28 August 2011

Four Year Cycle

I should be sleeping.  It's 3am, I work at 1 tomorrow (today), and I'm tired.  But there's a lot on my mind...

First of all-- how are you?  I know I've neglected you, my readers and strangers passing by, and I apologize.  There's plenty going on in all our lives so the excuse that "I'm busy" is insulting to all you parents, career peeps, students, full time job-bers (it's late-- expect non-words)... I've just been away. Soul searching and ignoring social media.

The BIG MOVE is 3 weeks away.  Holy shit.  There's so much to do. Sign a lease, fix the couches, set the move date, rummage sale our crap (yes I just turned "rummage sale" into a verb), make a few last minute preparation purchases (new glasses-- yay!), PACK, say goodbye... I think I'll save the "Goodbye Blog" for another night when I'm awake in the wee hours of the morning.

Life is good though.  New friends, a great part time job, the tragic loss of my engagement ring turning into a blessing.  God is moving through my life, these plans, my spirit... in every way possible.  Our marriage is getting stronger by the day.  We talk about everything anyway, but lately Michael and I have talked daily about our troubles and joys and hopes and dreams and plans.  Word of advice: ALWAYS be open about finances with your significant other: it will cement your relationship (and save it too if it needs saving).  I grow stronger by the day.  God has opened my eyes so I can finally see my potential and know that as long as I trust in Him... I'm golden.  :)

Tonight on one of our long walks around the apartment complex, I realized God has taught me life lessons in four year increments.  What the heck am I talking about?  As per my usual analyzation of the Past-- we can learn so much from it if we pay attention and are open-- I determined the last 12 years have culminated to bring me to this moment... this point in my life where I'm finally ready to face the hardship of Hollywood.  Finally ready to realize the potential I've been blessed with, grab it by the balls, and hold on for dear life (you enjoy that image).

First came high school.  Those 4 years were all about AMBITION.  Using that brain God gave me to climb to the top of my class.  Yuppers, I was valedictorian of JHS... along with 10 other people mind you (my high school didn't have weighted grades).  Of course I had to defend myself because I took art and music classes which are normally worth less in a weighted system.  Some students felt those of us valedictorians in choir, creative writing, and drawing classes didn't work as hard as the ones who took all AP classes (I only took 1: AP English.  I would've taken AP Calc if it'd fit in my schedule, as well as done Spanish all 4 years if the schedules hadn't been messed up.  Yes, NERD would be the appropriate term for me at this time... okay... always).  Well, choir took tons of extra hours, the guts to perform, and the skill of reading music.  And drawing?  Anyone who'd seen my work knew I wasn't turning in stick figures.  Anyway, I digress.  The pursuit of straight A's taught me the value of learning, hard work, patience, and going the extra mile.  I worked my ass to the bone studying for tests, perfecting projects, memorizing music for concerts. Plus I was active in my church's music program and taught a children's chime choir once a week.  I didn't sit on my hands every day.

College was different.  I met a wider circle of people and began dieting/ working out.  The weight came off and God showed me that yes, I was damn good looking (sexy beast is more like it).  I never believed it before.  Then I met great girlfriends that explained makeup and hair techniques, as well as how to develop my own style (aided by "What Not To Wear" as well-- Stacy and Clinton are life savers).  I progressed from awkward teen to confident young lady. I learned weight can be lost, exercise helps with depression, and there are more important things than grades: friends (seems obvious but I was anti-social).  That's when I discovered what it means to appreciate my physical self.

And now my first 4 years of marriage-- this was the transition from young lady to woman.  When I took on the grown-up (HA!) responsibilities of managing finances, becoming semi-domestic, balancing relationships, and fully understanding what sharing my life with another person truly means I became moved into the next phase of my life.  It's been through God's eyes and Michael's that I now see myself with LOVE.  In turn I have developed a deep-seeded confidence in myself that transitions to how I see life.  Appearance and Ambition are all well and good, but they're nothing without total belief in oneself.  Now I am a triple threat; yes I'm still heavy but I look great in spite of it. No I haven't taken advantage of past opportunities but that stops now.  I love myself inside and out, and now it's time to work my ass off at a thriving career in Hollywood.  I'm ready to work, to create, to network, to be a LEADER. Film is what I'm meant to pursue no matter how hard everyone says it will be.  That's fine-- I like a challenge.

It's 3:43am. "Maps" is playing. Nice.

16 August 2011

Current Favorites: August 2011

Though this is a bit over due, I still have 2 weeks of August left for you to indulge in a few of my favorite things.  I must warn you this is a far more girly edition than I've done so far but I've been feeling rather feminine lately.

Sephora by OPI "Arm Candy" nail polish.  It's a sexy shade of pink with a bit of vamp thrown in for good measure.

Turquoise plaid button down.  It's a rugged feminine look perfect for fall... and moving out west.
Sephora Moonshadow Baked Palette (the great... or maybe terrible thing about working at a mall is that I'm right down the lane from Sephora).  These have a lovely shimmer to them when applied dry, but when applied with a wet brush (just found out I could do this!) they're rich and metallic.  I've been experimenting thanks to my friend Lori and having a great time with tons of new "looks."

As part of the move to California, I decided to trade-in my laptop for an iPad 2 then my husband and I will share his iMac.  No, a tablet isn't a substitute for a computer, but financially and mobility wise this made more sense. And I love it.

"Jane Eyre" starring Michael Fassbender and Mia Wasikowska. This was just released on video today and if you love these types of films (and books) as much as I do, just buy it! It's the perfect mix of tragedy and romance highlighted with fantastic British performers.

"Raindrops" by Basement Jaxx. I heard this song on the last performance episode of SYTYCD-- Tadd and Sasha danced a pretty poor Cha Cha to it.  The routine stunk but this song is such fun to  have blaring through your car's stereo.
And did you watch the Season 8 finale? AMAZING!!!

07 August 2011

White Chicken Chili

This week, though in the midst of the August heat even in Wisco, my husband requested comfort food (aka Fall Food that's great when there's a chill in the air).  He especially loves anything made in the crockpot because it's less work for me and 90 percent hands off-- not to mention our apartment smells FAB all day (usually). So I turned the A/C down to 66 degrees and pulled out my recipe for White Chicken Chili.  It's tested and approved from my mother-in-law (a mad cooking genius) that I adapted to make even easier (because I too wish to be a mad cooking genius).

I'm telling you-- it's delish.  Try it, even if you don't like beans (you need your fiber, people!), but the best part about this chili is that it's flexible, forgiving, and affordable-- and it makes a bunch!

White Chicken Chili: Crockpot Style

4 chicken breasts
3-4 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp cumin
1 med to lg yellow onion, chopped
2 - 14oz cans Northern beans (undrained)
2 - 14oz cans Navy beans (undrained)
Juice of 1 lime
1 - 4oz can diced green chiles
1 packet white chicken chili seasoning
1 Tbsp lemon pepper (or Pampered Chef's Citrus and Basil rub)
3-4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1/4 to 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped (optional)
1-2 avocados for garnish (optional)
Shredded cheese-- I recommend finely shredded cheddar or cheddar jack

Combine all ingredients-- except cilantro, avocado, and cheese-- placing the chicken breasts on the bottom. Cook on High for 4 hours OR Low for 8 hours.

Once the chili is done cooking, remove the chicken breasts and shred using 2 forks (mine was so tender I used a fork and a spoon).  Dump back in and add the cilantro-- mix and serve into individual bowls.  Garnish with cheese and avocados.  Enjoy!

Yes, the chicken breasts go in raw, though you can par boil them for 10 minutes before and shred if you're afraid you'll kill your company.

The recipe normally calls for 2-3 cups of broth but in the past has ended up too thick for my taste.  This time around I didn't measure and had an almost full box of veggie broth going old in the fridge so I dumped in the whole darn thing. I think it was almost 4 cups... Like I said, this is a forgiving recipe so feel free to add more less liquid depending on your own preference.  That's how it became "Choup."

If you don't have lemon pepper, add about a tsp of lemon juice, pepper, and salt individually-- that should do the trick!

The liquid in canned beans is a great thickener for soups, stews, and chili.

Fresh cilantro is easy to find in the produce sections (make sure you don't grab parsley) at most, if not all, grocery stores.  Although you can buy a smaller amount in those plastic fresh herb containers in the herb section near the lettuce, buy the BUNCH instead.  It's a better deal.  "What else can I use cilantro for?" you might wonder... Well as you may have known from past entries, I'm a cilantro fanatic so my answer is EVERYTHING. Salads, guac, Asian, Mexican, Southwestern cooking, toss it into other soups for more flavor.
The best way I've found for storing it? Remove the tie and place the bunch in a small cup filled with cold water.  Set in your fridge and pull out when needed.  I can get about 2 weeks out of it which is pretty amazing considering how near death most commercial grocery store produce usually is.