Friday, March 28, 2008

...and more chocolate

Ok, this is getting serious. My newfound penchant for bittersweet chocolate is only getting worse, mostly because I have no will power there are so many new kinds to try. The latest? Endangered Species Chocolate. This is one of the more common brands I see around, but I've never tried it because, well, images of sad animals on the wrappers don't make me think "dessert."

Now, I love animals as much as the next person, but I wouldn't necessarily trust a group of animal lovers to be fine chocolatiers. But oh! how wrong I was! Oh, the chocolate! I had the bar with the bat (bat? chocolate? see what I mean?) on the wrapper, which turns out is dark chocolate with cacao nibs (70% cacao). Now not only am I enamored with bittersweet chocolate, but oh! cacao nibs! I wonder if I can eat those plain. As in massive quantities. Every day. Must do research.

Anyway, what is a cacao nib, you ask? I wondered too, so thanks to wikipedia I learned that cacao nibs are the cacao tree seeds after they've been fermented, dried, roasted, and shelled (and before they're processed further to render chocolate). I must eat more chocolate with nibs--can't get enough of that crunch!

I have a feeling I'm going to be saving a lot of animals at the rate I'm anticipating eating this chocolate.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

You know you're lazy at work when...

-Your stomach is growling at you for lunch, but you don't go get anything and insist that the 3 grams of fiber in your Crystal Lite should hold you over until dinner.

-The printer is only eight feet away, yet you print everything you think you might possibly need throughout the day at one time in hopes you only have to get up once.

-You start drinking less liquid so you don't have to walk to the bathroom as much.

-You take a chance of missing the last mail pickup because you insist on dropping it off on your way out the door at the end of the day instead of taking it down earlier.

-You desperately want chocolate, but you don't want to walk anywhere so you tell yourself you'll get it later when you can take the car.

...not that I've done any of those things or anything. Or done all of them in a single day. Nope, never!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


indulging: in lots, and I mean lots, of chocolate. The past couple of nights it's been the Oaxaca Bar by Vosges Haut Chocolat. This bar is a Tanzanian bittersweet chocolate (75% cacao) with pasilla chiles. I really want to try the Mo's Bacon Bar, but I'm limiting my sugars and the cacao content isn't high enough (74% or higher for me, please!).

indulging, part II: You know I can't stop at having just chocolate for dessert--of course not! That's why I've been pairing my chocolate selections with a petite pour of Les Clos de Paulilles Banyuls Rimage 2005, a French dessert wine and an affordable luxury at $20. I usually favor ports over other dessert wines, but the sweet, syrupy flavor of this is the perfect complement to my spicy chocolate.

drinking: Saumur 2006 (appelation saumur controlee). I've long grown tired of oaky whites, so I love the sparkling acidic punch of this wine. Plus, it just screams of green apples. We've gone through three bottles of this already! I will be buying it again and again, which I can guiltlessly do because it's only about $13!

watching: Finished Season 1 of The Tudors! I was surprised to find this is a show that men would enjoy as much, if not more, than women. Or on second thought...lots of fighting and lots of boobs is no mystery formula. Men don't need more than that, do they? Carry on!

reading: lots! I added a section in the sidebar with the books I'm currently reading. Right now, The Omnivore's Dilemma is a favorite. I never thought reading pages upon pages of the history of corn could be so fascinating, but apparently it is. Though history and culture of food is not exactly a new interest (first sparked by reading The United States of Arugula and Good Calories, Bad Calories), this is bound to be one of those life changing books for me.

eating: so many chicken wings! Starting an informal "Seattle Wing Tasting Tour" that I will eventually turn into a web page of sorts. Right now some experiences are casually reviewed over on Yelp, but I will start the real deal soon. It's such a hard job. :)

watching, part II: Helvetica. Even if you're not interested in typography or graphic design, celebrate the 50th anniversary of this font that is all around you (as you will discover) by watching this film. Here's a peek (I particularly love the interview in the second half of the clip):

Thursday, March 20, 2008

I'm results-oriented, so why do I feel so unsuccessful?

Who considers themselves results-oriented? Yeah, me too. And I've learned it sucks.

I blame work.

In business, it goes without saying it's all about projects, deadlines and the bottom line. Results, people! The person or team who achieves the results is always going to be financially and/or socially rewarded, regardless if they were "nice" about doing it or boosted company morale along the way.

But let's be honest. It didn't begin with work. We were all in the results-oriented camp long before we reported to a boss or had our livelihood dangling on sales targets. In fact, as children we quickly learned that by accomplishing certain results, we'd receive rewards, praise, or encouragement in return. You know what we also learned? How to get those rewards the easy way. Yeah, we were pretty smart as kids.

I'll use myself as an example:
School was easy. I was that annoying girl in class who whiled away the fifty minutes by writing notes and reading a novel surreptitiously tucked into an oversized textbook. And I got A's. As you can imagine, the parents approved and as such, I stuck with it. After all, it was a straight, easy path to praise and rewards.

On the other hand, I wanted to play volleyball. And play volleyball I did, though I was never good enough to warrant any special recognition or praise. So what did I do? I quit. Though I may have enjoyed playing the sport, I certainly wasn't getting enough positive reinforcement for the efforts I was putting in.

This inherent focus on results is how and why most of us have come to possess what is called a fixed-mindset. People with a fixed-mindset don't think it should take a lot of work and effort to succeed. They shy away from challenge because they believe rewards should come easy; otherwise, it's not worth trying because failure is not an option. After all, a failure would be catastrophic to their reputation, which can only be upheld by a continuous stream of successes and achievements. Whatever they do, they believe they should do it extremely well. It's only fun if you succeed.

If you are recognizing that maybe you too have fallen victim to the fixed mindset, there is hope! At the other end of the spectrum rests what is referred to as a growth-mindset. People with a growth-mindset foster learning, accept failures along the way and learn from their mistakes.

Here are a few ways you can start fostering the growth-mindset today:
  • Set learning goals (not performance goals).
  • Recognize that you hold enormous potential. Your intelligence and ability can be developed. You are not stuck with what you currently have--it's merely a starting point.
  • Don't expect perfection. It's the enemy of learning.
  • Reward effort, not only achievement. Effort is the only thing you can control. Making effort is committing yourself to get results.
As you abandon your identity as a results-oriented person, keep in mind these poignant words from Calvin Coolidge:
“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan “press on” has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Things I want to make but probably won't

I spend an embarrassing amount of time getting excited about projects that will more than likely never see the time of day. Here are some of them:
Of course, I'll get to those after I learn to write a Facebook app, use Photoshop, Illustrator, inDesign and Lightroom, install a little photo set-up for still life shots, and create a website. Oh, and keep up with my blog while I'm at it. Obviously that is going fantastically well.. :-)

Thursday, March 13, 2008

merry happy

I have been overwhelmingly busy, but I can easily say that with every day that flies by, I am exponentially more happy. It's serious, ya'll. I can't sleep, think straight, or keep a grin off my face. It is seriously that good.

My plan for Sunday is to come back to earth for a few hours and catch up on life, the blog, and my sink full of dirty dishes (and I never keep dishes in the sink, so you have to realize this is major!).

Oh, and "merry happy" is a song by Kate Nash, and though the lyrics don't necessarily tell a happy story, I like the sentiment of the phrase. I am very merry happy.

Monday, March 3, 2008

How weekends are supposed to go

Friday: T and I stocked up on lots of red wine and really, really bad movies to relax and escape the rain and cold. And relax we did! We stayed up laughing and having lots of conversation that can only be appreciated when both parties are drunk and trust each other--it can get embarrassing, but that is the best part!

Saturday: Spent the morning nursing my liver, then met up with Marissa in the afternoon to catch up and test out the coffee at the highly acclaimed Stickman Coffee in Fremont. The coffee was just ok, but as always, Marissa was a hoot. That girl can talk about anything from erotica authors to century+ old methods of storing root vegetables.

Saturday night, I fell in love...with a cocktail. T, Maia and I had a quick dinner and cocktail at the new and buzzworthy gastropub (Seattle's first!), Quinn's before catching a show. My friends are probably tired of hearing about it, but one their signature cocktails blew me away: The Dirty Little Secret. Bombay gin shaken with cucumber and served up with a cornichon (how did I not know about these delectable, tiny pickles?).

Sunday: Spent the morning drinking good coffee and reading the paper, then walked to the grocery store to stock up on wine, chocolate, and cheese for the week (my ultimate nutrition trifecta). The sun was streaming in through the windows, so spending my afternoon at the computer working on C# projects didn't feel like a chore at all. Finished the day drinking wine, nibbling on Manchego and watching a movie with SOS.

I don't think it gets better than that, folks!