Wednesday, July 31, 2013

"Let it roll off your back like a duck"

These are wise words from my dad, though I will admit they are easier said than done (i.e. I pretty much never follow this adage). I definitely have a hard time letting things go, and I can hold a grudge for a long time (not something I'm proud of). But this a good saying to have in the back of your mind when someone says or does something that bothers you. Usually this refers to something minor (ex. someone criticizing your outfit or poo-pooing your favorite restaurant), and that's why you should let it go. I mean, is it REALLY that big of a deal? No. And do you really care if that person has different tastes than you? No (I'll wear/eat what I want!).

It's not so much as what people say that annoys me, but more about their negative attitudes. In general, I try to be positive, say nice things (at least to your face), and be happy about life. It's difficult for me to be around people who complain all the time or say nasty things, from moaning about the humidity in Maryland during the summer (Um, don't like it? Move.) to gossiping about random people (If I don't know them, I don't care...So why are you talking about them to me?). Life is too short to start off your day being rude or thinking mean things; then you ruin someone else's day, too!

So, try not to lose your groove because of those Negative Nancies or Debbie Downers (why are they all female names? A coincidence? I think not). Keep a smile on your face, and take the high road by not saying anything snarky back (but think it all you like. If people could read minds, no one would like me).

More Yoga Poses

I know I already wrote about my love of Mountain Pose, but here are some other favorites:

Tree: I really like this pose because it's all about balance. You stand on one foot, and have the other resting on the inside of your opposite thigh (or the side of your calf, depending on your flexibility). You slowly bring your hands from heart-center and lift them above your head and spread them out, like the branches of a tree. You really do feel like a plant, rooted in the earth and reaching for the sky. Plus, it's definitely an [evil] ego-boost when you can hold the pose while others are tipping over.

Warrior II: This is a pose that definitely makes you feel strong, much like a warrior. You are in a version of a lunge where your front leg is bent and holding most of your weight, and your back leg is straight, with the back foot perpendicular to the rest of your stance. Then your arms are held straight, one facing the front, the other pointing behind you. Your face is to the front, as if you're in a steady pose awaiting an attacker. Each limb is very sturdy in this pose, which can give you a lot of confidence (i.e. you're not likely going to fall out of this pose).

Downward Dog: This is a standard yoga pose that every yogi does. You're on all fours with your limbs straight, like the legs of a dog. Then you try to push your upper body towards the floor while your hips and tailbone reach for the ceiling. This is a pose to help strengthen your shoulders and stretch out your hamstrings. When I first started doing yoga, this pose was very hard for me to do. Now, my heels are completely planted on the floor (most beginners will be standing on the balls of their feet), which allows for a deeper stretch. I feel like this is the pose that will let you know if you are improving or not; it doesn't matter how well I perform the other poses, but if I can feel that I'm getting deeper into my Downward Dog, then I know I'm getting better.

Here is a great graphic of beginner yoga poses:

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Concert at the 9:30 Club

Last night, I went to the 9:30 Club for the first time. Since moving to the DC area, I have been hearing about how great of a venue it is, what amazing artists they bring to the city, etc. So I figured I needed to check it out.

First of all, it's very easy to get to. Since it's not off the Red line on the Metro (my main track), I was a little wary at first, and wasn't sure how long it would take me to get there. But I easily switched trains, and the walk from either the Shaw-Howard University or U-Street Metro stops is very short. I quickly picked up my ticket from will-call, then stood by the tour bus hoping to catch a glimpse of the band like a silly groupie. The line waiting to get in wasn't too long, and the venue never got packed. So I definitely recommend going on a Monday night if you want to avoid crowds! Plus, you'll have an awesome view of the stage no matter where you are (granted, we were practically at the stage, just a couple of feet from the singers).
I had never heard of the opening act, The Wind + The Wave. But I was immediately impressed. The main vocalist, Patricia Lynn, sounds like an indie Miranda Lambert and looks like a petite Lea Michele. Her duo partner, Dwight Baker, looks like a strong, steady wave (and sounds like one, too), though he claims to be the "wind" in the group. The two generously offered free, signed copies of their CD to the audience, and I couldn't wait to listen to it in my car. A little bit of country, a little bit of Regina Spektor or Florence Welch, a great combo.
But the main show was the Plain White T's. I mainly bought these tickets to see the band because one of their lead singers, Tim Lopez, was on the ridiculous reality TV show Ready for Love, which I stupidly watched. He's super-hot, so I wanted to see him in person. And Tim did not disappoint. His guns (i.e. biceps) were out in all their glory, and every time he stepped up to the mic, the girls went wild. I knew about half of the songs they played, but I enjoyed all of them, even the over-played "Hey There Delilah." Definitely a great show, and I'm thinking about going onto itunes and buying some of their songs.

So all in all an amazing night! I recommend the venue and its wonderful lineup of bands and artists!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Fashion Documentaries

I've always been interested in fashion, probably because I can appreciate anything beautiful. I like flipping through glossy magazines and seeing all of the colorful advertisements, and even if I can't buy designer clothes, I'll certainly window-shop and visit thrift stores for similar looks. I also enjoy watching shows like Project Runway and America's Next Top Model (ANTM); it is amazing how shows like that can introduce the American public to some of the biggest names and faces of fashion!

This weekend, I was looking on Netflix for something to watch, and I came across Unzipped, a documentary about the designer Isaac Mizrahi and his work in the early 1990's. It was so interesting to see the designer at such a young age working frantically in New York City. And there were familiar faces who everyone should know, including Cindy Crawford and Naomi Campbell. This is the sort of film that lets you peek into the backstage scene of fashion, both literally (his 1995 runway show featured a scrim in which the audience could see the models undressing during the show) and figuratively (seeing the roller coaster that is fashion, from the highs of creating a beautiful collection to the lows of seeing another designer rip off your idea).

And of course I couldn't get enough of my fashion-fix with one movie! So I immediately started watching The Tents, a documentary that is all about how New York Fashion Week was transformed once all of the shows could be seen in the tents of Bryant Park. I had no idea that NYFW (not sure if that's a real acronym but I'm lazy) used to be scattered throughout Manhattan, but designers (Michael, Ralph, Calvin, Karen...they need no last names) came together and eventually were able to put NYFW on the map with the other fashion weeks throughout the world (Paris, Milan, etc.). The film features people like André Leon Talley and Kelly Cutrone, fashion bigwigs who probably would not be recognized by your average American if it weren't for ANTM.

Another film I watched ages ago but greatly recommend is The September Issue. This documentary is all about creating the most famous fashion magazine, Vogue, for its biggest fall issue for September. You get to see into the glamorous life of Anna Wintour, the editor-in-chief of the magazine (a job she has held since 1988). While watching the film, you have to respect how monumental Wintour has been to American fashion. I mean, she was the person to first suggest putting celebrities on the covers of magazines instead of models! In The Tents, it's mentioned that Wintour does not wait in lines, and no one bothers her with questions; she walks to her front-row seat of the runway show and that is it. Imagine being that sort of VIP!

But if you don't care for documentaries, you can always watch The Devil Wears Prada.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Citi Open Tennis Tournament

I was planning on playing tennis today, but when my friend invited me to go to the Citi Open qualifiers with her, I immediately cancelled my Meet-Up plans. I can play tennis any time, but you can't just go to a tennis tournament whenever you want!

So we took the metro to the Van Ness-UDC metro stop, where a shuttle then picked us up to drive us to the courts (so convenient!). We drove past Rock Creek Park, which was quite scenic, and then we saw all of these tents surrounded by this forested area. It reminded me of the AT&T National golf tournament I went to earlier this summer, with all of the tents selling food, sports merchandise, and offering contests to win a car. We grabbed some KIND bars and made our way into the stadium to watch Matthew Ebden beat Saketh Myneni (I'll always root for a cute Australian guy). We watched some ladies matches as well. During all of the matches, it was fun being so close to the players and seeing how human they are; both sweat and tears were shed. Plus, being outside on a warm summer day is always enjoyable: we got to relax in the sun, wave little U.S. flags, and eat hot dogs. Can you get more American than that?

Enjoy some photos:

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Union Market's Drive-In Movie

Last night was Friday night, and God forbid I stay home alone on a Friday night. So I called up my friend Hannah, and she mentioned that during the summer, Union Market has a drive-in movie on Friday nights. How cool is that? I've only been to Union Market once, so I definitely thought a second trip was in order. Plus, I've never been to a drive-in before! And it was as fun as I imagined! There was a long line of cars waiting to park, but we easily were able to get a spot. We walked around the market for a bit, bought milkshakes (I can't resist!), and just wandered while waiting for the movie to start. There were girls on roller skates serving patrons in cars, just like the olden days, so that was fun. For entertainment, there were volunteers dressed up as snack foods (hotdog, Sno Caps, a soda, popcorn) playing games with selected audience members; this was pretty hard to watch, and the jokes were so horrible, but I guess they had to use up time somehow. After we had had enough of that, we nestled ourselves back in the car. We watched The American President, which I hadn't seen since I was very young. The movie was good, and afterwards it didn't take long for the parking lot to empty out. Definitely a fun way to spend a summer night!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Staying active all day!

I will start off saying that I'm not sure how good of an idea this is. I was inspired to talk about this when I had such an active day yesterday. Of course I started my day at the gym: nothing extreme, just 30 minutes on the elliptical. Then I went hiking for work (how cool is that?) up Sugarloaf Mountain in Maryland (expect a lengthy blog post in the future about how awesome this place is), and that night spent two hours blues dancing at Glen Echo. And then of course I had a tough cardio conditioning class at the Washington Sports Club this morning...Needless to say, that was a lot for 24 hours. It was an amazing day, though! How great is it to start your day off right with some exercise, enjoy the great outdoors with a hike mid-day, and then finish off the night with some incredible dancing that makes you break into a sweat? That's my kinda day!

So that's why I would recommend being active all day, just because it makes you feel good. As I've said before, morning work-outs are super; you feel really accomplished, and your day has only just begun! But what about during the rest of the day? I know people who stand at their computers at work, or who take walks at lunch time to stretch their legs. I definitely recommend those activities, especially if you have the kind of job where that's all you can do in the middle of the day. And then at night, you could take a yoga class to work on your flexibility, go to the gym for a tough work-out if you didn't do one that morning, or go dancing like I did! Anything to keep you moving. Many of us lead such sedentary lives (hello, obesity epidemic!), so get up and go!

But take a rest when you need one. My knees are killing me today...

Thursday, July 25, 2013

To walk or to drive to the grocery store?

That is today's question.

I'm about 50-50 when it comes to this. If I'm going to Safeway, I tend to drive because they have an easy in-and-out garage, and since I'm usually buying a lot of stuff, I just can't carry it all on my own (especially if I get milk and orange juice). But if I'm going to Trader Joe's (which is probably closer to my place), I walk. It all kind of depends on what the weather is like (I do not walk in the rain, obvi), what I'm buying (I tend to just get produce or cheese at T.J.'s), and whether I'm already in the car or not (i.e. if I'm coming home from work).

So is it lazy to drive to the store? Should I just always walk, and make several little trips every week instead of one or two large trips? How do you handle your grocery shopping?

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Royal Baby

I'm only writing about this because it's all I've been hearing about this week.

Don't get me wrong: I LOVE Kate Middleton (or whatever her married name is). She's smart, beautiful, has a great sense of style, and though I've never met her, I bet she's super-nice. And Prince William is obviously a catch (he's a prince after all! No receding hairline can take that away from him). They are the picture-perfect couple. And now the picture-perfect family.

For royalty, I understand that you kind of have to have kids. You need an heir to the throne, blah blah blah. And biologically you're supposed to have children to make sure your genes get to take a swim in the gene pool. But since I don't want children, this whole baby craze baffles me.

This post is not about my confusion as to why people want to have and raise children; that would take an entire book. I mainly want to focus on the fact that in our society, a couple without children does not seem to count for much. I mean, as soon as the royal wedding was over in April of 2011, people immediately started wondering when there would be a baby prince or princess.

Why can't a family be considered complete with just a couple? I'm certainly a complete person (I don't believe in that "you're my better half" stuff. No, I am a complete entity on my own, thank you very much), and if/when I get married, I would want to focus on the two of us, just us. So much more focus is put on the bond between parents and children than between the parents themselves! Sure, our society is lovesick and focuses on romance ALL the time (i.e. every movie ever made), but that's always about the couple BEFORE they are married. It's about FALLING in love, not remaining in love as adults. Suddenly love isn't the focus anymore: breeding is.

Personally, I like the idea of dedicating my life to someone else. But I want that someone else to be my husband, not some bratty kid who's going to take me for granted for most of my life. The relationship of a couple is the foundation of a family, and to me, that's the most integral relationship there is to a family. Because let's be honest: if there's no couple, there are no babies (well, unless you use a sperm donor. And that's a whole other story...), and therefore no nuclear family.

*This post is a personal rant and is written for ME. If it offends you, don't read it. If you have children, I'm sorry that I don't like kids, but that's never going to change. And if you have children but aren't part of a nuclear family (i.e. single parent), your job is even harder! So, I realize most people like kids and think that raising children is worth all of the sacrifices. But I don't fall into that category, so you're just going to have to deal with posts like this. Get over it.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Jason Aldean's "The Only Way I Know"

This song by Jason Aldean (featuring Luke Bryan and Eric Church) always makes me think of my determination and work ethic that I've had my whole life.

Even though these guys are singing about working on farms in the country ("Soaking in the rain, baking in the sun"), I still can relate to hard work, even if it's not physical labor. The line, "Don’t quit 'til the job gets done" certainly resonates with me. I'm not a quitter: when I say I'm going to do something, I do it. I know people who quit school courses half way through the term because they were afraid they'd get an F (why not work hard to get an A in the first place?), or people who don't finish grad school (look at the money you wasted for no degree!). I wanted to be valedictorian of my high school graduating class: I was. I wanted to attend Dartmouth College: I did. I wanted to work for an environmental non-profit: I am. I set my mind to something and I do everything in my power to make it happen. That's a nice segue into the chorus:

"That’s the only way I know
Don’t stop 'til everything’s gone
Straight ahead, never turn round
Don’t back up, don’t back down
Full throttle, wide open
You get tired and you don’t show it
Dig a little deeper when you think you can’t dig no more
That’s the only way I know"

For me, there is no option other than doing what needs to be done. And I stick to what I believe in and what I'm doing, too. If I'm doing something that someone else doesn't think is worthwhile, I don't just stop because they say so. I "don't back down" if other people try to put their opinions on me. All of this doesn't just apply to work, either. These words bring meaning to my personal beliefs as well as something as minor as my tennis game. You keep going, and you stand up for yourself, no matter what. And you do it your way:

"Maybe there’s another path that
Will get you there a little bit faster,
But I’m sticking with the one inside of me"

I'm not going to change the way I'm doing something just to achieve a goal (see this previous post). I'm going to take the route best suited for me. I'm going to get the job done, and I'm going to do it my way. This is how I'm going to continue to live my life; I can't see myself being happy unless I'm doing what is right for me, and doing it in the right way for me.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Brunch at Le Diplomate

Yesterday afternoon, on a gorgeous summer day, I got together with a friend for brunch at Le Diplomate near Logan Circle in DC. Unfortunately I do not have any photos of our delicious meals (I didn't want to be that girl), but I will describe the food as best as I can. Instead, enjoy this photo of Sara and me (love that crop top. I'll have to write a post about that fashion trend...).

First of all, the restaurant is on the corner of Q Street and 14th Street, so it's a straight shot from Dupont Circle, which is very convenient. And though you may think it will be another small restaurant packed into the city, it actually is quite spacious. There are two indoor dining rooms, and plenty of outdoor seating under cute umbrellas. We were seated inside, where the skylights, large windows and mirrors and green tiled walls made you feel like you were eating in a plant house or indoor porch (much to my delight. Sunshine without the heat? Perfect combo!).

Our waitress happily greeted us (though asked us, "Would you like bottled or sparkling water?" Don't let them fool you: they have tap water. Those two aren't the only choices!) and promptly took our order. Sara got the Gruyère omelet, while I ordered the eggs Benedict (with a side of bacon. I can't enjoy brunch without bacon!). While we waited, we envied those next to us who were already served, the yummy smells wafting over our table. Once our plates were brought over, our meals looked just as divine as they tasted; the presentation was lovely, with yellow eggs and perfectly browned potatoes, and tiny cups of ketchup placed delicately on our plates (no bottle needed!). And while our order of homemade pastries was served late to us, each one was as tasty as the next. The assortment included croissants, a blueberry muffin, and several types of strudel and scones. And since we didn't get them before our meal as we had asked, the pastries were on the house! Free pastries are even yummier!

So: great location, wonderful atmosphere, amazing food, and friendly customer service. You can't get any better than that! Le Diplomate, I will be back!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

An afternoon in Georgetown

I usually never go to Georgetown because it is a pain to get to. There is no metro stop in Georgetown, and if you drive, you have to deal with parking, which is even more of an inconvenience. However, yesterday some friends were going there and invited me to come along, and since one of them was driving, I happily joined in (I helped pay for parking! I did!).

Our first stop was a flea market (when I see a bunch of white tents, I must stop out of curiosity!). We passed by many artisans with their wares as well as booths featuring fresh squeezed lemonade and homemade baked goods, but of course I had to stop at the jewelry. I found these two cute little rings (dainty jewelry is my favorite). The one features a tiny sparkly heart, and the other is an elephant (which many believe symbolizes good luck, but I just like animals).

I also bought this precious light blue dress. For $20, how could I say no? It has two cut-outs at the hip, and laces up the back (I'll have to break out that backless-strapless bra...). It seems like the perfect summer dress, so once I get it dry cleaned, I'm gonna rock it! Put it on, wear it out!

Then we made our way to get some refreshments. We enjoyed some bubble tea (so yummy!), and had to check out the cupcakes from Baked & Wired. Then we walked along the Potomac River for a little bit, then returned to M Street to check out some consignment shops, including Second Time Around and Buffalo Exchange (though I did not find any goodies. Though these stores have great deals, their merchandise is definitely hit or miss!). We also stopped in some home good stores, but mainly just to take advantage of their air conditioning.

Once we finished wandering about, we decided it was time for dinner. We drove into the city to go to the Pearl Dive Oyster Palace. My one friend and I had been there before, and the others were visiting DC, so we thought they should enjoy some of the best seafood in town. We had some delectable oysters of course, and even though the restaurant is known for its mollusks, I actually indulged in their fried chicken, which is amazing (Hint: it's a huge portion, so split it between two people like we did!). Once our tummies were full, we were quite content with our day of exploration in DC.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

"A Midsummer Night's Dream" at the Synetic Theater

Image found here.
 A Midsummer Night's Dream is my favorite Shakespeare play, so I try to see it whenever I can (in any form: a play, a ballet, a movie, etc.). Last night, I saw it at the Synetic Theater in Crystal City in Virginia. The venue was quite small, so there wasn't a bad seat in the house. But we were not seated until 8, the time the play was supposed to start (and I had arrived an hour early, so you can understand my frustration). But that is not the point of this post. Let's focus on the performance itself.

Image found here.

I'd like to first start off with the fact that it was obvious that this particular performance was very inspired by the 1999 movie version of the play. The performance started with a dark stage, with fairies dancing about holding gold lights in their hands that flitted about the stage; in the film, little flecks of light, much like fire flies, represent fairies as well. Also, the changeling boy is blue just like in the film; this is because the child is from India, and Vishnu (an important deity in Hindu history) is blue. The costume for Hippolyta (Jodi Niehoff) was quite similar, too (long gown, elbow-length gloves), which I think is odd, since Hippolyta is supposed to be an Amazonian woman.

But the performance did put their own spin on some things. For one, the play was silent! Occasionally one of the actors would make a sound effect, but there was no dialogue throughout the entire thing. While this was off-putting at times, since I knew the story, I knew what was happening, and could simply interpret the actors' movements and expressions. Ryan Sellers, who played Peter Quince, was especially talented in this realm, with a very expressive face and exaggerated actions (though at times too exaggerated to the point of slapstick comedy, which is not my style). Also, a piano man (Konstantine Lortkipanidze) was a key part of the group of actors, and he was incredible. He had no sheet music! I was quite impressed with this addition to the story/play. The performance also included Hermia's dream about a snake, which I had never seen performed before.

Image found here.
I was also impressed by how the actors interacted with one another. I enjoyed the great sexual tension between Titania (Tori Bertocci, with a strong face similar to Sarah Jessica Parker's) and Oberon (Philip Fletcher). They wore metallic masks and metal armor (think Princess Lea in Star Wars), and they danced so well with each other that you really felt a connection between the couple. Plus, they were both super-fit, so their half-naked bodies were easy on the eyes. The interplay between Helena (Emily Whitworth) and Hermia (Irina Kavsadze; her father also played Egeus, Hermia's father in the story. How funny!) was very good. Whitworth's humor in her face was infectious, and Irina's looks (she looks like the love child of Leighton Meester and Desiree, this season's Bachelorette) made everyone want to root for her and Lysander (Scott Brown). And Puck (Alex Mills) was as mischievous yet lovable as always; need I say more?

Image found here.
And I understand that plays are meant to be interpreted, but there are a few things this performance just got all wrong. For one, it equated the changeling boy to Puck. They are NOT the same person! This play showed Titania and Oberon paying equal amounts of attention to the boy, but Puck really only serves Oberon; the changeling boy isn't even that important of a character in the play. Also, in the play, when Puck plays the trick on Bottom to turn him into an ass, he gives him long donkey ears. But in this version, they gave him a pair of fur pants and a tail. While the message was still clear, I prefer the image of Bottom with the ears, and quite frankly, I think it would have been an easier costume to create! But instead, they made Bottom (Irakli Kavsadze) look like Dionysus/Bacchus, the Greco-Roman god. Then at the end, when the "troupe of players" had finished their play, you find out one of their actors (Katie Dubois Maguire) is really a woman; I immediately got a flashback to the movie Shakespeare in Love. So, not very original.

All in all, I enjoyed myself, and I could tell that the actors and crew put so much work into the production, which is very admirable and respectable. The set was simple yet fun, and the costumes were absolutely beautiful (I'm a girl; of course I'm going to pay attention to the clothes!). Next time, I'll just make sure not to show up so early!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Quote to think about over your weekend...

"You've got to get to the stage in life where going for it is more important than winning or losing."
-Arthur Ashe

And no, I'm not just using this quote because I'm in a tennis phase right now. Actually, it was in my Kona Kase this month, and the quote really spoke to me, so I wanted to share it with all of you.

I think our society is too focused on the end result of everything you do, and I definitely have lived a lot of my life this way. Taking tests in school was to get straight As; whether I absorbed and learned the information wasn't the #1 focus (hence why calculus still befuddles me). Going to high school and being valedictorian was to get into a great college, not to actually enjoy and be proud of my teenage years of youth.

But, I am proud that I have changed that. While a lot of people have jobs they don't like but do it for the money or prestige, I'm very glad to be able to say that I love my job. No, I'm not a millionaire, but I can still support myself and splurge every once in a while without breaking the bank. And even though society is breathing down my neck to get married ("You're in your mid-20's! Other people have babies by now! You need a man!"), I'm just enjoying my life as it is right now. I am having so much fun as a single, young woman living in a city, and I am so happy where I am at in my life. I'm not going to focus on what's next, or what's missing that I need to get or achieve...I'm enjoying the present, right here, right now.

So Ashe is right. "Get to the stage in life" where living your life to be happy is more important to you than earning six figures or doing a job that pleases everyone else but you. If you want to quit the job you hate and go back to school for a different passion, do it! The only judge for the game of Life is God, and I'd like to think He cares more about my happiness than the amount of money in my bank account or if I met societal norms throughout my existence. If you're happy, you win!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Moist and Minty Brownies

Last night I tried a new recipe. To celebrate a co-worker's 15th anniversary at the organization, we wanted to throw a little party, and I volunteered to bring some sort of dessert. I wanted to make something pretty easy, but also wanted to try something new (I've made peanut butter chocolate chip cookies too many times...). So I looked through my Nestle cookbook, and here is the recipe I decided upon.

Moist and Minty Brownies


  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 1/2 cups (9 oz.) NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 container (16 oz.) prepared vanilla frosting
  • 1 tube (4 1/2 oz.) chocolate decorator icing


PREHEAT oven to 350° F. Grease 9-inch-square baking pan.

COMBINE flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Combine sugar, butter and water in medium saucepan. Bring just to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly; remove from heat. (Or, combine sugar, butter and water in medium, microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on HIGH (100%) power for 3 minutes, stirring halfway through cooking time. Stir until smooth.)

ADD 1 cup morsels, peppermint extract and vanilla extract; stir until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, stirring well after each addition. Stir in flour mixture and remaining morsels. Spread into prepared baking pan.

BAKE for 20 to 30 minutes or until center is set. Cool completely (center will sink) in pan on wire rack.

SPREAD vanilla frosting over brownie. Squeeze chocolate icing in parallel lines over frosting. Drag wooden pick through chocolate icing to feather. Let stand until frosting is set. Cut into bars.
Now, you will note that I changed the icing a bit. I went to the store to get chocolate chips, and when I saw a tube of edible green glitter icing, I had to buy it. So I used that instead on top of the white icing (which, by the way, 12 ounces is plenty. You do not need 16 ounces!). Then I got a little creative and added a couple more chocolate chips on top. I know it doesn't look perfect, but that way you know it's homemade!

For more great baking recipes, visit:

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Multiple Email Accounts

I don't know how anyone can survive with only one email account anymore. With all of the spam I get, as well as emails from stores I like or Meet-Up groups I'm a part of, I could never keep it all straight with just one inbox (I already feel overwhelmed as it is!). So, I try to keep things organized with two personal email accounts. One is for family and friends, as well as receipts for any shopping I do (stores, plane tickets, etc.). I must say, although I disliked Gmail's new format of multiple tabs for your inbox [Primary, Social, and Promotions], it has certainly grown on me. Now, it will separate emails from my loved ones, from Twitter, and from my Living Social/Groupon emails. My second email address is for anything relating to Meet-Up, Belief Net, or online dating (well, it used to be for that until I gave OkCupid up...). These are emails that I eventually will get to, but I just don't need to look at them RIGHT now; they can wait.

And of course work emails are separate by nature. Imagine mixing personal AND professional emails with one another! That's like dating someone at work: it's messy.

How do you keep your inbox(es) tidy?

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Snacks in my desk

In college, I got used to eating all the time. I'd get hungry during class, after class, before class, late at night while studying...No wonder I put on 20 pounds. Now I'm in much better shape and go to the gym much more often than in school (almost every day, sometimes twice a day, rather than every other day), but I still have the munchies almost constantly. I try to abate my hunger by eating a large breakfast and drinking lots of water throughout the day. That definitely helps, but sometimes I still get in a snacky mood. So I'm always prepared for when I have a grumbly tumbly!

I keep trail mix or mixed nuts for when I get hungry before lunch. This is a healthy snack with lots of protein, and it holds me over until lunchtime. The sweet things, like Skittles or Back to Nature cookies, are for after lunch, when I just need something sugary to cleanse my pallet. And anything else, like Cheetos or whatever else I may have in there, are for emergencies only; I don't usually eat them, but if I brought a really small lunch (or forgot one entirely), then they would come to the rescue.

What do you usually snack on at work/school?

Monday, July 15, 2013

Love vs. Respect

Some people may say they are completely different things, some may say they're one in the same. I think love and respect are two different feelings that are closely intertwined. Love is something you feel for your family, significant other, and closest best friends; I don't think most people would say they "love" their co-workers. However, you can have respect for the people you work with, as well as for strangers that you may only know from reading about them. But as for the people I hold nearest and dearest, I both love and respect them, and if one is missing, the other is, too. For me, if I cannot respect someone, I cannot love him/her either. If I think you are a lazy person who rides on others' coattails, or you are the type of person to betray someone else to get ahead in life, or you disrespect other people in general...I neither respect nor love you. And sadly, this goes for family members as well as friends. Yes, I will still care about that family member, but those special feelings are no longer there. When I interact with family members who are in this situation, it's like talking to an acquaintance: we talk about work, the weather, TV shows...But I don't share with them my deep feelings or fun secrets or anything like that. This goes for romantic relationships as well. If I cannot respect a man, there's no way I can fall in love with him (or stay in love with him if I lose respect for him once we're already together). And I cannot love a man who is not respected by his community or peers; obviously something's wrong with his character.

I will admit that I lose respect very easily (and don't even get me started on trust...). I know this isn't a good thing, and I am trying to be better about not burning bridges just because someone does something that I think is wrong. But respect and love are things to be earned; I do not share them easily, and it's hard to get back once they are lost. So in that way, these two feelings have similar definitions for me. Does anyone else agree on this?

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Hosting the perfect Wine and Cheese

Once a month, my sorority sisters who live in the DC area get together for wine and cheese. This is a tradition that we had at school, and we have since continued it after graduation. We rotate who hosts, and while the hostess provides most of the wine and food, other sisters bring along drinks and nibbles as well. Tonight is my night to host (it's my third time), and I always enjoy having everyone over. Here are some tips I have for being the perfect hostess:

1. Be ready on time. You want the glasses, plates, and most of the food out when your first guests arrive. Of course you don't want the food to get too hot or too cold (depending on what you're serving), but it's a little embarrassing when your guests arrive and you're stilling running around like a chicken with your head cut off because you didn't know how to manage your time.

2. Have a little bit of everything. Now, since my guests are expected to bring something, I can count on them to bring a variety of items. But, I try to have my own mix, too. I like to make sure I have at least two wines to choose from, some crackers as well as a baguette (sliced before your guests come), both green and red grapes, some hummus, and at least three types of cheese (the blueberry goat cheese from Trader Joe's is a must!). Brie is a go-to as well. And if you're really trying to be fancy, I recommend making a dessert (bar cookies?), or getting some Prosciutto or smoked sausage to accompany the cheese (though your vegetarian friends may be offended).

3. Prepare the space. While my apartment is not huge, I try to make room for everyone to feel comfortable. I bring in chairs from the kitchen so that people do not have to sit on the floor if they would rather not (as the hostess, I try to sit on the floor, allowing my guests to have the best seats). And of course make sure to tidy up! Vacuum, sweep, and dust either the night before or the morning of your event. 

4. Go the extra mile. Show that you put in more effort than just putting food out on a table. You can place the crackers in a fancy design on a large plate, or label each cheese with its own name tag written in pretty ink (my favorite choice), or use your cutest little cheese knives. Just something to show that you were thinking ahead and wanted to make things a little more special.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Fancy breakfast

Most days, I simply make cereal for breakfast (and by make I mean pour into a bowl and add milk). But when I visit my parents and have more time in the morning, I like to treat myself to something more delectable. This morning, I had raisin bread toast (homemade by my mother), covered in peanut butter and banana slices and topped with a dollop of Cool Whip. Add slices of a peach from a local farm stand, and voila! A delicious and nutritious (well, somewhat nutritious) meal, and so pretty, too!

Wanted to add this a couple of days later...

This is a heart-shaped waffle topped with Smucker's boysenberry syrup, banana slices, whipped cream, strawberry slices, and a little cluster of grapes on the side. Yummy!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Pampering: Massages

I am visiting my parents for a long weekend, and today my mother and I got massages at Alexander's of Annapolis. I had only had one massage before this (we went to the Mountain View Grand Resort before my college graduation), so I figured I'd like to go again.

While having a massage is pretty much always nice, there is a spectrum of good massage therapists, techniques, etc. While I liked the massage in general, it was not the experience I had hoped for. For one, my massage therapist was not a people-person, which is quite annoying when she works in a customer service job. She was curt, unfriendly, and it felt like she rushed through the hour-long appointment. I prefer someone to greet me with a smile, and who makes me feel at home at the salon. To me, the massage felt more like going through the motions than actually enjoying the experience.

So, you have to remember that "fancy" things like massages can be hit or miss. Just because you pay $100 for something, that doesn't mean you're going to have a great experience. I recommend that instead of going to an everyday salon, go get a massage when you are on vacation and staying somewhere (probably a resort) where the whole point is to give you the best experience. Everyone wants to make you happy when you're on vacation, so the customer service should be better!

Of course, if someone else is buying, then I suppose it doesn't matter too much...

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Gasland Part II

Last night, I saw the Josh Fox movie Gasland Part II at E Street Cinema. Of course I'm interested in environmental issues, and the tickets were free, so a friend and I went. This second film was as moving as the first: you sympathize with the families who are affected by gas drilling, you're enraged by the oil and gas companies that are destroying not only the earth but the public health in those areas, you're disappointed that the United States federal government hasn't done more to protect its own citizens.Gasland Part II is one of those documentaries that makes you feel many different emotions, but at the end, you're still asking yourself, "What can I do?" It seems hopeless trying to negotiate with the oil industry or to speak with local legislators: only money talks there. But director Fox has taken a stand by making movies like this. Yes, he's only one man, but with these films he has given local families and communities a voice. When speaking with Fox, he mentioned that he's already thinking about a third Gasland film. I hope that with each movie he makes, people will become even more aware of the dangers associated with fracking, and will take a stand for what is right, just as Fox has.

*Yep, totally has to keep myself from acting like a groupie and freaking out when Josh Fox shook my hand.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Beyonce's "Beautiful Liar" feat. Shakira

This is the sexiest music video of all time. I get chills every time I watch it!

For one, both of them are beautiful women. They have curvy bodies, and I mean curvy in the best way (hourglass figures), not the worst (a euphemism for fat). And they show off their curves in this video: I wish I could dance like that!  Plus, the costumes are amazing. Too bad we can't wear awesome outfits like that all the time!

The scenery is enticing, too.The smoke at the beginning of the video just covers everything in mystery. There's something that makes you interested in seeing what those billowing clouds are hiding. The same goes for the silk fabric hanging down all around, making you curious about what's under the sheets.

And the play between the two women is incredible. The mirroring of their movements makes them so in sync that sometimes it's hard to tell who's who. The idea that they are both dating the same man, but come together to realize he's "not worth the drama" is super-sexy, since most women in real life couldn't stand the "other" woman. Another girl power song. And who better to have sing it than two divas like Beyonce and Shakira?

And maybe I just wish I had big hair like them...Definitely my girl fantasy!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013


Wedges and espadrilles are my FAVORITE shoes of the summer. They seem casual because of their rope/wood/cork/etc. wedge, but they're also fancy because they're high heels. Except more comfortable than stilettos.

So, starting from left to right:

1. These are brown Colin Stuart shoes from Victoria's Secret. This is actually the second pair of these that I've owned. I loved them so much that when the first pair broke after many years of use, I was ecstatic that I could easily replace them with an exact replica. These are my go-to pair of this category.

2. These are very similar to the first except that they have a rope that you wrap up your calf to hold them onto your feet. While this look is very sexy, you have to tie the ropes very tightly to keep them on your legs, and the marks left on your flesh when you take them off is not sexy. So, I don't wear these very often.

3. These were a cute little find at Target. They were the right price, and they were my first pair of black wedges. I had brown, but what about black?!

4. I don't buy many Steve Madden shoes anymore because of this pair. While they are adorable (and quite nautical, perfect for summer), that stupid label on each of Madden's shoes tears up the bottom of my feet and gives me huge blisters. I actually cut out the label from this pair so that I could wear them! So, I wear these for occasions when I won't need to wear them long, but that's it.

5. This is the newest pair of the collection, and I am in LOVE. These also are from Victoria's Secret, and they immediately make me feel sexier when I put them on. They are four inches high, so already I feel like a glamazon. They just seem to spice up any outfit!

Monday, July 8, 2013

My 4th of July Weekend

This must have been one of the most fun, relaxing weekends I've had in recent memory! My Theta sister and I drove over to the Eastern Shore to visit my parents for a 4-day weekend. It was glorious. For one, the weather was perfect. Sure, it was hot, but no hotter than Maryland usually is in the summer. There was always blue sky, just a couple of white, puffy clouds in sight, and a gentle breeze caressed your skin every once in a while. Needless to say, we spent as much time as we could outside. We played tennis 3 out of the 4 mornings, twice playing doubles with my parents and once was just my friend and I at Cross Courts in Easton on their clay courts. Again, tennis is a great social game, and it was good to get more practice in! Plus, it was only fitting to play tennis when Wimbledon was happening at the same time "across the pond."We also visited Adkins Arboretum to walk the dogs along the wooded and meadow paths. While we were there we found wild blackberry bushes and tasted the sun-kissed delicacies. It felt like the epitome of summer!

We also enjoyed some delicious meals in the sunshine. We ate several meals on my parents' back porch, and one afternoon we went to the Crab Deck in Kent Island to have some yummy seafood (blue crabs, of course!).  And we can't forget the "bucket" of fruity deliciousness that gave each of us a buzz almost instantly.

Sunbathing was also on the menu, spending an hour each afternoon on the porch snacking on cherries (my favorite summer fruit!) and ice pops while we bronzed (our shoulders got plenty of color during tennis, but what about the rest of our bodies?). We had a fan going to keep us sane in the humidity, and each of us now has nice tan lines to show off (or to keep a secret...Insert winky face here). One morning we did a little shopping in an outlet mall, so we got to be in the sun between stores as well. We were very successful in our conquest: I bought several pairs of jeans (it's so hard for me to find jeans I like!), two skirts, a blouse for work, and some cut-offs that I'll rock for the rest of the summer; my friend also bought several outfits that will be perfect for work. We made off with so much loot, and that was only from three stores! Now that's what a shopping expert looks like!

And of course I can't forget to mention the fireworks we saw on Independence Day! We went to a park in historic Chestertown, and it really was the perfect place to see fireworks. We laid out on this grassy lawn with many other spectators (though all were well behaved), and we laid there as the sky became darker and the bats started to flit about. Once the show started, we were completely captivated. The fireworks were just above our heads over the water; the variety of shapes, sizes, and colors was tremendous. Last year I stood in Adams Morgan to watch the fireworks in DC, and this year was much better! Laying on a blanket staring at the stars and show was definitely an upgrade!

So, I spent a 4-day weekend (which really felt like a week we packed so much in and had so much fun!) with my family, one of my best friends, and had amazing whether. Life could not get better!!!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

College Paraphernalia

Yes, that is the only time I've ever used that word. Any way...

I'm assuming that most people have collected lots of random items from their college days. The most obvious would be T-shirts. I have four traditional Dartmouth shirts, one Winter Carnival shirt, one Dartmouth Ultimate shirt (my dad started the team there), and God knows how many Theta shirts (see some pictured here). I have a coffee mug that acts as a piggy bank. A pennant used to grace the wall of my dorm room and now is packed away in some box at home. I have a sticker on my car. My yearbook is on my night stand. The list goes on and on.

I suppose we have these things because our college days definitely help define who we're going to be as adults. I certainly became a different person between the time I graduated from high school and when I graduated from college (for the better, thank God). I think we hold on to those memories because they were also such fun times (well, for most of us, I like to think). I met some of my best friends in college; I still keep in touch with them. If I ever were to have amnesia or Alzheimer's, I'm pretty sure I'd still retain the college memories.

But we must remember not to live our lives in the past! I refuse to believe that those college days were the best times of my life and that it's all downhill from here. NO! I am onto bigger and better things, and I have already made so many new, fun memories, and will continue to do so, with or without my alma mater involved!

Friday, July 5, 2013

My Emergency Toolkit

I live by the Latin saying "Semper Parata" which translates as "Always Prepared" (in the feminine, of course). I never want to be caught in a situation and not have what I need. So here is the toolkit that I carry with me all the time in my purse (Oh, no, I'm letting out the secret of the inner-workings of a woman's purse for all men to see...).

1. The case itself: All of these little goodies need a home in your purse so you can find them easily. This can be a pencil case, a make-up bag, or perhaps even a smaller purse within the larger one. You do NOT need an item made specifically made for this purpose, like the Kangaroo Keeper.

2. Mints/Gum: You never know when you'll need to freshen your breath. I like Tic-Tacs because they are so small (clearly I need to buy more soon), and I love this Mentos gum because it doesn't have a wrapper (less waste!) and doesn't get all gooey in the heat like some other brands.

3. Pen/Pencil: Pens for doing the sudoku on the metro or writing down someone's phone number, pencils for writing in my planner (NEVER in pen. You never know if something better is going to come along!).

4. Tide-to-go pen: I'll admit that I mostly carry this around for other people, not for myself. I can't tell you how many times I've been with friends, and they spill something on themselves. So I come to their rescue and save their favorite garments.

5. Hair tie: If you have long hair, you never know when the wind/rain/humidity/etc. will come in and ruin your good hair day. So throw it into a ponytail, and voila! Much better.

6. Hand sanitizer: This is especially a necessity if you live in the city. You're on the metro, you're riding're touching a lot of things that other (sick) people are touching. Ew.

7. Chapstick/lipstick: Everyone looks better with a little color on her lips. Besides, nobody likes chapped lips!

8. Mirror: This goes along with #7. But a mirror is handy for all face issues: re-applying make-up, making sure you don't have food in your teeth, trying to get that eyelash that has crept its way onto your eye...You get the picture.

9. Athletic tape and scissors: These two go together. Freshman year of college was the first time in my life I walked everywhere. Growing up in a one-horse town, we drove to get to school, the store, etc., so I had never experienced walking several miles a day. Needless to say, my feet were cut up by the wear and tear of my shoes. I found that Band-Aids did not stay on long enough to protect my feet. Athletic tape, on the other hand, is pretty durable. The scissors are simply there to cut the tape at the right length.

10. Clippers/nail file: No girl wants to be caught with a hang-nail or a broken nail and then have to deal with the problem for the rest of the day. These are more items that other women ask to borrow from me frequently.

What goodies do you need with you at all times? Besides your ID and credit card, I mean!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Independence Day

The Fourth of July, or Independence Day, is a time to show your patriotism for the United States of America. You may celebrate by attending a barbeque, watching fire works, visiting a memorial, etc. I personally enjoy listening to country music, which seems to be the most patriotic of all music genres. Here is my playlist. Enjoy!

Toby Keith:
Made In America
Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue
American Soldier

Alan Jackson:
Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning

Aaron Tippin:
Where the Stars and Stripes and Eagle Fly

Tim McGraw:
If You're Reading This (live version)

Brooks & Dunn:
Only in America 

David Ball:
Riding with Private Malone

Lee Brice:
I Drive Your Truck

Phil Vassar
American Child

Darryl Worley
Have You Forgotten

And of course the classics
Lee Greenwood:
God Bless the USA

The National Anthem
America the Beautiful

What are your favorite songs about America?

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Gwen Stefani's "What You Waiting For"

This week clearly is going to have a musical theme (and not on purpose!). I'm just frequently inspired by music (even though I myself am not a musical person. Playing the recorder in 5th grade killed any interest in learning how to play anything else). So here we go.

Gwen Stefani's "What You Waiting For" is a great girl-power song (okay, now I've got a running theme on Feminism...). It's an autobiographical song about Stefani leaving the group No Doubt and becoming a solo singer, but I think all women can relate to parts of the song. Take this stanza for example:

Naturally I'm worried if I do it alone
Who really cares cuz it's your life
You never know, it could be great
Take a chance cuz you might grow

Maybe you're making a change in your life, like moving to a new city or taking a new job. It can be scary, making that decision and not knowing if it's all going to work out. BUT you have to take that chance, because what if it does work out? Then "it could be great"! Have no doubt and go after your dreams! (You see what I did there?)

And even as a strong woman, you may still find barriers in society that could hold you back: 

Your moment will run out
Cuz of your sex chromosome
I know it's so messed up how our society all thinks
Life is short, you're capable

But you can't listen to the critics! You are "capable" of doing what you want, no matter what people are telling you. And of course we're all hoping society will reach the point of true equality between men and women, so you have to strive for your goals to bring us closer to the greater one as a whole.

So, if you want a song to pump you up and tell you, "You go, girl!" then this is one of my favorites. Any other girl kick-ass songs you like?

Monday, July 1, 2013

Natasha Bedingfield's "Unwritten"

I love the song "Unwritten" by Natasha Bedingfield. It's all about how you have your whole future ahead of you, and you can make it whatever you want it to be.  "I'm just beginning, the pen's in my hand, ending unplanned." There's no crystal ball or fortune teller to tell you how your life is going to pan out. And it's not just that there's no blue-print or to-do list for your life. The song is also about making your own destiny and deciding what your future is going to be for yourself. You write the story!

I also like the message that the song has about how to go about living your life. Because there is no set track, you have to be open to new experiences, and let those experiences show you the way. Lines like "Release your inhibitions" and "Live your life with arms wide open" remind the listener not to be closed-minded and rigid. If you live like that, you're going to miss out! Now, I will admit that I need to take a dose of my own medicine right now. I am a planner, practically OCD about it, and if I could plan out the rest of my life, I eagerly would. But it's good that life doesn't work like that. It keeps things interesting and exciting!

You only have one life to live, and only you can experience it. Yes, you can live vicariously through your friends (ahem...I'm looking at all of my friends who travel abroad while I sit safely in my bedroom), but no one can live your life for you! No one can tell you what to do, what to say, where to go, etc. It's all on you! That's what this stanza is about:

Feel the rain on your skin
No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in
No one else, no one else
Can speak the words on your lips

So get out there! Write your destiny! Start the next chapter of the story of your life!