Friday, January 30, 2009

Bowl me over

Super Bowl XLIII: Arizona Cardinals vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

Super Bowl Sunday is just around the corner, but I have mixed feelings about it. On one hand, I am happy that football season is over because the bf had been obsessed-- neurotically obsessed --with checking his ESPN Fantasy Football team every. second. of every. day. He would come home from work and with not much more than a "Hey, babe" make a beeline straight to the computer to analyze player stats and painstakingly select who will go in for that night's game and who would warm the bench. And then, I would have to watch the game. Ahhh! Now, I like sports alright, not a super big fan of football, but a girl can only take so much. Anyone with me? And of course it always just ends with him screaming at the TV because he put the wrong players in, his team isn't doing good, etc. etc. etc.

Anyway, the reason I have mixed feelings is because this exercise is machismo is not quite over yet. My bf also has a fantasy basketball team. (I enjoy basketball better than football-- Go Lakers!-- but still.) And when baseball starts up again, guess what? He will employ a fantasy baseball team too! The cycle never ends.

Still, I do like the Super Bowl if I have a party to go to. I mean, chips and dip? I'm in! So hopefully between now and Sunday I will make some exciting plans involving friends, food and a big screen TV that will, albeit temporarily, turn mean into a sports-fan.

Otherwise, there's always the Puppy Bowl. Jamie over at Oh! How Lovely! had a post today about this super-cute Animal Planet Super Bowl (with a kitty halftime show!). I had never heard of it but it sounds right up my alley. And the players are adoptable "free agents" from local shelters. How precious is that? You can check out the game's starting line-up here.

Maybe we should add one more player to the list?

Player Stats:
Name: Hazel Rae
Breed: Maltese-Shih Tzu mix
Age: 9 months

Don't let the sweetness fool you. This 8-pound pup is fierce!

So what are you doing for Super Bowl 43? Do you love football? Cards or Steelers? Or, are you like me and just obligingly sit through the game with the only benefits being snacks and halftime?

Images via ESPN

happy Friday!

such a simple, beautiful command. hope you are living it today!

Get Lana Kole's awesome wall decal here. It's only $10! She has many more sweet and modern (and affordable!) graphic designs in her Etsy shop. Love love love.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Busy Busy Bee

Sorry for my absence yesterday. It was a super busy, super stress-full work day. I literally worked non-stop from the time I jumped out of bed at 8:30 a.m. (jumped because I meant to wake up earlier!) until the time I got home from my last meeting at 9 p.m. The only thing I stopped for was a half hour lunch.

Which brings me to today's topic. Sometimes-- well, a lot of the times-- I feel like my life is a constant game of playing catch up. Rushing to a meeting, chasing down an interview, hurrying to meet deadline, even inhaling my lunch to minimize lost time . . . the rat race never ends! Of course, as you probably have noticed, this "busy bee" lifestyle is mostly contained to the work-side of my life. But it does overlap into my personal time, too. There's times when I am just so exhausted from the day that all I want to do is melt into the couch instead of going out and doing something social and active (workout, maybe?). Also, by the time I am ready to pass out at night, more often than not, my mind is still racing (going over the day's events, going over what I still have to do, you know the routine) and I struggle to fall asleep.

What I am wondering is, how do you deal with your busy lifestyle? I know I am not alone in this. And what do you do to calm your mind at night?

Thanks for sharing! And until I get your tips, maybe I should just stare at this relaxing photo I took while on vay-cay in Maui last year and dream of lazy days without deadlines and editors:

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Going stemless

Wanted: An uber cool and artsy way to drink a bottle of red, or white, with your honey on Valentine's Day.

Found: Mary Elizabeth Hining's hand-painted Love Birds stemless wine glasses, featuring two cardinals a-kissing. There is even a tiny painted heart at the bottom of each glass-- so precious!

I also love the North Carolina-based Etsian's fern motif, as seen on these stemless wine glasses and decanter set, as well as her four seasons glassware (the spring is my fave).

Too bad I am supposed to be saving money not spending it! Or else those love birds would be mine!


Monday, January 26, 2009

guilty pleasures

Men have Monday night sports. Women have Monday night . . . reality shows! Namely, for me anyway, two hours of The Bachelor followed by 30 minutes (half of which is really commercials, ugh) of The City.

Ok, some might have written me off now, but remember the title of this blog: guilty pleasures. I know I am terrible for actually watching and enjoying these shows, but I also know I am not alone in that fact. So roll with me.

Anyway, first let me start off by saying that Jason Mesnick is probably the best looking Bachelor to date. So cute. And sweet. I get why the girls are crazy for him. BUT, some of these girls seem a little off their rocker. Like, more so than in past seasons. Don't know how that is possible, but I would argue that it is. Even during tonight's episode, there were so many times that I had to cover my eyes because I was that embarrassed for the girls. Well, mostly Shannon, who practically begged Jason to keep her.

(Spoiler alert! She got the ax. So glad she is gone. She just creeped me out. Same with Lauren. She literally demanded that she be given a rose on the group date or she would be "pissed off." Seriously? I don't think that is the way to a man's heart. Glad Jason agreed with my 'crazy' assessment.)

It also seems like there are a lot more tears this season. Every five minutes someone is breaking down. But maybe it just seems like there is more crying because I am remembering last season, which was The Bachelorette-- the men didn't shed quite so many tears for DeAnna. Ah, gotta love the drama. And gratuitous make-out sessions. (Ok, those I could live without...)

In other reality news, there was a lot of crying on The City tonight as well. My love for Whitney Port's New York-based "reality" show was a natural progression out of my obsession with The Hills. Not sure which I love more now, but luckily I don't have to choose sides: The City is on while The Hills is on hiatus. MTV couldn't pit LC against Whit, right? Never.

Back to the crying. Whitney wasn't shedding any tears. It was her friend Allie, who battled with the question of "Do I believe my girl friends when they tell me that my male model boyfriend cheated on me while I was out of town?" With my clarity as an audience member, I say the obvious answer to this question is "Yes." (My boyfriend agrees-- he watches with me. Ha! So much for Monday night football/now basketball. I win the remote control.) But of course, Allie, after many tears and public fights decides to--again *spoiler alert*-- side with her smooth talking beau. Oh, and Miss nose-perpetually-in-the-air Olivia Palermo was showing Whitney no sympathy (and actually told her to 'grow up' in so many words) for her woman-in-the-middle predicament (since she is friends with Allie, whose boyfriend, Adam, is the best friend of her boyfriend, Jay. That sounds confusing but you get it, right?) Hmmm... we'll see how this all plays out.

Just keep watching with me. Don't worry, I won't tell (unless you do!).

Which reality shows can you not get enough of?

(I also love AmIdol, but that's another blog.)

P.S. You can read a recap of tonight's Bachelor episode on host Chris Harrison's blog on

Images via ABC and MTV

Oprah made me cry today...

She has a knack of doing that to me. I don't normally watch Oprah, because I am usually working at 3 p.m., but today I flipped the channel to the talk-show diva while eating lunch. And then the waterworks began.

I came in about halfway through a show on teen obesity, during which sixteen brave teenagers shared their struggles with being overweight. They opened up about their fears, their failures but also their hopes for the future.

But what forced me to grab a box of tissues (no joke) were clips from an 8-hour intervention the teens had to go through to inevitably get to the heart of the matter-- to the reasons why they are overweight. And they don't have to do with junk food. The emotional confrontations were intense as the teens finally verbalized to themselves and their parents the things they had kept inside for so long. Things like hating trying on clothes in dressing rooms, being made fun of at school or feeling like they don't live up to their parents' expectations. Many said they were angry because of their parents' divorce and/or subsequent remarriage. And too many said they had thought of suicide before as a way of escaping the pain.

The story that struck a chord for me was that of a boy named Josh, who weighs more than 350 pounds. When I first tuned to Oprah, he was the one who was talking. And I immediately saw my brother. It wasn't so much how similar they looked-- my brother is, in fact, very overweight-- but what Josh said. Just like my brother, Josh has a poor relationship with his father.

"That's the reason why I east so much," Josh explained. "He's disappointed in me because I didn't turn out like he wanted me to."

My brother and father are hot and cold. They are so similar on so many levels, share the same hobbies and interests, but my dad is easily frustrated  and my brother can be very frustrating. See, my brother is 22, just a year and a half younger than me, but we are polar opposites. He dropped out of high school (though he did eventually get his GED), has no job and lives with my parents.

It broke my heart when Josh said this:

"My dad does have these high standards, and if we can't reach them, he's disappointed with us and he gets angry. I try to do better, but it just doesn't seem like it's working. And when I'm sad, I'll eat, and I think I've been sad most of my life because I've been big most of my life."

It broke my heart because I think that is how my brother feels. He has said as much in the few times we have talked about it (my brother and I are not that close and he doesn't open up easily).

Of course, there are so many other reasons behind my brother's obesity. Everyone has a different story and the problem is more complex than can be explained in a blog. Sorry if I am a Debbie Downer, but I thought it was important to share. Because one of the take-away lessons from Oprah today was to be there. To be there for the people you love who are struggling. And to let them open up, to release the anger they may be holding inside. And to help them find what it is that they are truly hungry for.

All in all, the show made me want to be a better sister. To be there for my brother more, and let him know that he is loved.

Ok. I know this was a serious post, but I hope you will share your thoughts below. Thanks for reading, as always.

Image via

Friday, January 23, 2009

Wishing for a money tree

Sorry for the late post, but I was actually productive today! Yipee! Made my phone calls, did my interviews, set up photo shoots... No procrastination here. At least not today. Baby steps, right?

Anyway, I have been seeing commercials for the upcoming movie, Confessions of a Shopaholic, and I am excited. I have never read any of the Sophie Kinsella books but it looks like my type of movie. Why? 

No. 1: I love chick flicks. Never saw one I didn't like. 
No. 2: I love Isla Fisher (from "Wedding Crashers," my boyfriend's favorite movie of all time, like knows every line-- it's crazy!). I think Isla is beautiful and funny and I adore saying her name. And, I heard her do an interview on TV the other day and realized she is Australian (Well, according to IMDB she was born to Scottish parents in the Middle Eastern country of Oman but moved "down under" when she was 4ish). I didn't know because she talks like a Yankee on film, but she actually has that Aussie accent that you just wish you had. Sounds so cool and mysterious to my American ears.
No. 3 reason I want to see the movie: I love to shop. Even though I can't afford it. Just like Confessions' heroine, Rebecca Bloomwood.

Which got me thinking about how I wish I had more money to indulge in nice things. I mean, don't we all? But right now, all I can (barely) afford on my measly $13/hr paycheck is rent, school loans and groceries! Oh, and paying off this thing I am typing on (thanks, Mac).

Still, my boyfriend likes to say I have a spending problem. I like to say I don't. Really, I don't. Except at Christmastime. Or when on vacation. I tend to go overboard then. But in general I think I have kept my wallet and credit lines in check.

But wouldn't it be nice to buy that Coach bag you've had your eye on (this one too)? Or a beautiful pair of red-soled Louboutins that you tell yourself you will wear enough times to make that nearly $900 price tag worth it?

Well, a girl can dream, can't she? At least right now it is "in" to be a Recessionista. AKA, thrifty. Fashionistas are so last year. Ha! I'm still looking for my money tree. 'Til then, I'll continue my window shopping. 

I'm pretty good at it. Trust. My bf can attest to that. I live behind a mall after all.

Becky Bloomwood would never survive.

So, are you a Recessionista or a Shopaholic?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

my fatal flaw

Most good books feature flawed characters. Sometimes these failings can be fatal, other times they just present more obstacles for the hero to overcome. But either way, those weaknesses are there to create tension and make the character more human. Because whether or not your life story is as dramatic as a paperback novel, everyone is flawed. Some more than others, but I just want to talk about one of my flaws today. I was reminded of it yesterday.

My foible is stress. Not so much the feeling of stress, because sometimes it can actually be a positive motivating force for me-- many times my best work has been accomplished during crunch time. No, instead it is my reaction to stress. The ragged nails, chronic snacking, crawling into bed to hide from the duties/responsibilities hanging over my head... Those are just some of my symptoms of stress. But perhaps my worst knee-jerk reaction to pressure overload is:

Procrastination. Yup, guilty as charged. I will put off anything until whatever it is absolutely cannot wait one. more. second. Why do I do this? I don't know. Bad habit I guess, learned from childhood. 

You see, I have been living with stress my entire life. And much of it is self-inflicted. I can remember my second grade teacher telling my mother during a parent-teacher conference that I was "stressed out." Stressed out at 7 years old?

Part of the explanation for being stressed out, then and now, is my tendency toward perfectionism (another fatal flaw?). While I will admit that I most definitely procrastinate because I am lazy or would rather watch TV than work, there are other times when I put things off because I am afraid of failing. Afraid of not living up to expectations. Both my own and others.

The thing about stress-induced procrastination is, it's a vicious cycle. The more you procrastinate, the more stressed you become, and the thing you are avoiding doing seems even more impossible to do. Essentially, procrastination just leads to more procrastination. That's my Catch-22, to use a literary reference.

Obviously, I do get things done, proof that I eventually overcome the stress and just get down to business. But I would like to skip that whole awful procrastination part and just use my stress as a productive and powerful fuel to do whatever life calls for. Is that too much to ask?

Maybe I should buy the Keep Calm and Carry On poster-- which is interestingly a WW2 British propaganda slogan--to remind me not to freak out.

Tell me, how do you handle stress? How do you beat procrastination? And what is your "fatal flaw?" 

Image via FAK3R

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

this is how I felt today

Crazy/ Frustrated/ Stressed Out

But things are looking up. This is how I feel now:

More Relaxed/ On the Couch (but still working)

BTW, that's Hazel Rae, my 8-month-old Mal-Shi (Maltese/Shih Tzu) puppy. Isn't she so adorable?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Dream Fulfilled

Yesterday, on assignment for the community paper I write for, I attended the annual MLK Day celebration at Simi Second Missionary Baptist Church. The theme of the service was "A Dream Fulfilled-- On the Road to Equality." A banner hung above the choir with the images of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Barack Obama opposite one another. The connection between the two figures is apparent and deep. And today's inauguration was on the minds of every person sitting in the church pews. In anticipation of the swearing in, members of Simi Second's congregation acknowledged the special significance of this MLK Day. A portion of the dream has been fulfilled, they said. The country is moving toward the dream King envisioned. Because more than 45 years after King delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, Obama would take the oath of office on the steps of the U.S. Capitol. Most expressed a sense of amazement, saying that they never thought that in their lifetime they would see a black man step into the country's highest office. 

The joy and hope for the future was evident in the dancing, the singing, the praising. Church-goers were moved out of their seats at the reading of King's dream, which still rings so true today:

And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."


"When we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white man, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:

Free at last! Free at last!
Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!

Echoing King's words, Obama said today in his inaugural address:

The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.


This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed-- why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent Mall, and why a man whose father less than sixty years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.

America, you've come a long way. Congrats.

Get the cool Obama photo/art above at risamay's Etsy shop

The American President

The American President is playing on Lifetime right now (how apropos) and I absolutely adore the movie. I think I first saw it in government class in high school and I am still captivated by it every time my remote stumbles upon it while channel surfing. Some might say it is cheesy chick flick, but my hopeless romantic side can't help it (and, I should tell you now, I'm all about chick flicks and rom-coms).

The 1995 movie stars Michael Douglas as a widowed, single-father looking for love. Oh, and he just happens to be the leader of the free world. And, as luck would have it, he falls for a liberal environmental lobbyist, played by Annette Benning. If you haven't seen it, turn on Lifetime or rent it. So good, and what better day to watch a story about an American president? Mixing affairs of the heart with affairs of the state, I like to call it the thinking-girl's love story.

And it has some pretty funny lines, too.
Esther: "Sydney, the President told me about how you two met. I think it's priceless.
Sydney: "I don't know what happened. One minute I was calling him a mockery of an environmental leader. The next minute I had a date."
Esther: "Men like being insulted by women. It makes them feel loved. Don't ask me why."

Even a few wise words.
Lucy (the president's daughter): "If you were a dork you should say you're sorry. Girls like that."

Happy Inauguration Day!

Capitol building (spring 2006)

Unfortunately, I missed seeing Barack Obama sworn into office this morning. I had an interview to do at city hall and just saw a snippet of his inaugural address as I was rushing out the door. But I am sure I can catch it later on repeat on TV, or maybe see it online, right? Thank goodness for the internet (and YouTube).

Me in front of the reflecting pool (between the Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument) in January 2006 during a D.C. internship program. Wish I could have been in the nation's capital today for the inauguration!

Anyway, tons to do being that it is Tuesday (copy deadline day), but I will post later about my MLK Day experience at a Baptist church here in Simi. It was definitely something unlike anything I have experienced, but a lot of fun, too. The connection between MLK and Obama is undeniable and it seemed that yesterday's celebration of Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream held more meaning than in year's past as people saw that dream come to life in our 44th president.

More later.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Culinary success

My boyfriend is the pickiest eater you will ever meet. Even pickier than me, which is hard for my friends and family to believe since they can't comprehend why I do not--in most cases-- like cheese. I know, I know, so shoot me. Anyway, RR as I will call him, really does have the hardest palate to please. I mean, he doesn't even like mashed potatoes! So it was a huge accomplishment when I made this chicken recipe two weeks ago and he loved it. It was so tasty that I made it again last week.

For me, the secret ingredient is Herbs de Provence. I had never used it before making this dish, but it sounds so fancy so I like it. The aromatic mix of herbs really is from the South of France and contains things like basil, rosemary and--get this-- lavender. But I can't take the credit for the recipe. I have to give props to Food Network, which I am obsessed with, and the show, Semi-Homemade with Sandra Lee.

The Provence-style chicken recipe calls for four boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I use the thin sliced ones because they cook faster and I just like them better) but you can size the marinade down or up depending on how many people you are feeding. Here's a rundown of how to make this delicious chicken for yourself:

Mix together in a small bowl-- 3 tablespoons of olive oil, 2 tablespoons of lemonade concentrate (I use the Minute Maid stuff you get in the frozen foods section), 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar (the original recipe calls for Champagne vinegar but it is like $10 a bottle and you are only going to use 1 tablespoon so save yourself some cash), 2 tablespoons herbs de Provence and 1 tablespoon citrus seasoning (I couldn't find this is my grocery store so I just used lemon pepper seasoning and it worked great).

Put the chicken in a ziplock bag and pour the mixture over the meat, squishing the bag to coat the breasts evenly. Marinate in the fridge for an hour or 2. Take out 30 minutes before cooking to get the chicken to room temp, then slap it on the grill (I use my Ikea grill pan, works like a charm) for about 5 minutes per side and there you have it-- dinner is done. I served it the first time with some roasted asparagus drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with lemon pepper. Yum.

Try it. You'll love it, I promise. I am by no means a great cook (my barren fridge and pantry prove it) but hey, the bf loved it so I must be doing something right.

Image via Sur La Table

Friday, January 16, 2009

Found. Love.

Had to share this adorable ceramic dove with you that I found on Etsy. So cute. Makes me smile. And it's appropriately called The Love Dove.

If you want one of your own, visit the Chicago-based artist's Etsy shop, CircaCeramics.

No time like the present

Yesterday I told you my overarching resolution for 2009: to welcome change and move toward transformation instead of scurrying away. So today I thought I would share with you what else I have on my list of to-dos, the smaller alterations that I would like to make in my life that, not coincidentally, also relate to change.

While I am never sure about making resolutions, since the mere act of making them is usually the only success anyone has, I figured it is better to make some resos with good intentions than to not make any at all. The process of recognizing what you should change or better about yourself is worthwhile, I think, even if you stumble or never completely cross that "to-do" off the list.

So here's what I got. There are some pretty typical resos that I think almost every woman resolves to do, probably on a daily basis, but there's a few more personal ones in the mix, too:

  1. Exercise 3x a week (I haven't made much progress on this resolution. I need a big dose of motivation to put on my workout gear and haul my butt off the couch to the gym.)
  2. Eat healthier, meaning more fruits and veggies and less carbs (I am making baby steps on this, but I just love pasta way too much! I mean, I'm not even Italian, but I could eat it like everyday. Tomato, Alfredo, Pesto, Mmm... but I digress)
  3. Save money (This is a tough one. I can barely afford my rent but I really do want to stash a little cash away for the future... or a new car)
  4. Read more, and I don't mean magazines. Got that covered. I would like to read all the wonderful titles sitting on my book shelves so that instead of just looking well-read, I actually am. Maybe one book a month?
  5. Organize my clips and put them in portfolios. Finally. I mean, I got clips overflowing in boxes in my apartment and my parents' house. It's out of control!
  6. Be a better friend. For me, this means reconnecting and staying in touch with my old college roomies, who I love and miss, and even making more time for my friends nearby. I'm thinking Sex and the City-style brunch get-togethers to talk about life, love and--what else?-- window-shopping (Well, it is a recession. And see reso #3).
I'm sure I could go on and on, seems like there are so many things in my life I would like to improve, but I think six is a good enough number for now. Still manageable. 

Well, your turn. What resos did you make? And are you keeping them?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Hello, lovely.

Fifteen days into the new year and I am finally doing something I have been meaning to do for quite some time: start a blog. A relatively simple venture but I had my reasons for staying away. I mean, put my life out there for the world to see? Sounds a bit scary. (That is, if people read this. And I hope that, eventually, they do.) But see, that's the thing. Even though all the NYE hoopla is two weeks behind us, I think I can still safely make a few resolutions and maybe keep them (hey, I am still seeing some holiday-themed commercials after all), and the one I want to make most is this:

Embrace change.
Or even, create it.

"Change" was the buzzword of 2008. We saw it everywhere. And people were looking for it everywhere. They still are. With the economy a mess, people are searching for hope on the horizon. And many times, hope comes in the form of change.

Yes, I voted for Obama. I voted for Bush, too, but that's a different story. Although I pledged my allegiance to Obama at the ballot box this past November and I stand behind his dreams and goals for our country, I wouldn't consider myself an Obama maniac. (Or an Obama Mama? No, no.) And even though I am a reporter and I tried my dardest to keep up to date on the campaign--covering local politics for the Simi Valley Acorn kept me pretty busy. We had quite a mayoral race. Ha ha-- I never got completely swept up in the hysteria surrounding the election of our first black president. I never chanted "Yes We Can" with the fervor displayed by the masses I saw on TV.

And yet, with just four days left before the inauguration of our 44th president and excitement reaching a crescendo, I am reminded of why change is so important and not something to resist. How turning from one path to another can lead to something... Well, I guess we don't know what yet. But I am starting to think "Yes We Can" instead of the hemming-and-hawing, weak-and-wavering philosophy of "No, I can't, I shouldn't, etc. etc. etc."

So while I don't know where I'm going, this blog will document the journey-- sometimes seriously, sometimes not so seriously. I hope you will stay with me for the ride.

Image via