Sunday, February 26, 2012

Tosies of the Month - February 2012

It really has been way too long since I got a pedicure and manicure.  Way too long.  I feel like I've been saying that a lot...but it's true.

Since moving to a new neighborhood of Boston, I've kept my eyes peeled for a new nail place.  Luckily, there is one within a short walking distance from my new house.

The salon is called "Nails 2000."  It makes me wonder when they opened the nail salon.  Was it when 2000 hadn't arrived yet?  Was it in 2000?  Was it in homage to Conan O'Brien's "In the Year 2000" sketch?

I didn't learn the reason at all this trip...but I vow that one day I will know why.

Designed by the owner of Nails 2000, Jamaica Plain, MA
Color: Essie - Navigate Her
Occasion: Because I say so...and prep for St. Paddy's
February 2012
How funny is it that the nail color kind of reflects in the "Year 2000" video?

This color is totally funky.  And that nail design is totally funky.  I told the guy who did my toes to get creative once again.  But this time, it came out pretty neat.

The color is definitely in preparation for the Spring - even though it is basically here in Boston already.  But it's also part of Essie's Spring Collection 2012, which has a bit of a wanderlusty feel.

And boy, have I been wanderlusty.  From just wanting to travel to wanting to teach sexual health internationally, it's been on my mind as of late.

I was also in a definite self-care mood that day, because I not only asked for a mani and pedi, but I also got suckered into getting my eyebrows waxed.  Don't get me wrong, they're fabulous.  But it was just an extra bit of lovin' I gave to myself.

Perhaps I'll finish the sentiment with a body scrub?  Perhaps I'll finish the day with a bit of wine?    Perhaps while mapping out my next adventure while finding opportunities to do what I am passionate about?  Perhaps all of the above?

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Dia de los Muertos en Febrero

As another part of our school vacation week at the after school program, one of the other group leaders wanted to do a Day of the Dead/Cultural Celebration with her group.  I happened to know of a place to get molds for the sugar skulls, so I helped a bit in the celebration.

Though sugar skulls are mainly decorative and not really edible, we decided to create chocolate molds for the kids to munch on.

Here's some tips when preparing for anything that involves melted chocolate:
  • The best way to melt chocolate is to use a double boiler.  If you don't have a double boiler, place a heat-safe bowl into a pot of boiling water.  The bowl must be slightly bigger than the pot so that the boiling water is barely touching the bottom of the bowl.  The bowl must also be completely dry - the water affects the texture of the chocolate.
  • If you plan on getting fancy and using different colors, you have to use different bowls.
  • As the chocolate melts, continuously stir the chocolate around.  A wooden spoon or a frosting spatula is best, but any spoon can do it as well.
  • Depending on the size and shape of the mold, always have enough chocolate around. When you're with kids, some of that chocolate will disappear before it melts.
  • Be prepared for super hyper kids after they eat the chocolate.
My fave molds are the one with the flowers on the side,
 and the hardcore mustachioed one!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Fat Tuesday, Indeed: Mardi Gras Cupcakes, Cake, and Bundt

Perhaps because of the move, I've had a hard time feeling motivated to bake.  When I bake, I like to have everything I need at hand, and I guess I feel like I don't have everything I need yet.

Luckily for me, the kids I work with at the after school really enjoy baking and cooking (probably because it means they get to eat it afterwards).  Though we try to cook random [easy] things here and there, this week is the Boston Public's February vacation week and we had time to plan things out.

Considering that today was Mardi Gras in New Orleans, it seemed appropriate to do something Mardi Gras related.  I had recently learned about the King Cake at a Mardi Gras-themed event, and I thought it would be a cute thing to do with the kids.  Of course, with kids, it's even cuter with cupcakes.

I wish I had an actual delicious recipe at hand, but with kids sometimes the best thing to do is to have an already prepared cake mix.  I also wish I had an actual picture of the ginormous 5lb bag of yellow cake mix that the program happens to use.  It borders on the ridiculous.  Thus, we had a ridiculous amount of cake and cupcakes prepared.  That's 12 cupcakes, 1 8in pan, and 1 bundt cake's worth.
claiming my cupcake
not bad for a 5lb bag of cake mix
The one addition I added to make it relatively close to a King Cake was add a TBS of ground cinnamon.  Naturally, we topped the pastries with yellow, green, and purple sprinkles. 

Of course, I also added the little baby figurine as well.  Though each cake had only 1 baby figurine in it, I made sure that each cupcake had a baby figuring for each of the kids.
uh oh..feet first?
I made sure to stuff the figurine in each cupcake and frost it before they got to sprinkle their own.  I explained to the kids that there was a surprise in each of their cupcakes, so they had to be careful when they reached the center.  I also explained that the baby figurine was a symbol of luck. 

I believe that originally, there was a ring or a bean that was cooked in the cake.  But different variations and different religious connotations mixed in with the lore.  I'm assuming that the baby is related to the coming of Spring/Easter/Baby Jesus or whatever.  But luckily, the children didn't ask beyond the fact that it was considered lucky.

I also thought it would be cool to use the Mardi Gras beads in a different way from how they're usually associated.  The kids would get beads for being on good behavior - following directions, not being too rambunctious.  It worked pretty well, actually.

At the end of the day, the kids were asking about whether they deserved another set of beads, and some of them were holding on to the little baby figurine as well.

The cupcakes and cakes were also quite a hit among kids and staff, and fairly delicious for being a standard cake mix with the addition of cinnamon.
nothing left but crumbs and luck

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Romance Might Be Close to Death...But It's Still Twitching About Somewhere

The title of this blog post seems so morbid.  But I really meant it to be sort of darkly humorous.

Firstly, Happy Valentine's Day to You All!
vintage valentine
Secondly, this post was inspired by recent events and the fact that it is Valentine's Day.

I've always loved Valentine's Day.  I can understand how uncomfortable it must be to be single, as I am now, on a holiday so focused on romantic love.  But I always took the opportunity to be a little bit kinder to myself.  I also really enjoy handing out candies and making Valentine's cards for my co-workers.

The other day at my after school job, some roses were distributed among the kids to give to their parents.  Somehow one of the roses ended up with my supervisor.  At first, we joked about how funny it was that he received a rose, but then I encouraged him to take it to his girlfriend who he happened to be meeting after work.

At first, he scoffed at it, stating that he felt really cheesy bringing a rose to the bar.  But I absolutely insisted that he do it.  Why not?  What could he possibly lose from bringing a rose to his girlfriend?

I laughed with the administrative assistant about how the reason so many women are single is because none of the guys treat them special anymore.  I said, "No one wants to be romantic anymore!"  But, I kind of meant it. 

In the end, his girlfriend loved the romantic gesture.

More Romance, Please
One thing that I didn't include in my 2012 Goals was that I'd like to be open to more romance.  Now, I didn't necessarily mean this in the relationship sense.  In fact, I just wanted more happiness and joy in my daily life, and I think that starts with having slightly-rose-colored glasses on.

I think somewhere in the sadness of my previous relationship, I lost sight of my joyful and cheery disposition.  This was partially why I included dancing and making music more, because I know those two things bring me a lot of joy.  There's something lovely and romantic about being creative.

Perhaps because I've been trying to be open to more romance, I'm trying to encourage it in others as well.  It's also shown itself in my life again as well, which has brought up a couple of questions.

Closet Romantic Meets Feminist
Now, let me back track a little bit.  I'm secretly a big fan of romance.  I'm a sucker for some of those romantic comedies.  In fact, I will sit through another viewing of "While You Were Sleeping" if it came on t.v. right now.  Secretly (or perhaps not so secretly anymore), I would love to have love fall right into my lap.  I would love that swell of music to play as a fountain lights up in the background.  I would love that kind of stability and knowing.

But then there's the part of me that values equality. I want to be able to pay my own way before someone else does.  I don't need someone to open doors for me, or pay for my dinner.  Actually, when I was in my early and mid-twenties, I basically insisted that I handle my own way.

I'm a big girl, and I want to be treated like a responsible adult.

As I've gotten older, however, I can definitely see the value of being treated like a lady.  There's something to be said about being wined and dined and treated like I am someone special or someone more important than the material things or even more important than a quick hook up.

But of course, I wonder if romance and feminism are at odds with each other.  Would a woman still be able to maintain her independence while having someone else open the door for them?

After Googling a bit, I found some articles (here and here) that seemed to say that feminism actually benefits relationships.  Because it creates a somewhat level playing field in the relationship where both partners could have some level of control.  Each partner being able to act independently makes them a whole person, and they're able to bring that whole person to the relationship.

I realize it's not necessarily about the gestures.  The gestures are just established traditions from older generations.  The gestures aren't necessarily what makes the romance.  What makes the romance in relationships is the respect and adoration for the other person.

My Romance Won't End on a Sorrowful Note
Suffice it to say, being single has been fun so far.  I'm definitely having fun with it, and that's all I'm going to say about that.

I've gone on a couple of dates with different guys, and they've all been quite pleasant.  One date, however, definitely threw me for a loop.

Firstly, he offered to pick me up - which has honestly never happened unless they were already my boyfriend.  When I expected him to just call me when he arrived, he legit parked the car and rang the doorbell.  He opened car doors, ordered for me, bought me drinks and dinner, and took me dancing.

It was perhaps one of the nicest (and funnest, I might add) dates I had ever been on.  And it felt WEIRD.  I really didn't know how to react at first.  In my head, I could see some of my friends rolling their eyes, while another set of friends were telling me that that's how I deserved to be treated.

There is a part of me that wants to insist to be treated like another friend.  Like one of the guys.  But maybe that's why it hasn't worked, because at the end of the day I make a pretty awesome woman.

I reminded myself that I wanted to be open to these sorts of gestures and that I wanted a bit more romance.  Here it was.

Today, on Valentine's Day, we had a Valentine's Lunch.  I insisted I didn't want anything fancy, but just chill and tasty.  But we ended up at a French bistro.  Honestly, I was impressed.

On a personal note, while I'm not necessarily ready to jump into another serious relationship, it has been lovely to be treated like this.  Perhaps it's just the physical manifestation of the romance that I was trying to be open to. Regardless, I'm learning to be open to this as well as more romance every day.

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