Saturday, April 9, 2011

Missus Bean

Gina and I ventured to the new Teavana that opened in the fanciest mall in our area (they have a J. Crew AND a Coach store. Holy Yuppie!) and spent a billion hours in there learning about tea. I had a delicious iced tea with Strawberries and something else (that shows you how much I was paying attention). I learned this about myself: my heart will always be with coffee.

I love coffee more than most people love their spouses. I love coffee with a fiery intensity that people usually reserve for illicit affairs and untouchable celebrities. I crave coffee more than food and I drink more than three times the daily recommended amount. I'm surprised my heart hasn't exploded from either caffeine poisoning or undying coffee devotion.

I've worked at the two largest coffeeshop chains in the country and if I could make a decent living making espresso drinks for the rest of my life, I'd do it. If I had the money to startup a coffee business, I would devote every waking hour to making a business that looked at coffee with the same kind of excitement and intensity that I elicit for my daily pot o' joe. Wow, maybe I need to relax a little.

My mother's work is cool enough to have a food program called Good Apples that provides delicious produce and delicious food items that come direct from wholesalers to customers and are delivered to them at their place of employment. Score! One of the products that my mom gets for me is Raven's Brew Coffee, a product that I never thought that I could get outside of Alaska. To date, I've tried Raven's Brew Breakfast Blend, Skookum Blend, and Three Peckered Billy Goat Blend, and all were delicious and vibrant in a way that escapes the burnt and broken beans in Starbucks retail products. Yay for quality!

I hope to add to my coffee dossier with each passing cup and eventually, maybe I can incorporate my fanaticism into more than just a hobby or a pretty intense addiction.

Some of Jessica's favorite coffees (in no particular order):

  • Caribou Coffee's La Minita Peaberry
  • Eight O'Clock Coffee's Original (if it's good enough for nanas and paps, it's good enough for me. Being a coffee enthusiast is different than being a coffee snob).
  • Fortunes Ethiopian Yirgacheffe (a local coffee roaster).
I'm almost finished with my first pot of the day and then I'm off again for another coffee-tasting adventure!

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Friday, April 8, 2011

All Mail Revue

Postcards I received today! It's probably more exciting than it should be.


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Thursday, April 7, 2011

Make-upping is Hard to Do

Last night was I trying to prepare for an interview with a staffing company this morning (that is a separate post for a separate time with a separate Jessica), and I no longer have any appropriate business-y wear. I was in my living room, staring into my full-length wall mirror and thinking to myself, "Gawd Lady, you've got to smarten yourself up," (that thought was even completed with a dangling participle).

It's not just about the clothes: it's about all of it. I looked in the mirror and saw a woman that is almost thirty years old, with zero effort being put into her appearance. As I was telling Gina today, I could easily be the kind of  whack-a-doo (awesome noun, thanks Gina) that walks around wearing caftans and turbans while drinking Perrier out of a champagne flute, and that thought is frightening. Not that I need to start reading InStyle and shopping at J. Crew, but I really need to pay more attention to what I'm putting on my body and, in turn, how that makes me feel in my crazy head.

It starts with the face.

I haven't actually worn anything but eyeliner for a about three years. Since I broke out with a horrible and itchy rash from using Bare Minerals, the makeup train completely derailed and I lost the ability to know what was appropriate for my skin and my needs. I feel that Gina is a total makeup enthusiast and it's really hard not to get excited about makeup when you're around her. Finally, with this newfound disgust with my appearance, I bit the bullet and prepared to make a purchase at Sephora.

While I feel that this business really does have the goal of making women (and men) beautiful, it's a pretty expensive journey. This woman, Shannon, was a great help in listening to my needs and guiding me to products that were easy to use and provided really amazing results. Not only did she suggest the products and explain their function, but she also applied them and showed me how to use them. I realize that this is a regular practice for Sephora, but I really felt fortunate to have someone that would take the time to show me these products.

So, several more dollars later than I care to admit, I left with the following items:

Sephora Brand Base Zero Brilliance Anti-Shine Primer(who knew that anything but houses need primer?)

Temptu Concealer Stick (this product may last forever for me. It completely concealed my scary zit and gave me really nice under-eye coverage)

Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer (instead of a heavy foundation, this SPF 20 product is light and airy and doesn't make me look like I have theater makeup all over my face. yay!)

Makeup Forever Aqua Eyes Smudge-Proof Eye Pencil (this goes nicely with that Kat Von D Tattoo Liner that I already use).

and finally, probably my favorite purchase: Boscia Make-Up Break-Up Oil (not only does this product take off all of your make up with just a tiny application, but it also moisturizes as it cleanses. After using it just once, I feel like my face is taking on a bit of a glow. Or it's a big fat placebo. I'm happy either way). Shannon, my super make-up consultant, didn't pull any punches with me and said, "Well, this product does two things, instead of adding a step that you probably wouldn't do anyway." Bravo, Shannon, you've seen right through my make-upping laziness.

I feel like today was a step in the right direction of reclaiming my  appearance. While I know that there are plenty of schools of thought that make-up isn't the way to gain self-esteem, those same people weren't looking in the mirror last night. If this is just the beginning of a revolutionary attitude about myself, then the other feel-goods will come along shortly.

Maybe I'll buy a blazer or a dress-shirt or two, or maybe even an Iron! It might be shallow, but there's a reason that Dita Von Teese is always smiling, and it's not because she was married to Marilyn Manson.

In my previous post (here) about a gateway drug nail polish and being a girl, I foreshadowed to a complete cosmetic addiction...and here we are.
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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

[Insert English Stereotype about Bad Teeth Here]

Breakfast is my favorite meal. If you have an awesome breakfast, the rest of the day is cozy and warm: that's a fact. One of my favorite places to get breakfast in the city of Pittsburgh is Piper's Pub. Not only do they have amazing Sunday Brunch, but you're also able to get English Breakfast any time of the day or night.

English Breakfast

Fresh Local Bangers, Baked beans, fried eggs, tomatoes and sautéed mushrooms served over toast ….9.95

English Breakfast might be my favorite breakfast meal. Not only do you get the fried eggs and delicious sausages (my favorite), but you also get delicious baked beans to fill you completely to the tippy-top of your stomach. It looks something like this, but I don't have the Motorhead mug. I'm kind of sore about that.

When I make English Breakfast at home, I saute mushrooms in olive oil until they've reduced and become slick and tasty, then I add halved grape tomatoes and continue to saute until the skins start to blister and come off the tomatoes. Then, I add the vegetarian baked beans and heat all the way through. In another skillet, I fry up some eggs over easy and place them on top of a super hearty and thick white toast. Then, I dump the bean mixture on top and eat until I want to throw up. I wish, though,  that I could find somewhere in the city (that isn't the Trader Joe's thats a fifty minute drive) to get delicious banger sausages.

What are banger sausages made of? I think probably fairy meat or maybe unicorns. Those are the only two species that I can think of that would produce such a deliciously magical sausage.

Dustin and I often made these delicious sausages with our Sunday breakfasts when we could find them in the international frozen food section of our local Giant Eagle Market District. When they eliminated the five frozen English foods in the International section, the sausages went with them, as did a piece of my heart.

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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Guilty Pleasure Tuesday: Gil Grissom

I'm a big fan of the kind of shows that can start and end a plot in an entire episode. This is probably why I like CSI so much. Why I like CSI: Las Vegas so much is really for one reason: Gil Grissom. CSI Miami has all of the gadgets, the drama and the diverse cast of characters, but that albino that runs things is just a creep. ugh.

Yeah Yeah Yeah, I realize that Gil Grissom is really just actor William Petersen, but I'm not particularly interested in the actual identity of this person more than I'm deeply and madly in love with this fictional character. He's a nerdy entomologist that is fluent in American Sign Language and can quote thousands of literary works. He's rugged and good-looking without being imposing and hypermasculine. He's hardly a television star in that way that so many are depicted as tall, thin and untouchable.

Grissom's character more than resembles Sherlock Holmes, who is my favorite fictional character of all time. Here's what wikipedia has to say about it,

Gil Grissom has a more than passing similarity to Sherlock Holmes. Like Holmes, Grissom is dispassionate with a fierce devotion to logic and little regard for societal norms of behavior; Grissom once smashed mustard jars in a grocery store to illustrate a theory ("I-15 Murders"), similarly, Holmes once practiced spearing a pig at a market to determine how strong a man would have to be to transfix a man with a harpoon.
Grissom possesses a Moriarty-like nemesis, Paul Millander, whom he pursues in several episodes ("Pilot", "Anonymous" and "Identity Crisis"). Coincidentally, "Paul Millander" has the same initials as "Professor Moriarty." There's also a woman, Lady Heather, in whom he takes an unusual interest, their relationship is similar to that of Irene Adler and Holmes. Both Irene and Lady Heather enchant Holmes and Grissom with their beauty, their wit and their resolution. Lady Heather is, almost always, wearing Victorian dresses which are reminiscent to Holmes' era ("Slaves of Las Vegas", "Lady Heather's Box", "Pirates of the Third Reich" and "The Good, the Bad, and the Dominatrix")

Dustin knows how much I dig him, but I think that it's particularly amusing considering how much he enjoys Grissom's love interest Sara Sidle, another introspective and foreboding character in the Las Vegas line-up. Leave it to Dustin and I to be interested in nerdy science weirdos from a fictional television show.

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Monday, April 4, 2011

Yeah, I Eat Things Sent to Me Through the Mail from Strangers, What Of It?

When I was in Alaska, I came down with a terrible cold. One of the men that I worked with, that was nice enough to walk me home from the bar and actually tried to converse with me even though he barely spoke English, gave me Mexican cold medicine. That medicine must've been part arsenic and part cayenne pepper, because I've never sweat so much in my life. After only a few nights of intense sweating, the cold was gone. Apparently, after speaking with another guy (whose English was much more comprehensible), I was informed that that was really the sweat out the cold and move on with your life. Fascinating and effective.

After telling Dustin that I'd taken this miracle drug, the only thing that he said was, "you took pills from someone that doesn't speak English that you've only known for three weeks?"

You know, when you say it like that, you make it sound so horrible. 

You have to throw caution to the wind in some instances. I think that being American has really taught me to distrust people and in turn, I've lost out on some great opportunities. I'm still kicking myself for not taking that job teaching English in Korea. Before all of the bills, the apartment and the cats, I could've met countless people from all over the world.

What this is really getting at is that I received an awesome package in the mail today from an awesome swapper: Julia. She's living in Puerto Rico, but soon will be moving to Switzerland to be with her significant other. I sent her a small package with some nature-y things and a letter, and she (even though she didn't have to) sent me an awesome slice of Puerto Rico! Including these awesome traditional Puerto Rican candies.

I'm currently eating the white lollipop and it's a delicious mixture of toasted coconut and coconut milk. The red lollipop is sesame, I imagine that brownish square is a date paste with sesame seeds, and the yellow one is a fancy mixture of coconut and pineapple. Awesome, especially for someone like me that can't eat chocolate and particularly loves coconut and sesame. It seems like America has gotten away from traditional candies and wants to see how many kinds of chocolate and nuts they can layer on a Granny Smith Apple with a stick shoved up it's bum. ugh.

I look forward to not only trying all of these candies, but continuing to converse with Julia in Switzerland, too. The personal fulfillment that comes from penpals (especially finding and sending things that they enjoy) far outweighs the time that it takes to write and mail packages. I feel so fortunate to have met Julia, a woman that shares a lot of the same life experiences as myself, and to build a friendship outside of the constraints where most people find friends: work, family, the gym or the bar (a personal favorite for Pittsburghers). Without a common ground like those, I'm free to share everything about myself. Who wouldn't want to hear about me? I'm RAD!

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Sunday, April 3, 2011

This Just In: A Photo

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Fun with Hydroponia!

One of the benefits of having a friend that lives far away is that when you see each other, you often have to catch up on a lot of things that've happened while you were apart, like holidays. I realized, the day before leaving for Charlotte, that Laura and I missed Christmas this year and that I still had her gift waiting for the next time that I saw her. This meant, too, that I would be getting a belated Christmas present. HOT DAMN!

So one of the first things that we did when I got to Charlotte on Wednesday afternoon was open our gifts. I was shocked to find that Laura had purchased an Aero Garden for me. YESSSSSS. This was a totally awesome Christmas present that made me feel bad about not getting Laura a totally awesome Christmas present, but then I felt really awesome because...I have an AeroGarden muthafuckas!

This is a gadget that I'd been wanting for some time, but I could never justify its purchase. I can, however, justify receiving it as a gift because I am a wonderful friend.

I learned from the instructions that AeroGarden is a really small hydroponic garden. (a quick definition: Hydroponics (From the Greek hydro, water, and ponics, labour) is a method of growing plants using mineral nutrient solutions, in water, without soil). Probably one of the coolest things that I've seen at a grocery store (because I think that grocery stores and their contents are cool) is the hydroponic lettuce growing at Giant Eagle Market District. To have the opportunity to grow herbs via this method in the comfort of my own home is pretty durn exciting if you ask me.

Here is my AeroGarden after setup (which was super easy):

The funniest thing about this, so far, is that the little cups look like Keurig cups with plants in them. The second thing that is funny about this whole setup is that because I have very nosy and mischeivous pets, I have to keep this in my bedroom on my dresser. So, not only will I have a neon light going for part of the day in my room, but eventually, my bedroom is going to smell like an herb garden. I'm not sure if I'm excited about aspect of the process, or not.

Most of the sprouts, including Mint, Dill, Genovese Basil, Oregano, Thyme, and Chives, will begin showing up at around seven days, and I'm looking forward to seeing their tiny little leaves shooting through the pretend soil and K-Cup. Supposedly, these plants are guaranteed (unless your cats get a hankering for Oregano), so I'm going to have more than enough herbs for one person.

AeroGarden also features flowering options, including this really fancy English Flower Garden. There's something incredibly futuristic about growing flowers in an environment like this that I kind of love/hate. It's like if you were growing flowers on the Starship Enterprise.

I'll bet that Scotty was probably secretly a wonderful gardener and florist. I mean, he is Scottish for Chrissakes.

Laura said that AeroGardens are already not being sold in stores any more, and I find that kind if disheartening. While most people that want to garden will find the opportunity to do so with soil and good old-fashioned sunlight, the opportunity for fresh herbs in an apartment at any given time of the year is totally tubular.

I fear, too, that the replacement seed-pod K-Cups will become scarce. That would be tres lame, considering what a seriously love-affair I've created with this machine in the last few hours. I mean, my gawd, it's in my bedroom.

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