Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A New Year, A New Year's Resolution

Last year, I had a couple of goals. One was to read 38 books. I managed to surpass my goal. (I highly recommend Goodreads to my friends who like to read. They keep track of goals, books, ratings, and make recommendations.)

I also said that I wanted to continue to work out and improve my financial situation.

I worked out fairly regularly up until I ran the BolderBoulder, which hurt my ankles pretty badly. I was out of commission for nearly three months. I have done little since then. I count that as a fail...

Financially speaking, I am doing much better. Some of that has to do with getting a better job, but also habit and necessity. I have to pay health insurance and my student loans came due a couple of months ago. I have nearly paid off my credit card debt! I feel pretty good about my financial standing right now (even though I am still very much in debt).

Next year will be a little different. Mainly, I have not been feeling very good about myself. There are numerous reasons for this, and I will not go into all the details. Part of it is my physical appearance, but a good portion of it actually my self-esteem and self-confidence. I had a short period of a few days before my birthday where I felt very consumed by self-doubt and inadequacy. And then I did some research. And I created a plan. I want to include some of these things only because I think it might benefit other people.

I searched for and read articles about things like body image and self-esteem issues. After gathering enough information to feel like I had a grasp on what was going on, I wrote things down.

First of all, I realize that there are some things about me and my appearance that I cannot change. And I need to come to terms with that. Some days are better than others. So I wrote down some of the things that I CAN change. Mainly, that I wanted to have regular exercise. I plan to get some sort of gym membership and start running again and working out. Despite what people may think, I am not concerned about my weight nor will I ever have an eating disorder (because I love food!). I know it will help with toning and strength. Plus, a healthy body is a happy body!

Then I wrote down good things about myself and my body. Overall, I am healthy. There are many things that my body does and can do for me, et cetera. In almost every article I read, they made this suggestion so that you realize that your body is important and it does do so many good things. Plus, I am proud of my education and my self respect and sensitivity. I wrote that I am lucky because I have tons of loving and supportive people around me. And that makes me feel good. I also wrote down things I liked about my appearance. It is good to keep in mind that not everything is "bad" (I use that term loosely, because nothing should be bad).

Then I wrote down what I can and will address and how. I also wrote down the things I need to come to terms with.

Lastly, I did a section about why a good self-image and self-esteem is important to me. I hope that this will help keep me on the right track.

I made sure to leave space to write more, because as I go through these processes, I hope to fill out more things that I like about myself and my image.

There is a bigger picture here, but this seems to be the root of my problems, and I feel like this is where I need to start in order to make things good for me (and the people around me). I know that is vague, but my over all problems are very complicated, deeply layered, and personal. And I'm not sure I'm quite up to sharing. The point is, there are things I can do to change my attitude, and that is my goal. I hope that others with similar issues may find help in this post. I will say, just doing the research and writing everything out and making a plan helps me feel better because I feel like I am actually in control. Small steps!

Aside from this, I want to read more. My goal will be 40 books. I want to craft more and blog more. I will continue to look for a career in my field. I will spend time with the people I love. I will continue to better my financial situation.

Good luck to everyone in the new year and good luck setting and completing goals of your own!

I hope all of you have a very happy New Year!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas!

It seems like we had a strange Christmas season this year. It didn't feel very festive, even for me, up until last night. The snow and spending time with family and friends helped.

It was a nice Christmas for me and mine. I hope everyone else had an enjoyable holiday!

Last weekend, some of my family and their friends had a Hanukkah party. It was really nice to see everyone and eat delicious latkes! Mine never turn out that good... I can't figure out the secret!

But here are pictures of Raina at the party:
Here she is looking at my Auntie Francie
Raina smiling and laughing at Auntie Kema!

And on Christmas eve, we had a little family dinner at my mom's house. Again, here are some Raina-centered pictures because she tried baby food for the first time:

First taste!
Thinking the sweet potatoes might be alright! She liked them.
All tuckered out.
We got to spend time with Isaac's family, too, which is always nice. We had a brief get together with my brother, his (now!) fiance, and Raina and I had Christmas dinner with an old friend and her family.

I hope that I will get to see my sister this weekend and there is a great gathering of friends for our little Christmas! Still so much to do and enjoy! I am one lucky girl.

Birthday Lights

My birthday was quite nice this year. I thought I would have to work, but I ended up having it off. I had breakfast with my mom and then we went shopping. I had a late lunch and coffee with Liz. Then Isaac and I went to our Indian restaurant together for dinner.

A couple of days after my birthday, my bosses got me a (delicious) birthday cake:

The next day, I got to have a little dinner with a couple of friends, which was nice. And a couple of days later, some of my friends and I got together, had hot chocolate, and drove around to look at awesome Christmas lights.

It was fun and laid back. And thanks again to Krissy for driving!

Here are some of the lights we saw:

And here is one that we stumbled upon that had their lights synced to music that you accessed via radio. I could only upload a shortened clip, but you get the idea!

It was loads of fun! Thanks guys!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

More Holiday Festivities

Saturday night, Isaac and I went to the holiday party for my workplace. It was held up in Black Hawk at the Ameristar. I hadn't been there before. It was a casino, so lots of flashing lights and noise. But it was clean and nice. The crew does this every year and eats at the buffet and it's very casual and laid back.

It was fun. I got to meet more family members of my coworkers. And I wasn't sure what to expect food-wise, but the food was very good! And there was a decent vegetarian selection. Dessert was awesome (can you go wrong with a chocolate fountain?? No. The answer is "no").

We all ate until it hurt and talked and laughed. It was very nice. Some of the gang stayed to gamble and others left. Isaac and I each tried a slot machine for a bit, but we didn't stay long. I just had to try the slot machine with bears on it.

Sunday, my friend Liz had a cookie decorating party, so we went to that. It was quite a group of fun people so we ended up with some funny cookies! Here are some of them:
My rather plain-looking cookies.
Graham made a candy cane into a Christmas snake. And that's a zombie under it.
Liz's pretty and fun cookies. I like the snowflake and the Abominable Snowman!
Peter's snowflake-turned-monster cookie.
Wren "decorating" cookies.

That's all for now! We still have more December events coming up!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

A Birthday Post

Today I am 27 years old!

One of my coworkers knows of some website where you can put in your day of birth and it gives you interesting and silly information. I told him I was born on this day in 1987. ("I have socks older than you!" he told me as he punched in my birthday). Here is some of the stuff it told me.

I was born on a Tuesday (true).

I was born in the Egyptian month of Menchir. My Hebrew birthday is 25 Kislev (because I was born after sundown). According to the Mayan calendar, my birthday is 12 baktun 18 katun 14 tun 11 uinak 0 kin. On the Islamic calendar, or Hijra, my birthday is Tuesday, 23 Rabi'u'th-Thani 1408.

Several celebrities share my birthday, but I didn't recognize anyone on the list. My favorite to say is Friedensreich Hundertwasser.

There were several "top songs" that year, including "Livin' on a Prayer" by Bon Jovi.

It also informed me that the 27 candles on my cake produce 27 BTUs or 6,804 calories of heat which I could use to boil 3.09 ounces of water.

The day I was born, the moon phase was waning crescent.

Pretty cool and random. I am not entirely sure how valid it is, but it was fun. The thing spit out nearly three full pages of random information about my day, month, and year of birth.

Here is the site if anyone is curious: Birthday Calculator.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Pet Rats

We all know how much I love(d) my little ratties. I still think about them quite often. Sometimes I get overwhelmingly sad that they are gone, but I also have plenty of good memories.
Babies in a hammock!
Big ratties in a hammock!
I decided that I do want more rats. I think I am starting to get to a point where I will want more soon. I knew I wasn't ready for a long time because every time I thought about getting rats, I couldn't picture having any others but my Romulus and Remus.

I follow several people on both Instagram and Tumblr who are rat owners and lovers. It is so fun to see the pictures and I can't help but think that there are so many other sweet, cool, and cute rats out there that I haven't met yet. That sounds silly, but it has helped me move on from needing to "replace" my rats and to a place where I would like to form new bonds and relationships with other rats.

Do I sound like the crazy rat lady or what?
Big old rats on top of their house.
Baby rats on top of the same house. So tiny!
The point is, I really love rats. I think they are so fun and cute. I like to follow people who have pet rats and see what happens and what things they do together. And I know from experience how much fun rats can be. And I think, sometime in the near-ish future, there will be rats here again. I have started stalking the page of the breeder that I got my boys from, and will probably apply for adoption in a couple of months. I will keep you posted.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Holiday Party Number One

On Saturday evening, Isaac and I went to the first holiday party of the season. The theme was Great Gatsby or Roaring 20s. I decided that the usual fashion for women was not very flattering to my figure, so I decided to coordinate my outfit with Isaac's. We were that gross couple. Here are some photos we had taken at a photo booth:

Our colors were blue and grey, but I had to add some sparkle to mine, of course.

We did get quite a few compliments. And I was one of the very few women in slacks and one of an even smaller number in flats, so I was quite comfortable. Which is extra good because we took the light rail downtown and had to walk from the stop to and from the hotel.

For my hair and makeup (both of which you can hardly see in the pictures...), I wanted to share the tutorials I used.

For hair, I wanted something easy that I could wear a hat on top of. I actually did make a headband that matches my hat, which, again, you cannot see. It turned out really easy and nice though! Easiest 1920s Inspired Hairstyle Tutorial.

I am pretty clueless when it comes to makeup, so I found this tutorial which was great. I do not have an extensive makeup collection, but I was able to work with what I had. Again, you can't see my makeup in the pictures, but I was very proud of my smoky eyeshadow and cupid's bow lips. Historically Accurate: 1920s Makeup Tutorial. And her stuff is great because it comes with a brief history lesson.

It was a very fun night with awesome people, fun shows, and more. I like getting dressed up and having cocktails (the special was St. Germaine in champagne, which I love). I felt very fancy and Isaac and I both had a good time.

Next week is my work party, which will be much more casual.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Why I Love December

December is my month. Yes, my month. Despite the nasty, cold, snowy weather, I am happy in December.

Even working at Starbucks was awesome at this time of the year. The holidays were my favorite time to work in coffee shops.

Several of my friends have birthdays in December (Happy Birthday, all!) which means hangouts, gatherings, and general fun. Hanukkah is (usually) in December, as is Christmas. That means Christmas and Hanukkah parties. Isaac and I get to go to two Christmas parties, one for each of our work places, and I am already excited. Dressing up, going out, and having dinner! We don't get to do that very often. And we already have disgustingly coordinated outfits planned for his work party.

We were invited to the annual Hanukkah party that my dad's side of the family and their friends have. Get to hang out with family and friends and eat latkes. And who doesn't like that?

Once December is here, I allow myself to listen to Christmas music, watch Christmas movies, read Christmas and Hanukkah books, and enjoy the lights. Lit menorahs and Christmas lights make me smile.

Plus, it is my birthday. And I love my birthday! That often turns into a week-long celebration.

I suppose it boils down to December being FULL of fun events which allow me to spend a ton of time having fun with my friends and family. And that is pretty exciting.

Monday, November 10, 2014

David Bowie's Nothing Has Changed

For those of you who do not know, David Bowie released new songs and a new compilation album is due out soon.

The new songs he released are called "Sue (Or in a Season of Crime)," which I was not able to find anywhere to listen to it--but it will be released officially later this month. The other is called "'Tis a Pity She's a Whore." Admittedly, I did not think much of the title. And I hoped DB would not disappoint me.

I did listen to it a couple of times, as you can do here: 'Tis a Pity She's a Whore. I do not care for the lyrics, though I thought the music was well enough. I did a little more research because it is supposed to be an artistic reflection centered around WWI. According to the David Bowie (Official) Facebook page, Bowie said of this song: “If Vorticists wrote Rock Music it might have sounded like this." I would imagine he is right.

Apparently, there was a play by the same title written by John Ford in the 1600s. The play centers around a complex incestuous relationship. I know little more than that except that it was controversial at the time and pushed aside for centuries.

Otherwise, I think DB is trying to reflect in his new album, Nothing Has Changed, not only his music, but some sort of historical context? I don't know, I haven't come to any good conclusions. It may be easier to see a point when the album arrives. I know there will be "unreleased" songs on there, which were actually on the album Toy. This article: David Bowie box set to feature new and unreleased music talks about the different tracks that will be on the album.
Image from David Bowie (Official)
I feel hesitant because the new song feels rough to my sensibilities. However, it took The Next Day a while to grow on me, but it did just that (minus a couple of songs that I find difficult to listen to. Namely "How Does the Grass Grow," which I find disturbing and "Boss of Me," which I simply don't like.) Turns out that, despite the dark nature of the song "The Next Day," I actually grew to love it. And I always liked "Where Are We Now?" Anyway, I have hopes that the new songs will grow on me and mean more to me later. DB has hidden depths in a lot of his music that manages to speak to me, even through weird/questionable lyrics. That is part of why I am a fan: his music (usually) means something. Here's hoping.

"First they give you everything that you want
Then they take back everything that you have
They live upon their feet and they die upon their knees
They can work with Satan while they dress like the saints
They know God exists for the devil told them so
They scream my name aloud down into the well below."

~"The Next Day" by David Bowie. This is the part that finally made me like the song.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Rattie Remembrance

I went to the Facebook page for Mesa Veterinary Hospital here: Mesa Facebook Page and dug up a few treasures.
Remus after his surgery in his collar. Which he hated.
He was a big boy!
Aww, look at this big cutie!

Yep, vet pictures. Gotta love it. My vet sent me a card following Remus's death (actually, following the deaths of all of my critters) and both of his vets wrote nice messages and they included a picture of the gal holding Remus in his collar. Which was so sweet and made me cry all over again.

I miss my ratties. Life is sad without them. I still look over to where their cage was. I catch myself walking towards their table before I remember that there isn't anything there. I don't have to save noodles and snacks anymore. It's just sad and a big adjustment for me. I am so used to worrying about them or thinking about them that it is hard to break that habit. I would give just about anything to have those things back.

I love and miss my rats. I just hope that they are together again and happy.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Halloween Book Review Twitter Style

My friend Charlotte (here is her blog: Small and Trivial), sometimes does book reviews in Twitter fashion. That is, she writes a review in 140 characters (or so). I like that idea and decided to steal it and use it for my Halloween reads!

 In the Stone Circle by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel

An old favorite ghost story about a young girl, her family, and the ghost haunting their rented house in Wales. Cristyn and her new friends try to unravel the story of the restless spirit.

An old favorite, but targeted at a much younger audience. Four stars.

Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan

A surprisingly Halloween-y story filled with monsters, zombies, ghosts, werewolves, poltergeists, and spirit possessions. Audio read. The last installment of Heroes of Olympus. Loved it.

Again, younger target audience, but I love these books. Five stars.

Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman

Creepy and unnerving by turns. The story of two sisters in a long line of witch-y women dealing with life, love, death, family, and restless spirits. Occasionally disturbing and scary for me, but overall a good read.

I put this book down for two years, but did return to it. Three stars.

Plum Spooky by Janet Evanovich

Our favorite bounty hunter, Stephanie Plum, teams up with mysterious Diesel to track down vaguely supernatural criminals. Very entertaining and fun. I laughed out loud a few times.

First Between the Numbers book I have read. Four stars.

In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters

Historical fiction surrounding WWI. Mary Shelley's sweetheart dies, but his ghost returns to her for help. During the commotion, the war is ongoing and the Spanish Flu moves in rapidly. A fast read.

Startling and spooky, but good. Four stars.

Sabriel by Garth Nix

A re-read via audiobook as read by Tim Curry, which makes it pretty great. Creepy and occasionally gross story concerning my least favorite Halloween residents: zombies. Sabriel must defeat the greatest enemy any Abhorsen has faced.

Beautifully written and I am in love with the bells. Five stars.

The Ghost and Mrs. Muir by Josephine Leslie AKA R. A. Dick

A re-read of an old favorite. Not spooky or creepy, but it is a ghost story of sorts. Heart-warming, old fashioned, and beautiful. I didn't quite finish it by Halloween, but that's OK.

This book is close to my heart. Five stars.

Anyone else read any good Halloween-y books? I think next year I will go for classics like Dracula and Frankenstein. Sadly, I have never read these. They will be perfect for next year. I already have something to look forward to.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Pumpkin Carving Part Two

Isaac and I were invited to another pumpkin carving party with a bunch of our friends. We had food and wine and we put on Halloween movies and carved pumpkins!

One of the movies we watched was Sleepy Hollow, an old favorite of mine. This led to tons of head puns, which was exceedingly entertaining! There may have been a little competition going on. Some were very clever, some were kind of lame, but had to be said, and a few were just terrible. "Looks like he will never get a-head in life." "Don't let it go to your head." "He was head-ed in a bad direction."

Isaac and I shared a pumpkin again. We wanted to stay with our magical places theme (we did a Hogwarts pumpkin a couple weeks ago). So we carved this:
Here are all of our pumpkins lit up:
Fun pumpkins!

It doesn't quite look like Mordor, but that's OK.
We love pumpkin carving around here.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

A Story of Zombies

Despite my love of Halloween, I can't stand zombies. The blood and gore is disgusting and sometimes zombies scare me and give me nightmares.

I have never seen a zombie movie or show, though I have caught glimpses. I see people dressed up as zombies and many people are very into zombies and it always makes me feel faintly nauseous.

The only zombie stories I read were the Sabriel books, which are horrifying, but also beautifully written (I actually am in love with the Abhorsen necromancer bells... That's probably the main reason I read them). The first time I read Sabriel, I really struggled with some of the dead monsters though.

One book, "The Tower of Ravens" by Kate Forsyth, deals with a necromantic lord who is so obsessed with returning his family to life that he captures children from the villages, kills them, and brings them back to a semblance of life. The zombie children are not even evil or our for blood/brains, but return to their villages at night to cry for their parents.

Besides making me cry, this book also gave me such horrible zombie dreams that I put it down for over a year before going back to finish it. Sadly, that is a normal relationship for me and this series. I started the second book in that series two years ago and got to page 35 before I stopped because it made me anxious. She's a great writer and I love her first series--one day I will finish this one!

Anyway, I have a rough time with zombies. And then a friend from Starbucks invited me to a skating party (she was a derby girl, so she goes to these events). I had been wanting to go for ages and never could because I worked so early, so I jumped at the chance. Except that the theme was zombie night. Ugh.

I am not one for passing up an opportunity to dress up, however, so I did some research and went to a thrift store.

I came out with leggings, a slightly stained and used-to-be-nice tunic top and faded-looking jean jacket.

When I got home, I cut holes in all my clothes and tore the hems of the shirt:
Leggings, holes not included (like my fuzzy slippers?)
The top was a sort of jersey cotton type material that was easy to tear. I didn't need scissors for this. I did cut holes in the top as well.
The top came with a tie which I promptly cut like so before tying it on.
I actually dusted my shelves with the shirt, too. It helped make it look dirty and helped my shelves at the same time!

The jean jacket already looked faded, but I took a razor blade to the edges to try and make it look more ragged:
The jean material was a little tougher to work with. And it will be a cute jacket just to wear on its own.
I did my hair up in an approximation of a nice hair style that got messed up while in the grave. 

I didn't have any good makeup for a zombie, so I did what I could, but Ashley made me up like a true zombie! She's very artistic and she did an AWESOME job (though it kind of grossed me out, too). I hope this picture does her work justice:
It doesn't do her work justice... She did that nasty, vein-y bruise on my neck and made my eyes look gross.
So there you have it: zombie Samara. On the plus side, I now have a zombie costume in case I ever need one again...

I threw all of this together in a couple of hours. I would recommend more time, but zombies are pretty easy.

And the skating party was super fun! I had my roller blades, and my friends had or rented roller skates. And we just skate around! It was lots of fun!

Monday, October 27, 2014

And Then There Were None

Today my little Remus died. It was very sudden and unexpected. He had been doing really well and acting normally. His appetite was still good and he was still lively and playful. I am not sure if it was a seizure, heart attack, stroke, or what, but it was fast and a little scary. But it was over quickly.
I took this picture of him today, shortly before his episode. I was telling him that he was going to be my witch's familiar for Halloween. He looked unimpressed.

The attack or whatever happened very quickly, but I called the vet to tell them we were coming in because he was having trouble breathing right after. He had stopped breathing by the time my shoes were on, but I ran him to the vet anyway. There was nothing they could do. I was able to say goodbye to him and he will be sent to be cremated.
Such an unhappy, wet rat. But cute.
It's so sad that such great little creatures live so short a time. Despite that, I love little animals and I hope that I will be able to have more rats again one day. It's hard not to fall in love and become a rat person.
Sometimes Remus just wanted to be with me.

I think I will miss talking to Remus the most, followed shortly by cuddling with him (though he was not always much of a cuddler), and sharing my food. Who will I share my food with now? I always give him a little tortilla in the mornings and a little bread when I make sandwiches. I always share my fruit and veggies with him and I loved it when he climbed all over me to try to get to my food.

It was so surprising that I think it will take a while to sink in. Everything was sudden and fast. I am so sad and heartbroken. The first thing I said when he was fading was, "I'm not ready." But I guess that's silly--who is ready to lose someone? I just thought I had more time with him.
I hope my boys are reunited, at least.
What I wouldn't give to share my food with him again. I miss my rats so much. Love you, little Remus.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Pumpkin Carving

"I wouldn't change places
With anyone tonight
We'll carve pumpkin faces
And watch the witches flight"
~"Anything Can Happen on Halloween" by Tim Curry

We had some lovely family members (Liz and Peter--I'm talking about you) invite Isaac and I over to carve pumpkins. They went to a local pumpkin patch and got several (mostly very large) pumpkins. We went over and had pumpkin pie and warm cider, both appropriate choices.
We had lots of fun fighting through the thick walls of our pumpkins and looking at carving ideas online. Some people do amazing things with pumpkins!

Anyway, we had a fun, laid-back evening. Liz and Peter carved cute faces into their pumpkins.
Liz working on her pumpkin face.

Peter's pumpkin

Isaac and I shared a pumpkin and eventually decided to do a silhouette of the Hogwarts castle on ours. Because we are nerds.

Then we had to light them, of course.
Don't they look good?!

Anyone else have fun carvings this year?