Friday Afternoon Round Up

I have been reading a lot of other blogs lately to see how I can make improvement on my own blog. A lot of folks in the blogging universe have been writing about the Alt summit that was held in Salt Lake City, Utah last week.  After reviewing the list of folks invited to speak on the various panels, I have added a lot of new bloggers to my daily reading list – I am trying to see which ones will “stick” before adding them to official list of blogs I follow. And while I am a little insulted that I wasn’t invited to this incredible party/blog love fest, I have to admit, I have learned a great deal just from reading the recaps that some of the invitees have given. And boy, do I have a long way to go before I can become the next “Oh Happy Day” or “Making it Lovely“.

Many bloggers use Friday as a way to highlight some of their favorite links from the previous week. I like this idea and I am going to institute a weekly Friday Afternoon Round Up. Welcome to its first edition (yes, copies of this will be very valuable. If you want a signed version, just let me know). Please feel free to leave comments, suggestions or happy thoughts!

Thank you Snippet & Ink for this Where the WIld Things Are masterpiece. Stephen Colbert, I love you. Parts one and two.

This will make up for the fact that I was never a girl scout.

Best news story of the week (thanks Matt for sending me this!)

Wish I listened to my photographer and got a photobooth for our wedding. Don’t make the same mistake.

I miss my sister. And her adorable dog.

Last weekend I took on this craft project. Maybe this weekend I can make this?

Will you come to my “cocktails and crafts party” ? Here’s some inspiration.

I bought this for a friend. I might need to get myself one too.

Where it all started.

HAPPY WEEKEND!

Fueling the Giants? I hope not.

Hmm – I am assuming they don’t mean my blog…

 

The Patriots might find inspiration here, but definitely not a Manning brother. Eww, gross.

 

Sunday is a big day for the Pats – I guess it is a big day for the Giants too. I can’t decide if I want the Giants to win so that we have a chance of playing them in the Superbowl. I am not going to lie, I am having some flashbacks to February 3rd, 2008 that aren’t very pretty. But at the same time, nothing is sweeter than revenge. Especially if that revenge also involves a Manning annihilation.

Late to the Party (Again)

When I was a freshman in college I asked my parents for an MP3 player. However, unlike most people, I didn’t want an iPod. I thought they were overpriced and just a stupid fad. Also I really thought the circular menu “button” was bizarre, I mean, I didn’t really get it. So instead my parents bought me a massive mp3 player that was about the size of a Walkman and was a brand name that I can’t even remember. Instead of calling it an iPod, we called it an iHouse. Needless to say, a few years later, I broke down and bought an iPod.

When UGG boots first arrived on the scene, I thought – “hmm, these look comfortable.” But I couldn’t quite figure out if you were supposed to wear socks with them or not, should they go under or over your pants, and I wasn’t sure if the suede fabric would hold up for long enough. Either way, I was certain that these boots wouldn’t be around for very long. I mean, what shoes, that are comfortable, stay in style? Well, after 3 longstanding seasons, I broke down and put UGGs on my Christmas list. My feet have never been happier. Just ask Tom Brady.

So it is no surprise that I am not jumping on the trend bandwagon late again. Many of my friends have been “pinning” things on this new website, Pintrest, for months but I didn’t fulling embrace this new site. I signed up for an account a few months back and pinned a few pictures and that was about it. Finally, after countless people have said “what? how are YOU not obsessed with pinterest?!?!” I decided to give it another chance.

And while I am still not entirely certain how much I like this site – honestly, it makes me sad that my wedding is over and jealous of people who have these ridiculously awesome apartments and houses, I am not a contributing member to the pintrest society. So please, sign up, follow along and share some of your inspiration!

(If you aren’t sure what pinterest is, please click here to find out)

The Happiness Project

I recently read a new book titled “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin. I have to tell you, sorry Matt, that I think that I have found my soulmate.

Gretchen Rubin had an epiphany one rainy afternoon in the unlikeliest of places: a city bus. “The days are long, but the years are short,” she realized. “Time is passing, and I’m not focusing enough on the things that really matter.” In that moment, she decided to dedicate a year to her happiness project.

Gretchen wasn’t necessarily unhappy, she has an amazing husband and two loving daughters, but she realized that she wasn’t as happy as she would like to be. After researching the root causes of happiness and the psychology behind the feeling of happiness, Gretchen tackled a new set of resolutions every month: give proofs of live, ask for help, make time for fun and forget about results. And instead of drastically changing her life, she focused on improving the life she has already build.

During parts of the book, I felt as if I was reading about my own life. Gretchen and I seem to have very similar personailities:

  1. We both seek recognition for our accomplishments (i.e. we are always looks for the gold star),
  2. We nag our husbands and want them to be excited about the chorse we dole out, and
  3. We both get caught up in all of the things on our to do list that we forget why it is we are doing these things in the first place.

When I read the conversations between her and her husband, I could almost hear my own voice saying those same things to Matt. It was very surreal experience to read her  thoughts throughout the book; thinking the exact same things.

I began my own happiness project a year and a half ago when I began this blog. Like Gretchen, on paper, I had (and still have) a pretty good life. But I wasn’t as happy as I thought I should be. I was focusing on all of the negatives in my life instead of on the little things that make life so amazing. And while my project is a lot less organized that Gretchen’s; I think it is working. I can definitely say that I am much happier than I was when I started this blog.

But I am the first to admit, I still have a ways to go. I still want Matt to wantto take out the trash. I definitely still seek those gold stars. And I am still cranky if I am tired and/or hungry. But thanks largly to Robin Hood, my happiness in life has improved. As Steve Jobs said, “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

Thank you for following, commenting and supporting my happiness project. And don’t worry –  it is far from over.

Guest Blogger – Garden in a Jar

I am so excited to announce my very first guest blogger today, Dan Parziale. Dan is new to the blogging world, but not new to the world of gardening. Growing up in Ojai California, lemon, avocado and orange trees lined his driveway and fresh, homegrown food was always incorporated into their meals.

One time when Dan came to visit Matt and I in New York City, he suggested that we cook dinner in one night, a suggestion that I am ALWAYS happy to hear. We decided to cook up a Mexican dish and Dan offered to make fresh salsa. We went to the local grocery store, where our Dan was appalled by the outrageous price for herbs like cilantro and mint.

In today’s post, Dan outlines an inexpensive and fun way to spruce up your cooking! Thank you Dan for being a “big thing” in our life and for always providing “little things” to focus on that make our NYC life a little more fun.

GARDEN IN A JAR:

Do any of the following refer to you?

1) No yard

2) No money

3) No green thumb

4) Desire fresh, homegrown food

5) Running water in your house/apartment

6) You’re a kickass, interesting person willing to try new things

If so, homegrown sprouts are for you. If not, homegrown sprouts are probably still for you. All that is needed is some counter space and a jar and you’re well on your way to healthy, fresh, homegrown sprouts. Keep in mind that any/all of the recommendations here are just that–recommendations. Feel free to alter what you use given what you have or have access to. Its pretty hard to screw this up. That being said, I’ve tried different ways and I think this is the easiest and I’ve had the most success with it.

First, get a large mason jar with the screw on top and some fine screen (not fine like good looking, but fine like small holes). You want the kind of top that has both the ring and lid as you will only be using the ring for this. For the screen, if the holes are too big, then whatever you are sprouting will fall through the screen. I went to the hardware store and bought the screen they sell for screen doors by the foot. You just need enough to overlap the sides of the top of the mason jar by about an inch. I recommend having 2 or 3 jars/tops/pieces of screen so you can sprout different things at the same time. That way, if something doesn’t sprout or if you don’t like the taste of one of the varieties, you will still have good sprouts. That, and it looks badass to have a bunch of different things sprouting in your kitchen.

The screen is extremely cheap. I bought enough for about 8 jars for less than a dollar. You can get the mason jars new at most markets and if you already have jars, but don’t have the tops, you can buy the tops separately. It’s about $15 for a case of 12 quart size jars/tops. Luckily mason jars are sweet for doing things like drinking beer too, so the extra jars won’t go to waste (or you can learn how to make jam–I use half of the remaining jars for beer and half for jam which I think is a good balance).

Next, pick out some of the dry beans/seeds you want to sprout. I have used raw sunflower seeds, lentils (both green and red), black quinoa, pinto beans, black beans and mung beans. I have had the most luck with the black quinoa, lentils and mung beans. In my experience, anything too small (like white quinoa) packs too densely when soaked and tend to rot because they stay too wet.A small one pound bag of lentils will give you about 20 quarts of sprouts so it’s incredibly cheap and I’ve found that the sprouts last longer in the fridge than the sprouts you get at the store.

OK, you’re ready to start sprouting. Put about a half-inch of your product (lentils, for this example) in the jar. For sprouting, you will not use the disk part of the top as you will be replacing it with the screen. Lay the screen on top of the jar and screw on the top (without the disk). The reason you use the screen is so you can fill the jar with water without having to remove the lid and you can pour the water out without worrying about the lentils falling out. It also allows air flow into the jar throughout the day.Start out by filling the jar with enough water to submerge the lentils. Fill it enough so that when the lentils absorb some of the water over the course of the next 24 hours, they will still be submerged. After 24 hours, pour out the water, refill, and pour out again. For the next 3-5 days, you will need to rinse the lentils twice a day. Simply add water through the screen top until all of the seeds are covered and then pour out the water. There will be enough residual water on the lentils to keep them sprouting.

After the 24 hour soak, I lay the jar on its side so the lentils have space to spread out and grow vertically. Depending on the conditions, it should take 3 or 4 days to complete the sprouting but some things take longer–I’ve found the black quinoa takes about 5 days. The sprouts will fill the jar, so don’t use more than a half-inch or so of raw seeds/beans to begin with. You want to remove the sprouts from the jar and put them in the fridge once they look ready to eat. I’ve heard that allowing them to “oversprout” (you start to see some roots form at the bottom) causes them to lose some of their benefits including the ability for your body to absorb all of the nutrients, but they still taste good and are good for you even if they go a day or two too long.

See which kinds of sprouts you like the best–they are great on salads and sandwiches, but there are always new uses for them–as a topper for omelets or on top of stir fry for a little extra crunch. Enjoy!

Three different kinds of sprouts. Top is green lentil, right is black quinoa and bottom left is mung bean
Oversprouted mung bean sprout
The three items you need--quart size mason jar, ring of the top and screen mesh
Submerging the lentils for first 24 hours.
First step of the process--submerging the lentils in water for 24 hours.

Blog Crush – Ty’s Kitchen

Yesterday at work, when I was heating up my lunch (I had the delicious soup I blogged about 2 days ago) my co-worker and I took place in a classic work time ritual: chatting around the water cooler.

I was talking about the soup I was heating up and saying that it was so good that I had blogged about. This lead to a conversation about blogging and she told me that her adorable boyfriend, Tyler, also has a blog. As a passionate blogger, I love to read other people’s blogs so I asked her to send it to me. Boy am I glad I did. Not only is Tyler a great writer and phenomenal chef (did someone say husband material), but he is also a talented food photographer – something that I am constantly struggling with for my blog posts. His pictures are so incredible; you could definitely turn his blog into a cook book (any book publishers out there?!)

Please hop over to Ty’s Kitchen and check out what he’s been cooking up! I am particularly excited to try out the turkey burger recipe!

A Short Explanation

So while my return to blogging comes with much excitement from my “fans” (i.e. my mom, sister, aunt and Matt) there still remains the lingering questions, “But why did you stop in the first place?”

To be honest, I don’t have a solid answer. When I originally started my blog last March, I was in a much different place than I find myself today. I was working at a job that had sucked the PMA (positive mental attitude for those of you who are new to my blog!) out of me. I was so consumed by my frustrations and unhappiness that I wasn’t able to enjoy the other, wonderful things in my life. I began writing as a way to focus on the good things in my life. After all, even though I was pretty unhappy at work, things could have been a whole lot worse.

Well after getting a new job (arguably the best job ever) my life changed. I now enjoyed the hours that I spent at work, I was busy and I wanted to work hard. And when I got home at 7pm, I was tired. Not to mention – I was also trying to plan my wedding. Needless to say, I had a lot of little things that needed my actual attention, not just my virtual/blogging attention.

Life will continue to be busy but I don’t want to lose my focus. And while my life has recently been more about the wonderful big things rather than “the little things”, I need to find a way to enjoy and appreciate them without getting wrapped up in the craziness and stress that comes along. As my dad told me before the wedding, “just relax, this is going to be fun.”

Wedding Etiquette

Since Matt and I got engaged, I have become obsessed with weddings. Not only the process of planning my own wedding, but reading about other weddings, wedding vendors and looking at countless photographs. The main “feeders” of my addiction are wedding blogs: Once Wed, Snippet and Ink, and 100 Layer Cake. These are far and away the best wedding blogs out there. I also purchases a lot of bridal magazines when we first started the planning process, but now I limit my reading to the Martha Stewart Wedding magazine that arrives in my mail box every month.

While my father certainly sees this as an addiction, I see it more an informal research. Who knows when this will come in handy again. Knowing when it is appropriate to mail out save the dates (roughly six – seven months before the wedding), how many people to invite to your shower (only people who are invited to the wedding should be considered) and what are the Best Man’s responsibilities (throw the bachelor party, carry the rings – unless there is a ring bearer, and make sure the Groom actually shows up on time)! These are all crucial things that everyone should probably know.

In addition, I have learned that as a wedding guest you never wear white, always show up on time, don’t take pictures during the ceremony, RSVP promptly and send gifts either before or after the wedding – don’t bring it to the wedding. And while my list of “wedding guest skills” doesn’t include amazing dance moves, it does include, “amazing gift giver.”

As I wrote about earlier (see previous post) I have a talent for finding deals, especially when it comes to wedding presents. I am happy, yet slightly embarrassed to say, that I put these skills to use yesterday.

Conversation with Jamie (one of my bridesmaids):

Me: I am the best wedding guest ever.
Jamie: Why?
Me: Because I find deals and buy sick wedding presents.
Jamie: That does make you a good wedding guest. I can’t wait to invite you to my wedding.
Me: Yes, agreed. I am happy I invited myself to my own wedding. And I just bought myself two of my place settings as a gift.
Jamie: Umm, what?
Me: They were on sale at Macy’s… buy one place setting, get another free! That is just too good to pass up.
Jamie: That is a good deal, but I think the whole point of a wedding registry is to have OTHER people buy you presents.
Me: It is? Interesting…

Thank you Macy’s for randomly deciding the carry a limited amount of my china, at an incredible discount.

    

And for those of you who hate shopping and never know what to get off the registry, my services are available on a consultation basis.

Raise Your Glass

With the new year fast approaching, it is easy to look forward to all of the exciting things that will take place in 2011.

But it is worth mentioning that 2010 was certainly a good year. Matt and I got engaged and many of our friends celebrated their own weddings. Abby took a new job as the head coach for an awesome swim team and has managed to lead them to a top ranking so far this season. Matt, Abby, my mom and I successfully completed the 110 mile bike ride that is the Pan Mass and raised more than 20,000 dollars to fight cancer. Matt and I conquered Half Dome in Yosemite. And although the Red Sox didn’t have their best season, the Yankees weren’t able to defend their World Series title. I started my blog and was featured on Freshly Pressed! All in all, it was a good year.

I already have some good news for 2011 that concerns my employment. Unfortunately, I am not ready to make my announcement official (I know, the suspense is killing me too!). But in the spirit of things, I thought I would post this video that was featured on the Ellen Show earlier this year, celebrating her 1200th episode. Don’t get excited, I am not going to working for Ellen. But watching this made me realize, Ellen has the best job in the world. Not only because she is famous and probably she makes a lot of money (but let’s be honest, compared to Oprah, she is destitute), but because she truly loves what she does. I think we can all be inspired by her passion for life, her infectious laughter, and her killer dance moves.

2010 was a good one, but 2011 is certainly coming in strong…

Under Pressure

As many of you know, on Friday I was featured on word press’ main page Freshly Pressed. I had an amazing response and a lot of new visitors to my blog. In the past three days, I received more than 5,000 hits, which is pretty incredible considering it took me five months before I reached that number of hits. It was quite a weekend and a truly surreal experience. Now I am faced with only one problem…

What to write about for my next post.

The pressure is unbelievable. I started having nightmares last night and have spent the entire morning brainstorming ideas… Should I feature a DIY project? Or a new recipe?  Should I write more about the Rockefeller Christmas Tree (it is standing now…)

 Or should I write about tonight’s highly anticipated Glee episode featuring Gwyneth Paltrow?

While all of these would make great blog posts, they didn’t feel “good enough.” I then got the idea to feature some of my fellow bloggers who commented on my post. However, more than 70 people commented over the weekend and I don’t think I have enough time to go through and write-up a summary about each of these wonderful blogs. Although, I am making a point to visit and comment on each of these blogs.

Then I decided that I would feature videos from You Tube that always make me smile.

(This is why I want kids)

 

(This is why I wish life was a musical)

 



(This is why no one fully understands Abby’s and my sense of humor)

 

(This is why I can’t wait to marry Matt!)

 

And while I hope that these videos brought a smile to your face, they still don’t feel like enough. Again, I am faced with the dilemma… how do I follow-up a post the received more than 5,000 hits?

This simple answer is, I don’t. I have come to the realization that I can’t change my blog just because a few more people happened to click-through to my site. If I did that, I would just be focusing on the big things because the little things would never seem good enough. The whole reason I started writing this blog was to keep a positive outlook on life. I can’t stop doing that because of the big things in my life. So while I am extremely excited to have been featured on freshly pressed and I spent the weekend approving comments and tracking my stats, my focus remains the same. I am continuing to focus on the little things in life.

Thank you word press for picking my blog and thank you readers and fellow bloggers for clicking through. I hope you continue to follow along, comment and spread PMA.