Friday, November 30, 2007



Thursday, November 29, 2007

Busy Christmas shopping

Sorry for the lack of content today (but I have to post!), but I am busy shopping this evening! I can't wait to start writing when I actually have something to write about and the time to do it!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

happenings: wrapping up the month!

Though I have been watching entirely too much television, I have had some other things going on:

Reading: Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes. This book has been at the forefront of too many news stories and online articles to ignore any longer. It's science-heavy, but it's a good follow-up to the history and fact-heavy book, United States of Arugula, I recently finished.

Ecstatic about: My sister, Kelly, gave me a generous gift certificate to for my birthday. I cannot wait to splurge on fabric!

Loving: Amazon Prime. I finally squandered the $79 to qualify for 2-day shipping for a year. I am such an Amazon junkie. If a hacker got a hold of my Amazon and Google info, they would essentially know everything about me. *shudder*

Leaf-turning: I am starting a certificate program in January as the initial step towards a new career path. More on this later, but I am very excited!

Counting down: 23 days until I go home to Texas! This year is unusual as I get a full 11.5 days in my home state. My favorite thing about being at home are the long mornings where we sit in the formal living room (no tv) in our pajamas and sip several cups of coffee and talk, each with a little 3-pound dog in our lap. What's even better is that either my mom or my dad bring us cup after cup (doctored up to our specifications), so we don't even have to get off the couch! So spoiled, but I adore it. On top of all this? Several days of this year's trip will be in Rockport, TX, where my grandparents live and have graciously arranged to have the whole gang there for several days of fun. Really can't wait.

Trying out: Coconut oil. If you haven't heard all the hype about this so-called "miracle food," please come out of the rock you've been hiding under. :) I'm currently using Organic Virgin Coconut Oil by Spectrum brand, which I bought at a local gourmet/upscale market. I was skeptical of the lofty lists of benefits of coconut oil, but I cannot ignore that my skin has improved drastically, and it's only been a week. Take that, you moisture-sucking heaters!

Celebrating: I turn 24 this Friday. Turning 24 isn't particularly any more exciting than turning 23 was, but 23 was such an awful year for me. The new number makes me feel like I'm getting a "new me" this Friday. Now that's something to look forward to.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Do one thing

I've been trying to follow the advice recently, "do one thing." I used to think it was desirable to be a killer multi-tasker, though now I am finding quite the opposite is true. "Do one thing" can be applied in a couple of ways, whether it's to do one task at a time, complete one specific task in a certain day or focus on one specific goal at a time.

At work I have found it's made me more productive since I'm not trying to juggle several things at once, and personally, focusing on one goal (my health) has enabled me to make considerable improvements and changes without feeling overwhelmed by too many things to do.

The bad? This blog has obviously been lacking in content, and I haven't been getting through sewing projects as quickly either. As I'm focusing one one, some other priorities have been put on the back burner.

The good? Once I finish my "one thing," I know I can move on to the next "thing" and accomplish it 100%.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Montreal Steak Seasoning

Ok, so I'm stretching for content today, but why shouldn't everyone know how great McCormick's Montreal Steak Seasoning is? It's a delicious, coarsely ground blend of salt, pepper, and spices (I'd be more specific but not at my spice cabinet right now!). The name is somewhat deceiving in that it goes with a lot more than just steak. I enjoy it on pork, chicken, and veggies (roasted brussels sprouts!) equally as well.

One word of caution: Notice I did say that it is salty. The first time I used this I ruined my steak because I liberally coated the piece of meat like I was using Mrs. Dash, which is salt-free. Learned my lesson!

In any event, this blend is perfect for people like me with a sparse spice cabinet. Try it!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Favorite Caesar Salad

I've never been a huge fan of Caesar salad until I started making my own dressing; now, I can't make this salad enough. It's particularly great for me because it requires minimal ingredients, so it keeps me from having a fridge full of veggies that are only going to go rotten before I can eat all of them.

Favorite Caesar Salad Dressing
Whisk together the following:
2 egg yolks
anchovy paste (I squeeze out paste to about an inch to inch and a half)
juice of one small lemon
zest of small lemon
3 cloves of fresh garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste

Then, slowly stream in extra virgin olive oil (about 1/2 to 3/4 cup) while whisking to emulsify.

Finally, whisk in 1/4-1/2 cup grated Parmesan.

You'll never buy bottled dressing again!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Worst Post Ever...

I am barely making this post before midnight, really! Gosh, the things holidays do to the typical computer user...better tomorrow, I promise!

Friday, November 23, 2007

My Thanksgiving, in Pictures...

My Thanksgiving was eerily quiet, save for a phone call from my dad. Not wanting to waste the day, I strolled around the Fisherman's Terminal in Ballard. It was eerily quiet there, too, but I was fortunate to visit on a day of rest, because otherwise these beautiful piles of fishing net and cages would have been in the ocean being tugged by a work boat instead of sitting on the curb, basking in the sun.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

Taking a much needed break from the computer today. I will see you all tomorrow!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

At the revolving doors...

Man: Remember that chest hair I had that grew really, really long?
Woman: Yes.
Man: Is it like that?!?!
Woman: No, it's...

I can't imagine what they were talking about, and I don't think I want to know!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


As this week has been all abuzz with talk of food, cooking, and everything Thanksgiving, it makes me happy about two things:
1) I am not cooking a big meal this year
2) Avoiding grocery stores' holiday madness using AmazonFresh

The first is obvious. I'm happy to be off the hook from cooking for people that won't appreciate it anyway to instead cook a special meal for myself. Lobster, maybe?

As for AmazonFresh, I have been happily using the grocery delivery service for a couple months now, and it's completely revolutionized the way I shop.

What is AmazonFresh?
AmazonFresh is an online grocery store founded by Amazon. As such, shopping is just as easy as it is on, and it works with your regular Amazon account. The concept is not a new one of course (e.g.,, the failed Webvan, Peapod, among others), but if anyone can make grocery delivery a sustainable reality, it will be Amazon, arguably one of the world's greatest retailers.

How is it shopping for groceries online? Seems like a pain.
Not at all! Above is a screenshot of the AmazonFresh homepage once logged in (click image for larger view). You'll see you have the option to shop by "aisle," or I find the fastest way to find items is by the search field near the top. In the screenshot below, you'll see that I searched for the term "eggs." After searching for an item, the next page gives you the choice to browse by the following options: (1)Aisles (similar to "department") , (2) Brands, (3) "Show only" (narrows results by only showing options that are "fat free," "gluten free," "vegetarian," etc.), (4) search for a term within results or (5), browse all results (most are pictured). Beyond that (yes, there's more!), you can sort the items by price, relevance, and if it is a new arrival.

Given the extensive options for finding an item and its easy to navigate interface, finding any item is extremely quick and easy to do.

How is it delivered?
Items are delivered as soon as the next day, or anytime you choose later than that. For orders over $25, you qualify for free "pre-dawn" delivery.

Pre-dawn Delivery
As the name indicates, these groceries are delivered extremely early (before 6am) and don't require you to answer the door. Items are packaged in crates. Cold and frozen items are packed in blue crates, which contain dry ice. Pantry items are stored dry in yellow cases. The deliveryman will leave these at your front door, and you can ask them to come back and pick them up the next day, or you can keep them until your next AmazonFresh delivery.

If your order exceeds $50, you are eligible for free daytime delivery.

Daytime Delivery
Daytime delivery hours are from 7:00am to 10:00pm. What I love about this delivery option is the delivery window--you select from a one hour time slot, saving you from waiting around all afternoon (cable company, I'm looking at you). It does require you to sign for your groceries, and your items will come in paper bags (as opposed to the crates).

Finally, all orders are available for pickup at designated AmazonFresh pickup centers, though I don't have a car so I've never used this option.

Is AmazonFresh available in my area?
At this time, it appears it is still in beta and only available in the Seattle area. Boo!

Is that all?
Believe it or not, I have a lot more to write about AmazonFresh, so consider this part one. Sorry, non-Seattlites!

Monday, November 19, 2007


So excited I get to see a sneak preview of the movie Juno tonight!! Darlin' T got the RSVP, and because she's the best friend ever, is taking me with her!!! Can anyone tell I am excited yet? There are supposed to be surprise guests too. If I never blog again, you know it's because one of the surprise guests was either Michael Cera or Jason Bateman. Please be sure they recover my body from Pacific Place Theater in downtown Seattle. I.Will.Absolutely.Die. LOVE those guys. Any other Arrested Development fanatics out there? (T, you can put your hand down.) :)

*Update* Ok, ok....T just told me she thinks the invite just meant that the "special guests" there are going to be the writer and the director. Boo!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Straciatella (Italian Egg Drop Soup)

I stumbled upon recipes for Straciatella yesterday as I was trying to decide what I could make for lunch that only required one egg (all I had). This soup indeed doesn't really need a recipe, as at its bare minimum, it's really just some chicken stock/broth, an egg, some grated parmesan and a sprinkling of ordinary spices.

It was a simple, healthy lunch with a side of roasted asparagus, and although the soup tasted fine, I wasn't enthralled with how the egg cooked. Some recipes indicated that the egg would form into ribbons, such as in Chinese egg drop soup, yet others said the egg would "flake," which is what happened to mine. The taste was fine, though as you can tell from the photo, not nearly as appetizing as a soup should be.

I can only suspect that how the egg cooks has to do with the temperature of the broth or maybe the addition of semolina, as I noticed some versions included. In all the recipes, the egg is cooked by adding it slowly to the broth as you briskly stir it in a circular motion, so I know it can't be that.

Defeated attitude aside, it's a simple, quick soup that makes a meal out of one egg!

2-3 cups chicken stock/broth
1 egg
1/4 c grated parmesan
parsley, to taste (fresh would be best here)
salt, pepper, red chili flakes* to taste

Bring chicken stock to a boil over medium-high heat. In a bowl beat together egg with parmesan cheese and parsley. Reduce heat to low and slowly stream in egg mixture while stirring in a circular motion. Slowly keep stirring until egg is completely set. Season with salt and pepper and red chili flakes.

*I didn't see anyone else add these, but I think it's a must. The soup would have been so bland without it!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Simplicity 3751

I finally completed "the shirt," view F from Simplicity 3751. Granted it took me practically all day today, but I learned a lot. Sewing another one of these or something similar will be a snap now that I've figured out the meaning of the instructions and how it pieces together.

I do regret not altering the pattern to make the top longer. Voluminous styles like this tend to stick out like a trapeze top on me because of my chest. On longer tops I can belt it to show that no, I'm not quite the size of a mini-van, but this shirt is just too short for me to do that. Darn.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Sleep shorts

Made these simple sleep shorts last night using pattern 7997 from, a free download. I'm tackling "real" projects this weekend (a skirt and/or dress), but this was a great project for a quick start to finish. As far as the pattern goes, I either made it too big or I just don't like the style of the legs. They're cute and short with slits on either side, but they're just so roomy! I was hoping to replace my favorite sleep shorts that have been washed so many times they're practically torn, so I'm thinking I should just take them apart and use it as a pattern.

Wow...this is so interesting for a Friday night, right?!?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Container Envy

I've noticed a theme happening in a lot of images I bookmark: containers! Not perfectly matched canister sets or rows of minimalistic glass jars, but old, unmatched and gently used containers with some (new) lab glass thrown in to shake things up.

First there was the image of the lab glass used as a water pitcher and glass at Port2Port Press studio featured on the Blueprint blog, Bluelines.

Then, sfgirlbybay gives us a peek inside her bathroom to see her impressive collection of vintage jars that she uses to house cotton swabs and other bathroom toiletries. She uses lab glass too--look at the image from her medicine cabinet! Is it weird to be jealous of someone's bathroom storage? I love that piece of coral displayed on the shelf too.

And finally, containers in the kitchen from AT:SF. I love the tray of mismatched items, both old and new. I also learned what a salt pig is (common in European kitchens to house coarse grained salt so it doesn't clump). I'm not convinced I would need one (counter space is at a premium!), though I think the name is the cutest.

I can't find an image, but all of these remind me of a picture I saw a while back that used old tea tins (pretty, vintage-looking floral ones) to store bathroom necessities like cotton balls and makeup brushes. So pretty!

So all this talk, but no walk--my makeup right now is in a freezer-sized Ziploc. Oh the shame...and the perfect excuse to go shopping for some pretty little containers.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Expectation Hangovers

" expectation hangover occurs when we hold a certain expectation but things do not turn out as we thought they should or we would have liked, and then they feel awful." (Quote via Water Cooler Wisdom. Thanks for sending, T!)

So effectively, an "expectation hangover" is all those shoulda-woulda-couldas that make us feel bad about things that didn't happen as though we hoped, and probably expected, they would. Albert Ellis in A Guide to Rational Living, a book about rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT), calls these "expectation hangovers" irrational beliefs (IB). REBT discusses these awfulizing thoughts, which are just that--thoughts. We only feel bad because we think these things that happen to us (or didn't happen) are so awful and debilitating, when in fact that's usually not the case, thus making it an irrational belief.

Thinking about my own Irrational Beliefs (there are more than I wish to count), they rear their ugly heads predominantly in relationships and work. In fact, I'd go so far to say that my engagement last year failed because of an "expectation hangover." Once engaged, issues arose that we were not expecting. I felt immediately that because it wasn't "perfect," and everyone wasn't getting along swimmingly (like they should and must), that it was completely awful and terrible and had to be ended. I think he felt equally disillusioned and disappointed, so we parted ways after four years of being together and now hardly remain friends.

Who said that getting engaged has to be easy and go perfectly or it's not worth doing at all?

Irrational beliefs pop up in work-related matters for me as well. A good chunk of my work is admin, though I have convinced myself that I am "too talented" and unchallenged to be bothered with such mundane tasks. As a result, I often feel down on myself and think I am an unsuccessful loser because I have to do these "chores." It also makes me feel embarrassed and worth less than someone who doesn't have these kinds of tasks as part of their job.

Who said that I must never have to do mundane admin tasks at work, and if I do, I am worthless and an unsuccessful loser?

To combat IBs such as these, Ellis provides the Disputing Irrational Beliefs Exercise (DIBs). He suggests spending several minutes each day asking yourself the questions and carefully thinking through the appropriate answers.

1. What Irrational Belief do I want to dispute and surrender?
2. Is the Belief accurate?
3. Why is the Belief Inaccurate?
4. Does any evidence exist of the truth of my Belief?
5. What worst things could absolutely happen to me if I don't get what I think I must (or do without what I think I mustn't)?
6. What good things could I make happen if I don't get what I think I must (or do get what I think I mustn't)?

We all hold so many irrational beliefs and expectation hangovers...let's be rational. It's not the end of the world--yet.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

On Time

I've been shopping for a kitchen timer for what seems like a long time, at least for something as utilitarian and minor, but I wanted *just* the right one. The right one, pictured to the left, essentially fell into my lap thanks to a post on AT:NY this week.

I was hoping to get it in robin egg blue, but the downtown Seattle Anthro only had it in chrome/red. I adore the vintage, minimal look, the magnetic back and the price tag--$12.

While there, because no proper visit to Anthropologie is complete without a visit to the sales racks, I perused quickly and nabbed the "Sweetheart Cardi" I've been lusting after since I saw it in the fall catalog. The website only had it pictured in camel, though I bought it in black. It is just the right fit with the little details one comes to expect from Anthro. I will get so much use out of it!

A lunch hour well spent.

Images c/o Anthropologie

Monday, November 12, 2007


So it's day 12 of NaBloPoMo, and I'm already resorting to posting my to do list...

I'm so sorry!! Having a hectic day.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Cheesy Baked Puffed Eggs

There's something about lazy Sunday mornings that makes me want to whip up an egg breakfast. This week's recipe comes from the archives of Gourmet Magazine, September 2006. Gourmet calls for Cantal cheese (also known as Cantal de Salers and Fourme du Cantal), which is a semi-firm cow's milk cheese made in the Auvergne region of France.

I wasn't thinking ahead to make this recipe, so I didn't shop for Cantal; however, even if I had, I hardly ever splurge on nice cheese when I'm cooking for just little ol' me anyway. If you are looking to use Cantal but can't find it, The Food Substitution Bible offers the following stand-ins: Laguiole (sharper), Cheshire, Lancashire, or Cheddar(my note: a sharp, white Cheddar would probably be best). Seeing as I had not one of these on hand, I used some Tillamook Swiss I had leftover in the fridge (though next time I think I'd like something sharper, such as Jarlsberg). In addition to using a different cheese, I also modified the recipe to make one serving (just me!) instead of six and to fit a 12oz ramekin instead of the recipe's 8oz.

Cheesy Baked Puffed Eggs
Adapted from Gourmet's "Baked Eggs with Cantal Cheese"

2 eggs
salt, pinch
pepper, pinch
nutmeg, freshly grated, pinch
cream of tartar, pinch
1/2 c grated Swiss cheese
12 oz ramekin, buttered

Preheat oven to 350 degrees with rack placed in the middle position.

Separate the eggs, placing the egg whites in a mixing bowl and reserving one egg yolk in a bowl of cold water. To the egg whites, add the pinches of salt, pepper, nutmeg, and cream of tartar and with an electric mixer, beat until it forms stiff peaks. Gently fold in the Swiss cheese, reserving a tablespoon. Pour egg whites into buttered ramekin, smoothing out the top then creating a well in the center using a spoon.

Bake the egg whites for 5-6 minutes, then take out of oven and place the egg yolk(remove from water using your fingers) in the indentation you made and sprinkle top with reserved cheese. (Note: this step ensures that your egg yolk will not cook through. If you like less runny yolk, you can skip this step and fully assemble and bake for 13-16 minutes). Place back in oven and cook additional 8-10 minutes until whites are puffed and golden, and the egg yolk is still jiggly. Serve immediately.

Related content: Last Sunday's Herbed Baked Eggs

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Frozen Margaritas

I've had a hormonal stressful and frustrating day today, which naturally got me thinking about margaritas. What bad mood can't be improved with lots of tequila and lime?

My parents would perhaps be embarrassed, but I'm going to say that margaritas could be considered to be a staple in their house. My dad's been blending up frozen margaritas several nights a week for as long as I can remember, often making multiple pitchers in one night for our small family (I am not complaining!).

Our classic family favorite is a simple frozen margarita that uses frozen limeade. When shopping for limeade, try to get a premium (e.g. Minute Maid) brand if you can--they say it does make a difference. On the other hand, as with all margaritas, premium tequila is not at all necessary, so don't waste your money.

Once you have a limeade margarita, you will never want to use a bottled margarita mix again!

Frozen Margaritas

Pour into a blender:
1 8oz can frozen limeade (not frozen margarita mix)
8 oz tequila (can use the empty limeade can to measure)
4 oz triple sec (or a half limeade can)

Fill blender to top with ice and blend until smooth. Easy, right?!? My own addition to my parent's recipe? A floater of tequila (here's where it pays to use the premium stuff!).

So here's a virtual cheers to banishing bad moods and spending time with family and friends!

Friday, November 9, 2007

happenings: NaBloPoMo week one

Have made it through the first week of NaBloPoMo--whew! It's been a great exercise for me and makes me wonder why I never posted more in the past. Even though you've been hearing a lot more from me (more thus far in November than any other month!!), I still have lots of little things going on:

cooking: I've been eating luxuriously and have had filet mignon THREE times this week--once at Daniel's Broiler and two times at home. I've discovered the best cuts, albeit expensive, at this butcher shop at the top of Queen Anne hill. Last night with the steak I tried this spinach and cheese puff recipe from Everyday Food. It was terrible! For all of the good ingredients that went in it, it tasted like plain spinach. Oh well, at least the steak is always good!

week's highlights: Front row and center balcony seats at the Paramount to see Jim Gaffigan. I laughed through the entire show as I'm simple--bacon jokes do it for me. Later in the week I went to see Feist, also at the Paramount. Love her voice--even better in person.

looking forward to: Bob Schneider, a legendary Austin favorite, is in Seattle this weekend!!! I cannot put enough exclamation points to tell you how excited I am to see him and hang out with a bunch of fellow Texans at Tractor Tavern in Ballard.

shopping for: A pocket camera. This blog and my flickr have been incredibly bare of photos because I have been lazy about taking my DSLR around with me. Hoping to get one tonight or tomorrow morning so I can get some pictures of Bob! I'm also shopping for a new pan. I've been to Crate and Barrel and Williams-Sonoma twice but just can't decide what style to go with. Maybe I should just forget about getting something nice and scour the aisles of Ross and TJMaxx for a deal. Hmph.

reading: Still reading The United States of Arugula and a few books on REBT (Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy). No, I don't have "issues," just enjoy learning about the mind and why we feel the way we do, as well as how it can be different if we want it to be. Might write about it sometime if it wouldn't bore everyone.

working on: Nothing! I have been sleeping so much this week and/or going out, so I need to get on the ball this weekend and work on something creative. I am ready to cut the pieces for my shirt, and I have some picture framing projects I need to finish.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

"Are You a Two Olive Girl?"

For pre-concert drinks last night, T and I tried out Capitol Club, a Meditterranean/Morrocan inspired bar and restaurant. The bar upstairs was crowded (in a good way) with lots of little tables and a room-long bench strewn with a rainbow of silk pillows. In the center of it all was a DJ MC? Freestyler? What do the cool kids call these people (all of who are obviously way cooler than me)? No idea.

Regardless of what they're called, this guy was a trip. He was very serious but talked freestyled about things ranging from going to his girlfriend's for Thanksgiving to the plate of frites that were coming up the stairs. I desperately tried to avoid eye contact in fear he would pick something out about me, but it ended up happening anyway (I'm not sure what it is about my quickly drinking two martinis that frequently gets me noticed, but that's probably another story).

He called out to me on the microphone to ask me what I was drinking (martini, obvious) and was it dirty. I sheepishly replied yes and feared his next question would ask if I was dirty also, but he spared me and asked instead, "Are you a two olive girl?"

This stumped me. What does it mean if you say you are a two olive girl? What kind of impression would my answer announce about me to the audience (who thankfully, wasn't giving any of this much attention)? The possibilities raced through my head while I stared down into my two-olive martini, and I finally uttered a lame, "I'm not going to eat any of them."

So there you have it, I proclaimed to be a "Zero Olive Girl." Truthfully, I would be fine with that title (I think?), except I really do like olives. A lot. Whether they're in a martini or bloody mary, straight out of the jar (jalapeƱo stuffed, mmmm), baked cheddar olives, on pizza, in sandwiches, in salads...I'm channeling "the shrimp guy" from Forrest Gump here--You get the idea...I love olives. Perhaps Hundred Olive Girl would be more appropriate.

Now what does that say about me?!?!?

Quick note: I tried googling "two olive girl," "olive girl," "olive girl martini," etc and came up empty. One humorous result, though, was on a teen health site about these girls who were inquiring about the connection between having olive skin and chest hair, appropriately using the alias, "Olive Girls with Noticeable Chest Hair." Aww, to be young and so curious about our bodies again...really glad that's over!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Running Resource: Gmaps Pedometer

Neighborhood running junkies and mile-tracking-aholics rejoice, because Gmaps Pedometer has got your fix. Click your route*, block by block, and the mileage is posted on the screen. The plan I am roughly following is based on mileage, so I have found the tool to be indispensable in keeping me accurately on schedule.

To begin you enter your starting location, zoom in, then hit the "start recording" button to start logging your route. Click once and drag to move the map and double-click to mark a stopping point, turn or "leg." Final results can be printed, saved, or exported.

Note: There are lots of other "Google Map Pedometers" out there, but personally I have found this interface to be the most friendly to use.

*The route above maps my walk home from work, albeit an infrequent occurrence in reality, but look--3.68 miles!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Issey Miyake Perfume

I adore gifts for no reason, so receiving a towering bottle of Issey Miyake's perfume yesterday, "just because," made it smell all the more sweet. I haven't had new perfume in ages--past fragrances go back several years, including Todd Oldham, Curve, and Chanel Chance. Well, move on over, you empty lurking bottles cluttering up my pretty bathroom shelf, because Issey Miyake is here to stay.

Sephora describes the fragrance's note's as a "pure floral with musky and woody tones," and though I am not a floral kind of girl, it smells divine to me. It's bold and feminine without being overpowering and is overall a "clean" scent. It may be floral, but this is not your grandmother's perfume ( as in no one will question if you have a rotting bouquet of flowers stashed in your purse).

I am usually not one to dote publicly on personal products I love, though after the makeup post and this one, you might be thinking that next I'm going to start telling you my favorite bathing products! Well, since I mentioned it...if you haven't used Origin's Salt Rub, go do your legs a favor and buy some pronto. It banishes winter-blah skin and leaves your skin feeling softer than you'd think possible. Since I love the smell of the Salt Rub so much, it's no wonder that I enjoy Origin's Salt Suds body wash as well. Looking for a luxurious soak? I can't get enough of the Avobath from Lush. Love their bath melts as well. With all these indulgences, I should just name November National Pamper Yourself Month. I hope you're spoiling yourself as well!

Monday, November 5, 2007

Email Makeover: Inbox Zero

"Inbox Zero," of Merlin Mann and 43 Folders fame, has literally transformed the way I use email at work. No longer are emails read, only to sit in my inbox indefinitely until I "do something" or forget about them--whichever comes first. Instead, Inbox Zero has taught me to process incoming information.

Because it has helped me drastically to get organized and be productive, I thought it might be helpful for some to hear my personal account of what I've been able to stick with and make work on a daily basis.

Processing--not just reading and replying to--Email
The general idea of Inbox Zero is just what it sounds like--keep your inbox empty. I have never been an email deleter and in my pre-zero days, had a consistently bulging inbox due to my fear of maybe needing something later on. Upon starting Inbox Zero, I took my entire inbox and dragged its contents to another folder, giving my inbox a clean slate. Amazingly, weeks later, I realized that I hadn't had to go back into that folder but a handful of times. All of that information I thought I needed "just in case," was really just clogging my access to relevant information.

For me, processing email typically results in one of the following events:

-Complete a specific task if it's something that can be done in less than 2-5 minutes (Merlin uses the 2 minute rule, but I find 2-5 more realistic).

-If it will take more than 2-5 minutes, determine the action steps required and assign them to a specific time or place (see The Email-Paper Connection, below).

-Decide that it's information that needs to be filed separately for reference, and do so.

-Read the information, then delete it if it's nothing I will come back to later.

The Email-Paper Connection
As I go through email, I keep one sheet of paper on my desk, typically divided horizontally in 5 parts, naturally for each day of the workweek. This allows me to quickly build out my workload for the week and how I should prioritize based on deadlines. If a certain task needs further notes or I have ideas to remember, I have a separate sheet of paper just for that specific task. I imagine many people use online to-do lists or some other form of digital time management, but I find that nothing beats a legal pad and pen for top-of-the-mind note taking and quick processing.

Schedule Time for Email
This is difficult for me to do considering my company more often than not uses email in lieu of phone calls or instant messages, but even so, as possible I shut down my Outlook while I'm working on a specific task that needs my full attention. Along those same lines, it follows that time to process email should be an isolated event, not a constant buzz and distraction in the background.

Want to give your email life a makeover? Visit the Inbox Zero site and be prepared to never use email the same way again.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Cozy Sunday Breakfast: Herbed Baked Eggs

This morning I pulled out my tired, overused frying pan and couldn't bear another breakfast of ruined over-easy eggs because my nonstick pan is nonstick no longer. Thinking for a moment, I remembered a recent episode of The Barefoot Contessa where she baked eggs in a gratin dish. Bingo.

Her recipe calls for heavy cream and lots of fresh herbs, all of which I had none, so I made do with what I had: half and half, butter, fresh garlic, dried basil and oregano and shredded parmesan.

The result was bubbling hot, creamy, perfectly runny eggs laden with herb-spiked gooey parmesan. What's not to like? The perfect breakfast to warm me up on this gray, chilly Seattle morning.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Lobster Sashimi for Dinner

...and monkfish liver, salmon roe, and deep-fried mackerel bones among other sashimi. The dinner lasted hours due to the many steps of preparation and gawking, but the time flew by.

The dinner began with the live lobster being ushered to the table on an enormous platter, a step I imagine that exists as proof of freshness. After we each held the flailing lobsters to get the obligatory "I'm going to eat this!" photo, they were swept back to the kitchen to be prepared as sashimi. The chef, Ken Zaburo (the restaurant's namesake), let me back in the kitchen to see the action.

The lobster's tail is expertly severed, the remainder of the lobster placed on a platter of crushed ice. The meat of the tail is removed from the shell using a knife and kitchen shears, then sliced into thin slices for serving.

The lobster sashimi is plated behind the still moving lobster, as even though the lobsters are dead when their tails are removed, their muscles continue to spasm. The taste was clean, while the texture was chewy, crunchy, and only the slightest bit rubbery.

The now half-eaten lobsters were once again whisked back to the kitchen for the final preparation step of our lobster dinner, returning cooked and drenched in butter over a large bed of flat noodles.

By this final course, I was absolutely stuffed as it was after we tackled a large platter of various sashimi, including the deep-fried mackerel bones and monkfish liver. The mackerel bone tasted like a kettle cooked potato chip, and the liver was silky in texture and not too fishy. I would have had more, but visions of the monkfish on display at Pike's Place Market kept my chopsticks away.

The experience was phenomenal--beyond delicious and memorable. Next time? Kobe beef sashimi. Who's hungry?

Friday, November 2, 2007

Holiday Inspired Makeup Palette

Perusing the pages of Blueprint's first holiday issue, I was struck by the holiday decor featuring icy pinks, glowing apricots and saturated golds. Conveniently enough, I spied this modern winter palette minutes before sacrificing my unmade face and wallet to the aisles of downtown Nordstrom's makeup department.

I've been a Bare Escentuals girl for the last year, so I was ripe for a change in my makeup routine to give me the winter color boost I've been looking for. The bad: I was mistaken thinking that Halloween would be a quiet evening to shop for makeup, as my arrival at the M.A.C. counter found me overrun by Halloween enthusiasts being made up with gaudy face paint and too much black eyeliner. The good: Moving on and not knowing where to go, I spied the unassuming counter of Nars Cosmetics tucked far away from the Halloween hub-bub, so I parked my purse and took a gamble.

I won.

Sleek, black soft-touch compacts lined the counter, featuring powders velvety to the touch and in the most wearable of combinations. I was hooked before one swipe of powder foundation was swooshed across my cheek and down my nose. With the golden images of Blueprint in my mind, I chose a palette that will keep me glowing and fresh all the way through February without dipping into my tired summer bronzer.

The Look:

Powder Foundation, in Sante Fe
So soft, but it doesn't skimp on coverage. I like that it can be applied with the accompanying applicator sponge or a brush.

Blush, in Luster
A golden apricot hue that warms up your complexion without looking like you just went to the tanning salon--in winter.

Eyeshadow Duo, in Sugarland
Straight from Blueprint's Christmas tree. Matched with a glittery apricot, the gold-flecked pinkish violet is oh so sweet brushed in the creases of the eyes.

Eyeliner Pencil, in London
Make your eyes pop without harsh black eyeliner with this soft but firm slate grey pencil. This eyeliner glides on smoothly and takes your eyes from classic to smoky with a quick smudge along your lash line.

Makeup Primer
I've never used a makeup primer but have been a faithful user of Bare Escentual's bareVitamins Skin Rev-er Upper for at least a year (love the stuff). Since this was thrown in as a bonus to my purchase, I am happy to add it over the Rev-er Upper and under my makeup.

L'oreal Colour Riche Lipstick, in Caramel Latte
My mother, sister and I each have different colorings and skin tone, yet we all adore this lipcolor. It's subtle enough to allow quick application without a mirror yet packs enough pigment to pull your look together.

Photo Credits: Holiday images property of Blueprint Magazine
Nars Cosmetics from their website
L'oreal lipstick-sorry, no idea

It wasn't a novel idea-NaBloPoMo

The other day I decided that I would post to my blog every day in November as a substitute for writing a novel (I'm a steadfast nonfiction girl). I didn't think I was being terribly original, though I shouldn't have been surprised to realize that as of this time, 6:36 Friday morning, that 4,728 people are doing it too. my face red.

Though it squandered a bit of my thunder, I'm excited to have a community to join of interesting people with a focus, as opposed to a few other networks I know.

So, it's official--National Blog Posting Month. For better or worse, I will be writing here every day until November 30th!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Lessons Learned from the Ladies Room

During the work hours at my computer, I seek refuge for my eyes by routinely turning my glance away from my computer screen and into the bottom of a glass. Be it tea, water, Fresca, or Tab Energy--I'm drinking it, and a lot of it. Considering such, it should be no surprise that I need to visit the ladies' room often--about once an hour.

Now, the office suites in my work building are modest. Ok, really modest--these offices are small and most don't house more than a couple of women (excluding the testosterone-free, overzealous fleece-vest-wearing environmental group around the corner). Despite this apparent lack of female representation on floor two, I have learned more than I ever needed to know about women and public restrooms.

I have unscientifically but methodically determined that there are five types of female public bathroom users:

1. The Participatory Pooper. This gal leaves home in the morning with it, allowing her to unceremoniously share it with everyone who has to take a quick bathroom break in the A.M. to relieve themselves from the grande latte they drank on their commute. There's one woman in particular who is known to me as "K. Swiss," because I can only identify her by her shoes and her stench--and I think K Swiss is a little nicer, so I choose to go with that. The Participatory Pooper unloads with a crowd, and she doesn't care. If she is a kind P.P., she will open the window, but if you hear it going up before you enter the ladies' room, proceed to another floor immediately.

2. The Curious Hand Washer. This woman rubs her hands together under the faucet for as long as it takes for a woman behind a stall door to reveal herself. She is curious and can't leave the restroom without confirming who might be sharing the room for a few minutes with her. She seems to play a game with herself, surreptitiously (and sometimes not) looking in the mirror and craning her neck to get a better view between the cracks to spy and identify the "culprit" before she's done and joins her at the sink.

3. The Brooding Tooth Brusher. This female brushes her teeth apparently after every meal but appears pissed off about it. Maybe the frequent brushing is mandated by her dentist or a nagging breath problem, but either way, don't get in her way at the sink. She is angry and avoids eye contact, though one of these days I'm dying to point out how old the pipes are in the building and ask her if the water tastes funny since it is so obviously cloudy.

4. The Timeout Toe-Tapper. Like the Participatory Pooper, the Timeout Toe-Tapper is most identifiable by her footwear (but thankfully not the stench). This woman waits for you to finish your business before proceeding with hers. She doesn't expend a peep while you are in there but instead keeps a happy, albeit sometimes impatient, beat with the tap of her toes. This woman has manners!

5. The Invisible. Ok, so I had to create a category for women such as myself, so deemed Invisible because we slip in and slip out, nary causing alarm to fly open the window or retreat to another floor. I think we all appreciate each other, as these are the only women that attempt to exchange sympathetic smiles when the smell is wretched and hand out compliments when one looks particularly cute that day. Of course, these are my favorite kind of ladies, though we don't provide very good stories.

Anyone else have tales from the office restroom? Leave a comment!

*I like to pretend someone is actually going to comment, hence the enthusiasm and belief that people are actually going to read this, much less have stories of their own. Keep the dream alive!