Being Grateful, Happy, Corny, Etc.

Warning: the following contains overly optimistic, idealistic notions and way too many passé quotes. Proceed with caution.

I’m not typically the corny type who promotes the ‘Live, Laugh, Love’ stuff very often. In fact, usually I think it is crap. But then I feel cynical, and that is not something I strive to be either. So I’ve adopted the ‘Do the right things, at the right times, for the right reasons’ policy, and find that it is succinct, while still capturing a bit of the corny.

It seems all too easy to get caught up in life’s daily difficulties, so when I got the following email from my grandpa this morning, I took a deep breath and realized that perhaps ‘not sweating the small stuff’ is an underrated concept. And with it being the end of January, I thought there was a good chance that there are a couple of other quasi-cynics out there who were having some winter gripes too.

So please excuse the cheesy-factor and take the following list for what it is: two minutes to get lost in trying to be a better version of yourself. We could all use a little of that.

LIFE HANDBOOK 2011    

Health:

  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a beggar.
  • Eat more foods from natural plants; eat fewer foods that are manufactured in plants.
  • Live with the 3 E’s: Energy, Enthusiasm, and Empathy.
  • Make time to pray (or meditate, or do yoga, or something spiritual).
  • Play more games.
  • Read more books than you did in 2010.
  • Sit in silence for at least 10 minutes each day.
  • Sleep for 7 hours.
  • Take a 10-30 minute walk daily. And while you walk, smile.

Personality:

  • Don’t compare your life to others’ lives. You have no idea what their journey is about.
  • Don’t have negative thoughts about things you cannot control. Instead invest your energy in the positive, present moment.
  • Don’t overdo. Keep your limits.
  • Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
  • Don’t waste your precious energy on gossip.
  • Dream more while you are awake.
  • Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
  • Forget issues of the past. Don’t remind your partner of his/her mistakes of the past. That will ruin your present happiness.
  • Life is too short to waste time hating anyone. Don’t hate others.
  • Make peace with your past so it won’t spoil the present.
  • No one is in charge of your happiness except you.
  • Realize that life is a school and you are here to learn. Problems are simply part of the curriculum that appear and fade away like algebra class, but the lessons you learn will last a lifetime.
  • Smile and laugh more.
  • You don’t have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.

Society:

  • Call your family often.
  • Each day, give something good to others.
  • Forgive everyone for everything.
  • Spend time with people over the age of 70 and under the age of 6.
  • Try to make at least three people smile each day.
  • What other people think of you is none of your business.
  • Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Stay in touch.

Life:

  • Do the right thing!
  • Get rid of anything that isn’t useful, beautiful or joyful.
  • Time heals all wounds.
  • However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
  • No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
  • The best is yet to come.
  • When you awake alive in the morning, be thankful.
  • Your inner most self is always happy. So, be happy.

There… now don’t you feel a little bit nicer? Lighter? Clichéd? Don’t worry, the mocking should return any minute now.

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Christmas Catch-Up

How was your holiday season? You may or may not know this about me, but I adore the Christmas/New Years time of year. I talk about it before Thanksgiving turkeys have even been basted and buy my (real!) Christmas tree the moment that it becomes socially acceptable (read: the morning after Thanksgiving)… I would buy it sooner if I could.

It starts early for me, but now that I am a (resistant) member of the ‘real world,’ I have less time to enjoy the small moments that symbolize the holiday season.  Thus, I really have to make the most of those things I can cherish.

I wanted to share with you a list of holiday items that made the end of 2010 sparkly and special – and so very tasty too!

  1. Home Décor

    Exhibit B: Very cute ornament display at a friend's house (I will be copying for next year!)

    Home Decorations, Exhibit A: Holiday Table-scape

  2. Dreamsicles (one part vodka, one part orange juice, one scoop vanilla ice-cream, and a dash of rose-water. Add ice, blend, and enjoy!)
  3. Christmas movies: Elf, Home Alone, Home Alone 2, It’s A Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street (the original of course), Chevy Chase Christmas Vacation (oddly reminiscent of my own family…), The Family Stone, The Santa Clause (YES THE ONE WITH TIM ALLEN! I LIKE IT!)
  4. Holiday cards/letters from family & friends
  5. Candy Cane Lane
  6. Holiday Kalua (courtesy of a pretty girlfriend and wrapped up in such a cute Christmas container)
  7. Horse Drawn Carriage Rides through downtown Seattle
  8. 95.7 and 106.9 – all Christmas all the time
  9. Gingerbread houses
  10. Cookie Baking Day!

    Decorated Sugar Cookies

    Chocolate Mint Meltaways, Classic Sugar Cookies, & Peanut Butter Blossoms...mmm!

  11. Glee Christmas album (in particular, ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside’ as performed by Kurt and his man-crush, Blaine)
  12. Matching sister Christmas jammies
  13. Mariah Carey in general
  14. Wrapping presents beneath the light of the Christmas tree

    My Charlie Brown meets Whoville Christmas Tree

  15. Waking up at 7:45AM (!!) to open gifts. {12 year old sisters will do that to you}
  16. Let me see your jelly roll (Bisquick coffee-cake/jelly roll)
  17. Secret Santa(s)
  18. Vacation time!!!
  19. Shopping
  20. Santa Photos
  21. Candy treats
  22. Karaoke Klub
  23. Watching the Space Needle fireworks with friends on NYE
  24. Champagne (and toasts galore!)
  25. New Year’s Resolutions 🙂

I hope this is a wonderful beginning to a fresh, new year, full of opportunities and delights. Take a trip, make a new friend, do something that scares you, and (try to) be nice {or funny, or silly, or adventurous, etc. – insert desired quality here}. Happy happy 2011!

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Bowing Down and All That Good Stuff: Apple Cup 2010

Jesus was actually supposed to be born in Pullman, rather than Bethlehem… but they couldn’t find three wise men and a virgin.

I just have to preface this post with a very factual statement: I am not actually a huge sports fan. Shocking, I know. But, as it turns out, I spend a lot of time with (arguably) the biggest sports fan in the world. When being forced to watch all these tedious games of football, basketball, baseball, soccer, lacrosse, curling, fishing, rock climbing {I’m embellishing a teensy bit here}, I usually base my support on which team’s colors/uniforms are more appealing. I don’t read up on stats, and typically bring either a magazine or a girlfriend to keep my focus on anything besides the actual sporting event. Isn’t it supposed to be about the boozing anyway?

When it comes to Husky football, I’m not going to lie, it has been good to have a girlfriend (or nail polish, or Martha Stewart Living, etc.) to serve as a distraction these past few years. But purple is still a prettier color than crimson, and I have tried to avoid watching football for the last three months so as to save all my focus and positive vibes for this one sporting event that I will actually care about: the Apple Cup. I will pause here for some thoughts that may have some real validity behind them (read: clearly not written by me).

Apple Cup is the most fun week of the year. There’s no hate between the teams like there is with Oregon; it’s just a sibling rivalry that encompasses the entire state. Fortunately for us {Husky fans}, we’re the older, stronger, wiser and smarter sibling.  No matter how much Cougar fans want this to be a close game, sadly their dreams won’t come true. Washington has every conceivable advantage on the field and off.

The Huskies’ low point of an 0-12 season gave the Cougars their greatest moment of the last 8 years. Their Apple Cup win sent Washington crashing down as the worst FBS team in the nation. WSU fans still point to ’08 as a positive for their program (they were 1-11…). Every team gets knocked down, but the true test of a program is how you recover. Only two years later, and one great coaching change, the Huskies are staring at a bowl game for the first time since 2002, while the Cougars are about to fire yet another coach and start over. I have yet to talk to a Cougar fan that thinks Paul Wulff in the answer. Conversely, Steve Sarkisian has been heralded as the next Don James (blasphemous, I know).

Off the field, Coug fans know that a win will mean that Wulff will stay another year and continue the mediocrity (if it’s even that good). On the other hand, a win for Cougs would mean that they would have the trump card in any Apple Cup argument for the next five years. The Huskies know that a loss would be catastrophic for the team and its fans. The Cougs have nothing to lose and everything to gain. The Huskies are the opposite. Therefore, the Huskies will be way more motivated on the field.

Also on the field, the Huskies have another, even bigger advantage. Even though it is in Pullman, the 30 degree weather and snow favor Washington’s rushing attack rather than WSU’s passing game. The Cougars have the worst rushing team in the Pac-10 and if the snow starts to fall it could get ugly fast. Washington State ranks last in the Pac-10 in … (inhale) scoring offense, rushing offense, scoring defense, rushing defense, total defense, pass defense efficiency, first downs AND sacks against. If each team plays their “A” game, the Huskies will win. If each team plays their “B” game, the Huskies will win. If each team plays their “C” game, the Huskies will win. I’d be hard pressed to find someone who could argue with that. Sorry Cougs, it’s going to be a long Saturday night.

Huskies 32, Cougars 17.

{The above is courtesy of Griffin W. Bennett (you know… that HUGE sports fan?). If you like the sports angle (and know that you’re not going to be getting too much more of that here at LU) you can read more by Griffin at NW Roots, Montlake Madness, and MYNorthwest.com.}

Hopefully we’re not jinxing the game here… but, as Don James said, “Attending WAZZU is great preparation for real life. It teaches you not to expect too much.” So in the end, regardless of what the scoreboard says, Huskies still win. GO DAWGS!

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Snapshots: Walking In A Winter Wonderland

Winter came down to our home one night
Quietly pirouetting in on silvery-toed slippers of snow,
And we, we were children once again.

-Bill Morgan, Jr.

 

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Delicious Drizzly Days

Do you ever have one of those perfect rainy days? You know, the ones that people are always referring to – the ‘let’s save it for a rainy day’ ones? Well, yesterday was a literal rainy day, so I decided to make the most of it. Now you might be thinking that most days for the next three months are going to be literal rainy days, but this was the perfect storm {no pun intended} of a day – with nothing on the docket of things to do, I had the gray, drizzly rain factor going for me, I had the soft lighting filling the living room, I had a couple of cozy couches and bundle-y blankets, the perfect pal, and an array of fantastic old flicks. To top it all off, I had homemade soup and warm, spiced apple cider cooking on the stove-top. A perfect rainy day.

I just thought I would share this with you because I can’t tell you the cathartic, relaxing aura that a day like this created in my world, and I thought perhaps you needed a little bit of therapeutic movie-watching, soup-eating, blanket-snuggling goodness in your world too. Can’t recommend it highly enough. {Insert deep breath here.}

Below is the list of movies that kept me busy yesterday – please hold the judgment. I am aware the five, YES FIVE, movies is a large number to go through in a day, but I do promise that I got up off the couch at least two times yesterday (once to go to the store to get soup-making ingredients, and once to make soup), so that’s something, right? But I am starving for an “old classics” education, and if a girl has to make sacrifices once in a while, so be it. {And by sacrifices, I mean that I would be happy to watch movie after movie for days on end, but I’m trying to uphold my ‘über-productive image’ so just roll with me here.}

Oldies But Goodies List {Part 1}
1. An Affair to Remember (1957) – a fantastic love story featuring the ever-so-dreamy Cary Grant and the lovely Deborah Kerr. They start on the sea and finish in New York City – the romance was oozing and the chemistry was palpable. Call me a sap, but this one was probably my favorite of the day.  

2. Some Like It Hot (1959) – Yowza Marilyn! This light-hearted flick had me laughing and smiling for two straight hours. And in black and white? Now that’s something! {Do I sort of sound like I’m right out of the fifties?} This one stars Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis (also very dreamy, and Jamie Lee’s papa – who knew!?), and Jack Lemmon (not quite so dreamy, but thoroughly entertaining).

3. Come September (1961) – another comical story, set in beautiful Cinque Terre, Italy. And hello Rock Hudson! I mean really, where are all these dreamy guys now-a-days? We get George Clooney and that’s it? Womp womp. But I digress. This flick also features the gorgeous Gina Lollobrigida, who dazzles with her wild (Italian) woman ways, and Sandra Dee too, such a doll.

 {Break for soup here. Between movie number 3 and 4, we made Winter Squash Soup with Gruyere Croutons – mmm. The recipe was courtesy of Smitten Kitchen and was simply delish. Hint: buy pre-cut squash or your arms will be sore the next day… Thought: this fab foodie blog is parfait. Can’t wait to reference it again. ‘Nuff said.}

4. To Catch a Thief (1955) – directed by Alfred Hitchcock, you know it’s gonna be good. And Cary Grant is back, so you can’t beat that. But throw Grace Kelly in the mix, and this girl’s a goner. With crime, mystery, and romance (between two utterly gorgeous people, I might add), another rave review.

5. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) – Marilyn charmed and Jane Russell dazzled. In fact, Jane may be one of my new favorite beautiful people. Now I haven’t finished this one fully yet (past my bedtime…), but I did walk away with a very valuable lesson: diamonds are a girl’s best friend.

This is what I have taken away from the movie watching: Cary Grant is beyond divine, breaking out in song should be used in contemporary films and television shows more often than just on Glee, and I can’t wait for the next ‘rainy day.’

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First Things First

Clearly the two-week hiatus between my last post and this one shows that I am a master in the subject of time management. Yes, I have been meaning to post something (to help you get through your day) every day for the past two weeks, but things kept coming up, so what’s a girl to do? Well I suppose managing my time in a more organized fashion might help me (and you too – I know you’re desperate for my thoughts). And you know how I love starting new goals at the beginning of the week, month, season, etc. So, November, here I come!

Typically I’ve considered myself to be someone who effectively handles my schedule. But a recent influx of “busy-ness” has made me reconsider if there are things that I might do differently to improve my bustling calendar of events (filled to the brim with fab social functions, of course). So I decided to compile some of the tips that seemed most valuable/doable to help you (and me…all of us really) become a whiz at being more effective and efficient. Which was not a waste of time…

·      Formulate a plan/schedule/to-do list at the beginning of each day (or end of each night for the following day) with activities and time frames. Map out the day, the week, or goings-on for the month – whichever works best for you.

·      Keep a journal of everything you do in a day. It will help you to see where you’re using your time effectively and what you could be cutting down on.

·      Determine which events on your long-term to-list are most important. Are there items that can be nixed? Or delegated? Don’t let those littler tasks constantly clog up your list everyday.

·      Deal with distractions – they’re bound to crop up all over the place in your day-to-day life. Sometimes distractions can’t be avoided, but take a moment to evaluate whether or not you’re being too indulgent.

·      Minimize the multi-tasking. I know what you’re thinking, we are trying to get more done in a day, so why not do it all at once? But when you multi-task, you’re not giving your full attention to effectively accomplish a task. And you’ll probably end up having to re-do that item at some point because of the lack of efficiency involved in multi-tasking. One thing at a time, darling. {Ladies, you might like this article, courtesy of my roomie, if you want to read more about multi-tasking}

·      Wake up early. Or stay up late. (Don’t do both.) What I’m getting at is that we all have a point in the day when we’re just cruisin’. Figure out what time of day you’re at your best and try to match your priorities to fit within that time frame.

·      Learn how to say, ‘NO!’ (Okay, you don’t have to literally shout it, but have some enthusiasm behind your convictions.) Stick to your plan. Yes, sometimes inevitable and unforeseeable events will fall on your plate, but what are we trying to accomplish here people? Stick to the plan! Say no (!).

·      When it seems like you have a mountain of to-dos to check off your list, and the amount seems insurmountable, try breaking it down. Just focus on doing one thing at a time. Don’t harp on the fact that you have fifteen urgent tasks to accomplish in one day or you’ll be too overwhelmed to begin. Pick one thing and do it until it’s done. And then there will only be fourteen urgent tasks…

·      Take breaks. All those smarties out there say that taking a breather helps to keep on track. If you’re in zone, by all means, stay in the zone. But if you feel yourself drifting, take a little breather. Go for a walk. Stretch a little. Read a (my) blog. Have a snack. You get the idea. And then get back to it.

Hopefully this helps all of us to be our most productive selves. And if you have any extra morsels to help the rest of us, don’t be greedy… add them to the list. That being said, get out there and git ‘er done!

 

 

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Girl on a Mission

Allow me to paint you a picture:

A charming place to visit: The Kingfish Café

A quaint, modest establishment nestled back from the street; an arched doorway welcoming patrons in and a soft, warm lighting keeping them comfortable. Mouthwatering aromas fill the air and faint music wafts gently in the background; a boisterous and friendly host is at the ready to greet and seat. It is instantly charming and somehow overwhelmingly familiar.

Our favorite restaurant. We went there for our first date, celebrated special occasions and romantic evenings there. We laughed across the candlelit table while sipping wine and never failing to order the same dish. It was lovely to say the least, and when it closed last year, my devastation was palpable. I may have even shed a (single, heart-wrenchingly beautiful) tear. I thought perhaps it was a “goocher” – a bad omen.

As I was pondering what I might blog about this week, I told my man-friend that a riveting restaurant review might be just the ticket. We were on our way to an eatery that neither of us had tried and I was jazzed about the notion of being a food critic. He responded with a quick, “that’s lame and uncreative.” Ouch. Hit ‘em where it hurts. Of course, I was offended for about five minutes before I charmingly laughed it off {read: I held my grudge until safely seated at the restaurant with a glass of red wine}, until, genius that he is, suggested that instead of just writing a review (which I had stubbornly decided I MUST do out of spite since he’d bashed the idea), why not turn it into a long-term hunt: a hunt to find our new favorite restaurant.

We simply haven’t found anything that meets our (dangerously, snobbishly high) standards. Yes, we still enjoy dreamy dinners for two, but we have agreed that there is a hole that has yet to be filled. So Tuesday date night now has the added element of the mission to find our new fave.

Attempt #1: The Kingfish Café

This fantastic, dimly lit place is in the pleasantly unbusy part of Capitol Hill. We found parking easily (despite reviews warning that parking was a challenging feat) and were seated immediately upon arrival (also despite reviews of a long wait-time). While ordering drinks, I was mesmerized by the tale included in the front jacket pocket of the drinks menu. It shares the charming story of two sisters who grew up eating the delicious Southern comfort food their restaurant now serves. And adorning the walls are fantastic old photos, blown up and framed, which I learned from the background story, are images of the owners’ relatives going back years and years. I like a little history in a restaurant.

As a starter, we ordered the Crab and Catfish Cakes to share. Someone would have liked them all to himself after the initial bite, claiming that they were the best cakes he’d ever tried {this comment does not come lightly – the guy is a crab SNOB}. They are served with a perfectly spicy tartar sauce (my mouth is watering just thinking about this dish) and we both agreed that it was a winner.

Chocolate Wonderfulness - clearly we can't wait to dig in!

For our entrees, I had the Mac n’ Cheese and he had the Gumbo. Two more excellent choices, especially on my part. I have not stopped raving about that Mac and I must admit that there was a bit of tension over who was going to get the leftovers. I won. Not typically a desert type couple, we opted to give it a taste (per those reviews), and we were glad we did. One piece of the Chocolate Chocolate Fudge with Raspberry Filling (enough for three or four people, easily) and we were in food coma central.

Is it our new fave? I can’t go that far. We do have many more to try, but for my overall review, I give multiple thumbs up. The food was superb, the service was great, the ambiance of the restaurant itself was fantastic. The bill, on the other hand, was a leeeettle bit steep for what we would have expected. I don’t mean to be a scrooge, and we did order an app and dessert, which is not the norm, and to be fair, they did provide a menu with PRICES… but just saying. While this was not quite the glass slipper to my Cinderella story (is that a mixed-up usage… sport term or something? Oh well, you get the pic, right?), I would still give The Kingfish Café a solid recommendation and will definitely be a return customer myself. Check it out and share your thoughts here!

The hunt continues… happy eating!



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