Thursday, January 12, 2012

Living under the per diem (day two).

Dear 28,

Day 2: $9+$13+$4 ($26)
Day two was destined to fail. I had a coffee visit, which never is enough for breakfast, so I went to the nearest café. Damn breakfast isn’t cheap. And damn breakfast wasn’t good. So $13.84 later, I’m still hungry (picking through an unseasoned frittata – a frittata with peas in it - for an hour works up an appetite). Marmalade Café did offer free wi-fi, an interesting conversation between an Australian on a diet and his work buddy who took all the waitress’ advice, and a cute baby at the table next to me. Reminded me of my cousin Carrie's perfect twin daughters. (see below. oh-so-cute.)
Those darling Burch girls. 
I must say I'm getting pretty great at my SoCal directions. I know my 405 from the 5 from the 55 and now know which way to turn on MacArthur to get to John Wayne. So scooting from Tustin Legacy to Irvine seemed like a breeze. (And I learned a little about these weird giant concrete structures: the Tustin Hangars. Read about them. Apparently they have their own weather. However that works.) Prior to hitting the road, like just one day prior, I had a hankering for pho (not hangaring) and so I overtook the table with a bunch of plates at Fawn's. I barely at half of it. But oh it was delicious. (this is seemingly unrelated, but read on to find a lunch with even more plates.)
You'd think after a lunch that size (just yesterday) I'd be ready for something petite, and more salad like. Or at least trainer approved. But business took me elsewhere and for lunch I hit a DU alum’s spot- Mizuki- and feasted on a salmon plate lunch that took up the whole table. A well spent $13.31 (including tip). Not only was Sarah the server super friendly, the food was tasty.
And I’m ALREADY OVER the allotted $26. Looks like no night cap for this kid.
Dinner at the Red Table (yum) and a successful night.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Living under the per diem (day one).

Dear 28,
Day 1 ($28. That's weird. writing to 28 about $28)
I’m sitting in the Des Moines airport, wearing my glasses (that pepper to eye incident was a doozy. And some single-cell-membrane in my eye, one of the ONLY places in the body that there is a membrane that is a mere cell thick, is having a serious issue) looking out onto a clouding-as-I-type this skyline. It’s too early for it to be getting dark (we passed the solstice) so I guess Jeriann was right and a storm is a-brewing. Finally snow. It’s January 11th and yesterday I didn’t wear a coat from one office building to the next. But now, well now it looks like this.
Now that the mixtape buddies have all been sent out (using a very sophisticated system) I’m focused completely on the trip ahead, the big event I’ll be working and the gifts that (fingers crossed) I’ll be coming home with.  Each time I hit the road, I whisper complaints about per diem and how much darn money I spend on my trips, especially when traveling alone and especially in California and most especially on hotel bourbon. So this trip, thanks to an idea of Chelsea’s and my plan to spend less in January, I’ll be (gasp) living within the per diem on this jaunt to CA.
So. Here we are. Day one. For today, J’s 30th bday, I’ll be spending $28. (That’ll get me through Houston and into Orange County late this Wednesday night—we’re talking like post-11pm).
I had plenty of time to pick up pretzel crisps (these are terrifically delicious. Like seriously good. Now- Caeli, how good are they for me?), a water and a postcard for a love letter: $6.73. That managed to get me through the 2.5 hours to Houston, and through the lengthy conversation happening behind me. More on that later. With illustration.
I’ve only been to HOU once before (with Sarah and she somehow managed to get her whole glass of wine free) and hastily devoured nachos. This time I landed on a fancy wine bar place, which is so cool to do in airports now, Le Grand Comptoir. I was able to stretch my leftover $21.27 (ok I went over by 47¢): a tasty roasted beet and goat cheese salad with a glass of tempranillo.
And finally. Arriving at the Double Tree, I find this unfortunate vehicle with its lights on. To it's owner: you're welcome. (and next time, lock your car. if i were a thirsty thief instead of a kind late check-in-er, I would have stolen your orange juice.)
Until tomorrow.

Monday, January 9, 2012


Dear 28,
LAST DAY to sign up for the exchange (yep. I've extended the deadline. Because on Monday's at 6:37am after a serious poblano pepper/eye incident and a cardio-strength training workout I feel generous.) Because I've extended the deadline-- mixtape buddies will be sent out on Wednesday.

Here are the rules (in list form of course):
1- Email me at your name + mailing address by January 9th if you'd like to participate.
2- You will receive an email with the name + mailing address of your mixtape buddy by January 11th.
3- Pull together your favorite tracks of 2011 and make your playlist.
    3a- One song per artist please (Yes. I listened to Watch the Throne for about three weeks, but one track from the gods of hip hop is plenty.)
    3b- Try to compile a list that's about 60 minutes long. (Check out herehere and here for inspiration)
    3c- All songs should be from 2011. (I know you just discovered the power of Bieber's smash singleBaby, but it wasn't put out in 2011, so keep it off the list.)
4- Burn your mixtape on a CD. 
5- Send out your carefully packaged best-of-2011 mixtape to your buddy by January 30th. (I know last year some folks didn't receive their hotly anticipated mix. So be sure to send it this year. It makes people happy.) 


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

This month ahead.

Dear 28,
Oh January. Like everyone else using the Gregorian calendar, I have big plans for you. A new year is rejuvenating. (That word sounds like it's only used in Neutrogena commercials) There'll be many meals, budgeting, hot pink calendar making, love letter writing and lots of time at the office.
After about twelve days off from 8-5 life, I'm getting back on track (and even got my lazy bones outta bed by 5:13am to get back to the glaza studio two days in a row.) I've been in the kitchen a bunch lately, cooking for my good-lookin people. Cooked up some mole (talk about lots of ingredients, layers of flavor, and use of the mini-magic-bullet-knockoff-blender), roasted my first chicken, my very own chicken stock that went into this simple and tasty creamy carrot soup (I am crazy about my new immersion blender, just crazy about it) the go-to eggplant recipe and made the easiest delicious ricotta dumplings. Big plans to keep cookin in January. (It'll make my Mint emails be easier to look at when the bar/restaurant budget is manageable and less gasp-worthy and hopefully impress those good-lookin people)
(Thanks DMSC + Joe Crimmings for the 2012 party photo)
Bring on the metaphorical snow days. (this phrase has a three post maximum)

Monday, January 2, 2012

Packed to the gunwalls with surprises.

Dear 28,
2011 ended. 68 blogposts later, it's over.
This year was certainly full of surprises: full of unexpected thrills, unanticipated successes, shocking pain and unpredicted blessings. (Thank you thesaurus) I've been reflecting on my 2011, trying to come up with  my favorite bits, and while there were many, here's a few highlights. (Surprising ones of course)
It surprised me how much I love to wear yellow. I was surprised by how much talking in front of a crowd makes my knees shake. I was surprised by how quickly life can change, how much I miss her, how kind strangers could be and how senseless the world can seem. I was surprised by how thrilling a night of glitter and hairspray and lights and art can be. It surprised me that in a mere nine minutes I can give blood and life to someone. And then surprised by how quickly that can make me pass out.
I was surprised by the Paluchs and Rob Sheffield. I was surprised how the pillowy beds at the Double Tree in Springfield helped me actually rest on my vacation, how finding the kindest of people has made everyday better and that John Mellencamp completes all roadtrips. I was surprised by my songwriting skills when fueled by a day of Barilla and a pizza beret. It surprised me to see how these new digs have brought me so much joy. 
I was surprised by the most delicious cake of all time: buttercake. It surprised me just how awesome I was at wiffle ball during batting practice and just how terrible I was during the games. I was surprised by September, by every little bit of it, and delighted by it. I was surprised by a sushi dinner and the Alpine and the days and weeks and splendid months that continue to follow. (I will forever be in love with September) It surprised me that I have accidentally amazing aim when no-look throwing a bean bag. And I was surprised I still know how to win at euchre.
It surprised me how patient I can be while cooking french chicken in Tom's fancy kitchen. I was surprised by a fever at the end of Iowa's boring loss to Nebraska but still had a memorable day. It surprised me (and still does) that people buy and send my postcards and that they showed up in full supportive force at the Stoop for the party. It surprised me that I'd never been in the Hancock building and that I got to go, with my cool sister Jen. I was surprised by how many of us were able to come out for the BeThereBeStupid crawl and how much my whole family danced.
(thanks DMSC and Joe Crimmings for the pic)
I feel so excited for 2012. Like when you went to bed as a kid when the sky was pink and the weather lady was telling to you hunker down and be ready for a big snow and that snow-day excitement kept you up too late. That's how I feel. Like there might just be a whole bunch of metaphorical snow days. (and I know just who will send me an email laughing at this phrase.) Regardless, I can't wait.

Wishing you the very best in 2012.