Happy Fall! ‘Tis the season for your arts & craft Pinterest boards that you have been building for months (maybe even years) to come alive! Dust off the tacky glue and mod podge my friends, it’s time.
To be honest, I think I am the worst Pinterest user out there. I have four boards with one or two pins in each and all I do is browse, hit the heart button and move on. I use Pinterest for ideas and inspirations, just like it’s intended to be used, but I forget to engage in the key feature of the site…..pinning things.
My disregard for “normal” Pinterest usage practices reminds me of an article I recently enjoyed. Many people have their qualms with BuzzFeed, but I generally find their content relevant to the average millennial…and it’s funny. Let me live my life people.
Anyways, I read a post written by Rachel Wilkerson Miller entitled: What Happened When I Lived According to the Pinterest Popular Page. I thought it was such a great way to bring us Pinterest users back down to reality. SPOILER ALERT: many (but not all) of the #ootds, craft projects and hairstyles Miller tried didn’t turn out the way she expected. Some people may say that they were a “fail,” but I’d like to think otherwise. Yes you are probably right in thinking that the upside down french braid is probably the most difficult “quick hair-do” on Pinterest to actually achieve…but I think people forget that everyone’s situation is unique.
The ONE person that posted the original tutorial obviously has the most ideal hair-type to achieve the look. That, and she more-than-likely sprayed her hair with products to get her hair to cooperate. It’s all determinant of the situation, access to supplies and skill. Same goes for the picture-perfect crafts that Pinterest features. What the typical Pinterest browser doesn’t realize is that most of these popular posts have authors that are skilled in lighting and photography that help make their final products look “picture perfect,” and I say that with no negative connotation. By all means, everyone has a right to share their skills in any shape or form. That’s the beauty of art.
I’m just saying that we, as average consumers of Pinterest content, need to remember that there’s a lot that we don’t see on the creator-side. Most importantly, we need to remember that any attempt at a DIY project on Pinterest is not necessarily a “fail” when it doesn’t turn out like the picture. Just like you choose the selfie with the best lighting and head tilt to post on Instagram, posts on Pinterest are no different. It’s okay to have a wonky-looking DIY candle! It’s a testament to your unique skill set and personality. So go ahead and color outside of the lines. Do you Boo Boo!
Just food for thought 🙂
ONTO THE CRAFT!
Side note: So, it seems to be an ongoing trend for me to post a teaser on my social media channels about an upcoming blog and then not post it until weeks later. SORRY. I get spurts of inspiration and then life gets in the way. I made it a rule for myself to not force myself to post for the sake of timeliness, but to post it when it feels right. Hope you understand ❤
NOW…ONTO THE CRAFT!
Seeing as it’s mid-to-late November now, it feels like the pumpkin spice latte has been frolicking free through coffee shops worldwide for what seems like a month too long now, BUT I have to give that darn latte some credit for inspiring me to write this post. I saw the pumpkins on TV and I decided that I wanted to craft my way towards that “oooh yay, fall is here” feeling. I am glad to report that it worked, despite the 80 degree weather here in SoCal. But I still refuse to order a pumpkin spice latte. Bah hum bug right? Wrong holiday? Sorry not sorry.
Growing up, I remember there was a craft for every holiday. For Halloween, it was pumpkin carving. I wouldn’t say I am HORRIBLE at it…but a knife is not my art tool of choice. So this year I decided to try my hand at the non-carving approach. This is where Pinterest comes in. Coincidentally, I had to do creative centerpiece research for a fall-themed work event. While doing that, I stumbled across this pin by the blog simply happenstance and pretty much fell in love with the idea of taking a plain pumpkin and sprucing it up with a succulent arrangement. I decided that this was it. Then I fell into the Pinterest hole and decided that a bunch of other non-carving pumpkin designs would also live on my porch this fall. The thirst for sequins on a pumpkin was real and I was highly ambitious.
As I continued thinking about the logistics of this project, I came to the conclusion that it would be financially and environmentally irresponsible to buy perfectly good succulents JUST to chop them into pieces to glue onto a pumpkin. I needed a fall decoration that would last me all season. The poor plants would die in a week or so and I would be left with sad pumpkin. No sad pumpkins allowed on my porch. So I opted for fall-colored artificial flowers.
Luckily for me, Michael’s Arts and Crafts store was having a sale on artificial flowers and I went IN. I also bought a few other supplies to satisfy my DIY fever. Sequins included. Everything I bought is pictured below. Granted, I ended up not using all of the supplies, oh well. More supplies for future crafting 😛
So now that I had supplies, I needed pumpkins. So I recruited my older brother to join me in finding a place that was selling pumpkins this early. Mind you, I made these DIY pumpkins in early October. The pumpkin patches were barely unloading their supply. After finding pumpkins of all shapes and sizes, I was finally ready to just let my creative ideas flow. This was the result:
I cut the artificial flowers to a workable size and used hot glue to secure them to the top. There was no particular method to the arrangement, I just placed flowers where I thought they would look good and ended up with what is pictured above. To give it a personal touch, I used black paint to create a monogram “B,” for the initial of my family name. You can’t really tell, but I also painted all three pumpkins’ stems gold to coordinate with the gold sequins I tacky-glued onto the mini white pumpkin. (I was able to satisfy my desire for a sequined-pumpkin :D)
This is what I mean by using Pinterest to YOUR leisure. I originally intended to make a carbon copy of the pumpkins I saw when I did my research. But I’m definitely glad I ended up with my own version of this trendy fall-themed project…and I think they are ADORABLE 🙂
So keep pinning my friends, just don’t forget the original reason you ventured onto Pinterest: for inspiration, not duplication. Happy crafting!
Running has always been hard for me. My struggle with this type of physical activity has had a way of making me feel weak, which is probably why I learned to dread it. Combine that dread with an abnormal discomfort-level of being chased, it all just added up to one thing: running was not for me (I blame my older brother and cousins for traumatizing me as a child :P). Oh and how could I forget that I was also born with a heart murmur. So there’s that.
Yet, here I am at 23-years-old, with a 10K and now a half marathon under my belt.
I’ve noticed that in the past couple of years, organized races have become a huge thing. It’s no secret that their increase in popularity is due to the recent trend-shift toward a healthy lifestyle. There’s a walk, run and obstacle course for everything these days! It’s a hot commodity right now.
Maybe I was part of that wave of individuals that came across this movement and jumped aboard. At the forefront though, I just wanted something to work towards in terms of fitness.
Athleticism has never been my forté. Growing up, I tried out and joined sports teams for different reasons other than pure enjoyment of the sport. (Mostly for the cute uniforms…) So, health was never a priority of mine until college.
Living on campus my first year of college should have been the perfect time to get acquainted with the gym since it was included in my tuition fees. However, it was still tough for me to get myself on a good schedule. Why you ask? I never really went to the gym prior to college. The need to be “fit” was not important to me in high school and in my head the “gym-timidation” was real. In high school, I ate whatever I wanted and did not experience any negative changes because of it. (Oh, those were the days). So, when I found myself in the gym as a freshman and sophomore at university, I felt lost. I had no clue how to use anything except the cardio machines…and I never really learned much about the gym until 2015. Until then, I used free weights, classes and cardio machines…oh I loved those cardio machines.
It was only until after my first year of college when I noticed that there were a lot of factors I didn’t experience in high school that led to weight gain in college: lifestyle change, stress, not really knowing where to access healthy options, the convenience of on-campus markets…oh and did I mention stress? I didn’t even fully notice my weight gain until the end of freshman year. I’m not saying that I became overweight, but it was definitely a time in my life when I realized that I needed to start caring about myself. So, after moving out of the residence halls and into an apartment to start my sophomore year, I made it a goal of mine to really pay attention to what I ate at least.
From then, I fluctuated amongst various diets and occasionally going to the gym. I became pescatarian my second year, vegetarian for most of my third year, vegan for a bit after that, back to vegetarian and eventually transitioned back to consuming red meats and poultry when I realized that majority of my diet ended up being carbs…bad carbs. However, through all of that, the most important lesson I learned from my “interesting” eating habits was really knowing what I was consuming.
That “Vegas” Body
In 2013, it was all about turning 21 and with that came my first trip with my friends to Las Vegas “of age.” As much as I’d like to say I didn’t let the whole “you need to be Vegas ready” stigma get to me, it did. At this point in my life, my desire to “be fit” didn’t originate from myself just yet. I would learn that a little later down the road. Regardless, it was during this time that I truly saw how good working out could feel. During the months leading up to July 2013, I worked out multiple times a week, maintained a mostly vegetarian diet and I saw the fruits of my labor. I lost weight, which was the only goal of mine at the time. BUT, after that long awaited Vegas trip, I noticed that I worked out less and less, especially when classes started up again in August; my last full academic year at SDSU. The “Vegas body” goal no longer existed, so my desire to work out diminished.
Running for ME
I used school, work and my internships as my excuse to let a couple months slip by with out really working out. I delved into my work, my extra curricular activities and of course my classes. Then, when January 2014 rolled around, I decided to sign up for my first ever race with hopes that forcing myself to stick to a training schedule would garner me fitness results…and I want to say they did; but in a much different sense. It was the first time I did something fitness-related purely for me. I ran the most I’ve ever run up to that point in my life. I was doing the thing that I thought I hated so much and was so bad at. I began to understand the appeal.
It definitely wasn’t easy though. I was born with a heart murmur, so a lot of my training revolved around learning to manage it, listen to it…and when to stop. (But isn’t that just like anything else in life?)
SIDE NOTE: I genuinely hate mentioning having a heart murmur. To this day, it presents itself as more of a mental block than a physical one. But when I do cross the line and push myself slightly over that edge where I feel it’s affects, it scares me. I am aware that I need to really listen to my body and not push myself too far, but at the same time I need to differentiate between my physical limitations and mental obstacles. It’s a constant struggle that I hate having to deal with. But to put things in perspective, I shouldn’t be complaining because there are a lot of people that suffer from much more serious conditions. I am definitely grateful I am able to do the things I am able to do.
Anyways, to calm my anxieties about this part of my running journey, I saw a cardiologist to get the official OKAY. I remember this doctor’s visit vividly because it was the first time I ever addressed my heart murmur as more than something my parents told me I had. The cardiologist, who also runs competitively, validated that while I do have a heart murmur, I could run the 10K. He pushed me during the tests to really gauge how much control I had over it and he was impressed. That gave me a sense of confidence I had never felt before.
When May came around, I actually felt pretty ready for the San Diego Safari Park 10K. I had so much adrenaline running through me that morning that I didn’t have an appetite (bad idea) and was actually shaking of nervousness. However, once the race started, it seemed to fly by. It was such a great introduction into the running community because everyone had positive energy pulsing through them and while running is definitely a solo sport, I felt like I was part of a big team. I was also lucky to have shared the experience with one of my college roommates and one of my best friends from back home.
Up with the confidence
After feeling so good about the race, I gave myself a little break from running and working out. I spent the summer enjoying being back in the South Bay and spending my time with family and friends. I turned 22 and was really comfortable with my body the way it was. I didn’t run much during summer 2014, but in order to stay somewhat active, I took up rock climbing with my cousins and friends. This was the first time I realized that upper body strength is just as important as strong legs. It actually makes me laugh remembering these moments of realization. DUH! Of course upper body is just as important as lower body strength. BALANCE IS KEY for everything in life.
Friends of the Climb 🙂
Me and my brother
It was during this time that my older brother introduced me to weight lifting as well. I’ve been interested in it for a long time, but always observed and never practiced. So, I started learning the basics. But that’s all. I learned a few things and didn’t really progress much. THEN, my final semester at SDSU came around. DUN DUN DUN.
Efforts to stay active
From August – December 2014, my focus strayed away from fitness as a main source of happiness to savoring EVERY last moment of my college experience. I hiked whenever I had the time to, I truly enjoyed my internship and freelance PR experiences, I tried to put myself out there more whether socially or emotionally, I went to Disneyland as much as I could, I made it a goal to increase the frequency of “yes” leaving my mouth as opposed to “no.” Which I did and I regret nothing 🙂
After I officially finished my time at SDSU, all I had was work. In order to fill my time, I joined the gym that was across the street from my apartment and out of pure spontaneity, signed up for my second race: my first half marathon.
I began running again, printed out a schedule and posted it on my wall. I told myself that I would stick to it and check off each day. On the days I wasn’t running, I worked out target parts of my body to start building up strength. It felt good to develop my own schedule that didn’t revolve around classes and school-related activities.
Running through times of transition
Honestly, training for this half marathon was a very on-and-off process, which I definitely paid for during the race itself. I was going through a very interesting few months prior to the race. I was only working part time, as well as continuing to do freelance PR projects on the side, but the combination did take a lot out of me at the end of the day. Additionally, I had plans to move out of my SD apartment by the end of April, so that whole process required plenty of time and effort. Whenever I made trips back home in the South Bay, I tried to sneak a run in.
By the time I was officially back in the South Bay, I veered off of my running schedule. I got distracted by the move and being surrounded by my family and friends 24/7 again. At this point, I told myself that because it’s my first half, it’s just about finishing. So I ran whenever I could…or felt like it.
May 2015 became even busier as I used those first two weeks to prepare to finally walk across that Viejas Arena stage. After the commencement ceremony, it was all about getting ready to visit Portland for one of my best friend’s 23rd birthday. Luckily for me, I was able to sneak in a run and work out while I was there to counter-act some of the indulgences I was caving into.
The busiest July EVER
June through July became very gym-oriented. I still ran, but I upped the amount of times I went to the gym, especially before I started my new internship…my first in the South Bay.
I purposefully and maybe even foolishly made July 2015 my most ambitious month in the year:
July 3rd: me and my older brother’s graduation party
July 4th: Independence Day celebration with the family
July 6th: first day of my new internship
July 7th: turned 23, celebrated with my family
July 12th: day trip to Santa Barbara
July 18th: HALF MARATHON DAY!
July 24th – 26th: Birthday trip to Vegas
Graduation Party 7/3
Independence Day 7/4
My 23rd Birthday 7/7
So, with all the activities that happened prior to the half marathon on July 18th, I balanced gym and running time as much as I could. It was hard emotionally and physically because every run seemed to be getting harder instead of easier. I suffered from shin splints and ankle pain, but I pushed through anyway.
Thought process through my first half marathon
The morning of the half marathon, I was in disbelief. I just went through the motions of my pre-race routine. Woke up at 4am, changed, ate breakfast and at around 5:30am, my two best friends and I were on our way to Huntington Beach to bib pick up. It was gloomy and rain was expected, so I was relieved that it wouldn’t be hot.
Start time was 7 am and when my friends asked me if I was ready, I said I wasn’t. At that point, all the days I didn’t run and all the days I felt pain while running were on my mind…which probably wasn’t the best train of thought. When the announcement was made to gather at the start line, I was still in disbelief.
It didn’t hit me until I was about one mile into the race that I was in for a few hours of this…of running on my own. I had never traveled 13.1 miles by foot until that day. At around the two mile mark, I felt my ankles hurting already and was mad at myself. I’m glad I was able to text my friends so I could feel their support even as I ran further away from them. It wasn’t until mile three or four, (I think…all the miles seemed to have blended in my mind at this point) when I got a runner’s high. I took my time and kept repeating to myself that it was finally happening.
I even got emotional at multiple points during the race. I was alone for majority of the race since I decided to not push myself to run any faster than I needed to and it was during these moments when I was able to enjoy the view and think…a lot. Around mile eight, I actually got embarrassed when I realized I was tearing up. I don’t know exactly why I was getting emotional. I think it may have been a combination of my body yelling “hey you are tired, maybe you should sit, my mind yelling back “NO! Keep going!,” the view of the beach filled with early-risers getting their morning surf in and constantly being reminded that I was actually still running.
The second time I got emotional was when I met up with my two friends who decided to join me for the last 3-4 miles of the race. I almost cried when I saw them running towards me. Up until that point, I was telling myself “almost there,” “running with Tina and Mojo will be easier,” “when you see them that means you are more than 3/4 of the way through” and many similar thoughts. So when I finally saw Tina running towards me I thought it was someone else at first. Then I saw Mojo and it sunk in that they were with me until the end.
It was this last leg of the race that the clouds decided to clear, the temperature rose to 80 degrees and my calves decided to start giving out on me. I spent the last 3 miles running then walking, running then walking. I was so mad at myself because I felt like I was failing and every half mile seemed to go by SO SLOW.
Mind you, the whole time, Tina and Mojo were there to encourage me, to tell me that I was almost there. I appreciated all of it then and I appreciate it much more now, but during that time, I was just past that phase when verbal encouragement helped. It was all mental at that point. I almost hyperventilated at one point because I felt my heart murmur acting up. I’m glad Mojo and Tina were there to remind me to breathe and slow down.
The last mile and a half SUCKED. My body kept telling me to sit. Even when I finally walked across the finish line, I resisted not plopping down right there. I put on a smile of gratitude for the race organizers as they cheered for me and offered me refreshments as I crossed the line. Out of the couple of hundred people that signed up for the small race, I came in absolute LAST. Which meant the staff was waiting for me to finish so they can clean up and get out of the heat. The fact that I was absolutely last, makes me laugh at myself, but am not upset about. I don’t even remember my time to be honest. All of the combined miles I walked definitely affected my time. My triumph comes with having successfully traveled 13.1 miles by foot for the first time ever.
My two biggest supporters ❤ #TPC
I was just happy to finish. I didn’t even want to do anything after that. But, in order to gain the calories back, my friends and I went to eat. Which was a bad idea at first because all I felt was nauseous. It was so hard for me to eat with out feeling like it was going to come back up. But I forced myself because I knew the shaking I was experiencing was from hunger. It took a while for my body to transition from what I call “survival mode” to “normal mode.”
After that, my friends and I went to grab boba and enjoy the down pour of rain that decided to happen AFTER the race. Anyways, I came home and was just relieved and happy with myself. All of those months of squeezing in runs, while not consistent, helped give me the strength to actually finish.
When will my next race be? I don’t know. For now, I just want to concentrate on gaining strength by putting in gym time. People have asked me if I ever see myself running a full marathon. That amount of miles scares me. I can’t fathom using my legs and feet to get myself to travel that far at this point in my life. So my answer is: MAYBE. If I would do another race, it would be another half marathon. The goal would be to not just finish, but to make decent time.
What I learned
So, what did this journey teach me? It taught me a new level of respect. I look at my medal laying beside my bib number on my desk and have never respected athleticism more. Fitness, not only running, but a lifestyle of fitness, is an amazing thing to have a passion for. Fitness is a mental and physical cycle of realizing you are weak, working the parts of your body that are weak, feeling the physical break down of your muscles, feeling the strength gained from that hard work and doing it all over again.
True athleticism to me is more than aesthetics. A person that truly lives a healthy lifestyle works out to become a better version of themselves on a daily basis. Majority of my life, I looked at self-improvement in a mental sense: self-confidence, self-acceptance, furthered education, etc. But in order to really live a healthy lifestyle, the physical must accompany that mental drive. Running is just one of the many physical activities that push you towards that sector of self-improvement. Training and running my first half marathon has redefined my idea of balance. From this point on, I will always have a deeper and more meaningful reason to stay active.
So, I encourage and commend anyone out there that has their mind set on some sort of fitness goal. It’s easy to be tempted and to stray away from working out. But, if you keep reminding yourself the reasons why you are putting yourself through the pain and effort, IT’S WORTH IT…just for the natural post-workout high and confidence boosts alone. Also, I’m not opposed to well-deserved rewards. Hence why I scheduled a celebratory Vegas trip the weekend after my race.
#TPC in Vegas 🙂
My Birthday Month Twin and gym buddy
It’s not about the number on the scale, it’s not about looking good in a bathing suit, it’s about living a life that always looks to improve and learn…it’s a race against no one but your past self. The aesthetics are just a bonus 😉
Happy May 2015! Remember when I said I’d be blogging more often? Well, as usual, life’s events have been getting in the way. I’ve come to accept the fact that my blogging schedule will continue to be fluid, just as my life has been these past couple of months. I hope you understand 🙂
It’s just that I’m going through a fair share of transition in my life and sorting all of that out is time consuming! I finished my undergraduate studies at SDSU this past December, started training for my first half marathon scheduled in July, had my last day at my internship in April, I started doing some freelance PR on the side and as of two days ago, officially moved back to the South Bay. On top of that, I am currently sitting in bed awake at 2 a.m. because I’ve been sick for the past couple of days, which has thrown my sleeping schedule off. I always seem to be getting sick just before or during important life events. I think this time around it was because of the 90 degree heat spike, all the dust from the moving process and all the stress that accompanies that.
Anyways, I intended this baking-related post to be written just after the Easter holiday, but as you can tell, that did not happen. But regardless of the poor timing, let’s get to it!
Holiday seasons always bring the wanna-be-baker out of me and Easter was no exception. A couple days before making the trip home for the weekend from San Diego, I thought about what type of treat would be tasty and easy to consume (as we have a handful of kids in the family). I thought about making traditional rice-krispy treat/shredded wheat Easter egg nests, but all the recipes I saw included some type of chocolate. Anyone that knows me is aware that I’m not much of a chocolate fan. If it’s not dark chocolate, I pretty much stay away from it. Yes, just add that to the list of odd things about me. It’s a long list.
Anyways, I wanted to challenge myself by making something different, which is when I stumbled across this recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction for a lemon blueberry cake. I enjoy blueberries, but let me just tell you, I don’t prefer lemon-flavored baked goods and I am not too keen on cake in general. This cake changed my mind. I decided to try it because I know my older brother enjoys lemon-flavored pastries, so I figured, why not. He actually helped me decide what to bake and helped me throughout the process. Mind you, prior to this, I had never made cake from scratch, let alone a multi-layered cake, which it ended up being.
My wanna-be baker longs for a Kitchen Aid mixer for situations like these. Luckily, my aunt, who bakes quite often, had a hand mixer for me to borrow, along with majority of the tools I used for the post-baking process. Maybe one day I’ll have room in my cupboard for my own mixer, but for now, I’m fine with borrowing the needed supplies. This recipe calls for the usual ingredients for a regular vanilla cake, but with the added lemon and blueberries of course. For the exact recipe measurements, click here.
Frosting sweetness-level is important to me. The main reason I don’t usually enjoy cake is because the icing is usually way too sweet. I think icing should be complementary to the flavors of a cake as opposed to overpowering. That’s why I like cream cheese frosting. I think with the tart flavors from both the lemons and blueberries, this frosting added a dimension of subtle sweetness. Not the healthiest choice, but who said this was a healthy recipe to begin with? Holidays are meant for a little indulgence. Again, for exact measurements, check out the recipe I used here. I know for a fact I reduced the amount of sugar I used for the frosting, but feel free to do as you please in terms of sugar-content.
The oven at my house is ancient and it infamously has one temperature: BURN. This element is a contributing factor as to why I don’t bake as often as I’d like to. Along with the Kitchen Aid mixer, I will one day own an oven that doesn’t lie to me when I set it to 350 degrees. Both my brother and I thankfully kept a watchful eye on the cake as it baked and while the pictures below look like they are on the verge of being on the burnt side of the baking spectrum, considering our scary oven, I think they turned out well!
I baked the cakes and made the frosting the day before the party, so both would have plenty of time to set and cool before working on the decorating process. I believe it took about 25 minutes for the cakes to bake. The suggestion is to bake until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the middle of the cake.
The Final Presentation
I used a cake slicer in an attempt to even out the layers, but the cake still turned out a bit wonky. Oh well! I think it added a Alice in Wonderland charm to it 😛 I ended up cutting each cake in half to make four total layers in the end. I used a frosting knife to spread the icing out between each of the layers and on the outside of the cake. Watching lots of Cake Boss episodes made me think I could spread frosting on a multi-layered cake like a professional. I was definitely wrong. It’s so difficult! Good thing I had the cake set on a spinner so it made the process slightly easier. I put some lemon zest and blueberries on top to give it a little pop of color and I loved the way it turned out! The colors definitely exuded spring time 🙂
The cake itself turned out to be on the denser side, but it did no lack on the flavor. My aunt says it may have been due to over-mixing the batter. I actually liked the density because it gave the cake a richer texture, which isn’t typical for most cakes. When I think cake, I think airy and fluffy. Prior to serving it out at the party I got a little nervous, as it was my first time baking a cake. But everyone ended up liking it! The kids ate it as-is and some of the parents enjoyed it with some hot tea. People even came back for seconds!
It was definitely fun to experiment with cake-making. I for sure want to try this recipe again in the near future. My brother’s girlfriend really loved the cake, so maybe I’ll try my hand at making some cupcake versions for a future birthday of hers. We’ll see 🙂
As I’m writing this I notice that it is now 4 a.m. I am definitely back to being an insomniac. As always, if you end up trying this recipe, please share your thoughts and pictures with me! I like seeing what other people come up with. Also, I appreciate those who have been commenting on my posts, it makes me smile to know that there are people out there that actually take time out of their day to read my ramblings, so thank you!
Let’s throw it back to August 2014 when I was anticipating my last semester at SDSU and my wonderful friends from back home drove from the South Bay to SD for our 2nd annual camping trip. To my friends that were on this trip, SURPRISE! I have the lost and forgotten photos from Tristan’s camera! He recently and sneakily gave them to me after asking him if I could use them for a blog post 🙂 He didn’t even know I blogged….rude.
Time continues to baffle me with how fast it goes by. I’m writing this post on one of those rare rainy days in San Diego and flipping through these photos reminds me of how long ago this trip happened. When ever I come back from a camping trip I always feel as if I just returned from a retreat. Even though sleeping on a floor in a tent and waking up even earlier than usual for a whole weekend doesn’t necessarily sound like a relaxing vacation, it’s more reinvigorating of an experience for me than staying in a hotel. Unlike most hotel experiences, with camping, I don’t have to go anywhere else to make the experience worthwhile. Having a healthy hiatus from social media during this time also doesn’t hurt.
I sincerely think that the virtual absence of social media is a huge contributing factor to that zen factor that comes with camping. Don’t get me wrong, we all still had our phones and cameras with us, but because there was horrible signal, no one was pulled into the mindless scrolling of social media.
Looking through these photos also reminded me of how it was a combination of little things that made this camping trip one of my favorite memories with my friends. Moments like working together to set up tents, everyone laughing at how sorry my football throw was, busting a mission to cook bomb food (we had kbbq and pho…just sayin’), playing haky sack until it got too dark to see our own feet, taking an unintended three-hour hike because we got lost (at least we were all together) or realizing on this hike just how quiet it can be…and how unbelievably renewed I felt closing my eyes to enjoy it. These are all minor things, but when weaved together, made the trip as memorable as it was.
I’m all about reminding myself to appreciate life as it is regardless of where I’m at because otherwise, we can always find a reason to be wound up about something. It’s humbling to know that there are people out there that would gladly take on the struggles I consider difficult and kill for the opportunities that I’ve been blessed have. Whether it’s taking a moment to enjoy my surroundings before bee-lining my way to my car to head to work, calling my mom a billion times in one day because I just want to hear a supporting voice, recognizing my little victories of the day, shrugging off awful moments, it’s necessary in order to continue down a path of happiness. Which brings me to this list. I believe that an existence of general happiness consists of, like I mentioned previously, a series of positive moments weaved together. Que devil’s advocate: but Melissa, what happens when all my moments are negative ones? One, that’s a lie. Two, you are being dramatic and three…you can ALWAYS find a positive take-away from a negative situation.
So, with that, I present you with this list of minor things that bring me joy.
15 Little Things that Make me Happy (in no particular order)
Stepping into Barnes & Noble and getting that refreshing whiff of book smell– I should probably support the business more by purchasing more books, but I usually just enjoy browsing and getting work done there.
Camping and everything that comes with it – really getting to star gaze, hiking, crisp air, not wearing make up. These are all happy-inducing actions.
YouTube– To explain this would reveal how weird I really am. So I won’t delve into it. #TeamInternet
Walking through Ikea during an OFF time– you all know what I mean. I want to imagine myself in these idealistic rooms with out strangers all up in it! Plus, the ice cream.
Being in the presence of my family – we don’t even have to be deliberately hanging out with each other. Just hearing the sounds of my family all doing their own thing through out the house, it brings about a comfort that can’t be duplicated.
Exploring – Whether it’s hiking, driving somewhere scenic or going on food adventures, if I’m doing it with people I love, then it’s a great time.
Thrift shopping – I walk in with $20, I walk out with quirky pre-loved clothes and other items that for some reason convinced myself I needed. I some how convince myself these things describe my life and therefore I purchase them in fear it would end up in the wrong hands.
Getting work done at the library or a cute coffee house – I can be productive, but when I do day dream, I can people watch or enjoy the ambiance of the space.
A charged phone– yeah.
Arts & crafts – I’m not particularly great at art, but I do like doing artsy things. Getting my tinker on is a stress reliever.
A good quality hug from someone I want to be hugged by – I’m not much a “touchy-feely” person, but when I do desire a hug and it’s a good one….yes. Like Winnie the Pooh at Disneyland? Great hugger.
Movies– I ❤ cinematography, quality acting, a great score, enticing writing styles, all of it. I’m the person that buys the Blu-Ray DVD just to watch the 6 hours of behind the scenes extras. Also, I like watching movies multiple times in different periods of my life to see if I catch something different or view it from a different perspective.
Ice cream– I can never decide between pistachio, butter pecan and good ‘ol chocolate chip
Clear sunny days in SoCal with crisp cold air– I remember the moment I decided this was one of my favorite things. I was about 10- years-old and I decided one afternoon that I wanted to lay down on my front porch to look at the sky. I breathed in the crisp air, felt the cold porch beneath me, felt the warm sun on my skin and thought, “this is my sh*t.” Just kidding, I probably just smiled and continued doing whatever 10-year-olds do.
Power Naps – Naps in general are not appreciated until one ventures into their college years. But mastering power naps are sometimes even more satisfying than the rest gained from the nap. When I successfully take a 45 minute nap, I feel like I perfect life at that moment and that’s a victory in itself isn’t it?
That’s it! There are definitely more things in life that result in my happiness, but in an effort to not bore you, I limited myself to 15. It’s so easy to fall into a habit of negativity, so exercises like these can potentially help you pan out to see the bigger picture. I encourage you to take some time to think about 15 minor things, actions and places that make YOU happy. Trust me, it can be therapeutic. Then, next time you are feeling down, read your list and do those 15 things. YOUR WELCOME. Share with me what little things make YOU happy 🙂
Note to readers: I just wanted to say thank you for your patience. I’ve been experiencing a mixture of writers block and lack of inspiration after finishing my undergraduate studies at San Diego State University this past December. But I’m back! I am finally getting into somewhat of a groove of my post-graduation schedule and plan to post on a more consistent basis. Apologies in advance for the somewhat randomness of this post, it’s been a while! I’m a little rusty 😛 Now, onto the post!
Much needed laptop hiatus
I told myself that 2015 will be the year that I do more of what I love now that I don’t have any school work to worry about…and blogging more often is one of them. I discovered that one of the main reasons I developed a lack of inspiration was because writing became more of a chore than a leisurely past-time. The combination of my class work and work assignments had me constantly staring at a computer screen, so by the end of the day, I just wanted to separate myself from that portal of stress: my laptop.
After all of that stress, I fortunately had the opportunity to spend a full three weeks back in my hometown for the holidays before returning back to San Diego to start settling into the post-undergraduate lifestyle. My initial thought was that because I would have more time on my hands, I would be blogging more often. That apparently did not happen. I found myself fully immersed in wanting to spend quality time with my family and reconnect with my friends that I hadn’t had time to catch up with until then. Other than hopping on my laptop to do some work remotely, I was, for the the most part, separated from it.
I figured that the purpose of my blog is to essentially document my life. But how can I document my life in any shape-or-form if I don’t take the time to experience it! So, that’s what I did. It was nice to take that time to rejuvenate. It reminded me of how fortunate I am to have such a supportive home base filled with people that I always look forward to seeing when I visit. The following photos capture just some of the memories I made with my family this past holiday season (unfortunately I neglected to bring my camera to friend-related events, so my pictures of those experiences are non-existent):
Christmas Tree shopping with the fam
My protectors ❤
Christmas morning sibling picture
I got my brothers matching socks for Christmas 🙂
My Dad and Matthew Christmas morning
My older brother enjoying his new tea cups. (He loves tea)
New Converse from my older brother. I felt so spoiled.
My cousins Kaelin and Emma having a Christmas Day guitar lesson.
Board games were all the rage Christmas day.
Matthew enjoying kettle corn while viewing the Rose Parade floats in Pasadena
Riding the shuttle to view the Rose Parade floats 🙂
The fam making our way to the floats!
However, once I got back to San Diego, I jumped right back into my work schedule and because I am currently working on a pretty big project, again, I began separating myself from my computer at the end of the day. I noticed that I would hop on my phone and get stuck in the black hole of mindless and endless scrolling. I fell once more into the blogging-hiatus hole.
Penciling-in leisure time
With all of that said, I’m going to try my best to give myself time to blog. I just need to remind myself that it’s something I enjoy doing. If that means literally having to pencil in designated blog time, SO BE IT! It’s important to take some time out of the day to do something enjoyable, even if it needs to be scheduled in. I’ve always had a knack for organization and when paired with motivation, I am known to get a lot of things done. If I continue to ride this current wave of motivation I should be able to maintain at least a semi-consistent blog schedule.
I am a bit old fashioned when it comes to keeping myself organized. You might ask: Why don’t you utilize Google Calendar and phone reminders? Well, I do and they are very helpful and quite frankly, more eco-friendly, but in order for things to stick in my brain, I need to write things out. I love making lists, color-coding them and actually checking things off. There’s something about taking a pen to paper and crossing things off a list that is very satisfying.
So what do I use to stay organized?
Highlighters: Color-coding things helps me differentiate between items in my planner.
Brain Storm Notebook: I’ve had this notebook for a while. I believe it was a gift from my friend Annie. I’ve been using this notebook every day at work to write quick notes, make short to-do lists and ultimately, brainstorm. Having a notebook handy helps me visualize what can be done, what needs to be done and what will be done during my shift.
Lilly Pulitzer Large Agenda: I am in LOVE with this agenda. The colors, themes and extra pages make it enjoyable to use. But most importantly, the dual layout of a monthly and weekly view of the year allows me to plan things for the long-term and have room to add details in the short-term.
GOALSbook: The GOALS book was most recently given to me as a graduation gift. It’s the perfect addition to my organization kit because it serves as a constant reminder of the reason I work hard. Inside are prompts and forms that make it easy to visualize, outline and create a realistic plan to achieve both short-term and long-term goals. It’s pretty much amazing. Thanks Annie ❤
Let it be twenty-fifteen
On the note of organization and this year’s goals, I’m anxious and excited to see what this new year will bring now that I have officially finished my undergraduate studies. I have overall goals for myself and my career, but one thing I’ve learned from 2014 is that regardless of the plans I make and strive for, what’s more important is how I deal with and overcome the unexpected situations that will inevitably come my way.
The stress that often engulfed me during my undergraduate career was due to the constant struggle that is the journey to stability. But how can I someday enjoy stability with out having learned from the struggle and appreciated it? I needed to realize that it’s about enjoying every part of the journey whether it is a great moment or a low one; I need to let it be. By accepting every experience for what it is gives me the opportunity to look at the bigger picture. It reminds me to be grateful for even being able to feel.
Stress, although a very essential part of growth in life, has overwhelmed me way too many times in 2014. I want 2015 to be the year I allow myself to say yes to more new experiences and to remind myself to enjoy the present while still striving for betterment in the future. It’s all about balance.
If life is a collection of experiences, I want a diverse collection. This year I definitely plan on taking advantage of Groupon and trying different things, whether it’s a new yoga class, a painting class or seeing a show, I want to do it all! (Plus, I’m sure I’ll get them for pretty good prices 😛 )
What new things have you tried so far? I recently went snowboarding for the first time this past weekend. The chair lifts and inclines were scary, it hurt to fall, but overall it was so much fun. I definitely want to go back and get better at it!
It’s still early enough in the new year for resolutions to be a hot topic. At the turn of 2015, it worried me that I wasn’t motivated to make a list this year, but then I realized that instead of making a list of things I will most likely forget in about a month, why not live this year based on the following statements and questions:
Work hard and stay focused.
Does this make you happy? If yes, good job. If not, why are you doing it?
Say yes to new things more often.
This moment is a good one. Take it in.
Will this decision put me closer to achieving [x] goal?
Remember to breath and take some time for yourself. Then go back to working hard.
You are worth more than you think.
I think by constantly reminding myself of the above, I will constantly be working towards self-improvement and that’s what I ultimately want out of not only this year, but my life in general. I never want to stop learning and growing as an individual and neither should you!
…and with that, I’ve reached the end of this hodge podge of a blog post. I just wanted to say again that I’m grateful for your patience. Even though it’s almost February, I wish you and yours a goal-oriented, hard-working and memory-filled year! Remember to try something new this year. I know I will be and most likely sharing it here 🙂
In the midst of this fall season comes all things cozy, warm and comforting. But as a student, fall also means prime-time stress due to an increase in assignment load, mid-semester exams and endless group project meetings in an attempt to get as much done before Thanksgiving break. Not to mention internship and job shifts on top of all of that. Fall can be a tough time to be a student.
However, I think it’s the people you care about and surround yourself with that have a lot to do with how you deal with the stresses in life. Little pick-me-ups, whether a phone call, encouraging text message or even something sent via snail mail mean the most in times of distress. It’s nice to feel cared about, right?
What shows your affection for someone more than a care package? Although I believe that any time is a great time to remind someone that you care, I think fall (for all the reasons I listed above) is a perfect time for making care packages. Assembling a box that emanates affection in the form of letters, pictures, candy and survival tips can potentially rescue someone from a stressful mental breakdown. Another reason for fall care-package-making is that the arts and crafts stores are prepared for the amount of holiday season crafting, so you’ll have no problem finding bits and bobs to make a care package unique to the person you are making it for.
I recently made a care package for my cousin Valerie. I felt she was in need of a care package for of a lot of reasons, but mostly because she is currently in the midst of her first year in medical school all the way in Chicago. We try to make time every other week to have a catch-up phone call and I could tell that the stress was building on her end of the line this past month. So, I decided to send a little love her way with this small box of goodies 🙂 Here’s how I put it together:
THE BOX: I used a photo box from Michael’s Arts & Crafts store. This box in particular attracted me because I thought the quotes were fitting. I also added the personal touch of labeling the box “it’s a twin thing” to play on the fact that we look so much alike and we are always on the same page when it comes to how we feel
coffee mug with handmade mug cozy–Val and I love our coffee and teas so I thought that a simple mug would be a thoughtful nod toward the necessity of caffeine during this time of the year. As for the crocheted mug cozy in the likeness of a dog? I was browsing Pinterest and saw a similar mug cozy, but with a fox. I wish I could say that I made it myself, but I recruited the crocheting skills of my roommate Megan to get it done. I provided her with the supplies, drew the dog’s face and she was happy to put it together for me. I tried to make it in the likeness Val’s dog, Kona because it’s for a coffee mug…coffee…Kona is a kind of coffee…get it? 😛 Regardless of the puns, I think it turned out really cute!
green tea–What’s more stress relieving than a hot cup of tea? Especially if it’s Tazo’s Zen green tea 🙂 Paired with honey, I think this tea is soothing yet has enough caffeine in it to keep the study marathon sessions going. Everyone could use a little more zen in their lives, especially medical school students!
handwritten letter–You can’t go wrong with a handwritten letter. I think handwritten messages show your personality and definitely displays how much you care for it’s recipient because it’s rare to receive physical letters these days. I was always that kid who got way too excited when I got something in the mail (I still get excited over mail, but nowadays it’s just bills, junk mail or some bank trying to convince me to open a credit card with them). Whenever I can hand write a message, I try to. It gives it a personal touch.
Artsy notebook–I love things like this! I grew up writing in journals, making lists about anything and everything and the kind of book I wrote in was half the fun! I thought this notebook with a diagram of a skull from Typo was a funny and cute way to acknowledge Val’s medical school studies. I know she typically writes notes on her laptop or tablet, but I still think that anyone can use a notebook. Cute, novelty notebooks make writing grocery lists and to-do lists a tad bit fun. Like I said, the little things do matter!
aromatherapy hand sanitizer–You can’t go wrong with things that smell good and keep you clean! A future doctor understands the need for sterilization and stress relief, so I thought this little bottle of hand sanitizer from Bath & Body Works covered both of those necessities. The combination scent of eucalyptus and mint is suppose to be therapeutic and relaxing.
personalized photo frame–Photos are always a great reminder of the presence of someone in your life. I thought that it would be an interesting idea to not just print out a picture of the two of us, but to include quotes that I feel are inspiring and describe our relationship with each other. I bought this shadowbox frame from Target, where I also professionally printed the photo.
THE PACKAGING: Nothing special here. I just bought paper shavings that you usually find in Easter baskets, filling every empty space of the box with it and wrapped the mug in some paper I found around my apartment. Lastly, I used a Modcloth box my roommate had in her room from a recent purchase she made. It worked out perfectly!
and…that’s it! I sent the care package to Val as a surprise. She received it the morning of a very important exam and said that it definitely lifted her spirits and made her day, which of course, made my day to hear that.
I hope this inspires you to tell someone in your life how important they are to you or may this serve as a reminder to you that even through the most stressful of times, someone out there cares about you!
Now it’s your turn to make a care package 🙂 Christmas is around the corner and a care package would be a great gift idea for someone you won’t be seeing this holiday season. Tweet me and/or Instagram your creations using #ArtAndCraftWithMez.
First of all, for anyone that actually reads my blog, THANK YOU. Thanks for your patience and for the piece of your being (how ever small or large) that desires to read the stream of consciousness that is this blog. I feared that once the semester began I would fall into a dark hole inhabited by bloggers that have gone on a hiatus…and in fact, it happened. But fortunately, I found a way to climb my way back into the light. (insert scene from The Dark Knight Rises of prisoners attempting to escape The Pit) Hopefully I will be posting more often, but no guarantees due to the insanity that is my current schedule. Anyways, on to the blog post!
Not-so-recently, my friends and I watched a movie called The Hundred-Foot Journey…and I loved it. There is something “feel good” about movies concerning food. I believe it’s partly to do with the fact that food brings people together in so many different ways. A lot of memories are made over a meal, snack or what have you.
This movie brought back the same feelings I experienced when I watched the Disney Channel Original: Eddie’s Million Dollar Cook-Off. Does anyone else remember that movie? It was about a kid torn between two very different passions: baseball and cooking (classic Disney move). It was one of my favorites growing up.
The Hundred-Foot Journey is similar in that it touches on cooking as an art to be pursued, especially when put into new and unfamiliar surroundings. It’s a story about finding a balance between the old and new. I highly recommend it if you are in the mood for something uplifting and inspirational. It was beautifully written in my opinion. So, go watch it! Right after you finish reading this though 😛
After watching the movie, I immediately went home and watched Julie & Julia, another cooking movie. It’s a movie that I had wanted to watch for a while, had the DVD but for whatever reason never got to…until that evening. It’s a story about a woman who decides to cook her way through every recipe in Julia Child’s cookbook and challenges herself to finish it in one year. She blogs ever moment of it in her blog series called: The Julia Child Project. I thought it was a cute and unique story. However, I didn’t enjoy it as much as I enjoyed The Hundred-Foot Journey though, I don’t know why. But regardless, I recommend watching both if you haven’t already, both have inspiring story lines. I linked the trailers for both movies to their respected movie posters, shown below. Check them out!
Channeling my inner baker
To be honest, I forgot if the following was a result of watching The Hundred-Foot Journey and Julie&Julia, or if my subconscious somehow knew the inspiration I would experience from them, but regardless, I decided to take a stab at making apple crisp that same week! I wouldn’t say I am a horrible baker, but I am in no way a professional one either, so it was definitely a fun experience making it from scratch. I followed a recipe I found online that used the following ingredients and supplies:
Funny story about those apples. So, if you click the link to the recipe that I used, you will see that it calls for 10 CUPS of sliced and cored apples. But of course, being me, I read that as 10 APPLES. As a result, I cut WAY too many apples in the end. My mom was not too happy with me for wasting her apples. Sorry Mom!
Here’s how it looked after mixing in all the ingredients together…minus the large bowl of extra apple slices:
After baking for 45 minutes to an hour, here is how it came out! I realize now that it looks pretty much the same as the “before” picture….Oh well:
Like arts and crafts, cooking and baking can be therapeutic for me. Although, if I’m working under a time crunch, it definitely is NOT a relaxing activity. Luckily, I took over the kitchen at my leisure that evening, so all was good!
I tried to be fancy and plate it before serving it to my family. I decided to pair my apple crisp with good ‘ol fashioned vanilla ice cream, as I feel every apple crisp should. I figure that if the apple crisp turned out to be sub-par, you can’t go wrong with the vanilla ice cream right?
o0o dramatic lighting
So how’d it taste you ask? In the words of Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock Holmes:
I actually thought it turned out pretty well 🙂 My mom and brother thought it was good as well, but they did offer me some suggestions for the next time I attempt an apple crisp. My mom suggested I bake it for longer and at a lower temperature so the apples turn out softer than they did. I blame our ancient oven for this one. I swear it only has one temperature: BURN. As a result, the topping did crisp faster than it should have, while the apples below didn’t have enough time to soften. As for my brother, he wanted more of the crumbly topping, which I completely agree with. You can’t go wrong with more crisp on an apple crisp!
Your turn. Yeah, you!
I know many people associate apple pie or apple crisp with summer, which is when I baked this. Personally, apple crisp reminds me of fall/winter holidays and it’s officially fall here in California…so it’s a perfect time to try this recipe out and enjoy it while watching The Hundred-Foot Journey and Julie&Julia! (or any movie of your choosing…don’t let me run your life!)
Enjoy channeling your inner baker and imagine the following in Julia Child’s voice: “Bon Appetit!”
Well, that was the first of many Cook & Bake with Me(z) posts. I like trying my hand at new foods, so look out for more posts like this. If you don’t already, try your hand at cooking or baking, it’s fun. Let’s be amateur foodies together!