Oh hi there.

You are probably wondering where I went. I have been writing feverishly on my other blog over here! It has been stealing all of my attention but I promise to start writing here again soon!

Fun things that are happening this weekend:

We are doing the Color Run! It’s a 5k and they have a station set up at every kilometer where they throw a handful of powdered dye at you. So by the end you are a big ball of sweaty tie dye. Sounds pretty good to me.

It was my dad’s birthday last week so we are heading up to spend the weekend at a family friend’s cabin in Vail. Memorial Day weekend in Vail is bound to be preeetty crowded, but should be fun anyway!

In other news, can I just share with you what I am most excited about on this Friday?

It’s the little things, right?

Happy Friday and have a great holiday weekend!

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25 Before 25: Update 3

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It's SPRING!

It’s been almost 4 months since the original inception of my list, and I have to say that I have really started to regard it as more of a Bucket List than a To-Do List. I am starting to realize that the concept of getting a job AND traveling to 3 National Parks while learning Spanish and taking ballet is a little exhausting. That being said, here is the full list again, revised, commented, and generally updated. I hope you enjoy.

1. Find a full time job in the marketing or non-profit field – CHECK! WOOHOO!

2. Become a certified yoga instructor (I currently can barely touch my toes) – I have decided that becoming a yoga instructor is more of a decision you make when you are ready to take your yoga practice to that level, not something that you necessarily can make happen on a deadline. Whether or not I’ve decided this because I have done barely any yoga since I turned 24 is up for debate.

3. Fill a journal (This will require not losing said journal) – I have almost filled a legal pad with to-do lists, does that count?

4. Read 25 new books (so, re-reading the Harry Potter series 4 times doesn’t count) – Hunger Games trilogy, Born to Run… wait, is that really it?

5. Be able to do 25 pull-ups (Brandon tried to talk me down to 10 on this one, for some ludicrous reason I am convinced I can do 25 even though I’ve never even been able to come close to doing ONE) – Let’s just go ahead and delete this one…

6. Run a marathon and live to tell about it – Training! I’m on track to run a half marathon (or equivalent distance on my own for free) on June 9th, then have a half marathon I’m signed up for in August, and my marathon is in late October! This one is totally happening.

7. Spend 5 nights in the backcountry – I have a 3-night backpacking trip planned for late August, and I’m sure I can figure out a way to get 2 more nights in. I’m pretty confident this one will happen, too.

8. Learn to cook 2 authentic ethnic dishes – Still working on this one. The flan was a pretty big hit, until I remembered that I only live with one other person and eating an entire pan of not-quite-perfect flan is a big feat, so 1/3 of the flan just sat in the fridge and got sorta moldy…

9. Take one season of ballet classes – This one might have to be turned into one season of ballet OR 1 semester of Spanish (#13) OR 1 semester of web design (#14)

10. Stop eating dairy! (For the love. Once I turn 25 it will be 10 years since I found out I was lactose intolerant, but I still eat mac & cheese with the conviction of a prisoner’s last meal…) – I had goat cheese in my lunch! Victory (today).

11. Lead a trad climb – Working on this one. It isn’t climbing season yet so my excuses are plentiful and somewhat valid here.

12. Call each member of my immediate family (+grandparents) at least once a week – WHY IS THIS ONE SO HARD. That’s it, I’m calling them all. Today. Yes. I am.

13. Take 1 semester of Spanish classes, or equivalent – See #9

14. Take 1 semester of web design classes, or equivalent – See #13

15. a) Visit Glacier National Park

b) Visit Yosemite National Park

c) Visit Sand Dunes National Park  – I bet I will get to one of these, probably Sand Dunes. I would LOVE to get to Yosemite, but now I have a job where they care if you leave for weeks at a time… pish posh.

16. Ski a black and live to tell about it – Um, remember when I said “I’ve already skied one day this season” in November? That was the ONLY day I skied this season. FAIL. So let’s change this one to: Ski at least 10x NEXT season. Ok?

17. Cast an informed vote in the 2012 presidential election – I can do this one I think.

18. Sew an article of clothing that I will actually wear – My sewing machine broke while I was trying to make a purse. Sad. But I still have big plans for this goal. Like the obvious and inevitable opening of my own clothing line once I figure out what a “bobbin” does.

19. Learn to apply and wear makeup  – Why was this a goal? I think my new goal should be, Be OK with not wearing makeup in a makeup-saturated world.

20. Learn to crochet  – I’m officially changing this one to “Learn to Knit” – similar, but I think knitting is ultimately a little more versatile

21. Watch 25 new movies (This is going to be a pretty hard one, actually, because as a general rule I can’t sit through movies) – Since my last update, I’ve seen Midnight in Paris, 50/50, and watched UP a few extra times. And the HUNGER GAMES comes out this weekend, so, there’s THAT.

22. Go to 2 museums  – I went to the zoo, does that count?

23. Summit 3 14ers  – Summer. It’s happening.

24. TBD throughout the year  – Still TBD

25. Stick to this list  – HA. See #s 1-24.

Yoga Pants at Work

1. Women’s Solimar Pants from Patagonia, $79 | 2. Blanca Top from Prana, $55 | 3. Merrell Women’s Barefoot Mary Jane, $100 | 4. Larissa Jacket from Patagonia, $100

1. Molly Dress by Lole, $54 | 2. Excel Crop by Lululemon, $78 | 3. Sienna Shoe by Keen, $75 | 4. Feather Earrings, $17

{Outfit choices for going to the office without sacrificing functionality or comfort, and while still being ableto look just a little bit like a dirtbag.}

When you are a raft guide, a lift operator, a backpacking guide, or an intern at an outdoor magazine, nobody really cares what you wear. Nobody cares what you smell like or how bad your unibrow is getting, and by the end of the first week, most of your coworkers and maybe even your boss have seen you pop a squat and blow a snot rocket. When I was a raft guide, I’m not sure I ever wore deodorant. When I was a liftie, I wouldn’t wash my baselayers until I could smell myself through 2 down jackets.

When you work in an office, it turns out that these types of things don’t translate so well.

I work in a pretty casual place. My coworkers routinely show up wearing jeans, t-shirts, and running shoes. My now-boss interviewed me while wearing cargo pants, and our CEO is famous for not wearing socks with his loafers. But, does that make it OK to show up in Chacos, Carhartts, and/or a polypro?

I have been asking myself this question for the past few weeks. Our Employee Handbook clearly states that we are able to dress casually as long as it’s not inappropriately revealing – not a problem for me. But I have started to get the impression that my idea of “casual” is a little MORE casual than most people’s. This became embarassingly apparent last week when we had our whole sales team – most of whom work remotely – in town for a week-long series of meetings.

On the second day of their meetings, they were spending the day off-site, and had been instructed very clearly to dress “business casual – NO JEANS.” Knowing that with all of these people in meetings all day the office would be practically empty, I woke up, looked at the forecast (70 and sunny!) and put on yoga pants and Birkenstocks and left for work. When I showed up, my supervisor/Charlie Brown co-worker told me that I had to run down a few blocks to where they were meeting to drop off some materials they had forgotten, and so that I, a new employee, could meet everyone. This was not a big deal, except that I was wearing yoga pants and Birkenstocks heading to a meeting where everyone had been expressly instructed to look nice. Charlie Brown listened to me worry about my wardrobe for a few minutes before finally saying, “How about this. Just don’t wear yoga pants to work, it’s probably not ever a good idea.” Point taken.

Workin Girl

So remember when I used to complain all the time about being unemployed? Well, turns out being employed is everything it’s cracked up to be – meaning the 5 o’clock countdown begins every morning at 8, my lunch break is savored to the last minute, and the weekend can’t come soon enough. And while my dad and everyone else who thinks that complaining about your job on the interwebs will immediately get you fired, I don’t really see this as complaining. It’s a fact. If anyone (except maybe Jack Donaghy) had the option of going out for a hike or sitting at a desk, which one do you think they would pick?

Having the trapped-in-a-fishbowl feeling was pretty inevitable seeing as I’ve spent the last 2 years traveling, rafting, skiing, and generally being only marginally employed. And my “real” job is actually pretty interesting. I get to figure out how to make legal software – not the world’s most exciting thing – appear super interesting to law firms and lawyers – not the world’s most excitable crowd. I am working on our social media presence, which is surprisingly interesting, and I also have a hilarious Charlie Brown-esque office mate who, in a nutshell, is too busy preparing for the apocalypse to learn to play the guitar.

Oh, and this is my view. Not too shabby.

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Flan: Take 1

Right after graduating college I lived in Argentina for a few months with an amazing host family. The mom of this family was an incredible baker, and always made the best flan. In fact, flan was around just about everywhere – I even ate some really horrifying flan during a 19-hour bus ride that came in a jello cup. If you can think how bad airplane food is, imagine about how bad BUS food must be. Yeah. (Side note: Argentine food in general is incredible. So incredible, in fact, that I gained a solid 15 pounds in the 2 months that I was there. Not joking.)

This is a picture of me in a food coma on the lawn behind a brewery in Bariloche. I'm not lying, that is exactly what is going on here.

When deciding which two ethnic dishes I was going to make towards my 25 Before 25 goal, out of literally an entire world of recipes to try, flan was an obvious choice. Its appeal is subtle – you want it to be sweet but not too sweet, and the consistency is key. I have had watery flans, chewy flans, and tapioca flans, and they just did not cut it. So on Wednesday I set out to make a subtly sweet, dense but not too dense, creamy but not too creamy, flan.

I had no illusions that I would perfect this dish on the first try, but I didn’t want to come up with something inedible, so I spent hours trolling the interwebs for the best flan recipe. I thought about emailing my host mom in Argentina (which I still might do), but realized that in the 2 years since I was there, my Spanish has slowly decayed and I’m not so sure that I’m ready to send her a full Spanish email about my life. So I settled for a recipe from a website called stickygooeycreamychewy.com – sounded promising to me!

Through reading the comments I came to find out that this was traditionally known as cheese flan since it uses cream cheese, but cream cheese seemed pretty close to the consistency I wanted. The recipe was a lot easier than I thought it would be – the concept of creating my own caramel and then baking a pie dish while submerged in a casserole dish full of boiling water sounds intimidating, but it was actually pretty straightforward.

The end result was delicious. The flavor was spot-on, but in my determination to end up with a flan that was neither watery nor too jiggly I actually used more like 2 tablespoons of corn starch instead of just 1, and the texture is basically cheesecake. It’s still very delicious, but I guess I will be forced to make another one soon.

You can find the recipe that I used here. The original recipe is for Pumpkin Flan (which would also be delicious), but in the comments section she talks about how to modify it for plain flan. There are also several comments about using flavored cream cheese or different kinds of milk for all sorts of flan flavors.

Oh, and while I baked, Luna and Brandon (who has had a cold for the past month) napped on the floor in the sun. Rough life.

People of the Internet…

I GOT A JOB!! Woohoo!! Apparently complaining loudly to the entire internet universe worked, because yesterday I was offered a marketing assistant position with a software company in downtown Denver. I am ridiculously excited.

This is my WOOHOO face

Even though it’s only been about 24 hours since I accepted the job and I don’t even start for another 10 days, I already feel like a real contributing member of society with some semblance of life direction. I know I touched on this in my last post, but being unemployed really can make you feel worthless, like you just don’t fit into society. It makes you feel like there isn’t a place for you even though there seems to be a place for just about everyone else. But for now I am happy to report that I may have found, for at least a little while, my little corner in the universe where people think I’m good at stuff, and from which I feel like I can begin to move forward. And I am so grateful.

Will Work For Self-Worth

Since Craigslist is blacked out in protest of SOPA and PIPA, I’m taking a break from job hunting to rant about, well, job hunting. Every day I apply for at least 1, usually more like 5, jobs. I have applied for hundreds of jobs, had a handful of interviews, but I’m still searching. These are the lessons I’ve learned from the past 7 months of being a recent college graduate in the job market. 

Lesson #1: There is no such thing as an entry-level position. Every interview I’ve had has come down to some variation of this response: “You had a really great interview, but we decided to go with someone with more experience.” Since everyone is looking for jobs right now, people with 3, 5, or even 10 years of experience are applying for so-called entry-level jobs, which effectively boxes out anyone who is actually an entry-level candidate. This lesson has been beyond frustrating. How am I under-qualified for a job that is supposed to require almost no qualifications? And how can I get experience without being able to get a job? It’s a major Catch-22, one that currently has come to define my daily life.

Lesson #2: For every ONE open position, there are at least 100 applicants. Usually more. I have had job interviews for positions that have received 90, 250, and 400 applications. The range is huge, and intimidating. How do you find the balance between making your resume and cover letter, and if you’re lucky, your interview, stand out, without coming across as being too edgy or independent? And let’s not forget Lesson #1, which means that most of the other applicants are massively over-qualified. This brings us to…

Lesson #3: Only about 10% of companies will ever contact you regarding your application in any capacity. This includes even acknowledging that they received anything at all. Which means that 90% of those resumes and painstaking cover letters just get sent out into space, and nobody knows whether they are ever seen, let alone read, again. I have found that if you don’t respond to a job posting within the first few hours, the likelihood of getting a response decreases to almost zero. Those poor HR people can only read so many emails titled “Marketing Assistant Application.”

Lesson #4: Like finding an entry-level position, getting a job “in the meantime” is also not a real thing in this economy. I have applied at Whole Foods, Starbucks, REI, Sunflower Market, Vitamin Cottage, bookstores, coffee shops, restaurants… I even applied to be a Pedi-Cab driver in downtown Denver. None of them are hiring, either.

Lesson #5: Being unemployed is not even a little bit fun. Sure, you have tons of freedom, but you have no money, and for every job that you apply for and are subsequently rejected by, your self-worth drops. I had no idea how emotionally difficult it would be to be caught in what feels like a never-ending job search, where I am suddenly forced to recognize that I’m not actually good at anything in particular and I have very little real experience doing anything except delivering flowers and packing coolers. When you finally land an interview, you start thinking, “This is it! This is the one that’s going to work out!” Until it doesn’t, and you are left feeling stupid for getting your hopes up (again). There are few feelings worse than feeling like you’re just treading water, and after months of diligent work always ending up back where you started, but with less energy or self-esteem. 

25 Before 25: Update 2

Well, it’s halfway through January which means I am only 10 months and 11 days away from my 25th birthday! Let’s see what I’ve accomplished.

Haven’t found a job. I’ve had a few promising interviews that did not work out in the end, and really I am starting to get pretty discouraged. Kind of feeling like it’s about time I caught a break. Over Christmas my older brother said, “Well why don’t you just get a job at Whole Foods or Starbucks until you find a real job.” To which I replied, “I would LOVE a job at Whole Foods! I’ve applied to TEN jobs at Whole Foods!” Yeah, people, it’s a really tough market out there. And even though I’m pretty ready to become a contributing member of society, I guess society just isn’t quite ready for me yet.

I have read 3 new books – The Hunger Games series. So good. I was a little discouraged by the ending but overall the series was amazing and I can’t wait for the movie! Next up on my reading list is Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close.

Marathon training is coming along. It’s a slow process but I’m working through it. Right now I’m running about 10-12 miles a week, plus 1 or 2 days a week of hill intervals on a treadmill. Also I realized that The Biggest Loser contestants all completed a marathon only 8 months after they started as morbidly obese, unhealthy, massively un-athletic chubsters, so I am hoping that I can at least be that athletic too.

That’s about it so far. The rest of the things on the list have yet to be accomplished. I have watched a few movies but not new ones, I am currently too broke (y’know the whole can’t-get-a-job thing) to be signing up for any classes or yoga memberships.

Brandon starts school this week and that means our basically 4-month long break from real life and 40-hour weeks in any capacity is over, which is sad. No more sleeping until noon on Tuesdays for no reason. Yep, that happened.

Weak in the Cheese

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I really love cheese. It is my favorite food category. Nachos and mac & cheese are particular weaknesses of mine, but I don’t discriminate. Cheese cubes, cheese slices, cheese pizza… The problem is that my love is unrequited. And while I don’t particularly mind being excessively gassy (TMI?) at almost all times, apparently it’s not a very socially acceptable trait to nurture.

So tonight I made DAIRY FREE QUESO. Out of puréed cauliflower, nutritional yeast, hummus, apple cider vinegar, and a few spices. And while it didn’t taste all that cheesy, per se, it really was pretty tasty overall.

And just for comparison’s sake, I rounded out my not-real-cheese-cheesy-potatoes by eating a big chunk of sharp cheddar. You know. For science.

Cauliflower Queso Recipe
(I didn’t pay a lot of attention to how much of everything I used, just keep adding pinches of things until you like what you see)
1/2 head of cauliflower, chopped into small pieces
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
1/4 cup plain hummus
Apple cider vinegar, about a cap full
Garlic powder, 2 generous pinches
Turmeric, 1 generous pinch
Salt to taste
I also added a little can of diced jalapeños, you can add salsa or whatever you like in your queso.

Boil or steam the cauliflower pieces until they are super tender. Drain and put into a food processor or blender, adding about a cup of water and the hummus. Pulse until creamy. Put the mixture into a pot on medium heat and add the rest of the ingredients, plus another 1/4 cup or so of water, stirring until everything is combined and it begins to sputter.

I ate it as a chip dip and also on some fried potatoes that I had cooked with taco seasoning. It could work for nachos too.

I honestly think getting to the point where I’m totally dairy free is going to be the hardest goal I have. Just going to have to take it one weird vegan dairy substitute recipe step at a time.

Snapshots: Christmas!

Above Left: My freakin adorable 1.5-year old niece, Raia, with her fancy new Barbie sunglasses.

Above Right: The only Christmas tree I managed to get a shot of this year.

Below Top: Christmas Breakfast, egg popovers with pork green chili. Eaten while listening to old episodes of Car Talk. NBD.

Below Bottom: Christmas Dinner, smoked pork roast. Mhmm.