Thursday, January 31, 2013

25 Wishes.


Well, I am officially going to be a quarter. That's right - as of February 3rd (Super Bowl Sunday - which has its irony considering the oh-so avid American football fan that I am), I am a quarter of a century years old.

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This year, I just want to make wishes (aka goals) for myself. From the trivial to the ones that are more shaping and important, I really want to focus from this point forward on improving myself - seeking things that I can work on so that I can grow as a person in all aspects of my life.

1. Move.
I've been looking at places to buy, and I really want my goal to be to find a place and get the ball rolling on that before summer (so before June). I want to at least put offers in and weigh things out so that I don't find a billion reasons to stall.

You best believe I'll have champagne jello shots covered in pop rocks at my housewarming party.
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2. Travel more often.
I am having such a ridiculous case of wanderlust. I am craving new places, foods, and people so much (and Pinterest + all of you posting vacation pictures does NOT help at all!). I want to go places and experience other cultures - really experience things, not just do the expected things.

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3. Stock up on more wardrobe staples.
Because as a real adult, I should be able to have a closet just for cardigans, right? I mean, it totally worked for Mr. Rogers. Really though, I need more classic pieces that I can really invest in, vs. buying a bunch of trendy things from H&M or Anthropologie that I won't wear a few seasons from now. I'm beginning to figure out my personal style, and I want my entire wardrobe to reflect that.

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4. Figure out a tattoo to get.
I've got to grow up and figure out what I want. I'm stuck right now - I know I definitely, definitely want one and want it to somehow tie in to be in memory of Poppy, but I'm just debating what exactly I want to start out with. I also have to be careful of placement with my career, since it's still pretty old school with things like that. Le sigh.

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5. Grow thicker skin.
I seriously need some help in learning how to let things go or how to not let them get to me as much. Sometimes I can take things very personally, and I need more help with picking my battles.

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6. Volunteer more at animal shelters and continue my vegetarianism.
I have seriously always wanted a teacup pig for a pet - this becomes my mantra every time I miss bacon (because seriously, I have yet to discover good soy bacon). I also love volunteering at shelters, even to just walk the dogs - it's a win win; exercise + spending time with animals.

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7. Learn that my emotions/feelings ARE important.
I don't know where my mentality on this came from, but sometimes I feel like I don't have a right to be angry, sad, upset, whatever. I put other people and their feelings above my own and try to patch things up so that they're comfortable, even if I'm not. I need to realize that being upset does not turn me into crazy, over emotional girl - someone who I never want to become.

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8. Read more.
Seriously. I just put in requests for Gone Girl, Gods Behaving Badly, and The Night Circus. I don't want this reading binge to go away.

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9. Learn how to make really, really good coffee at home, not out of a Keurig.
Because Keurig ain't helping me in the morning when I'm in a rush and need multiple cups, and going to Starbucks every day before work is burning a hole in my pocket. There's got to be some trick to it, and I'm going to figure it out!

10. Stay on top of yoga and work my way up to Scorpion pose.
This has been a goal for for-ev-er. I really want to master this.

11. Do more DIY.
Especially with the potential moving, I want to become more crafty so that I'm not totally relying on Pottery Barn and Anthropologie for home decor - especially since I'm a teacher and need to save my pennies whenever possible!

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12. Compartmentalize more.
I often have a very hard time separating work from my personal life and vice versa. I want to be able to leave work at work, as much as I can so that I'm not moody or short with people when it really isn't their fault.

13. Think about the food I'm putting into my body.
I am never going to say no to a cupcake. However, there are things I can say no to. I might be extremely thin, but if my body is shot to shit on the inside, it doesn't really matter. I want to do a lot better with vegetables, not just picking, eating enough (I have working lunches way too often - aka I eat water for lunch).. I want to really start taking care of my body and kicking my own ass about my poor eating habits.

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14. Laugh more often.
Sometimes I am a crab, and I don't want to be an old crab.

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15. Cut down on shopping.
I have a slight problem - I currently have two rooms in my parents' house that have no other purpose but to store my overflow clothes. I started an Ebay store to sell some of it,  but I really need to cut back, because it's definitely wasteful and unnecessary to own 4 pairs of the same J Brand skinnies (in the same wash, just in case something happens to them).

16. Stop being as nice..
Just to make someone else happy. If a creepy guy at a bar asks for my number, I need to understand that saying no isn't going to destroy his self esteem totally and completely. What ends up happening, is I avoid text messages, phone calls, etc., which is probably even worse in the long run. Sometimes, it's okay to hurt someone's feelings a bit if it means that in the long run, you're putting YOURSELF first, and saving whatever the person you're trying to appease, that realization that you pitied them.

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17. Give more genuine compliments.
Sometimes I bullshit with compliments because I feel like I SHOULD say them. There is no law about this, and it is way better to say something you actually mean. This is better than hundreds of empty compliments.

18. Make time for positive reinforcement.
I often take to social networks to complain about bad service, a bad experience, etc. with a company - but I think I also need to take the time to shout out all of the amazing employees I encounter, and pass that along, whether via social networking or by emailing the HR of a company to pass along these good deeds.
I started calling parole officers of my students to share their hard work, good attendance, etc. and I've seen such a difference in the attitudes of my students to me and towards themselves.

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19. Not care as much...
about trivial things. I want to wear what I want and not care what anyone thinks. I don't want to get bothered if someone makes a silly comment or remark about something that doesn't matter. These things are not important and most likely, people don't realize what they're doing or saying. And if they do, when they can't get a rise out of you, they often stop and move on.

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20. Protect my skin.
By botoxing that shit up! (Just kidding). I am terrible at moisturizing, and putting sunscreen on my face. I feel like 25 is the age to break out the products and just start really taking care of myself, inside and out.

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21. Have days when I eat whatever I want without feeling guilty.
Everyone needs a day when you can indulge - it shouldn't be every day, but sometimes I end up missing out because I am trying to be healthy (or because I've skipped meals and don't realize how freaking hungry I SHOULD be).

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22. Embrace my inner nerd.
It is okay that I love Harry Potter, have the Cultiwords app on my phone to learn new vocabulary, do the New York Times crossword puzzle. There is no shame in that. I am nerdy, and I do not care and need to stop caring or making apologies for this. (Now excuse me, while I push my glasses up further on my nose).

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23. Take more real pictures.
Sorry, Nikon dSLR. I've been neglecting you. iPhone pictures just aren't the same.

24. Cook more often, and experiment with new recipes.
I get into ruts where I make the same foods over and over because they're easy and I'm good at making certain things. I really want to learn how to cook more inventive things that are still healthy (so many of you inspire me to cook more - I'm looking at you, Lauren, Carol, Nicole, and Tracy!). If you guys have any delish vegan or vegetarian recipes, please feel free to send them my way!

25. Blog more often.
I really do miss you all when I'm absent from blogging. I will probably never be able to blog more than once a week, but I do want to make every effort to stay in touch with you all through blogging and commenting! This is definitely a big wish of mine for this upcoming year :)

What have been some of your milestone birthdays? Any wishes that you make when you blow your candles out? xox

Currently listening to: Juicy - Notorious B.I.G. (The lyrics about "birthdays was the worst days" is one of my favorites in any hip hop song. Ever).

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Bookworm.

I'm an English Lit minor, so to say that I love to read would be a serious understatement. The problem for me started during college, when I had to read so many required books for both my Elementary Education classes and to fill the requirements to have a minor as well, that reading for fun just was lost on me.

I made a promise that I was going to start reading for fun more - and that I was going to keep track of what I was reading so that if I needed to make recommendations to friends/family, I could have something to pull from. So I started a goal of reading at least a book a month for fun - usually I shoot really high with goals and set myself up to fail, so amidst a social life, work, and just being stressed for time, I figured this was an accomplish-able goal.

I set up a book journal, mainly because the first book that I read for fun introduced a ton of characters, and I found that writing down what was going on helped me to really enjoy the book so much. Plus, I can be highly OCD, so having an organized list of books I read and notes I made about them appeased the crazy in my head that would happen if I just wrote down notes on notebook paper and stuffed it somewhere.

So in case you are in need of some books, these are a few of my favorites that I HIGHLY recommend. 

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society - by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows.
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-Told as a series of letters from a ton of different characters to one specific woman - can get a bit confusing to try to  remember everyone (hence writing it all down), but this book is incredible. 

-Told in two parts - the exact notes I wrote say, 
"Beautifully written and gripping - takes a little while to get into it and sort out different characters, but it so worth the investment. This book is an absolute gem and I would recommend it to anyone". 

-Rating: 4.5/5

The Glass Castle - by Jeannette Walls
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-I have a soft spot for memoirs. This book bothered me and really stuck with me. It was one of those books that leaves you thinking, "Wait, something isn't right here." What Walls goes through is abusive in a very strange way that you can't quite put your finger on right away. 

-My notes say, 
"While this was emotionally unsettling, I couldn't put this book down. It is raw, real, and emotional from start to finish. Made me feel guilty for ever complaining that my life was unfair/hard/etc." 

-Rating 4.5/5

Nineteen Minutes - by Jodi Picoult
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-This was recommended by a friend of mine, so I decided to read it. Picoult books are a guilty pleasure - she actually is a good writer, but her stories become kind of the same. You know there is going to be a huge twist ending, (hello, My Sister's Keeper, anyone?!), and they're quick reads, which isn't a bad thing. 

-It's told through all different perspectives of residents in a small town after a school shooting (obviously I read this book before the events in Newtown - I don't think I could have handled reading a book like this now in spite of recent events). It flips from past to present events to show progression and character development. 

-My notes say: 
"Not necessarily great/classic literature, but gripping and extremely thought provoking. An easy, quick read that could be good for a book club because of the discussion it could prompt". 

-Rating: 3.5/5

The Bell Jar - by Sylvia Plath
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-I am both a feminist and a book nerd, so I do not know how I let this book pass me up for so many years. It reminds me (and my notes even say that stylistically it is similar to) of The Catcher in the Rye, told by a female point of view. The Catcher in the Rye is my favorite book of all time, so it figures that I would like this one just as much. 

-This book is almost hard to read at times, because it is said that this book was really Plath describing her own struggles with extreme depression and emotional disorders/psychosis. 

-My notes say, 
"Plath's descriptions are beautiful and vivid - she effectively uses humor to contrast an otherwise depressing subject. Humor is juxtaposed against the background of suicide, anguish, and psychosis."

-Rating - 4.5/5

Defending Jacob - by William Landay
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-Oh my god. I waited to get this book for over a month from our library, and it was finished in seriously two days (granted, one of these days was during a 10 hour drive to South Carolina, but STILL). I was gripped from the first chapter, and Landlay played with my emotions and intelligence, since I was flip flopping over whether or not I thought Jacob was guilty or innocent. 

-I don't want to say too much about this book because the beauty is how it all unfolds. I recommended it to my dad after finishing it, and he read it in a day and a half.

-Rating - 4.5/5 - Seriously, especially if you're not a big reader - try to get your hands on this book!


Other books that I read so far include: Memoirs a Geisha (rated 4/5); The Help (rated 5/5); Little Bee (rated 3/5 - I know people loved this book, maybe I need to give it another shot?); and I'm currently reading Mr. Punumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloane.

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Any on this list that you agree/disagree with ratings? Or any that you recommend?

Currently listening to: The City - Madeon

Friday, January 11, 2013

June - July 2012.

Apologies for my highly creative title on this post - they can't all be winners, right?

I was terrible at blogging this past year - once work and life picked up full swing, it definitely was a huge challenge for me to balance everything.  Starting a new full-time teaching job was no joke (especially since my district did not provide a curriculum, so I had to create my own, ah!). 

My 2012 summer was extremely eventful -  it was nice to have started dating the new guy who has similar interests as me with trying out new places in the city, which comprised a good amount of my summer. There was a good mix of time with friends and time one-on-one, sharing different places with each other. 

Once I got back from Costa Rica (check it if you missed my photo filled post!) summer picked up full swing and was a complete and total whirlwind. Almost three times a week (not including weekends) I was out somewhere - barely making appearances at home, which was the best possible way to spend a summer.

Some of these pictures are difficult to look at, since Tonya and I are no longer friends, but the memories were still wonderful and I wouldn't change them for a second despite what's going on now. You can only grow and become stronger through ups and downs, which is what I choose to do.

Boy and I came here one night for wine flights and charcuterie platters. It was amazing and definitely a must-visit if you're a wine fan! (We ended up buying 2 bottles from the wine store that is a part of the restaurant). The sommelier was brilliant and so knowlegable, and didn't push us to buy anything, which is huge. The exposed brick didn't hurt either. 

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Defiant Brewery - Pearl River, NY
Defiant is one of our stand by places. It's a microbrewery, so they make all of their own beer right there. It's so unassuming - no TV's, no loud music, no credit cards accepted, in a place that looks like a warehouse and that you'd never find unless you were really looking hard for it. Ed and I are here so often now that I think we're part of the furniture - and we bring all our out of town/state friends here, so it's become a right of passage. 

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The after effects of drinks that are 9% alcohol by volume. Call me, maybe?
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Alpha Fusion is a really fun and versatile Asian fusion restaurant where we discovered for dinner one night. We decided to "suit up" for dinner, and while we were overdressed (and it poured that night), the food was really good with very fresh tasting sushi. Check the food pictures from the gallery - they make mine look entirely unappetizing (which is saying something!).

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Sunset Bar & Grill - Northern New Jersey
I was recently introduced to Sunset, which offers outdoor bar seating, live music, and beer towers. Uhm, you had me at hello! This became our spot to buy towers, sit outside on the patio (next to a private airport), and play Kings (winning Kings rules for us include: having to call everyone "Lord" or "Lady" before saying their name; no pointing - otherwise the person who pointed has to sit under the table until someone else points; and my personal favorite - drinking like a T-Rex). 

Any bar where I don't have to wear makeup and can still be somewhat acceptable (even by the gay bff) is fine by me! 
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Drink like a T-rex: exhibit A:
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This is easily on my top 10 list of places to go in the city. You have to make reservations ahead of time - and then you have to actually find the place. It is pretty small - and you have to walk down a flight of stairs and ring the doorbell to gain admittance - if you're on the list. Once inside, be prepared to meet a Jay Gatsby's living room type of vibe - plush couches, wallpaper that when carefully examined reveals people in various positions of the Kama Sutra, and specialty cocktails like a Cherry Lime Rickey. To summon your server, you pull a chain doorbell on the side of the wall - check out the website to Raines above; you won't be disappointed. 

Come on - how awesome is this? 
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Porching it. 
Hanging out and drinking wine on my front porch became a summer event/staple - especially when walks to The Porter House (another favorite local cigar bar where they now know us by name and drink order) followed. 

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At one point, my dad came home and saw 8 corks sitting near us. He said (in horror), "You guys drank EIGHT bottles of wine and it's only 6:00?" to which we responded, "No, only three." 
My father approved of this.
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There were also the various townie bars, summer parties, and floor picnics that Ed and I became so fond of (and continue to have very often). 

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Jack Honey shots = my downfall this entire summer. They're just so good!
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Matt's surprise party (which was a huge success - and also featured Jack Honey shots). 
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What were your favorite summer activities? Any of my fellow NYC-ers heard of or been to any of these places? xox

Currently listening to: Calling (Lose My Mind) - Sebastian Ingrosso + Alesso (since this was one of my summer anthems)