Tuesday, December 28, 2010

challenge #2: living a cultured life

I have always loved books. And while I enjoy reading them, the joy of books to me lies in the actual physical objects themselves, not necessarily the stories. It is not a surprise that I have never wanted a Kindle, Nook, or iPad to enjoy these books on. While it is practical, convenient and probably the same cost, I have never liked reading on a computer or screen nearly as much as I have liked holding a book (although I did break down and put the free Kindle application on my computer and phone...just in case I'm stranded somewhere without a book).

Recently I have discovered a new section of the bookstore previously unvisited by me--the cookbook section. After a quick love affair with the Food Network began in August, I have collected 10 new cookbooks...and about 10 skill points toward the art of cooking. It is safe to say that I am one of the worst cooks in the world. Hands down. I have minor difficulty following a recipe, although can usually (with some help from my mom/roommate/fireman) make it through the recipe without any major slip-ups (such as this lovely concoction) and an edible dish.

So in an attempt to culture myself, I have decided that challenge #2 is going to experiencing the finer end of three things I hold close to my heart: books, food and alcohol.

1. Read for fun at least 20 minutes every day
Now this one seems weird, because in this blog I have mentioned books/libraries at least 10 times. But the problem with the semester is, I am forced to read so much for school, that I neglect reading for fun. I am either too tired of it, or I feel that if I have the time to read for fun I should be reading school work. This semester I think I managed to complete 5 books, which is about the number I've managed to complete this winter vacation. I used to read all the time, and I always enjoyed it. It just gets a little hectic every day when there are so many other things I need to be doing. So, in conjunction with actually getting my school work done, I am forcing myself to enjoy a 20 minute tidbit of a book every day this year. If it's more, well then more power to me (because my reading list keeps expanding), and if it's not more, then at least I will get 20 minutes a day to enjoy myself and not think about school.

2. Learn how to cook.
There is a big part of me that has denied the urge to learn to cook for years. However, sometimes I enjoy it. Or at least, I enjoy thinking about it. It's when it gets hectic and time consuming that I usually give up. I have managed to skate by on not knowing more than how to heat things up in the microwave due to the fact that as a member of a sorority I have meals provided to me twice a day and lived in the house where the most advanced appliance I was given access to was a George Foreman grill. But now I am about to depart for the unknown and I can't afford to live on Ramen for the rest of my life. I have been trying out some meals, and here are some of the most recent dishes I've prepared:

Neely's Macaroni and Cheese with Bacon and Potato Chips (a big hit)

Roasted Tomato Basil Soup from the Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

Salmon with Mustard Potato Chip Crust from the New Best Recipe

3. Learn about alcohol
Between this and the title, it may appear that I do nothing else with my life but drink. That is not even close to true, but as I approach the end of the era in which liquor from a plastic bottle is appropriate, I have become fascinated with the different varieties and nicer forms of alcohol available. My dream would be to go to Italy and watch the entire process of making wine, but I will settle for working on creating the perfect drinks. Talk about a science--it took me several tries to concoct my perfect bloody marys, which are now a huge hit with my friends. I am currently working on the perfect martini, and I hope to one day be able to create drinks easily and with a supreme knowledge of what it is I am working with.

4. Blog about it
While not mentioned previously, a huge part of my enjoyment of this process is writing about it. I have always loved writing, and while I certainly have room to refine my style, I want it to continue to be a part of my life. I intend to start keeping a journal as well, much as I have every year, although this year with the help of the Happiness Project I will aim for one sentence a day...and go from there.

Challenge #1: School

Being that this is the last semester I may ever be in school (although probably not), it is about time that I started doing it right. My first challenge for change is to become a better student. I am taking a lofty 13 credits this spring, and I intend to make As in every single one of those classes. Not only that, but I am also going to take classes I am interested in, and actually gain knowledge from the material.

My resolutions for this include:

1. Develop a study schedule.
I have several breaks during the school day that are long enough to accomplish something major. I am going to set out a schedule of work for each week and stick to it, with rewards if I do and punishments if I don't. This is the last chance I have to do this right, and if it's not then it will help me out later in my school career.

2. Go to class.
This one seems obvious, but I am terrible at attending class. Online classes normally work better for me, because I have a short attention span and get antsy sitting for too long. But, this semester I am going to attend class unless there's an extreme reason I can't. Every. Single. One.

3. Make good use of the time you have.
This means doing school work instead of napping, not instead of being social. I will not allow school to disturb my friendships or any other activities, so when I have a moment when school work is the only thing to do, then that's when I will do it.

I know that this one will be the toughest, but the happiness that will come from getting good grades and doing well in school will be the most valuable happiness I can achieve from my four years in college. Instead of just sliding by as I have been, I will apply myself and learn to balance the things I don't like with the things I do. This will be challenge #1.

Monday, December 27, 2010

new name, new year, new life

Today I decided to change the name of my blog. It has something to do with changing my outlook on life. It occurred to me that at this time next year, I will be somewhere completely different...a master's student, a working girl; in orlando, tampa, athens, san diego? Who knows? But I have one more semester of no rules. One more semester of Monday Fundays. One more semester of believing that it is appropriate to enter a bar at 11 am and leave it at 2 am.

In the self-reflecting phase that accompanies the end of any year, I began doing some minor alterations to the lifestyle I had developed in hopes of turning it toward the lifestyle I intended. Buying a new planner and perfecting it. Organizing graduate school applications. Setting realistic goals. And thinking about New Year's resolutions. Fortunately, a lovely book fell into my lap called The Happiness Project. It only took a short two pages for me to realize that this was exactly what I needed right now. For those who may be unfamiliar, The Happiness Project is a book about a woman who took a year to tweak her life in certain ways to become happier. So I decided to take her advice, and work on making myself happier in the next semester, hopefully creating a lasting attitude that can follow future Emily to her new destination.

The title came from another source of my happiness. A couple months ago, one of my sorority sisters invited me over to her house and showed us her "woozies" or wine coozies. On black Friday, I picked one out for my mom to give to me for Christmas that said "why limit happy to an hour?" Not being patient, I returned to the store 3 weeks later to find that they were not only out of this particular woozie, but they were out of all the woozies that had fun quotes on them. So I forgot about it until today, when my mom found it in her car and apologized for forgetting about it. How serendipitous for my woozie to remind me that there are 24 hours to be happy every day? And while wine does make me happy, the blog title is about reminding myself not only that we have created an hour in which to relax and be happy, but that I can be happy for more than just that hour.

So my own happiness project, or semester of happiness, or whatever it is I want to call it, begins January 3 (I will be in New Orleans until the 2nd, but normally I am a stickler for timeliness). I have made a list of resolutions and more importantly, goals to help me through the semester of building a better Emily. Unfortunately, it will be a work in progress, and I will probably be constantly changing and refining. But Gretchen Rubin started planning hers in April, I decided this 5 days ago.

The idea is to start on all the habits I'd like to have as an adult, while I still have the irresponsibility of college. Then in 10 years, perhaps I will value exercise in my life, because of the habits I'm creating now. So here's to 2011...the year of change.

For further reading on happiness:
The Happiness Project
Seven Daily Reasons
Eat Pray Love
The Year of Living Biblically

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Day 30-a picture

Day 30...the epic conclusion to this month of challenging blogging, and the theme is a PICTURE?!?! I have posted several pictures throughout this month (ok, really it was 2 months) of blog challenges, and now I am asked to end it all with a picture? Well a picture of what? And of whom? And how am I supposed to narrow it down to one picture?!?!?

Well fortunately, it happens to be Christmas Day, so I'll share with you the joy of the PHrathouse.
Have a very Merry Christmas, enjoy the greatest day of the year (ok second to my birthday), and enjoy the great traditions that this holiday has created.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Day 29-3 Wishes

Isn't the number one rule of wishes that you're supposed to wish for more wishes?

1. I wish that I would end up with no regrets in life. Having experienced, traveled, done, helped in every way that I could, and there was nothing that was ever out of my reach.

2. I wish for a library in my future living quarters. A huge one beauty and the beast style so that I can always enjoy books.

3. I wish for a world that has a future...


P.S. this is my 100th post

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Day 28-Something that stresses you out

Well this is an easy one...everything. But more recently, I'd say my future stresses me out. Collecting the necessary parts of grad school applications, writing personal statements, deciding on the right program and the right next step in life...all of these things cause me copious amounts of stress.

The end of college is an interesting time in life. Turning 18 and going directly to college was the obvious answer; I was simply supposed to choose where. Graduating from college is entirely different. For the first time there is no obvious next step. And unfortunately whatever I choose will be highly specialized and specific, and I may have to face the fact that I chose the wrong thing. Getting a B.S. in Psychology is essentially BS; I have no desire to enter into any field of psychology. But in college, that was ok. In grad school there are no extra courses, and wasting money is twice as bad as wasting money in undergrad. Getting a job is essentially the same--minus that waste of money, which I guess is a perk. But you face the adult world, something no one is ready to do yet.

Of course, all this stress doesn't even begin to incorporate those other big life steps--marriage, family, settling down. Those things get no place in my current stress. They are definitely something future Emily is better equipped to deal with.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Day 27-Pets

I feel like a person who has had millions of pets. Fish, cats, dogs, the bugs I picked up off the ground when I was little...it just never seems to end. Recently I discovered the fostering program at the Alachua County Humane society. That landed me with this pet:

Callie. My love.

Callie was in a litter of 4, none of whom lived. I fostered her in early 2008 and we instantly fell in love. Freshman year, Callie would sleep on my shoulder every night, and had a little bed on the other side of my bed. She has a chronic cold, and you can hear her coming all the time. She has a tiny white tip on the end of her tail that I think is adorable. She acts like a dog, and loves to clean my face. She still sleeps with me, although now that she is not a kitten she has to sleep around my head instead of on me.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Day 26-Picture of your family

My mother's side. Me and my sister singing the blessings at her bat mitzvah while my mom and Bill watch.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Day 25-Put your iPod on shuffle, first 10 songs

At the current moment my ipod is in the car. But a few days ago I knew this post was coming up, I tried it to see where it would go and here's where we ended up:

1. Undo it-Carrie Underwood
"You stole my heart now I want it back, I'm starting to see everything you lack. Boy you blew it, you put me through it, I wanna u-u-u-u-ndo it!"

2. Leaving on a Jet Plane-The Armageddon Version
"Already I'm so lonsesome I could die. So kiss me and smile for me, tell me that you'll wait for me. Hold me like you'll never let me go"

3. Man in the Mirror-Michael Jackson
"A willow deeply scarred, somebody's broken heart, and a washed-out dream. They follow the pattern of the win ya see cause they got no place to be that's why I'm starting with me"

4. Taking Chances-The Glee Version
"You don't know about my past and I don't have a future figured out, and maybe this is going too fast, and maybe it's not meant to last."

5. Wannabe-Spice Girls
"And as for me, ha you'll see. Slam your body down and wind it all around!"

6. Need you Now-Lady Antebellum
"And I wonder if I ever cross your mind, for me it happens all the time"

7. California Gurls-Katie Perry
"Sun-kissed skin so hot we'll melt your popsicle"

8. Dynamite-Taio Cruz
"I wanna celebrate and live my life"

9. Can I Have this Dance-High School Musical (not embarrassed)
"Won't you promise me that you'll never forget to keep dancing wherever we go next"

10. Let's go to the Mall-Robin Sparkles
"it'll be just him and me, but don't forget the robot"

I think it's safe to say that this is a fairly accurate soundtrack to my life. Let's go to the mall even came on when I was driving to the mall (Total Barney Move). Most of these songs are from this summer, representing the turbulent times I went through leaving people for one place and then leaving those to go back home, returning to a place that had managed to keep moving when I had not. Many of these songs are from camp and remind me of the painful end, while some are from the fall and represent a happy time of roadtrips and vacations (I think it's safe to say that Dynamite was played over 100 times between here and New Orleans). But this is also accurate because it shows my extreme varying tastes in music (all we're missing is some Mozart). Music is a huge part of my life, and though some would claim that I am not into searching new music and discovering new artists, I am always very happy when a song speaks to me or for me.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Day 24-Something you've learned

I think for more elaboration you should see my post on timing.

Furthermore, I have learned that you cannot control the things that have happened or the things that will happen. They are all just things that help you get to the point you are at, whether you want to be there or not. I have learned that it is easier to look from the outside in than the inside out, and that when you are on the inside the path to the outside looks like it has no end. But one day you will find yourself in a completely different mental place; a new career, a new love, a new passion, a new life path, or maybe a new physical place, and you won't be able to remember what it was like to be inside looking out anymore.

Day 23-Favorite vacation

Dream vacation or real vacation? I'm going with dream for the moment.

I would love to travel across Europe and see all of Italy and all of Greece. Two years ago when I started Latin I had this grand dream of reading the classical works in the countries they came from. I would love to travel around and learn all about the history and the food. For a long time; a nice break from reality.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Day 22-Favorite city

I assume this refers to a city you have visited, not just a city that you dream of visiting. So I guess I'll have to go with my new default, Charleston, SC.

Charleston appears to have it all to me. It is about the right size, falling around 300,000 (not too big but not too small either). It sits on water, making it much more temperate than other inland cities. Most importantly, Charleston is a beautiful southern city with the right kind of houses and the right kind of people. In Florida, it is difficult to find a real southern city on the water, because the coastal cities, and especially south Florida, lose some of that southern charm. But Charleston is full of places that cook good food and the atmosphere is pleasant and cheerful.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Day 21-Picture of yourself

Didn't we do this on the first day?
Oh well... here's me with our fine italian cuisine that my roommates and I cooked up one night...in our onesies.

Day 20- Nicknames

I actually haven't been given a lot of nicknames in my life, something that has always made me upset. There's been the occasional Jonesy, EJ...but nothing that ever sticks. My roommate calls me Emmie sometimes, but its normally in a baby voice. Every so often I get Em, which ironically I've found only comes from males, never from females (except sometimes, that same roommate). I've been called EJo after JLo coined that, but it also never really went anywhere. At one point a group called me Jew-Lo but that also had no lasting effect.

I guess it's kind of hard to nickname me because I have so many different groups of friends that don't converse. Thus any name has no lasting effect because it is only promulgated by the group it begins in.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Day 19-Something you miss


I miss reading the newspaper. I miss walking into starbucks and adding one to my purchase.

I miss reading quickly. Being able to sit around for hours and finish a Harry Potter or a Narnia book in one sitting. I miss being able to read for hours on end and see a substantial difference in where I was in the book when I finished.

I miss having all my books with me. Seeing them over Thanksgiving break was a huge tease, and I'm ready to install a bookshelf large enough to cart them all over here.

Buying books, and going to the bookstore to peruse for hours.

Reading for fun and not for school. Or at least having time to do both.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Day 18-Something you regret

My college resume is dotted with things that I regret having not done in college. It would be difficult to show, as my resume looks full and complete, but it takes a true insider to be able to pick through what is there and what isn't.

The first mistake occurred when choosing a college. Don't get me wrong, there is no part of me that regrets going to UF. But the attitude that spawned that decision, one of indecision and lack of effort in pursuing the right school, is one that I am not proud of. The outcome happened to be one of the best things I have ever done, so I was lucky on that account.

The second major regret I have is not having lived in a dorm freshman year. Not only did I miss out on really being a freshman, but I lived so far away I missed out on most social gatherings and rarely went to class. Being that separate from the campus did not benefit me in any way.

Going into rush with a negative attitude, much like that of college, was another thing I regret. Again, the outcome was more than favorable, and I can't imagine myself anywhere else, but I wonder if it would have had an impact on my future in the chapter I'm in if I had gone in really wanting to be in a sorority.

I regret that I never attended a FL/GA game. Though this was a personal choice in my last two years, I wish that I had foreseen my involvement in the Speech and Debate tournament and gone my first two years. I don't regret a single moment about joining Speech and Debate, except perhaps that it didn't occur earlier, but I wish I had at some point made the effort to see the largest cocktail party.

I regret not having attended more school events. My Tradition Keepers book is lacking, and I am going to have to make a major push to fill it before the impending graduation occurs.

I regret never applying myself to one thing, but spreading myself out too thin. I sometimes have felt that I had to pick and choose where I would succeed and it is only through my eyes that you can see those places lacking.

Most importantly, as a spring graduate, I regret having no idea what I want to do with my life, and the feeling that I wasted four years in a meaningless major and that I might have to do it all over again.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

I've been saying this all along

"A longitudinal study of Boston-area college students provided some interesting findings on courtship. In oppoisition to the stereotype, the researchers found that men had more romantic notions than women and more often initiated a relationship with the hope of falling in love. Men were also more likely to "love" more than women in the relationship. When relationships ended, the demise was more likely to have resulted from the woman's misgivings than from the man's and the men were more devastated."

Rubin, Z. Liking and lovingL An invitation to social psychology.New York: Rinehart & Winston.

Day 17-Something you're looking forward to

The end. I know it's stupid because I should be treasuring this, but I'm looking forward to the end of college. I am done with homework and reading. If I've learned anything in college it's that you can learn more from real world experience than from a classroom. I am looking forward to working and the real world, as much as it scares me. I am looking forward to leaving all this behind and making another new life for myself, keeping only the things I want from this one and ditching the rest, just as I did in high school. I am looking forward to my own place; a grown up place. I am looking forward to new adventures, new ridiculousness, and new stories, because my life will always be full of them. I am looking forward to living for myself, and not for how people want me to live. I am looking forward to a new season of Florida football, because this one was far from exemplary. I am looking forward to the rest of my life, because this certainly isn't it.

But despite all of that, I am also looking forward to coming back, to visiting, and to being a new person here.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Oh the weather outside is frightful...

But today is so delightful...

1. Hot Starbucks. It makes it so much better when you're not forced to drink cold coffee because of the sweating factor.

2. Onesie weather.

3. Accomplishing a lot this morning, leaving room for a lot of free time this afternoon.

4. Flowers from my little :-)

5. Having a really good hair day

6. Tacky Christmas sweater parties

7. One more week of school left!
Mobile blogging...now I really don't need a computer.

baby it's cold outside...

thanks to the wonderful guy at starbucks for decorating my drink...it's the little things in life

Day 16-Dream house

Well, first and foremost, it is large.
Has a library in it.

Is a very simple, country style. Nothing modern or fancy. No spanish or greek style anything.

Has a huge yard for multiple animals to run around in.
Hard wood floors and lots of windows to make it spacious.

A kitchen with an island, a gas stove and lots of storage.