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I honestly don’t remember learning to cook, to bake or to feel comfortable in a kitchen. I remember spending time next to my mom, my grandma and my aunts following along while they were making dinner, standing around talking about my day at school while dinner was being made, the first batch of cookies I made and how I fell in love adventuring with food and recipes while in college. I vividly remember a conversation I had with my Mom and Grandma when I was younger, telling them that we should have a family restaurant because our family is full of good cooks… I put that idea on the back burner for a long time, until the kettle it was in whistled louder than any other idea I’d had.

I finally took the leap in July to start my business. I posted a picture of my filed Fictitious Business Name paperwork on my Instagram, but other than that, I didn’t make a big deal about it. I was afraid that I would want to back out and not go through with a dream I’d held onto for so long. When I decided to start this blog, it was going to mostly be about the trials and tribulations that occur when you’re starting a business, but somewhere along the line I got distracted and made the choice to start writing about more personal things. This wasn’t a bad thing at all, just not my original intention (don’t worry, I’m totally going to write random posts about things.. especially if Brittany Gibbons continues to come up with writing prompts!). Yesterday I skyped with my friend Caitlin and told her that somewhere along the line, I started evading the idea of posting progress made toward starting my bakery; mostly because it would mean that I have evidence of what I’ve done and I’m accountable for it. It’s quite a scary undertaking and I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to actually do it. We talked about it and I decided to throw caution to the wind and post about my progress.

IT'S HAPPENING

IT’S HAPPENING

In short, there it is. Each piece of that multi-colored pie is something that I still need to do to get this business off the ground. It doesn’t seem like a lot, but each step has a lot that goes into it. The diagram reminds me of a Trivial Pursuit game-piece, and I guess in a way that makes sense. It can be difficult to collect each little wedge to fill the pie, but those who do win, and I like winning. I’m nervous, and I’m scared, but I know I’ll be able to cross off a couple things in the next month or so, and I promise that when something gets crossed off, I’ll post about it.

On top of being nervous and scared, I’m also insanely excited. I have great friends who are more than willing to help me along the way. Kayla Ihrig is designing my logo, Caitlin is most likely going to help out with my website, people are signing up left and right to taste-test and I have support coming out of the woodwork. I think that’s part of the anxiety, I don’t want to risk letting these people down. I know, I know; if I don’t try, it’ll be a bigger let down than failing.

I’ve decided to start Autumn working towards the loudest whistling dream and taking a HUGE step forward in building the life I want because no one else besides me can do that. Here goes nothing.

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“These are five of my favorite things..”

Self care is insanely important and it’s something that a lot of us avoid, intentionally or not. Brittany’s prompt for this is to talk about five things that we can prioritize and treat ourselves with. This was harder than I imagined it would be. 

1. Go to yoga. 

I have been telling myself to get off my ass and I go to my Bikram studio for a couple months, I mean, I’m paying for it anyway.. but I haven’t been able to step foot inside. The last time I went, I thought I had eaten enough during the day, but apparently I hadn’t and ended up dry heaving and laying on the tile floor of the women’s locker room pounding a coconut water and snacks. Today will be different, I have all my stuff with me and I’m prepared. I’m hydrated, well-fed and excited to sweat out the last few months.. I won’t be surprised if I end up crying at some point, luckily, tears and sweat look a lot alike. 

BetterNotEasier 

2. Cook.

My sanctuary is a well-stocked kitchen. When I eat well, I feel a lot better about life, so it’s a good thing that I’m a good cook. I grew up in the kitchen learning and helping my mom, my grandma and my aunts. I’ve laughed there, cried there, and talked about life’s greatest mysteries while eating cold spaghetti sandwiches over the sink… To say it’s my happy place is an understatement. The more I’m in the kitchen, the healthier I eat and the better I feel. Makes sense, right? Of course it does. 

3. Did I mention yoga?

Before I could afford a subscription to the bikram studio near me, I started doing yoga in my backyard. I knew it would help my back/hips by strengthening my core and I figured since it was summer at the time that I could help my ever-deficient Vitamin D levels by being outside. I didn’t think it would change me the way that it has. My body shape changed, my outlook changed, my breathing changed, my stress level changed, my posture had changed and I felt more comfortable in my body than I ever had. I sound like a hack when I gush about how much I love and need my practice, whether in the backyard or in the studio, but I do. I need it and I need to make sure that I don’t just say I do yoga to make myself feel better for not being as dedicated. My body needs it so that I can stand up straight. I have to make a better commitment to myself.

4. Gardening

Last summer, my mom and I started an edible container garden in our backyard. Tending to that, growing new things brings out the wonder in me. I noticed that we had carrot sprouts this morning and proceeded to happy dance around the backyard while I was doing laundry. The more I can grow and learn about, the better I can cook. Lettuce, strawberries, tomatoes, bell peppers, herbs galore. It’s our baby farm and I love it. When I care for it, it cares for me, so I need to make sure that I do a better job watering, weeding and trimming things back when it’s needed. 

5. Writing

The timing of this challenge could not have been better. I needed something to encourage me to write more, to explore more and to feel more confident in my own words so that I can further pursue my dream jobs. The more I write, the calmer I feel, so it seems that writing is yet another form of therapy for me. I have great friends who write a lot, and I never thought I would be among them, but here I am. I’m proud of that, and grateful for their encouragement as well as the CGG empire.

Despite my insecurities, I like who I am and who I’m becoming… the more I take care of myself, the more I grow, so I have to keep fighting towards the life I want. 

Expectations

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27.

There is less than three weeks until I turn 28.

I won’t lie and say that 27 was easy, it was anything but that. To put it lightly, 27 was:
– scary.
– an adventure.
– hilarious.
– terrifying.
– sleep deprived.
– the worst.
– not so bad.
– a learning experience.
– stupid.
– funny.
– stressful.
– enlightening.
– annoying.
– eye opening.
– frustrating.
Most of all, it was a year for me to grow. It has been my year to figure some shit out, to explore, to experience, to learn, to get rid of the things (and in some cases, people) that made me feel awful, and it’s been the year where I’ve really learned what I like about life, myself and those that I choose to spend time with.

It hasn’t been my favorite, but it’s been a hell of a roller coaster. My birthday is May 1, but the real roller coaster started in January of 2013. Here’s a quick run down of the last 15 months:

January 2013: got fired on my Tia’s birthday from the place I worked at for almost 3 years for reasons that baffle me still.
February/March (it all blends together): went to a lot of basketball games, had fun at the LBSU men’s basketball end of season banquet, and was removed from a bridal party for reasons that still don’t make sense.
April: finalized all my plans and bought all other necessary things for my NYC/Euro-adventure. Panicked about the trip. Went to Jewels of the Night and had an interesting time, but it was fun nonetheless. Switched from android to iPhone.
May: turned 27, had a nice dinner with family, prepped for the trip. Got scared about the trip, wondered if it was even a good idea anymore, worried about money, stressed so much I caused spasms in back that we’re so debilitating it hurt to breathe, and then I flew to New York City on the red eye out of Long Beach on my Mom’s birthday. Spent four amazing days with The City. Went to The Great Googa Mooga festival in Prospect Park in Brooklyn. Saw my friend Kristin and my old teammate Roy. Explored with my German housemates. Got blisters. Lots of them. Flew to Venice, Italy and arrived to a happy Jen and Scott who housed me for a week and showed me parts of the world that I continually long for. Saw and tasted Parma, Bassano del Grappa, Marostica, Vicenza, Verona and Venice before flying into Alicante, Spain on May 30. Surprised my friend Elissa for her hen night. Made amazing international friends, saw people I hadn’t seen in 15+ years, laughed, had awkward conversations, used more Spanish in two days than I had in 15+ years of bilingual-ness, ate, and drank amazing things.
June: saw Elissa marry the most excellent man, danced, ate, laughed, drank (a lot – hey, it was a wedding), fell in love with rosé, went shopping, hugged and loved the family I felt like I lost for what felt like forever. Panicked over inaccessible internet and train tickets, stopped sleeping well. Took a train up the coast of Spain from Alicante to Barcelona. Freaked out due to exhaustion, being alone in a new city, and a fiasco involving my phone not working, the keys to the place I was staying and communication that wasn’t working. Met my new hosts, talked about Vampire Weekend over dinner. Explored nearly all of Barcelona on foot, took a bunch of pictures, realized I was okay on my own, fell in love with speaking Spanish and in turn lost my thought that “I wasn’t good enough to use the language.” Bought a second suitcase, packed and flew back to NYC after 4 days in Barcelona. Ate/drank the most delicious burger and beer in T5 of JFK while waiting for my flight. Got home to Long Beach late and was hungry (I know, right?)… Went to IHOP and devoured an omelette. I missed American breakfast. Slept off my jet lag, came down with a serious case of wanderlust and discovered Bikram yoga and the amazing benefits of it.
July: relay for life. Andy and Tori got married!
August: went to Invisible Children’s Fourth Estate Summit, met amazing people, realized that I needed to work somewhere or do something I loved. Figured out what I’m scared of overnight. Reconnected with the best gal pal a girl could ask for in Andrea, net Thomas, (Andrea and my 18 year old boyfriend at 4E), met someone I looked up to and established a great friendship and semi-mentor. Got a job supporting video games via social media. Loved the social media side, hated the hours (graveyard), the dead-end-ness of the job and the content and attitude of the games and the customers.
September: renewed my season tickets for LBSU men’s basketball, worked, understood how offensive some people are in the gaming industry, started job hunting again, became better friends with an old coworker from the bookstore.
October: slept 10 hours over the course of week, had a migraine the majority of the month, went to Artisinal LA and had a blast, met The Fancy Boyz and made fast friends with them and other bakers. Realized that the money I had put away to help me start my baking project was still there and it was there for me to use to build my dream. Slept, worked. Realized that just because you’ve been friends with someone for a long time, you’re not exactly obligated to stay friends with them when your life goes different directions or your belief sets don’t really match up.
November: basketball season!, homecoming, spent more time with friends, went to San Diego and realized how awesome Meg and Jake are, slept, worked,
December: slept, worked, looked for jobs, did yoga in my backyard, went to basketball games, Christmas, realized that missed enjoyable holiday celebrations, my friend Scott passed away.
January 2014: worked, slept, went to basketball games, went to San Francisco for Scott’s funeral and was lackey enough to have one of my best friends go with me, had incredible amounts of fun on the first roadtrip I have taken since the car accident in 2004, sent a really dumb text message to the wrong person and inadvertently found out where I stood with them, was let go from work, job hunted full time.
February: more basketball, met one of the dad’s of a player when he was trying to upgrade his ticket and I had extra, had fun, did yoga, looked for jobs, didn’t get a job because they thought the reason I was fired a year ago was weird, was reaaaalllllyyy mad/pissed/frustrated/annoyed that place was still haunting me.
March: basketball! Went to the Veronica Mars PaleyFest panel and then went to opening day of the VM movie the next day with Latoya, laughed a lot, watched more basketball, left for two weeks in San Diego house sitting and hanging out with Sabrina, Meg’s daughter.
April: reconnected with basketball teammates from high school over great food in San Diego, came home from SD, saw my cousin, his wife and their daughter while they were in town for a Disneyland trip, had a promising interview and hung out with Latoya, all in a matter of a week.

In the next few weeks, I’m going to a graduation party, a bridal shower, Artisinal LA, applying for my DBA for my baking project and getting the ball rolling for the job I WANT while searching for one that I need to pay my bills. Then I turn 28 and open myself up for even more adventure, travel excursions, fun and whatever else might come my way. I’m looking forward to this year a whole bunch. I hope it’s as good to me as this last one has been.

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Ooooops

This week has been a bit stressful, and in order to do the things I needed to get done, I had to neglect my blog. I’ve missed the last couple prompts of “on my mind,” “something beginning with ‘i,'” and “chair.” Today’s prompt is “fly” and surprisingly, it seems like waiting to write these all at once makes a lot more sense.

This past week has been spent stressing over a cover letter for a job application. This isn’t just any job to me, it’s a start in a new direction, a way into a world that I have finally realized is the right one for me, and a chance to live a little out of the ordinary. I already have an insane hatred of cover letters, and in some cases I don’t really understand the point. In others, like this one, I get it, but I instantly become the most insecure, incapable person while trying to sell myself in a half page letter that is supposed to convince a stranger to take a chance, interview and possibly hire me. No pressure, right?

So that’s what has been on my mind the last week, from last Thursday til now. Why now? Because I just sent it in. I sent in my application, and the only thing that I can do is hope that this amazing website takes a chance on me. Hell, I probably should just send them this blog entry and be like, “see? I right good.”

Back to the point, cover letters have been “on my mind” because I was stressing over this application, my “i” words are insecure and incapable because no matter how good at something I know I am, that fear creeps when I have to explain why I think I’m going to be the person they want in said cover letters.

That leaves “chair” from yesterday, and “fly” for today’s post. Here’s my set up at a local Starbucks:

My laptop, water, a drink, crumpled napkins, snack bags, my phone, chargers, and most importantly, the chair that has been my home for the past couple hours while I tried to hammer this out. This chair has been my inspiration to get this done because it’s terrible for my back and incredibly uncomfortable. The sooner I got my stuff done, the sooner I don’t have to sit in it. Makes sense, right?

I’ll write my post for today a bit later, I need to take a break. I need to let my brain calm down and do some yoga to help recover from all this sitting. I’m also not going to post where I applied or anything about the job, because in case something comes of it, I know I’ll be incredibly superstitious about it. If the reviewing parties read this post, thanks for looking into what I’m all about. I hope you like me!

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Wedding Day!

Saturday, was a day of crazy rushing around and getting ready, I did my best impression of Coolio while getting my hair to dry, ordered room service – a tortilla espanola sandwich and pizza while getting ready and danced around while playing music like any normal twenty something girl.

I got my stuff together, wore flats to walk to the other hotel where people were staying and rushed over with heels in hand. I met up with a couple of the girls from the bachelorette night and Elissa’s family that was staying there. We boarded a charter bus that took us to the beautiful, stunning estate that Elissa and Si were getting married at. Most everyone was overwhelmed at the beauty of this house and the grounds.

The wedding was in English and Spanish, and we joked with the couple that they’ve already been married twice because of that. The weather could not have cooperated more. The day was beautiful and went off without a hitch!

After the ceremony, we headed to the cocktail hour while the bridal party took pictures. There were drinks and tapas served and mingling, pictures taken and laughs shared by everyone, friends and family alike. When the couple arrived to the cocktail area, there were toasts and more pictures, and we eventually migrated toward the dining area. The toasts from David, Pete (Simon’s brother), Simon, and Sarah (Elissa’s maid of honor) were all great and incredibly touching. Simon had the majority of us tearing up when he recognized Tavi, Elissa’s father who passed away a few years ago and it was easy to see how much Si loves her, the family and how excited they both are to be officially married.

I was seated at a table with three of Simon’s cousins, Becki and her boyfriend Tom who I had met the night before included, a couple of the girls from the bachelorette night and two of Elissa’s cousins who I’d met maybe once or twice when we were all a lot younger. After introductions, we all started different conversations, the wine flowed and before the night was over we were all laughing, joking and having a great time. More than once our table was given the ‘eye’ from another table because we were rather loud and boisterous while laughing and joking around. The menu for dinner was extravagant in all the right ways. Course after course was served and it was all fantastic. I ate goat! It was absolutely delicious and wish it was easier to find here. The quality of food in both Italy and Spain was spectacular and I miss it. Everything tastes as though it was grown just down the street and in some cases, it probably was.

After dinner involved more drinks, dancing and socializing, all of which was a grand time. I took a taxi back to the hotel around 2am.. maybe 3? all I know was that it was late and my feet hurt. I got back to the hotel and rightly passed out as soon as I got in my room.

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Italy!!

wow. what a week. i’ll try to break italy into a couple posts, but whow knows.. i might just go on forever.

needless to say, all the people that told me that i wouldn’t want to come home were right, the ones that said that venice was going to be my favorite were wrong and the idea that i would love the food was completely spot on. the only bad thing about the entire week were my allergies. The part of Italy I was in is incredibly agricultural and therefore sneezy and crazy for me. oh… and the rain. so much rain, thunderstorms, lightening, everything. I was lucky that it didn’t flood. When I was flying in from Madrid, we passed over a storm, and I saw the lightening but didn’t think it would end up affecting much of my trip. Luckily it didnt. It ended up pouring friday and part of saturday but overall, rain is just water and it dries eventually

I landed on Wednesday night after an insane day and a half of traveling and flight connections. luckily all my luggage made it and we ended up landing 10 minutes early in venice..Thursday was spent getting registered on the army post, running errands and making sure that i had everything that i needed and getting food for the week. Part of my payment to Jen and Scott was that i had to make mexican food at some point, which happened. We went to dinner at a place called La Vecchia Fattoria that night. I had oricchette pasta with cherry tomatoes and broccoli. it was a great first meal and the food of Vicenza spoiled me, almost for the whole week! We also went to the fresh wine store and got three liters of wine from the tap. I had heard of this, but I’m still pretty sure it’s magic. It was delicious wine and fairly cheap too. It was just over 5 euro for all the wine. Bring your own bottles, they fill and seal it for you, amazing.

Friday was spent resting and sleeping and then sleeping some more. My allergies had me incredibly congested and subsequently exhausted because of the inability to breath and sleep or just be comfortable in general. The different pollen was attacking my eyes and for 4 of the 7 days in Italy, i wanted to rip out my eyes. I fought through it though, no way i was going to miss out on such an amazing place. Friday night we went to dinner at a place a little further out of town. i don’t remember the name, but I remember the food. I had the Bigoli pasta with duck ragu and had to take a moment while i had the first bite. It was heavenly. So good. Scott had penne with a pistachio sauce, and sliced chicken with mushrooms as his second course which was delicous and Jen had truffled fettuchini. All of us thoroughly enjoyed our food and I could have eaten that same meal the entire week and been happy. I am so grateful we didn’t have a strict agenda and were able to move around plans so that i was able to get acclimated. The wine there was great too, I’ll miss good house wines and the quality of the fresh wine available all over.

I never thought I would be so excited to not be in a plane for a week. Once I landed in Venice, this whole trip finally became real. All the work, the internet scouring for ticket prices, the stress and budgeting, everything was finally real and more than worth it. Seeing my friends was even better and knowing that they would get to show me the cool places they had found over the past couple years was ever exciting. After friday, I was almost back to normal, the swelling in my feet from the hours of traveling was about gone, the blisters were getting better and my allergies were calming down. I had scheduled a skype date with my family for Sunday afternoon (early morning back home) and was looking forward to the rest of my time in the Veneto area.

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tuesdayyyyyy

well, tuesday morning was fun. I walked around SoHo a little more, and into the Bowery area. Got a new pair of Warby Parker sunglasses and a new pair of toms because my other shoes were eating my feet and giving me blisters everywhere.. from there, I went to eat at The Meatball Shop on Stanton. best decision of my day. After having their sandwich at Googa Mooga, I wanted to go and eat their stuff fresh. BEST. EVERRRRRR. 

The special of the day was a Chile Verde meatballs with salsa verde, the risotto was chives and scallions and everything looked and smelled delicious coming out of the kitchen. I sat at the bar, and the bartender was super nice and talkative. He gave me a copy of the Meatball Shop cookbook to browse through while I waited for my food and asked about where I was from and going and whatnot. I talked to the guy next to me a bit, who told me that he came in because he was craving their meatballs. To me, that says something. 
I ordered a slider of the chile verde goodness, the risotto and then a meatball sandwich with the spicy pork meatballs, tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese. I said I was going to take it with me to the airport, but that ended up being a total lie because I didn’t realize how hungry I was. Apparently that happens when you don’t eat the whole day. 
Here’s how it looked:

From there, I went and picked up my luggage that I had stored, and headed to the airport. It was a beautiful day and i was sad to leave the house that morning, and sad to leave the city, but Italy and my friends were waiting. 
Check in and everything went well, and the flight on AirBerlin was great. BUT, I barely slept. the people behind me kept getting up and using my chair as their push off point, waking me up every 20 minutes or so. I was real mad. real real real mad. the food was good, there were free movies, tv, games and magazines on the little tv screens and it would have been even better if i had gotten sleep on an overnight trip. 
The Berlin terminal, where i had my 6 hour layover however, was crap. I’m just mad that I even had to be there. The chairs were awful, there were no plugs to charge anything and the food choices were yuck. The terminal itself was small, smaller than Long Beach Airport, but luckily the majority of people were really nice. The ride to Barcelona was okay, a little turbulent, but not too bad. My luggage made it everywhere safely, and the Barcelona airport was really nice. The flight to Madrid from BCN was sure to be the death of me, it was crazy turbulent and it felt like the pilot was doing things crazy on purpose, but really just ended up being a lot like the up and down of the flight to Oakland from LA. Madrid to Venice was really nice, I got to sleep on the last three flights, which was really nice, and seeing Jen and  Scott and knowing that I wasn’t going to be on a plane for 7 whole days. 
More on Italy over the next few days, so far, the food is beyond words and i love everything other than the rain and the amount of nature that is causing my allergies to go insane. Oh well, dont care, its freaking great.