Friday, January 29, 2010

7 Quick Takes Friday, Vol. 10

1. I have mentioned my hairstyling struggles before and this week I made the decision to just give up on the layers. "But layers make your hair have volume!!" the stylists always say. Truth be told, the only things on earth that give my hair volume are 2 hours of styling, curling, or if I got a whole head of extensions with or without the layers. Those layers were just an unnecessary hassle and since I love sleep above all else they got chopped off. Up to the shortest layer.

Here's the new do:

Let me know what you think :-)

2. I have noticed recently that people with talent seem to lose that talent or become less sure of themselves once their small blogs blow up. I'm talking about Capital Weather Gang who used to be deadly accurate with their forcasts when they had a small blog and forum... then they were picked up by the Washington Now their forecasts look something like this:

Chance of dusting to 1 inch: 40%
Chance of 2: 15%
Chance of 3: 10%
and so on.

Then afterwards they'll say, hey look we got 3 inches of snow! That means we were right in saying that we had a 65% chance. Um no, that's not what you said at all and I think you need to redefine percentages to yourselves. They seem to be really, really afraid of being wrong, so they hedge their bets too much. They didn't have that problem before.

3. When I feel that I cannot trust sources for particular information that impacts my life I tend to get a bit obsessed with figuring out how to do it myself. You may have noticed from my twitter feed that my latest obsession is learning how to read radar and weather models myself. That way I can predict what I'm going to get weather wise without relying on people terrified of being wrong. "You can get anywhere between a dusting and 6 inches of snow." No thanks, never again will that suffice.

4. I have discovered a great Starbucks alternative if your office has those Flava machines where you can make a cup of coffee each time. Take a travel sized coffee mug, pull out the bottom of the machine so it fits. Make a regular strength Sumatra coffee. Then make a hot chocolate from the Dove packs. They should both go into the mug. Stir. Tastes better than a Starbucks mocha.

5. This week has not gone well for the gym, I realize I say this every week but next week it's on! I'm running out of time (ha! puns are fun!) before my 10K at the end of March and at this point even walking it may actually kill me. Besides, last time around I just walked it and I refuse to admit I've made no strides (I amuse myself even if I amuse no others) forward in 2 years. My plan (great advice someone gave me via the comments section) is to twitter and facebook status my gym plans. It keeps it forefront in my mind plus I look ridiculous if I don't go.

6. Totally thought the Superbowl was this weekend and sent out an invite for it to my friends. I'm a bit out of it sometimes. Good thing I had not gone shopping for food yet. Will post our menu next Friday.

7. On tap for this weekend is shoe shopping for Bill (his work shoes split in half down the sole), continuing my organizing/purging efforts throughout the house, and taking the opportunity to relax (it's going to be cold, yo!). Hope your weekend is great!

Read more Quick Takes here.

**Side note: Is there anything that you like above other things on this blog? Anything you want to see more of that I don't do?**

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Organization 101- Week 1

I am going to admit right now that I haven't fully completed the Week 1 materials and Week 2 started today. My plan of going to bed earlier and getting to work earlier have not worked out this week at all. At all, at all. So I've been at work later in the evenings and I'm exhausted so thus productivity= in the toilet.

The one thing I did to though is to start purging. It would be impossible to organize my house without getting rid of a lot of the extra stuff lying around. Goodwill came by this morning to pick up and they took out all the old dishes, my old glasses (for drinking, not eyes), some of our lower quality pans (that I used back when the only thing I ever cooked was Ramen), and two bags of clothes/purses. Keep in mind that when I say two bags I mean two big lawn sized trash bags. Yeah, I'm in awe as well... no wonder I always had so much laundry. The sad part about it is that the bulk of it doesn't fit anyway or I hate it and was just clinging to it like a security blanket for no logical reason at all.

So my closet is (mostly) cleaned out and my two dressers are completely cleared out of all stuff that I don't love. My purse collection has been lessened to only those that I love and will actually carry.

I think that's a good start.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


We Love DC posted this pic of flooding in Old Town, Alexandria Monday:

like it's news. That exact area of Old Town (the white building is a boating club and to the left is the Torpedo Factory) floods all the time. There is actually a sign in the parking lot (currently flooded so you can't see it) that says "flood zone, park at your own risk." If you go down to Old Town you'll notice that the slope of King Street up from this point is quite large, designed that way for this very reason.

The interesting thing about living in such a transient area for your entire life is that people are shocked when you are from here. I'm asked on a daily basis where I'm from and when I reply "Alexandria" people are like "wait, what? No one is from here." I, and my friends, disagree. We live here, are from here and I was even born in Alexandria hospital. Because of this I chuckle when I see news blogs posting things like this and when people are willing to buy million dollar townhouses right next to the river there. They are all from out of town, I guarantee, because no one from here in their right mind would buy a place that will 1) flood all the time and 2) smell like rotting fish from the nasty, nasty Potomac River whenever the wind blows in a certain direction. It always amused me when I used to date and guys would say "hey, I found this great place- we'll go to Old Town!" and then when we couldn't find parking, common for weekend nights, I just directed them to park at my mom's. Yeah buddy, Old Town isn't new nor as exciting as you think.

True story: when I was 15 I worked in a tshirt shop about 4 blocks up from where this picture was taken. Every time a storm would go through (it was summertime) we would go outside and watch the river creep it's way up. That is how common it is. Once again, not news. But good try We Love DC.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Ten on Tuesday, Vol. 10

1. What accomplishment are you most proud of?
Who I turned out to be. It sounds sort of self centered, but coming from where I did and my mother being who she is- I could have ended up a very different person.

2. How much did you weigh when you were born?
Over 7 lbs- like 7lbs, 8 ounces or something like that. My mom just gave me a bunch of old photo albums to scan and Bill saw that and was like "good god, you were a large baby." (which coincidentally is a funny statement because 7 lbs doesn't seem that large. I mean I have a cat that's bigger than that) He was too. I may have to rethink procreating with him because I may have to push out some giant child-baby.

3. What is your favorite perfume?
I wear Burberry London.

It's funny because once it's on, people love the smell and compliment me on it all the time. But when it's hanging in the air- Bill swears it smells like his Grandma's bathroom. Not high compliments.

4. How many siblings do you have?
None. Technically I have three step sisters but I don't see any of them. I sometimes regret that a bit, it would be nice to have more family.

5. How many children would you like to have? (Or how many do you have?)
Barring financial restraints and the fact that I'm already kind of old and haven't started yet- I would want 5. However, especially where we live, that's not realistic and Bill only wants 1 which I refuse to do because I hate being an only child. I would guess we'll end up with zero or two.

6. What’s the best class you took in college?
I loved Analytical Chemistry. If I had taken it before my Junior year I probably would have changed my major to that.

7. What was your favorite game to play when you were a child?
I was really good at double dutch- like I could do cartwheels and stuff without tripping on the ropes so that's what I did most of the time.

8. What character on Friends are you most like?
I don't think I'm like any of them. Maybe if you took the slight ditsy cheerfulness of Phoebe and meshed it with the OCD qualities of Monica?

9. Are you a phone person? (ie: Do you like talking on the phone?)
No. Not at all. I used to be in high school but then computers came out... and then later text messaging. Now I'm just awkward and want to get off the phone as quickly as possible. The best bet of talking to me on the phone for a substantial amount of time is if I'm driving somewhere (don't yell- I use speakerphone!).

10. What was the best vacation you ever took?
My honeymoon to Cancun, Mexico. We did this all inclusive thing and it was wonderful.

Read more here.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Bear with me...

For various reasons I can no longer post during the days and my nights have been hectic. Next week I'll be on a new schedule and posting will resume- starting out with week 1 of my Organization 101 workshop! :-)

Friday, January 15, 2010

Quick Takes Friday, Vol. 9

1. It is a (bad) habit of mine to complain about things without ever making one iota of effort to change them. A good example of this is that at work I've been complaining all week about how cold I am, but never once did I think to check the thermostat in my office. About a year ago when I moved into this office I set it for 80 and just assumed it was still set at that. Clearly I was not thinking about the fact that every day I have cleaning people in here and security staff... and then there's the bi-annual carpet cleaning and all the times I've had people move stuff around... oh, and the time my computer system was switched out and I had like 3 people in here at one time (it's a small office, so that's a lot). I finally checked this morning and it was reset at under 65. No wonder I was cold.

2. I discovered yesterday that if I want office supplies at work that aren't normally in the stock room- like tissues, pretty pens, etc. while it's cold enough outside that I never want to take a lunch break- Office Depot delivers for free the next business day! I can order what I want, have it delivered straight to work (paying for it myself, of course) and then I never have to leave!

3. All my christmas stuff is still up. My plan was to take it down last Sunday but you know what they say about the best laid plans... stuff came up. Then my week was really busy, and it's still all up looking a little silly at this point. My plan is to get it down tonight because we are having a party tomorrow night and all my friends will surely make fun of me if I'm so lazy that it's all still up. Never underestimate the power of peer pressure my friends.

4. We still have a stockpile of licquor left over from the wedding so we keep having parties to get rid of it. We have kind of run out of reasons to have parties so we just make them up at this point. Recently we bought Dance Dance Revolution for the Wii and a new large tv- so this is the "DDR Party." Though, I'd be willing to bet that a very small amount of people will actually play DDR, if anyone will at all.

5. While having these thinly veiled "drink all our extra alcohol we'll never drink on our own!!!" get togethers, I think it's ill advised to not provide food as well. This time around I'm doing all appetizers and came up with a menu that makes me salivate just thinking about it.

Bacon Wrapped Jalepeno Thingies- Pioneer Woman

Feta Cheese, lemon and thyme turnovers- Betty Crocker

Fresh Avocado and Black Bean Dip- Tasty Kitchen

Mushrooms stuffed with Brie- Tasty Kitchen

Spiced Shrimp with Ina Garten's Cocktail Sauce- I use Phillips spiced shrimp steamers (frozen) which taste just as good as making fresh spiced shrimp yourself. Seriously.

Alaina is bringing her goat cheese/tomato tarts.

I think we'll have a good spread.

6. I found quite possibly the best website ever for recipe filing and menu planning. Plan to Eat. In full disclosure, I did not find it myself I found it from a link off of Organizing Junkie's site, but it is wonderful. You can inport recipes right off most of your favorite sites, for the sites that don't import automatically there is a bulk upload feature where you can just cut and paste. Then you file them by course, can add comments as you make them, delete if you hate them, and pull and drag them straight into a calender for menu planning purposes. The greatest part (to me at least) is that it makes a shopping list for you divided into catagories. A shopping list you can add your own items to, or take off the things you already have in your pantry. Check it out (it's free for the first 30 days).

7. Still have not made it to the gym this year, but next week I'll get on schedule! (hopefully)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Ten on Tuesday Vol. 9

1. Are you usually late, early, or right on time?
Late. I always underestimate how long it will take me to get from Point A to Point B.

2. What is your middle name?
Alison. One L, not two.

3. What are the last 4 digits of your cell phone number?

4. How big is your bed?
Queen (and both of us fit on maybe 2/3 of it since the cats stretch out). We want a King but decided to wait until we buy a house so we don't have to move it.

5. What are you allergic to?
Pollen, Dust, Mold, Dogs with hair instead of fur (like Bichons) make me break out in hives everywhere they touch (so I can be near them as long as they don't touch me), pumpkin seeds, Cephlahexin, and recently developed a sensitivity to Orange Juice. Out of nowhere. Everytime I drink it I vomit. It's like one day I drank orange juice all the time, the next morning I woke up and couldn't drink it anymore. Sucks. I like orange juice.

6. What is the first thing you do in the morning?
Stumble downstairs to feed the cats. They are almost always my alarm clock. Between 6:45 and 7:00am every morning.

7. What was your favorite TV show growing up?
My mother was very strict so all I could watch really was PBS shows and a few approved things like Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman and the Sunday Night Movies presented by Disney. I liked Ghost Writer a lot as well as this PBS series about a Monk. Don't remember what exactly it was called.

8. Will you, or did you, go to your 10 year high school reunion?
I did. It was lame. I doubt I'll do that again. My school was weird because it was huge so it was impossible to know everyone or even 1/3 of your graduating class. Turns out, not that many people I was friends with actually went.

9. If a tree falls in the forest and nobody is there to hear it, does it still make a sound?
Umm, yes. Vibrations from it falling still exist creating the sound, even if there is no auditory senses around to receive those vibrations. /science geeking out over

10. What, in your opinion, is the greatest invention? (You know, since sliced bread…)
Indoor plumbing.

Read more here.

Friday, January 8, 2010

7 Quick Takes Friday, Vol. 9

1) In trying to give up soda, I also decided to end my ingestion of caffeine at noon/1pm every day. My current schedule is drinking 2 cups of coffee between 8-noon and then drinking only water, milk, V-8 Juice or Crystal Light after that (nothing with a ton of sugar either like many juices have). I cannot even explain to you how much better I'm sleeping. I always had sleep problems; insomnia, supersonic night hearing, constant waking up, etc. (I've talked about most of them here), and as a result I rarely woke up mornings feeling rested. Then I got crabby and dazed and I'm sure I wasn't always very intelligent. Since I've switched to the new schedule, I start getting tired at 9/10 (when normal humans are supposed to) and I've been waking up BEFORE the alarm goes off around 6:45. Not only that, I'm rested. Wide awake. Not crabby, for good reason since I sleep like a rock now too. Last night I stayed up a bit later than normal to watch the BCS Championship Game and by the time I went to bed I was completely out within 5 minutes of hitting the mattress. My husband said he actually had to physically move me to my side when he came in and I recall none of this. I slept in that rock-like state until 6:20am, then dozed off again till 6:45am at which point I got up happily feeling rested.

2) In related news, it has been 63 hours since my last soda. I'm quite proud of myself. My Dr. Pepper addiction was off the charts, in fact the only person I've ever met that drank more soda then me is Bill.

3) I've been super busy at work this week which I love because it makes my day go by a lot faster. All the cleaning/organizing I did of my office is a huge help.

4) Speaking of cleaning/organizing, on slate for this weekend is taking down all the Christmas decorations and tree. Always a sad time because it's all so pretty and nothing is quite so empty seeming as neighborhoods going back to their unlit state.

5) We decided that for Christmas one of our presents to ourselves would be a new tv. The TV I brought with me into the living situation is quite possibly the heaviest tv that has ever been made on this earth (but you couldn't beat the price- thanks Brian from Urizone!). So while it worked great, was a large screen and we didn't NEED a new one the idea of ever moving that behemoth thing again was just daunting to think about. It has now been replaced by a LCD flat screen double it's size (and a third of it's weight). The other good thing about this new tv is that now the ugly bookcase we were using as a DVD stand is too big for the space and I have the excuse I've been waiting for to buy a new one! Woot!

6) ESPN, both in print and on TV, is actually talking up and saying nice things about VA Tech's football program. This is significant because they hate us. I am not exaggerating. If you don't believe me, next season watch a VA Tech game that's on ESPN, listen to the commentators and you'll see what I mean. An example of this was the Miami game. If you didn't watch it (which you probably didn't) we completely shut down Miami to the point where they looked outmatched. It was really bad. The commentary went like this: "(ignore what just happened) Jacory Harris is one of the most promising quarterbacks in the nation right now. His completion rate is off the charts good (VA Tech gets an interception) and Miami really is good enough to be in the national championship title race. They are easily the best team in the ACC. *monotone bored voice* VA Tech just scored. *end monotone bored voice* Back to the topic of Miami...."

Many VA Tech fans have contemplated actually just muting the game and listening to music instead.

To further explain to you how significant this is, Bill called and said "mark this date down on the calender and then circle it... and then underline i- ESPN actually just said that VA Tech would end this season in the Top 5 and be a contender for the National Championship next year. ESPN!! COMMENTATOR!!! ON ESPN!"

P.S. ESPN, VA Tech hates you too. That's why lightning struck Lee Corso's car on our grounds. But thanks for the nice words, even if I did have to check out my window for flying pigs.

7) Do any of you have Netflix? If so what's your method for making sure you actually return movies in a timely manner? I constantly forget to put them in the mail, then lose them, then forget to put them in the mail again... and then it ends up just being a huge waste of money. Do you have a designated Netflix spot? One of my movies currently in the house I've had since Jan 2009. No, that is not a misprint.

Read more Quick Takes here.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Adventures in name changing

Bill and I lived together before we were married for about a year and a half, so most of the "post wedding" stress had already been worked through. There were none of the "how did I not know that about you?!?" surprises which is good... and bad. The bad part is that we remark a lot to each other that sometimes we kind of forget we are married. Everything is just the same as before, except now he wears a ring and I wear two.

I have to admit though, that the one post wedding issue that's much more annoying then I thought it would be is the whole changing your name thing. I followed the steps in the correct order- change with Social Security, change with DMV, when one has their new license you can start changing bank accounts and credit cards, etc. I let work know and got a new badge. The weird part is that you are inevitably going to have a period of time where you are essentially two people. For example, my driver's license has the new last name but my credit cards still have my old last name. My bank account debit card is in the new name but my checks are in my old name. My badge at work is in my new name but the sign outside my door and my paychecks are in my old (different people do each). It's a strange feeling and I never quite know where I'm supposed to put what name. For example, if I sign something at work is it in the new or old? Another problem is when clerks check my ID and try to not accept my card because the names don't match. Technically, I'm not supposed to write a check because the name on the check doesn't match the one on the account. But what are you supposed to do when every action has an order and takes a different amount of time?

My second biggest adjustment (related) is having a new signature. As I am not one of those girls who doodles the guy she's dating last name with her own I had actually never signed my name with the new last name, until I had to sign at the DMV. Holy awkward batman. I think the signature block on my license looks like a 5 year old scratched it out in crayon.

It's at moments when I'm struggling with these things that I actually feel married. (Though in full disclosure, I did fill out a form yesterday in which I put my new last name but accidentally checked the "miss" box out of habit. Oh well!)

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

First Wed. Resolution Check In

I am determined to not let my resolutions go by the wayside this year so I think spot checking on progress would be a good way to keep me on track.

1) Organize our office and basement

I am not the best at organizing things; I never know how to get motivated, what is the most efficient way to go about it, and I'm always worried I'll throw out or donate something that we'll need and look for later. I am determined to change this because I hate disorder and not being able to find anything stresses me out (and I suspect stresses Bill out). I have signed up for the Organizing 101 online workshop over on the website which runs for 7 weeks and helps you out with organizing projects by splitting it up into manageable chunks. The workshop starts Jan. 21 and I'm excited!

2) Go to bed earlier/get up for work on time

I've been getting much better about this. I still am not making it at exactly 8, but at least I'm waking up in the mornings feeling rested and I make it in before 9 (which is the point people may actually start looking for you). I'll keep working on it.

5) Settle into a workout schedule where I work out consistently (at least) three days a week
6) Run two 10Ks

These are kind of going together. I found a beginner schedule to running a 5K and running a 10K (each is 8 weeks). I also signed up for a 10K at the end of March in Richmond with Alaina. Now, I just need to work on my efficiency at work so I get out on time and in the gym. Also, it would help if this bone deep cold would go away since it makes me want to just hibernate until it's over.

9) Stop drinking soda
I did not drink soda for one whole day. Then I fell off the wagon the next day. Baby steps. Also, question- is substituting once vice (soda) for another (coffee) okay? Coffee is healthier since I don't add sugar and I really struggle without the caffeine.

11) Start a monthly dinner potluck club with the girls
Sent out a schedule starting in Feb with locations and cuisines (we are doing a different type of cuisine each month to add some challenge and interest) through May. I will check this off once we actually kick off, because sometimes things don't happen as efficiently as they seem that they might.

14) Take more photos
Started out well by making sure I took my camera to the New Years Eve party and took photos.

18) To concentrate on work at work, concentrate on home at home
I switched out my desktop at work with a docking station for my laptop so it's easier for me to just leave it at work (but have the option to still take it with me). Thus I'm not tempted. We'll see how it goes.

21) Be better organized and on top of things at work
I have also added being happier and more present here at work. I got into a funk of annoyance and grumpiness by the end of the year and am determined to start of the year on a better foot. I cleaned out my office and organized filing so I'm on my way.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Ten on Tuesday, Vol. 8

1. Are there any movies that inspire you to bake/cook?
I just watched Julie & Julia right before Christmas and it was wonderful. Really gives you the impression that with practice anyone can become a good cook. Overall though, I find the Food Network way more inspiring then any particular movie.

2. What’s your favorite food blog and why?
I don't actually read food blogs. I have very few sources for trusted recipes and quite frankly I don't trust most blogs. It irks me to waste food when the recipe does not turn out to be the "greatest" anything. I keep hearing raves about the Pioneer woman cooks so maybe I'll check it out.

3. Who’s your favorite celebrity chef?
My favorite recipes are Ina Garten's (Barefoot Contessa), but my favorite chef to watch is Morimoto. He's just so good at what he does. The first tv chef I ever watched was Nigella Lawson because my roommate thought she was pretty and watched her show. My favorite celebrity but is rarely on tv chef is Rick Bayless. I'd give my right arm to eat his food. More specifically his black mole (even though it has pumpkin seeds in it, or in Spanish, pepitas and I'm allergic to them). Hear that Rick? I will deal with my lips swelling up for your mole, that's how awesome you are.

4. What’s your favorite kitchen tool?
I have a feeling it will be my food processor once I figure out how to work it. I can't actually get it set up right, because I'm that smart. In my defense it was a wedding shower gift (my shower was the week before the wedding so my mother in law could be there), then the wedding happened, then the honeymoon and then it was the holidays so we haven't had a lot of downtime for me to play with it.

5. When it comes to cooking/baking, what’s your specialty?
Definitely not baking, I am really horrible at baking but our current oven is awful so I am not too inclined to practice too much. I'm so new at cooking my specialty is "making it edible."

6. When in the kitchen, do you wear an apron, if so, any cute ones you’d like to share?
Usually not, though that's caused quite a few food splatters that are a bitch to get out. when I remember to put it on, I have an apron with stars and moons all over it. I think I got another one with flowers on it for a wedding present.

7. Is there anything that intimidates you when it comes to baking/cooking? (ex. Pie crust, yeast breads, sauces, etc…)
I have a lot of stuff I have never even tried; however the bane of my existence are green beans. For some strange reason, I can never ever get my green beans to taste right. I always under cook or overcook them, or they taste almost soapy or something.

8. What’s the weirdest gadget in your kitchen?
A cheese grater that my non cooking self thought would suffice at the time I bought it. It actually does not work for doing more than one swipe of cheese or you will end up cutting yourself, or tossing the cheese across the kitchen. It's quite possibly the worst cheese grater of all time. I do use one of the grating attachments as a zester though, so it came in handy for something I suppose.

9. What’s your go-to music for cooking/baking?
I never listen to music because I constantly have the tv on. I'm trying to remedy that this year.

10. After several failures, what do you do to motivate yourself to get back in the kitchen to try again?
I will conquer the green bean, and I want to start making bread.
Edit: Whoops misread the question. I am so stubborn that failing at things just makes me more determined to perfect it. I don't need more motivation then that.

Read more here.