client deserves every last cent the funder is willing to offer. No grades in this class, only success or failure.

However, to keep from imploding because of how daunting that sounds, you implement the writing strategies you learned in school. Writing things like grants and press releases at work is simplified because I follow a proven formula. Instead of being tempted to be uber-creative, deeply out-of-the-box, or "wow" people with my diction, they actually understand what I am trying to say. And, when you are dealing with potentially getting a client millions of dollars, clarity beats fanciness every time.

While I didn't get totally "addicted to teaching,"** like a few people suspected I might, I did thoroughly enjoy my opportunity to present. It was a lot of fun to share the real-world application of what these kids are learning. I wish there had been more of that for me when I was in school.


* Thanks, Amy! I had a great time, and look forward to hearing how the essays turned out!

** "Sorry" about all the "quotes" "today."

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Father's Day

Most of you probably know that Father's Day is this coming up on Sunday. Most of you are also probably trying to figure out what to get dad for Father's Day.

Not me. I have a dad who shows no shame in sharing exactly what he wants.*

"Dad, what do you want for Father's Day?," my sister asked openly. Mom gawked at the semi-callous attitude. Apparently this request is taboo.

"Oh, I want golf balls, and new golf shoes, and tickets to...," Dad replies, as I leave the room. I'm already covered. And really, he's pretty much happy with anything you get him.

You know who else is pretty much just as open/cavalier in sharing what kind of holiday gifts they want, and is just as happy when they receive anything? Children. It's kind of a relief to know that nothing will be a bomb, and that he will genuinely appreciate anything we give him. He's just happy we're there.

So, if you are not as lucky to have a Dad like mine, you might find some options here. I love you, Dad!

Is anybody having trouble finding a Father's Day gift?


*This is nothing like shopping for my Mom's birthday, which will be discussed next week. Totally opposite end of the spectrum.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Paying It Forward

Today, I am spending some time reading and thinking about paying it forward. While I've never seen the movie, I definitely understand the concept. Some might call it karma, and others responsibility. I just think that it is loving people the way we are supposed to by going out of our way and making sacrifices.

Over at Mental Floss, readers are recalling a time when a stranger took the time to show them one act of kindness. Even though I am having a hard time thinking of the last time a stranger went out of their way to do something nice for me, I am not disheartened. I am not taking it as, "No one in this town cares about anybody!" Instead, I am taking it more like, "Maybe I need to pay more attention to the ways I can help others. Really love them like Jesus does."

After all, Jesus beats a Haley Joel Osment movie any day.

Please enjoy all the stories! I know I am!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Dancing With Myself

Stephen and I were invited to a beautiful wedding this past Saturday to watch friends of ours begin their wonderful journey together. Lots of fun dancing and hanging out with family and friends. It was really neat to take part in a wedding so soon after we had just had our own special day.

Except that I had to go without my husband.

Stephen is away at his required two-week summer training for the National Guard in some camp/fort/base in/near Paso Robles.* He was really bummed that he had to miss the wedding. Worse, he’s really bummed that he had to leave at all, and so am I.

In the past, we have had periods of time—periods much longer than two weeks—apart, but this time just feels different. When he was in Iraq, every day that passed where we didn’t get a chance to talk (he was very busy) was another stress-filled, “Is everything OK?”–type of day. I definitely don’t want those days back, and I certainly don’t wish that stress on any other military girlfriends/wives. Now, when I don’t hear from Stephen one day, I know that it just means that he has (wisely) chosen to get some sleep (before he has to wake up at 4 a.m., again).

This two-week leave of absence is, of course, much less stressful, but it is still kinda difficult for us both. I don’t mean to be whiney. Being newlyweds, we are still getting used to enjoying the brand new experiences marriage brings (“What do you mean our PG&E payment was a week late?”). We are truly loving the opportunity to begin learning about each other as spouses, and beginning to work as a team. It just isn’t easy to do all of that if only one of you comes home every night.

We love each other, so any long term time apart is not preferential. We know we’re not the first to deal with the other being far away for any period of time. I am keeping myself busy, but what else should I do to keep from going crazy in my quiet apartment while I wait for Saturday?


*This is not a National Security decoy; I really just don’t know where he is.

P.S. Hi Hon! (Stephen occasionally has 3 minutes of personal time to skim through the latest blog)

Friday, June 11, 2010

Slipping Up

Men, this is not your blog post. We're doing Fashion Friday from the very basics, if you catch my drift. Thanks for understanding. Go ahead and listen to some more of the alluring Melody Gardot. Watch the World Cup. I'll see you Monday.

I need a new slip. Yes, ladies, I only have one--and I own no Spanx or any other kind of figure helpers. As a new-in-the-work-world woman, I haven't needed one except for special occasions (like tomorrow's wedding! Yay, Nicole and Brett!). But now, a slip is needed for pretty much all of the skirts and dresses I love wearing. Since skirts are totally necessary in this heat, I have to get on the ball. And, since I am the kind of woman to shop prepared, I've been doing some research.

But as I did, I decided I need to rework my whole undergarment strategy.

See, it has been my nature to go with a standard slip that can work with anything. Something inconspicuous that would never impose itself on you, like a good-mannered young man on a first date. But now I am a new women. A new woman with opportunity. And with this opportunity, I think I'm going to take the boring, required work/dress/life staple, and turn it into a super-awesome modest fashion piece!

So, instead of a plain, barely-there slip like this, I'm thinking I could have way more fun with this.

or this

or this

OR THIS

That way, everyone gets to enjoy a little bit of my vintage-style petticoat, and not enjoy, well, everything the slip is supposed to take care of. Best of both worlds!

As you can see, I'm a seriously considering getting a slip/petticoat from Vintage Hem. And why not? They even have a blog that shows pictures of women wearing their slips/petticoats with all sorts of modern dresses and skirts! It makes wearing one seem like a real possibility!

What do you think, ladies? Is this a realistic dream, or would it be a fashion slip up?


I do not receive any compensation from Spanx, Macy's, Vintage Hem, or any of the link sources in this article.


P.S. I plan to do a lot of modest fashion blogging in the future because it is a topic that really interests me. LivingModest.com has some great resources if you are interested in learning more.

P. P. S. While I may enjoy Fashion Friday, I'm not the only one! Check out one of my favorite Fashion Friday/modest fashion writers, Hallie Lord, here and here. Faith and Family is where I first heard of Vintage Hem and Shabby Apple.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Fair Weather in Johannesburg

Hi, I'm Jen, and I'm a fair weather soccer fan.

I only watch it when it's available in my native language on channels that I come across regularly.

The most experience I've had with soccer is playing it as a kid. At that time, I played it to hang out with my friends, to win, and to eat orange slices. All of the running was just too much for me, and watching teammates in the distance kicking the ball back and forth offered a perfect opportunity to pick flowers.

I don't know who is supposed to win in this World Cup, or who is supposed to dishonor their country with their terrible playing. I can't make any fun wagers, like this, because my ignorance makes me a liability to my family.

I can't tell you if a player is a native to the country he's playing for, how much experience he has head-butting the ball into the goal*, or if he can do any fancy leg-ball-kicky moves. I select favorite players based on their build, their attitude, and the brightness of their team's jersey.

The World Cup is very exciting. I truly enjoy watching it. Each goal is like witnessing a revolution, or the election of King of the Field. Other professional sports players can look just plain bored out there. Soccer players have soul (and dirty shoes).

I understand my inadequacy. I know that I must pay a price for being a fair weather fan, for generally ignoring the most popular sport in the world except when it crosses my path every four (4?!) years. I bring shame to my new Mexican heritage.

I hope to redeem myself this World Cup. I plan to learn more about the teams so I have some stake in the games. I plan to host soccer fans at my home; I hope that their passion and knowledge will rub off on me, and that my guacamole and steak burritos will soften their hearts enough to come. I plan to have my future children play lots of soccer, and make sure they do it for more than just free slices of fruit. I hope the soccer-loving world will forgive me, forsaking their right to stampede any field I should ever stand on.

Can you help me get out of this sad state and make me soccer savvy? I think my safety depends on it.


*Or head-butting people in general. Yeah, Zidane, I'm talking to you.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Listen to the Melody

I really like Melody Gardot. I discovered her one day about a year ago while exploring iTunes. It was a serious stumble upon one of my favorite modern artists.

Her latest album, My One and Only Thrill, is one of those few records that I can keep listening to over and over again, and it never gets old. NEVER. Trust me, I get bored with the same breakfast three days in a row.

Each song has a personal memory attached to it. It takes you back to the place you first heard the song. It lets you imagine yourself in a different locale, where you walk around in ethereal bliss with this song as your soundtrack. It's just as good as the song before it, and is a great lead in to the song after it.

I wouldn't just say this about any vocalist. This is serious business—this lady can sing. Her voice has a classic jazz feel, but her songs have this great Latin-y, French-European vibe from the instrumentation. The music captures all those little sounds that you wished other favorite songs of this genre had.

Everything I said above is as close as I can get to actually knowing what I am talking about. I’m no expert in music terminology or composition. I just know what my ears like.

I know you’ve been waiting in suspense for a whole one minute, thirty-nine seconds to hear this awesome music. So, here are a few of my favs, courtesy of YouTube. (If you don’t listen to this at the appropriate volume, then you are only hurting yourself.)

A few from her latest album…

Baby, I’m a Fool (please disregard the weirdness of the music video—the song is still awesome)

The Rain

My One and Only Thrill

And a couple extras…

High Night (Alta Noite)

Ain’t No Sunshine


P.S. The first person to get me free Melody Gardot tickets to a show nearby (like, in CA) gets a free steak dinner (however you want it!) and my undying gratitude. :)

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Educated Autopilot

So last night I attended the start-up meeting of a new young adult group at my church, Young Adult Life. It was really cool to see some current friends and to make some new ones. I have usually been in a position of ministry leadership, so it was kind of a nice break to “sit back” (as much as icebreakers allow you to sit back) and take it all in.

While I took it all in, I spent some time recalling the Gospel reading and homily from the weekend. It was the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi), which is, to me, one of the epitomizing Sundays we celebrate all year. Father’s homily asked us to reflect on what we have been given, and what we have turned over to God to see what he can create. It was all very beautiful.

And I really didn’t pay it much mind while it was happening. Which is exactly where the problem has been the whole time—me.

For quite a while now, it has been very easy for me to go through the motions. I don’t know what made me feel like keeping faith an inactive but visible part of my life was justified. It doesn’t even look good reading it back to myself. Yuck.

I have a large amount of head knowledge about my faith, but lately have very little conscious participation coming from the rest of me (mind, body and soul). On some kind of educated autopilot, I guess.

The super lame part is that it is way too easy to stay this way. I have certainly run into my fair share of faithful adults (Catholic and otherwise) who are very good at going through the motions. I’m saying (without calling anyone else out) that I don’t want to be one of them.

God gives us so much more than the routine, and I need to start giving him way more than what I had been. I believe that I have a purpose in this life, and I am 99.3% sure it isn’t to just go through the motions. I’ve been given a lot, and He deserves way more than I can ever offer in return. So, I guess I’m done “sitting back.”

Monday, June 7, 2010

A Celebration of Fresno Wine-o's

I like wine. This is no secret. So, when my dad asked me to go to “A Celebration of Wine” yesterday, I was more than on board. (Thanks, Melinda, for the free tickets!)

“A Celebration of Wine” is a casual, fun, wine-tasting event to benefit the CSU, Fresno Viticulture and Enology Department. Over 90 wineries across the state help to create the good time. There were definitely a lot of local wineries there, too, and the fundraiser had tons of regular folk across the Valley looking to support local business.*

It also had the usual Fresno Wine-o’s.

Oh, you’ve never heard of the Fresno Wine-o’s? They really are everywhere. Let me help you identify them (which is a group to which I often belong).

Fresno Wine-o’s…


Basically worship wine: Wine bars are made into shrines in our very homes. Tuscan d├ęcor litters every available corner of the house. Even the bathroom has pictures of grapes.
Love anything Italian: We eat it up. If you say that it is an Italian fermentation process, the grapes are imported from Italy, or that your half-Italian grandmother kicks every barrel before harvest, your wine will sell like hotcakes. I don’t know if it’s envy or longing for heritage.
Claim knowledge like we are vintners: From all of the wine we have consumed over the years, we know we should have retained some bit of information about grape selection, harvest, or blending. So, when you talk about all that stuff, we affirm you whole-heartedly. After all, we drink a lot of wine, and would hate to look uneducated (or irresponsible).
Usually don’t know what they are drinking: This is, of course, unless you are one of the super-qualified professionals at one of the many winery booths we visited. Fresno Wine-o’s are happy to know they are drinking a smooth red. Once you get into spices, fruit undertones, or harsh tannens, we kind of glaze over and nod politely (and we claim this state is from having one too many).
Cook with wine: and sometimes they even add it to their food! (Can’t take credit for that one; that’s a Julia Child paraphrase).

Anyway, I anticipate that summer will be filled with lots of rose wines and cool evenings with friends and the new hubby. And, hey, if you become a Fresno Wine-o, too, over the course of the summer, all the better. It’s more fun on this side.

Not a wine person? Here is your summer drink reward for sticking through the article: Grilled Pineapple Mojito


*Including Silkwood Wines, which wins best serving size (thanks, Molly!)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Weight and Punishment

I thought I would dub this Fashion Friday,* because I am in the mood to talk clothes.

Since summer is basically here (100 degrees next week—yikes!), I get to put the sweaters away and bust out my pretty, airy, and girly summer clothes.

Which would be exciting if they fit.

I am taking full responsibility for this. First year out of school was kind of an all-you-can-eat smorgasbord, dedicated to freedom from ever doing homework again. I need to exercise way more (which implies that I haven’t taken a two month hiatus, right?). And, maybe now that the wedding is over, I don’t need to keep “taste testing” food for it.

Really, this is all my fault. As a way to take full responsibility, I am buying a new dress (as punishment for my weight gain, of course). My wallet is taking one for the team.

But which punishment to select?

Dress A

Dress B

Or, Dress C?

How’s a girl to choose? Your thoughts?


All dresses are from Shabby Apple, a fabulous online dress store that does not pay me a cent to say so.

*On other Fridays, it will be Food Friday, or Faith Friday, or something else. It’s my blog; I’ll flip-flop if I want.

X Does Not Equal Y

I have been married a whole month now. The wedding and honeymoon, which were both wonderful, have passed. The real world has hit the newlyweds.

How hard has it hit us? Well, I have already begun to learn some things about married life that them thar books could never tell me. Experience, baby.

For those unmarrieds of you out there, this means that I am beginning to gain wisdom about marriage and the sexes. Nay, secrets. Secrets that only married people know, and never tell singletons.

Well, I am breaking that rule. I am passing along this insightful knowledge.

To share my first married-month’s insights, I have made a list—a list of “expectations vs. reality” for marriage. Or, perhaps more accurately, women’s expectations vs. this-is-not-a-movie reality. And, in alignment with their chromosomal representations, I have titled this list "X Does Not Equal Y."

X: Carefully planning with consideration what kind of food your Husband would like for dinner two days in advance -- does not equal -- Y: what you actually eat for dinner.

X: Sitting down in the same room, facing the same way, watching the same television program, drinking the same iced tea -- does not equal -- Y: thinking about the same thing.

X: Having an apartment with a second bedroom and a walk-in closet -- does not equal -- Y: adequate storage for two wardrobes, 37 pairs of heels and 64 wine glasses.

X: Walking through the same apartment door as your spouse--daily -- does not equal -- Y: no size-12 shoes being in your way upon entry and exit.

X: Putting pretty candles and nice-smelling flowers out because you finally have a space of your own -- does not equal -- Y: finding them a permanent place in your bedroom, because you now share it with a boy.

X: Saying, in exhaustion, loud enough for the Husband to hear, that the garbage needs to be taken out-- does not equal -- Y: actually asking the Husband to take the garbage out.

X: Asking the husband to write thank you notes from all of your generous wedding guests based on a "sample" thank you note -- does not equal -- Y: Husband actually retaining the format of said note for future thank yous.

X: Anticipating that your stressful or crummy day will ruin your evening – does not equal – Y: all the wonderful things your Husband will say and do to help make it all better.

Yes, I anticipate more wisdom in the future. Anyone have any advice now?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Why Blog?

This blog has been a long time coming. For quite a while now (probably since the existence of blogs), people have occasionally brought up that I don’t have one.

I can write (usually), and should therefore scribble down what I can before I forget (which seems to be happening at an increasingly-faster rate).

Blogging just never quite interested me. I thought I would run out of things to say. I thought maintaining a daily blog sounded a lot like babysitting. I thought, “Who would read it? I can’t take that much time away from my mom!”

Things have changed.

As my position in life changes—truly transferring from a student into a full-sized adult/employee/wife has made me want to document the things that are happening in my life and that I enjoy the most. All of the ups and downs and intricacies will be fond memories in the future.

This record can also serve as a way to branch out. I can connect to new people with similar interests, or reconnect to those who I haven’t spoke with in years.

None of these are new attributes to a blog, but they are ones I am wiping the dust off of. After spending an entire year out of school and planning one day of my life, I have rediscovered all sorts of things that interest me that are worthwhile enough to document. Some might even be worth sharing. Matching wedding dress with table linens: no more! On to life!

And so, with lots to say, I begin.

Tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

One Small Step

Really, the small step is for me. Blogs are nothing new. This first post is more of a test to ensure I know how this blog works. The actual content is forthcoming. Get ready....