17 October 2011

Stretched Too Thin

is how I am feeling recently. Needless to say I've been quite absent in the blogging world, but not for lack of trying. I simply have absolutely no time. I'm at school monday-thursday, I work thursday nights and all day friday and saturday. Typically I have sundays off and I use that time to do all my homework, clean the house, etc.

But that's not all. I recently agreed to help out one of my coworkers with an independent film project. He's a dj and was asked to do the music and sound effects recording in order to get the film ready for upcoming festivals. Since I'm a media arts major and have a bit of experience with sound effects recording he asked if I would help him out. It's been fun work, but it's also been long, tedious, and complicated. I spent all of saturday night after work doing it, and then much of sunday and sunday night, and today I'm going to have to spend several more hours working on it. It's not for nothing, though, I will be getting IMDB credit as well as a small portion of sales if the movie is picked up.

And then there are the trips to prescott. These are frequent, though not as frequent as I'd like since they're my only chance to see my boyfriend, my parents, and many of my closest friends. They're always fun but they always mean cramming with homework as soon as I get back and spending a minimum of 6 hours out of my weekend driving.

Lastly theres the whole trying to be social and act like a college student thing. With my minimal free time, I pretty much try to fill every second with something enjoyable or relaxing, such as zoning out in my bed watching silly tv shows or hanging out with stewart or going to parties and activities and such. Unfortunately, when I do have time to do these things I get bogged down thinking of all the stuff I'm going to have to do later, so it's not nearly as enjoyable as it should be.

I hardly ever have time to do things like keep my blog current or keep my house completely clean or even go grocery shopping or cook my own food. It's nuts.

I really wish things could go back to simplicity- I miss not having anyone depend on me to do things. People asking me to cover their shifts, project partners needing to meet during my few precious free hours... it's all just too much. The days fly by because I'm constantly busy but I feel like I'm always slipping behind, I can never quite catch up with all my obligations and work. I haven't responded to any emails since like the beginning of the semester, I haven't even really had time to fully read them. I want to feel like my work is done, like I can just relax, but I seriously don't have time to. Ughhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

The end of the semester can't come soon enough, and honestly neither can graduation. I really hate having to go to work and go to school. It's just not a good way to live. In my finance class, we learned that a full time student who works more than 15 hours a week significantly raises their chances of getting bad grades and is much less likely to graduate. I work 21 hours a week and I can certainly see why that might be the case. It's freaking difficult.

Anyways, vent sesh over. Just had to get that off my chest, and now you understand why this blog has been so lame recently.

If I find any free time, I will try to devote it to posting more, because I miss it so.


Fall Fix-Up: Finance

Ugh, money. it seems like there's never really enough of it. I know I hardly ever go a day without thinking about money in some way, and I know a lot of my friends have the same issues and difficulties.

I'm taking an online personal finance course this semester as one of my gen eds. Primarily we are learning about budgeting, real estate investment, buying and selling a home, and applying for mortgages. I just had my midterm yesterday and found to my surprise at 11am that I had to write 3 3-page essays by 11:59 that night. This wouldn't have been that big of an issue if I hadn't already agreed to work with one of my work-friends on a film project all day as well as do various other important assignments for today. I ended up spending the hours between 7pm and 11pm just sitting in my apartment and writing nonstop. It was not the most pleasant day off from work and school. On the bright side, however, I now feel quite well versed in the issue of personal finance management.

I'm just a kid in college so I won't act like I know what to with finance in the larger scheme of things. But there is one thing I have learned which my professor claims to be the most important rule in finance, and I will discuss that today for my fall fix-up.

The rule is that you should always keep your spending on must-haves to 50% or less.

Must-haves are all the necessary costs of living such as electricity/gas/water bills, rent, clothes, and food. In the 1970s, the typical family had one spouse working and spent on average about 54% of family income on must-haves. This left a wide margin of 46% for savings for the future and wants. Wants include things like family vacations, dinners out, the occasional morning cappuccino, etc. In 2005, the typical family had both spouses working, and yet 75% of total family income was being spent on must-haves. This left only 25% for wants and savings for things like retirement and college. This means two things: our economy has changed drastically since the 1970s, and the average American family is trying to live in a way they can't truly afford.

The main sources of must-have spending are homes and automobiles. Many people have taken out loans larger than they can realistically pay back (thanks to deregulation of banks/mortgages) in order to pay for things like new cars and large homes. They can't really afford these things, so they are constantly pinching pennies and tightening their belts just to pay the monthly bills. Whereas, if they had simply bought a home they could afford even if it is slightly smaller and perhaps a used car instead of a new one they would be much more financially free. The extra financial freedom means a better ability to save for the future- savings which can ultimately be used to buy the bigger home or nicer car when the timing is actually right.

I think it's important to create a budget and evaluate how much you are spending on must-haves and wants each month. My course teaches that ideally, you should spend 50% on must haves, 20% should go into savings, and the remaining 30% can go towards wants and any unforeseen expenditures. 

Personally, I'm fine with living in a smaller apartment and driving a used car if it means more freedom to do things like take weekend road trips and go out to dinner with my friends. I had never heard of this way of budgeting money before, and I found it very interesting.

If you're interested in learning more about this idea, check out the book All Your Worth by Elizabeth Warren and Amelia Warren Tyagi. It goes into much more detail :)

Another fall-fix up coming at you later this week!

14 October 2011

Fall Fix-Up: Nutrition

This week is going to be a double fall fix up, because I didn't have time to post last week! To be honest I haven't really had time to post ever, and it makes me sad. Between school, work, homework, trips to prescott to visit linn/friends/parents, housekeeping, and maintaining a wee bit of a social life, I've found I really have no time at all. I look forward to the day when I don't have to work AND go to school. just one or the other is fine with me. Anyways, I hope that one of these days I will not have so much work to do and have enough free time to blog regularly like my heart desires :)

Today I'm going to be talking about nutrition, and tomorrow, since I have my personal finance and family planning midterm, I will be talking about money.

Nutrition is something I care about a lot. I've been a vegetarian since I was 13 years old, although I've flipflopped quite a bit- sometimes going to one end of the spectrum and eating a vegan/raw diet, and sometimes "cheating" frequently, as I did in Greece over the summer. There are a few rules I always try to stick to though, and I'd like to share them with you.

1. Eat Food. If you've read Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food, you've heard this one before. Actually, that book has a lot of good tips and you should check it out. It's a quick read- took me an hour while lounging on the beach in mexico last winter. anyways, this isn't as simple as it seems. It rules out a lot of the things you find at the supermarket. Read the ingredients on the things you eat, and if you can't picture in your mind one of the ingredients, it's not food. If your grandmother wouldn't know what it is, it probably isn't food. This can be expanded upon by saying "eat whole food". as in, things that are one ingredient. fresh fruits and vegetables are best. The fewer ingredients listed, the better usually.

2. Don't eat until you're full. Eat until you aren't hungry anymore. In french, one says "J'ai faim", which means "I have hunger". There is no way to say "I'm full", rather, you say "Je n'ai pas faim", meaning, 'I do not have hunger". Eat with this mentality. It takes 20 minutes for the brain to process a full stomach, so if you stop eating when you're full, you're already 20 minutes too late. Something that goes along with this tip is "drink your food and chew your drink", meaning take the time to chew your food thoroughly and enjoy it, and keep your drink in your mouth long enough to fully appreciate it. Not only does this make eating more enjoyable, it slows down your pace and keeps you from scarfing everything down before your brain can process it.

3. In my experience, counting calories is the best way to lose weight. I like to think of it as science. a pound is about 3500 calories, which means if you want to lose one pound you have to burn 3500 calories more than you consume. If you figure out approximately how many calories you burn in a day just from the processes of living, you can figure out how many calories you can eat (without exercise) to maintain your current weight. Then it's just a matter of reducing that number and/or adding exercise to your daily routine. Eat like you normally do, but count your calories for a day. You will probably be amazed at how much you actually consume. This website has been very helpful to me, and a lot of restaurant websites now carry nutritional information as well. I like to keep a food diary or use the My Fitness app on my droid in order to keep track of my daily calories- it really helps to be knowledgeable about just what you're consuming each day.

4. Ignore the food pyramid. 6-11 servings of bread/grains a day? Are they kidding? when was the last time you you ate 9 slices of bread or servings of rice or pasta in one day? It was evident to me early on that this model of nutrition was not going to work for me- find something that works for you. I prefer to eat mostly fruits and vegetables, maybe 2-3 servings of grains a day, and 1-2 servings of dairy/protein. It's different for every body though and as long as you are getting the vitamins you need and are minimizing fatty, sugary, starchy foods, you should be fine.

5. "easy" doesn't mean "healthy". I'm astounded every time I look on pinterest and I see a slew of pins of "Easy weeknight meals!". They usually are some combination of chicken, cream cheese, pasta, and a crockpot. and various other dairy products. these are the kinds of meals I see as comfort food that I would make for myself while wallowing in a boatload of self pity or spending a night in with sappy movies and a snowstorm. They are not things I would ever feed my hypothetical children on a regular weeknight as a regular nutritious supper. So don't fall for quick and easy recipes that also happen to be starchy and fattening. There are plenty of almost as quick and easy recipes out these that are actually nutritious and chock full of good stuff like veggies and whole grains :)

6. If any slight part of you has ever lightly considered eating vegetarian or vegan, look into it further. I recommend the book skinny bitch, especially for younger adult women. It's a lifestyle that is so rewarding both to you and to the animals you save, and there are so many wonderful substitutes out there that you will never miss meat, dairy, eggs, etc. Of course this is not to say that you have to be a vegetarian or a vegan to be healthy. It's just one way to do it :)

7. Eat whatever you want. This is the most important tip. Yes, I count calories and try to eat vegan and look for whole, healthy foods, but if I want to eat a giant bowl of fettucini alfredo or 7 chocolate chip cookies I let myself, and I don't feel guilty. Yes, I want to be healthy so that I can look good, feel good, and live a long, healthy life, but I also want to have a good time while I'm here. Food is fun, and a lot of food that isn't very good for us is freakin' delicious. As long as you don't eat it very often, it's ok to say to hell with nutrition and let yourself eat it every once in a while. That's what life is about. The little pleasures. In general, be healthy and do what's best for your body- but don't let that stop you from enjoying life and enjoying food :)

Those are my nutrition tips for today. I will try to be back a little later in the week with a few calorie controlled recipes, and I will do my best to be here tomorrow with my fall fix up- finance post.

have a happy, healthy thursday!


04 October 2011

Summer 2011

It's October, which means several things. 1, it's my favorite month! 2, I'm going to spend the whole month cursing the tucson heat and wishing I was having awesome Fall-filled October like the rest of the world, 3, it's definitely the end of summer and a summer post is way overdue.

Summer 2011 was insane. It was filled with so many amazing once-in-a-lifetime experiences, lots of changes, lots of really difficult times, and lots of really wonderful happiness and love filled times. I swear, every year my summers just get better and better. Now let me rummage through my photos file and facebook to find evidence of all this awesomeness :)

This is how I spent the beginnind of my summer. And a large of my time at home in general, at least before I got my new puppy that makes my older, sweet, perfect puppy feel like she shouldn't spend as much time with me. Internet, puppy cuddles, comfy bed in my nice familiar bedroom :)
My best friends in Prescott are the people I worked with last summer at Mama Edda's. And now 3 or them all live together, so I get to hang out with them all in one spot all the time :) every time i'm in prescott at least. This is from one of the first times this summer I went over to their place. I wasn't planning on staying the night, but then I did. It's kind of a long story with the blanket but basically while I was in Tucson all my prescott friends had a Lord of the Rings night where they all dressed up like LOTR characters. This blanket (and by blanket i mean awesome cape) was a part of one of the costumes. I was cold/jealous/probably a little bit tipsy so we decided I should get to wear it and take pictures and be part of the LOTR group. It was a fun night.
On that same night we played with this plastic dinosaur, sticking it ambiguously into as many pictures as possible. There are probably at least 20 pictures, but I chose this one cause it shows me and one of my besties Natalie :)
 On this day, I woke up at like 11, and decided I was going to work hard all day on getting the youth retreat catering stuff done. at 11:15 I got a call from linn, the boy on the far right, asking me what I was doing. Still in my pjs and having just brushed my teeth, I lied and said I was working on my catering job. He asked if I could get away from that for a few hours and come to frog falls (a swimming hole about 20 minutes away from downtown prescott) I thought about it for a few seconds and ultimately decided that having fun and making memorable experiences would be more important in the long run than spending the whole day working. 2 hours later here I was, drinking blue moon and hanging out with lovely, wonderful friends at a super awesome swimming hole.
 And then there was greece. These are not in order, and they are not my photos. This is at Mystras, an old monastery near Sparta.
I think this is at Pleuron, Greece. With my closest girlfriends of the trip (from the left) Laurent, Jessica, and Jill.
 Jessica and I thought it would be such a fun idea to pick up the ridiculously copious amount of flower petals on the ground outside of the Benaki museum in Athens and throw them in the air. It's pretty obvious in this picture that the girls totally know what's going on and the guys are lost as to what the point of all this is.
 We had to do both a site report and a reading as assignments on our trip. This is me giving my site report on the Charioteer at Delphi, Greece. I am so knowledgeable on this statue it's not even funny.
 One day in Santorini, we climbed down the 587 steps to the dock (i also climbed up them because I was too broke to pay for a donkey or the airlift, but theres no reason you should see a photo of that. 587 steps in 100 degree heat? you try that shit.), loaded up on a boat, and went to the volcano island santorini is next to, and the to the hot springs that are heated by the warmth of the volcano. While treading water furiously and waiting to climb up the single ladder to get back on the boat, we decided to get a picture. the group of people in the back is us, and I'm the sixth from the right.
 One of the most awesome things we did on my greece trip was perform a live reading of The Bacchae at a winery in Santorini. If you haven't read The Bacchae, well you should. Read all the greek plays that remain, in fact. They are all awesome. This is a picture of me reading one of my lines.
 Going back in time. This is at Olympia, in front of one of the many olympic temples. Olympia is small, by the way. just a couple blocks and some ancient ruins. Isn't that weird?
 Santorini again, right after having lunch at a super duper fancy restaurant with an awesome view.
 Back in time even more. Right after arriving in Santorini. We rode a very rocky ferry which made many of the people immediately next to us vomit. It was, um, not incredibly enjoyable. I mostly spent the time with my eyes closed and my ipod on, trying to pretend the rest of the cabin wasn't seasick and disgusting.
 Further back in time. This is in athens, in front of the legendary olive tree that Athena gave to the city of athens in the competition for who the city would be named after.
 Back on the boat in santorini, immediately before jumping into the hot springs water.
 on the almost last day of the trip, feeling very pensive and sad while waiting for the National Museum to open.
 Just a few minutes before I got in the taxi to take me back to the athens airport. So many wonderful friends made, so many wonderful experiences had, so much deep sadness and flittering excitement at this moment.
I flew from Athens, Greece straight to San Francisco California, and then drove to Mendocino, California. The next day, I started work as the head chef for the Mendocino youth retreat which was so much fun, so much work, so exhausting, and one of the best experiences I've ever had. I loved cooking for 30 wonderful individuals and I loved letting my recipes become worthwhile and enjoyed by so many people.
 Roadtrip back to Prescott with Stewie :)
 I got my perfect, wonderful, adorable pup this summer! Clementine has started to show so much personality and spunk, especially with her wiley age of 7 months. Right now she LOVES chewing on anything she can (she's teething), goes nuts when stewie or i come home, and has gained so much confidence from her socialization- she will approach people, lick people's hands, and explore when i let her off her leash. I have to chase after her to get her to come back sometimes :) when I first got her she would only stay by my heels and hide behind my legs :)
 So, I haven't fully disclosed this on this blog. But stewart and I broke up. No worries though! We are still the very best and closest of friends, we are still roommates, and we still have so, so much fun with each other. Not too long after we broke up though I started dating this boy, Linn. He's very sweet and fun and I met him when I started working at mama edda's last summer :)
 One of the parties we had in the second half of summer was a fancy schmancy party for our friend amanda's birthday!
 Then we had another formal wear party after my friend Natalie got back from Italy. I got there at 8pm and everyone was already wasted and passed out... so me and the 3 people that weren't done for already spent the rest of the night hanging out and taking pictures :) see below.

 above two: me and my girly lauren at said party :)
 We went on a picnic at goldwater lake! I made everyone sandwiches and I even wrote their names on all the bags. Cause yeah, i'm adorable. it was so much fun. We drank a few beers, played with puppy, and had fun on the playground :)
 More picnic :)
 This summer ended, as last year's did, with the VW festival. Stewie couldn't go this year due to his cousin's wedding, but I went with linn and there were lots of other people there that we knew. It was a really great time, and I'm already counting down the days 'til next year :)

It was a great summer, 2011. Thanks for all the craziness, all the good times, all the fun, all the sadness and hurt that let me learn so many lessons. I can only hope that the rest of the year will be as awesome as this summer was :)
hope your summer was just as awesome, and hope this coming fall is even better!


Tasty Tuesdays: Mariscos Chihuahua

Every so often, I convince Stewie to skip class so that we can go out to lunch and hang out instead. I'm a pretty awesome roommate but a pretty terrible influence ;)

On these occasions we usually decide to do a sit-down lunch at one of the gazillion restaurants we haven't tried before. Once we moved to our new apartment on the SW side of Tucson (before we were NW) I scoped out all the restaurants nearest to us and looked them up on yelp. One of them got really fantastic ratings so I had been wanting to try it out for several weeks. Thanks to Stew's alarm not going off and us both being really lazy and hungry a couple weeks ago, we finally got the chance.

Mariscos Chihuahua is very unassuming from the outside. It's a little rundown, just a white and blue building with a tiny parking lot and a sign that has a drawing of a shrimp, which I first thought was a lobster. In fact, when I first saw the restaurant (before I looked it up on yelp), I pointed at it and said to stewie, "look at that weird little restaurant. Why does it have 'chihuahua' in its name but a lobster in it's sign? And it's disturbing for a restaurant to be called a tiny mexican dog, right? I would be so afraid to eat there." Obviously I am extremely white. And also I didn't know what Mariscos meant until like 3 days ago. It means seafood, by the way.
 Anyways, all these initial worries should be set aside, because this place rocks. Apparently it began as a little family run seafood stand in Nogales, Mexico, simply called "Mariscos". It was right next to a fruit stand called Fruteria Chihuahua. Eventually people started calling it the Mariscos next to the Chihuahua, and the name eventually just got stuck as Mariscos Chihuahua. The stand eventually got popular enough to become a restaurant, and when members of the family moved to Tucson and Phoenix they brought their recipes with them and the business spread. Now there are multiple locations in Phoenix, Tucson, Nogales, and Sierra Vista. The one I went to (on Grande and Speedway) though still maintained a total small-town family run feel which is something I love in a restaurant.

The inside of the restaurant totally makes up for the shabby exterior. There is a lovely beachy/oceany mural covering the walls, plants, nice tables and chairs, and cool molded ocean effects in some places.
I told stewie he should order the "dos equis and clamato thing, cause people on yelp said it's good". But I couldn't actually remember the name of the "thing" (it's a michelada), the menu didn't list the alcoholic drinks, and the waitress didn't speak much english, so stewie wound up with both a michelada and a dos equis. Which basically just meant I got to share with him. The michelada was delicious- dos equis, clamato, lime juice, salt and pepper. 
Like most mexican restaurants this place also gave us chips and really awesome salsa right away. The salsa is spicy- a good sign of a good mexican restaurant. If the salsa is every wimpy, you know the place is mainly catering to tourists/americans and isn't trying to be all that authentic. Another thing that instantly told me this place was going to be awesome was that they brought out a bowl of halved key limes with the chips, which is typical at restaurants in mexico but not all that common at mexican restaurants in america. it should be though. Lime-drenched chips and salsa are the best. Lime drenched anything is the best really. 

We ordered the Camarrones (shrimp) Culichi, which is apparently the dish that made them famous. It's also the dish that was raved about most on yelp, so yeah. It's (really, really good quality) shrimp drenched in some sort of magical green sauce served with rice and some fresh veggies. It was so, so, so good. We also ordered a plate of calamari, which was tender, lightly breaded, and served with a tangy tartar like dipping sauce. But we just dipped them in the leftover culichi sauce, cause it was that good. 
I forgot my phone so I had to take pictures with stewart's crappy non-smart phone. Like, it flips and uses T9 and doesn't even have a touch screen. O.o lol. so not only are these pictures crappy but they downright refuse to be rotated. sorry!

Yeah. sorry about those pictures. just, um, turn your head, ok?

anyways, so so delicious and I think about 30 dollars, maybe 35 after tip. And we had leftovers. So really not a bad deal at all for two people.

If you're in the southern AZ area you should scope one of these places out and give it a try, it seriously is one of my new favorite restaurants.

Have a tasty tuesday lovelies :)