Monthly Archives: January 2012

January 2012 Wrap-Up

It’s hard to believe that January 2012 is coming to a close today!  It started off as a really rough month with lots of bad news regarding the health on Nick’s side of the family, but we just got word last night that the scary health issues that the women on his side of the family are battling both got very good prognosis from doctors, so we are ending the month on a good note!

I just got word today from one of the jobs I interviewed for that they have a hiring freeze so I didn’t get an offer from them.  I’m still waiting to hear back from the other job I recently interviewed for.  It’s torture waiting to hear if they will offer it to me or not, but I’m trying to embrace the exciting part of the unknown of where my career will take me next.

I started 2012 with just a couple of “resolutions”.  The first of which was to do strength training three times a week.  I’ve done okay, not great, with that goal, doing strength training somewhere between two to three times a week.  Another goal I had been to prep meals ahead of time, on the weekends, to make cooking dinner a quicker process during the week.  This goal has been a TOTAL FAIL.  I have yet to do it, but I’m not that upset about it.

With February starting tomorrow, I thought I’d make a couple of goals for the month.  I recently read in a magazine that you should take your body weight, divide it by two and drink that number in ounces of water every day.  Rounding up to a nice, whole number, that would be 65 ounces of water every day!  I’m going to make that the first goal of February.  That’s a LOT of water, though.  I’m not much of a drinker by any definition of the word.  I don’t drink much alcohol, but I also don’t drink that much of anything else.  My typical choice beverages are water, milk, and wine, and maybe occasionally orange juice.  If I do a tough workout, I’ll probably consume 24 ounces of water in a day, otherwise, it’s usually closer to 16 ounces.  Wine is usually 5 ounces pretty much every night with dinner.  Milk is usually 16 ounces every few days.  So in liquid consumed on a good day, I’m looking at 45 ounces total.  But as you can see from my math, just under half of that is not water.  This goal is going to be a challenge for me, but I know it’s a healthy thing to do.

My second goal is to be able to do a real tricep-push up by the end of the month. Right now, I struggle to do them on my knees, girly-style.  I can do regular push ups on my feet (as long as I’m not in Bodypump class, where I’m so fatigued by the time we get to push ups, I end up doing them girly-style).  I have such weak triceps it’s embarrassing, but I can change that by the end of the month!

On another note, Nick asked me to track my student loans as part of our merging finances (the most progress we’ve made in planning to get married… sorry, it’s not more exciting than that right now).  Up until I did this yesterday, I did not like to look at the total amount I owe.  It’s way to big and it stresses me out.  Instead, I just deal with the monthly amount, and while that is large as well, it’s a heck of a lot smaller than the big total.  Plus, I’ve just pretty much been paying interest over the last four plus years, so the grand total doesn’t seem to change that much.  Anyway, to confront the ginormous number and tackle the debt, I thought I would really track it every month.  On here.  Scary!  I’m scared to face it myself, let alone let be out there on the world-wide web, but eventually that number will shrink to nothing and actually writing it out every month will hopefully make me feel better about it (unless it ends up depressing me)!  So to make it simple, there are four student loan entities that I pay.  There are more than four student loans.  Some of those entities have multiple loans, but for simplicity’s sake I will list the payoff amount of each loan entity along with the grand total and the amount paid towards each entity and total amount paid.  I hope that makes sense.  And I hope you all don’t judge me.  It’s a lot of student loan debt!  Deep breath.  Okay, so here we go:

Pay Off Amounts:
Loan Entity 1: $57,971.67
Loan Entity 2: $2,585.95
Loan Entity 3: $63,485.83
Loan Entity 4: $42,195.72
GRAND TOTAL: $166,239.17 (YIKES!!!)

January Monthly Payments:
Loan Entity 1: $328.46
Loan Entity 2: $44.41
Loan Entity 3: $902.98
Loan Entity 4: $321.59
TOTAL PAID 01/12: $1,597.44

Okay, honestly, I don’t know if that made me feel better or worse 😦   Ugh, I hate money, especially when it leaves my bank account!  On the upside, credit card debt = $0.

This has gotten way too long, but I hope to keep track of my February goals for you all and will report back at the end of next month with a (similar) getting-out-of-student-debt status!  Happy end of January everyone!


One Hot Chick

Now that Chicks Rock is linked up with the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund, Nick asked me to help him spruce up the graphics on the game.

My first task that I am working on is to work on the front page of the game.  Using the above chick that I designed, I am in the process of making her “run” from rocks that are falling out of a barn. Here is a shot of the existing front page:

And here is (still a work in progress) the new front page:
I still need to put the rocks in as well as the text and a few other graphic items, but this should give you the general idea of the new look of the front page (as long as Nick approves it, of course).  I struggled to get the chick to appear as though she is running.  What are your opinions?  Did I do okay?  Can you tell she is supposed to be running?  Input and critiques are welcome!

Once the front page is complete, then I’ll move on to the graphics for the actual game (once you hit play), which will include a side facing chick and background graphics.  And finally, I’ll do the app icon.  It’s a lot to work on so it will take a me a little while, but I’ll keep you posted?

What do you all think?  Is she one hot chick? 

Pretty In Pink

For Christmas, Nick and I got $40 in gift cards to Starbucks, which is kind of funny because we aren’t coffee drinkers and probably venture to Starbucks about once every three months or so.  We decided to make a big dent in them today by not only getting beverages, but also breakfast sandwiches (turkey bacon, cheddar cheese, and egg whites on a whole wheat English muffin to be exact).  Since all the gift cards are in my possession, I took one for the team and made the Starbucks run.  As I stood in line, I noticed the woman in front of me.  She was probably about 20 years older than me, but I became very envious of how put together she looked.  She was causal, yet comfortable, and stylish with jeans, an oatmeal colored sweater, a scarf and gold flats.  I was embarrassed and felt like a total slob standing next to her in my Nike running shorts and Michigan sweatshirt.  At that moment, I decided I should make more of an effort to put myself together better on the weekends, even if I plan on just sticking around the house.

Fast forward a few hours, I had a mini meltdown about the stresses of life.  Nick comforted me and after about ten minutes of pouting, I got over it and decided to put my new-found desire to look nicer to work.  I pulled on my unlucky blue jeans (although I said I wasn’t going to wear them until I heard back from the jobs I interviewed for, it’s Saturday, so I won’t be hearing any news from either of them today anyway), a similar, yet much older and outdated wool oatmeal colored sweater, and a camel colored scarf.  On a side note, I used to accessorize all the time with scarves but after criticism from several people here in Texas about my scarf-wearing, I stopped wearing them, until today!  I took my hair out of a pony tail and felt much better, but there was one last item I needed: A new coat of nail polish on my toes!
(Don’t look too closely!  My feet are completely calloused and have a few blisters from all the running I’ve been doing!)

This particular shade is embarrassingly old.  I got it in the 7th grade when my mom treated me to my very first (and probably only) professional manicure for my birthday.  Nothing like magenta toes to lift my spirits and make me feel like I look like a civilized person!

After wearing my nice, causal weekend wear for a few hours, I peeled it off and put the gym clothes back on but this time for the use they were intended for, not going to Starbucks, but rather, going to the gym!  After a sweaty 40 minute session on the stair master, I headed home, stopping at the mailbox to find a fun present for me!
Cute personalized recipe cards!  There wasn’t a note from a friend or anything so I’m thinking the company, In-Vita Paper Studio, sent them to me directly.  I’m not quite sure how they got my address; perhaps from a form I filled out for The Knot or The Nest, perhaps somehow through my blog (although my address isn’t listed here).  Either way, they are super cute and I was very excited to find them in my mailbox!  Thanks In-Vita!
It’ll give me a good reason to make and write down my own recipes!

Tonight is guys night- a Poker and Pampers party for our friend, Drake, who is a soon to be dad, so I’m on my own this evening.  While I won’t be using my new present tonight, I’ll be using the last of our stocked-up Groupons for De Rice Thai takeout (not nearly as good as Best Thai, but it’s still comfort food) and snuggling up on the couch with Jackson to watch Netflix shows that are otherwise banned when Nick is home (Say Yes to the Dress being the least embarrassing to admit I watch).  Nothing like some quality cheesy chick show time!

Happy Saturday night everyone!

Portfolio Overhaul

It seems as though every other yea or so I do a design portfolio overhaul, updating it with new projects and, well, just completely changing the look of it.  My latest overhaul started over the summer and I’m happy to report that I completed it this week!  Obviously, I wasn’t working on it non-stop for the past six months.  I tend to pick it up, do a big chunk, get bored and put it down for a while.  To be honest, designing a portfolio is a pain in the butt.  It’s almost as bad as writing a cover letter.  I hate rehashing projects that I’m not that pleased with, so this time around, I decided to rework some of my projects from grad school.  Most of that consisted of touching up and reworking the graphics.  I am much happier with the quality of them now and it makes me more proud of my finished portfolio.

I’ve learned the lessons over the years that while an odd shape, say 10″x10″, is really cool, it’s not efficient when it comes to printing, since 10″x 1o” is not a standard paper size.  I’ve also learned that having the color bleed to the edges is not a good idea either.  Most printers don’t bleed to the edges, which means having to go up in paper size and trim it down.  I’ve done portfolios that were too busy, which takes away from what I’m really trying to show.  I’ve done portfolios that were just flat-out a mess.  Of course I didn’t think that at the time, but looking back at these old portfolios, I think to my self, “what the heck was I thinking!?”  Here are a sampling of portfolio covers over the years.
This was my very first portfolio (cover) from 2005.  The materials in it are all over the place.  (Sorry, I’m not posting whole portfolios over the years.  It’s way to embarrassing!)  I had no clear direction of what I wanted to show, so I showed just about everything, from urban planning projects, to GIS maps, to art work from my studio art classes in undergrad.

In 2006 I made a smaller work sample document featuring some of my projects from grad school.  This was much more focused, but the layout wasn’t particularly great.

In 2007 I expanded on the work sample of 2006.  I decided to make this portfolio 10″ x 10″, a horrible decision because of the increased cost of printing.  While to cover looks fairly simple, the content is all over the place graphically speaking.  This was a “what was I thinking” portfolio.  Nothing clean and simple about it!

In 2009 I decided to go back to the 8.5″ x 11″ format, except the pages bled to the edges, which still required printing on 11″ x 17″ and trimming down.  The content was much more streamlined but there wasn’t a lot of white space to give the eyes a break.

Alas, we come to 2012.  In my mind this is the most thought-out portfolio I’ve made so far.  I’ve grouped projects based on “The City”, “The Neighborhood”, and “The Site”.  There is plenty of white space, clean lines, and efficient page structure for printing.  Perhaps in five years I will look back at this portfolio and have another “What was I thinking” moment, but for now, I think it looks pretty decent and for your viewing pleasure, you can check out my “master piece” of 2012 by clicking here!

What do you think?  Look okay?  Would you hire me after seeing this portfolio? 😉

**Update** The covers don’t read very clearly in this post, but if you click on each of them, they will pop up much larger and clearer.

La Madeleine Inspiration

Last Thursday evening I had a Delta Gamma Foundation of Dallas meeting at La Madeleine.  These meetings have a tendency to drag of forever so I made sure to order dinner.  Typically, when I know that I will be eating out, I go online and look at menus ahead of time.  Otherwise, I’ll spend way too long trying to decide what I want while the waiter or waitress is impatiently tapping on his/her note pad waiting for me to order.  Having a plan ahead of time spares everyone the agony of my decision-making process.  Last Thursday was no different.  I had a plan to order the Turkey Bistro sandwich, however once I arrived to La Madeleine, I saw all the flashy signs for new entrees.  So new, they aren’t even on the website yet!  The pictures scrolled on their electronic screen of the new dishes and my mouth began to water when I saw the new pork dish.  I wish I could remember what it was called exactly (since it’s still not online yet), but it was something like Balsamic Glazed Pork with Roasted Vegetables.  Yum!  Of course my original plan totally changed and I ordered this new pork dish.  The guy at the register even said it was amazing, so it was an easy switch.

My buzzer finally went off signaling me to get my newly anticipated Balsamic Glazed Pork.  Just as the menu described, it came with roasted vegetables and a quinoa salad.  The meeting began and I enjoyed my dinner.  Losing concentration on the topic at hand, my thoughts quickly went to, “I can totally make this at home!” and “In fact, I can build on it, adding other veggies like brussels sprouts and cauliflower.”  I spent most of the two-hour meeting thinking about recreating this yummy dinner and before I knew it, it was time to head home!

Fast forward a few days, I stocked up the refrigerator and went to town making my La Madeleine inspiration.  While I don’t have an exact recipe for you yet (I’m horrible about measuring things and it still needs a little tweaking anyway) plan on seeing one soon!  But in the meantime, here are a few snapshots of my version of Balsamic Glazed Pork with Roasted Vegetables and Quinoa Salad!
Balsamic vinegar simmering and reducing down to a nice thick glaze

The one of the biggest heads of cauliflower I’ve ever seen (and it was the smallest one at the grocery store)!  This picture doesn’t do justice as to how large this cauliflower is!  The sign at the grocery store said it’s from Texas.  As the saying goes, everything is bigger in Texas!

The finished product.

 And the all important close up shot!

I’m working on my photography skills.  As you can see, I haven’t mastered the art of making food look amazing.  It doesn’t help that you can see the paper towels, soap, and dish scrubber in the background!  Ha!  Eventually I’ll upgrade to using a real camera instead of my phone to take all these lovely pictures, but for now, you’ll have to use your imagination and know that most everything I whip up is pretty yummy despite poor picture quality!  Nick can attest to that, too.

Chicks Rock Fights Ovarian Cancer

Exciting news!  Nick is working with the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund to have ALL of the proceeds generated from the CHICKS ROCK game (via ads) donated to the foundation!  It’s a very near and dear cause for us and ovarian cancer affects thousands of women along with their loved ones.  Help us raise money by downloading the super cute game, CHICKS ROCK, onto your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch.  It’s totally free and available in the app store!

(Plus you get to hear Nick sing the intro song at the beginning of the game.  He’s got quite the voice, huh?  Along with that great voice, he’s got a great heart; one of the many reasons why I love him!)

**Update** The Ovarian Cancer Research Fund just posted a link on their website as well, talking about the partnership and why Nick decided to link up with the OVRF.  Check out the post here!

A Walk In The Park

You may remember my post about my lucky blue dress.  Well, I think I have an unlucky pair of blue jeans.
They aren’t anything particularly special.  I bought them right around New Year’s from the Gap.  I was feeling very out of date with my existing jeans selection and with all my working out lately, I finally felt comfortable about getting skinny jeans.  Well, they are actually straight leg jeans since the Gap was out of my size in the color of skinny jeans I wanted.  At any rate, they don’t flare at the bottom, something I’ve avoided for a long time because I feel like the flare balances out my seemingly thick quads.  Now that I’ve jumped on the bandwagon, I love them, however every time I’ve worn them this year, I’ve had bad luck.  A lot of bad news has come my way this month and while it might not be the fault of the jeans, I am wearing them every time bad news hits.

This weekend was a nice, sunny weekend so Nick and I decided to go to White Rock Lake for a walk.
 Thinking we weren’t going to walk more than a mile or two, I put on my new (unlucky) jeans and we headed out.   Well, after about three miles, we had to make a critical decision: keep going or turn back as we were getting close to the half-way point of four and a half miles.  At this point, I realized I should have worn my running shoes for this trek instead of my casual walking shoes, and perhaps a pair of socks, but I was feeling okay, so we decided to make the loop around the entire lake.
White Rock Lake Water Works 1

White Rock Lake Water Works 2  We made it to about the halfway point and I knew I made the wrong decision.  My feet were killing me!  But there was no turning back, cause either way we went, it was four and a half miles back to the car.
White Rock LakeNick had to listen to me complain the rest of the way around the lake.  The funny thing is, is that I wore these same shoes over the summer when we visited the flea market in Canton, TX and logged five miles that day and ran into the same experience.  You would have thought I learned my lesson, right?  After several stops, we finally made it around the lake.  I was so happy to get in the car and take my shoes off, driving barefoot all the way home.

When we got home, I walked by the mirror and saw that both of my heels were covered in blood!  I’ll spare you any pictures of the damage, but the pain equaled exactly how it looked!  (It took me about 48 hours before I could put shoes on that covered the heels of my feet, and it still hurt!)  So while the unlucky blue jeans didn’t cause the bloody blisters, had I not wore them, I wouldn’t have worn those particular shoes and I would have saved myself the pain and pints (well, not really that much) of blood lost.

Now, if you remember, last month, I posted about a few job interviews I had coming up.  Well, I should be hearing VERY soon on both of them and I’m scared to wear those damn jeans.  I don’t even want to touch them or even look at them!  No more bad luck!  I refuse to wear those jeans until I get some good luck my way!

Do you have anything that you feel brings you good or bad luck?