Saturday, March 31, 2012

23 Til 30 - Multiple Birthday Celebrations

March, April, and May are packed with birthdays.  Then again in September and October.  It's almost humorous to think of how many of our parents were getting busy at the same time of the year.

But it really is amazing to me to know so many people with birthdays around the same time.  Almost every week is someone's birthday.  I know at least 1 person who's birthday falls during the week of my birthday (from the 21st to the 28th), and in some cases there are several people in 1 day!

Well, I ended up attending a friend's birthday party on the last day of March.  It was pretty fun.  But the most random thing is that someone had a turtle suit.  Like a legit turtle costume. It wasn't like a Ninja Turtle.  It was like a turtle turtle.

Naturally, as there were streamers, at some point someone decided to start wrapping the guy in the turtle suit.
how often does this happen at your parties?

so many streamers...
This story isn't significant in any way, really.  It's just random as hell and for your viewing enjoyment.

But it wasn't a bad way to say farewell to March and hello to April!

Friday, March 30, 2012

24 Til 30 - Toesies of the Month

This week at bootcamp kicked my ass.  My shoulders were so sore.  It's been a long time since my shoulders have been that sore.

It only made sense to sit in one of those pedicure spa chairs that massage your shoulders.

Man, those things really helped to work out some of the soreness!  I made sure it focused on my upper back and shoulders, and I pushed back up against the chair a bit more just to get at the knots.

Phew!  It was so absolutely needed.

Designed by Kim at City Nails & Spa, South End, Boston
Color:  Essie - Go Incognito
Occasion:  Birthday Month Prep
March/April 2012
There was a moment when I realized that the leg massages were going on way too long.  It was like she knew that my calves also needed some TLC.

But that long massage ended up making me a bit late for work.  So, after sitting under the dryer for a bit, I put on those little plastic toe coverings and tried to walk to work.  Of course, my legs were tired from trying to prevent any damage to my new design.  And of course, one of them managed to get messed up.

I ended up just repainting my right toe with the color, so it looks a little uneven this month.  But I'll probably end up going back in the next couple of weeks anyway as another special birthday treat.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

25 Til 30 - Feeling Age

It's a funny concept to me.  "Feeling my age."

I mean, I definitely know I couldn't party as hard as I used to when I was college age or even when I was 25.

These days, it seems like there's less and less time to fit everything I want to do into my schedule.  It always amazes me how quickly my schedule fills up.  As I've been dating around, it's almost laughable how little time I have to actually go on dates. 

Firstly, going to bootcamp is still a top priority for me, which means that I can't stay out too late on weeknights.  Weekends fill up ridiculously fast with social gatherings, practices for shows (did I mention I've got a belly dance recital coming up AND I'm in a production of the Vagina Monologues?), and generally catching up on sleep.

Catching up on sleep is definitely becoming a higher priority.  With the flurry of activity I've gotten myself into, my sleep has suffered.  I spent most of the day on Thursday feeling like a zombie, and I nearly fell asleep every time I rode the T.

I remember seeing my friend's Facebook status updates mention how much earlier they feel like they need to get to bed, blaming it on their 30's.  I've always been a fan of sleeping in, and I'm definitely okay with not having such a packed schedule.

I know that if I have a chance to chill and veg out, I will take that chance.  It not for my mental and physical health, definitely so that I can snuggle with Yoni.
so flippin cute!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

26 Til 30 - Weird and Awesome

Working with kids has so many amazing rewards. 

To see them learn, understand, and make changes in themselves and others helps to give me hope that the rest of humanity can catch up.

Today at work, I was in the midst of a club that I lead (which happens to be Rock Band club).  I thought it was appropriate to show my hair to those who haven't seen it.

One child, who has somewhat of an anger issue (which makes him pretty darn good at smacking those drums) but will still connect with me in a non-angry way, commented that he thought I was so weird for a Filipino.  I was so confused by his statement.  It seemed that he didn't think that any of his friends who were Filipino would do anything like dye their hair a crazy color.  At first, I questioned him.  What exactly did he mean by all of that?

He kept saying, "You're so weird! You're so weird!"

I responded, "Well, there's nothing wrong with being weird and different."

But then he said, "I'm not being mean.  I mean, even though you're weird, you're still awesome."

....I legit nearly balled my eyes out.

Best. Complement. Ever.

Monday, March 26, 2012

28 Til 30 - Last Time to Lose My Cool

I've been out of school for almost 6 years now.  I've been in the working world and the unemployment world for 6 years now.

For the most part, I understand being professional in specific settings.  I like that my current jobs give me the freedom to dye my hair and have modestly hidden tattoos.

But this Monday, I almost had a legitimate shit fit at work.

We were scheduled for several trainings for an all-day professional development.  I didn't actually know what trainings we were going to be getting.

When I finally took a look at the agenda, I noticed that we were having a training on cyberbullying.  Suddenly, a wave of fear and anger rose up in me.  ANOTHER bullying training?  "Please, for all that's good and decent in this world, please don't let it be lead by the same woman who led that bogus bullying training from last summer...."

*cue flashback to bullying training in June 2011*

When I think of trainings, I expect to get some practical information that I can apply to my job.  Being that I was fairly new to working at an after school and summer camp, I knew I needed to learn how to work with kids in a non-social work setting.  So, I was initially looking forward to these trainings.

As the bullying training commenced, I was a bit confused as to why the trainer needed us to talk about our own experiences with bullying.  I didn't really think it was necessarily relevant in this professional setting.  From a social work perspective, a trainer wouldn't necessarily want to trigger anyone's unpleasant experiences by asking them to share how they were bullied or how they bullied others.

Then, the trainer started talking about how she was part of a group of bullies who made fun of a kid with body odor.  She then proceeded to justify her actions.  That's right.  She justified being a bully.

I don't remember her exact wording, but it was something along the lines of, "He should have known better!"

I know for a fact that I made a face.  Then I raised my hand and said something about blaming the victim for their actions.  She continued to justify her actions.

At that point, I shut down for the rest of the training.  I let it go, but I didn't realize how angry I was about it until the next day when I brought it up to a coworker.

*flashforward to March 2012, as we're about to head into a cyberbullying training*

I hoped beyond hope that the training would be lead by someone else.  I told my coworkers that I would legit walk out of the room if she was doing the training.  When I asked my supervisor just as we were about to head to the training, he confirmed my fears.

I nearly dropped to the floor in anguish.  I told him that I didn't think I could sit in another training with that woman.  I just didn't think I could do it without getting extremely angry.  I explained to him that the last training was the worst training I had ever been to, and that I just didn't think I could handle myself.

Basically, I lost my cool.

As we walked to the training, my supervisor encouraged me to stay positive, keep it professional, and give it a chance.  Just as he was finishing his encouragement, we got to the elevator and the trainer came from around the corner to join us for the elevator ride.

I tried my best not to run for it.  I just looked down, and held on firmly to my belongings.

Luckily, I remembered that I had several crystals in my purse.  So I reached for one of them to hold onto during the training.

If I was even luckier, she would have said something unbelievably horrifying and unprofessional and I would have thrown the crystal at her.

The truth is, she was lucky that she was basically delivering someone else's training, albeit crappily.  I was glad that I had my rock to meditate on when she was saying or doing things that I didn't necessarily agree with.

I think that, really, the most frustrating thing is that I know that I - well, any of my fellow group leaders, really - could have run the training so much better than her.  The fact that they had her deliver another training on bullying was frustrating and angering to most of us who feel that we deserve better training, or at least get paid to do the training ourselves.

I have yet to get into a real physical altercation.  But it nearly happened in these final days of my 20's.  I guess I can't rule it out completely yet.
I will fight you...with or without my hair-stache...

Sunday, March 25, 2012

29 Til 30 - Overnight Babysitting

Some of my dear friends are already having adorable little babies.  It's amazing to me.  I've always been in awe of the power that women's bodies have to hold a little life inside of it.  Ever since I was a child, I knew that I wanted to be a mother one day.

But that time hasn't come, nor am I rushing into it at this point.

And yet, I've always wanted a bit of practice taking care of a baby.  I finally got my chance this weekend when my friends were out of town for a wedding.

I got the chance to babysit overnight, which meant that I was solely in charge of bathing, feeding, and changing.  If I were to play the "Never Have I Ever" game before last Saturday night, I would have said that "never have I ever changed a diaper."

But as of today, I've changed 2 diapers!
It's a weird thing to be proud of.  But I'm DAMN PROUD that I successfully changed a baby's diaper!  I was so proud, in fact, that I proceeded to sing my own rendition of "Like a Boss" to the baby.  He enjoyed it, I'm pretty sure.

It's definitely not a normal item on anyone's bucket list.  But for someone maternal like me, it makes sense...sort of.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

30 Til 30 - Mermaid Hair


Today is a month away from my 30th birthday!!!

I'm so extremely excited and nervous and excited!!!

Believe me, I've given this some real thought.  I've thought about it all through my 20's, in fact.  Having always been the youngest in my group of friends, I was always looking forward to being just a little bit older.

Now that many of my friends have been in their 30's for at least a year if not more or gone past it, it just seems like there's a lot to look forward to.  Many of them talk about how they just stopped caring so much about what other people think, and focused more on themselves.  In Sex and the City, it seemed like being in the 30's opens one up for a whole different set of experiences that just aren't as possible when you're young, dumb, and...well...naïve.

I remember having friends who were not really looking forward to getting older.  When they talked about it, it felt like it would be the end of their life as they knew it.  That always confused me.  As soon as I turned 20, I promised myself that I wouldn't fear turning 30.

And since I first started this blog back in 2009, when all those Saturn's-Return-changes were all dropping on my head, 30 couldn't come any faster.  Last year, at my 29th birthday brunch with my friends in San Francisco, we joked about how I had 1 more year to blame stupid choices on my 20's.  

But we couldn't have been more right!  Remember when I got arrested?  Yup.

Now, I have 30 days left to do crazy things before I turn 30.  Though, I obviously don't think it's all going to stop necessarily.  But I still want to do these last days of my 20's BIG.

Naturally, I had to dye my hair mermaidy one more time.  It was just coincidence/fate that my appointment was scheduled for March 23rd.

So, without further ado, here are some pictures from my hair dying experience.

getting some bleach action

this is the new look, don't ya know...
blondie for 5 minutes
so awesome! so excited I couldn't
help but to take a picture on the bus!
rolled up in a minibun
a bit more how I like it
I'm sure I'll have more pictures as the days roll on.  It feels extremely empowering to have taken control of my hair, especially since I had thought about doing this since sometime last October.

My goal for the next 30 days is to go big in everything I do.  From grocery shopping to baking to work, I want my last days of being in my 20's to be lived with full intention.

Mermaidy hair is probably the easiest intention for me to see through.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Green Buko Pandan Cupcakes for St. Patrick's Day!

I've been thinking about these for a while.  It was just perfect timing that I was going to a Filipino-American Book Club meeting on St. Patrick's Day.

I realize how cliche it is to have green food-colored items on St. Paddy's Day, but I don't care.  I love the day when everyone gets to wear all this green, the way I wear green almost every day.  Of course, I have to find something festive for this holiday.

Buko pandan is a popular Filipino dessert flavor. Buko is young coconut, and pandan are Screwpine leaves.  Often, the dessert has coconut pieces and green pandan-flavored gelatin.  It might sound strange, but it's quite a sweet dessert.
Luckily, having a car has given me much more access to the Filipino market in Quincy, called "Sure Pinoy."  This is where I was able to find the buko pandan flavoring and macapuno strings for the topping.  But I have had buko pandan flavoring in my possession for perhaps 2 years.  I wasn't joking when I said I had been meaning to make something in this flavor for a while.

Adapted from Mark Bittman's recipe for Golden Layer Cake, from How to Cook Everything.

Yielding 24 Cupcakes:
10 TBS (1 ¼ sticks) unsalted butter, softened, plus some for the pans and the paper
2 cups cake or all-purpose flour, plus some for the pans
1 ¼ cups sugar
4 eggs or 8 yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract or 1 TBS grated or minced orange zest
1 tsp buko pandan extract
2 ½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
¾ cup milk

Whipped Cream Frosting with Macapuno Strings:
2 cups heavy cream
4 TBS confectioners sugar
Sweet Macapuno Strings

1.       Heat the oven to 350F. For cake: Grease the bottom and sides of two 9-inch or three 8-inch layer cake pans; cover the bottom with a circle of wax or parchment paper, butter the paper, and sift flower over the pans; invert and tap to remove the excess flour. For cupcakes: Place cupcake wrappers in a muffin tin.

2.       Use an electric mixer to cream the butter until smooth, then gradually add the sugar. Beat until light in color and fluffy, 3 or 4 minutes. Beat in the eggs or yolks, one at a time, then the vanilla extract. Add buko pandan extract to the milk (Don't freak at the super bright green color!).  Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt; add to the egg mixture by hand, a little at a time, alternating with the milk. Stir just until smooth.  The cupcakes will not come out super bring green.  If you want it to be more green, just add green food coloring.
Buko pandan extract combid

3.       Turn the batter into the pans and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean, about 25 minutes. For cupcakes, check them frequently after the first 10 minutes. Let the cake cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then invert onto a rack to finish cooling. 
They're greenish on the inside
4.       For Whipped Cream Frosting: In a chilled bowl, combine the cream & sugar.  Pour a small amount of the juice from the macapuno strings jar into the mixture as well. Using an electric mixer on low speed, beat until slightly thickened, 1-2 minutes. gradually increase the speed to medium-high & continue to beat until the cream holds soft peaks, 2-3 mins.  If you don't have an electric mixer, just use a takes a little bit longer, but it totally works...start slow, like you're beating something, making sure lots of air bubble form.  To get faster, hold the whisk as though you're about to start a fire, and keep doing that until you see he soft peaks.

5.       Top the frosting with a couple of macapuno strings.  For extra festiveness, sprinkle with green sprinkles.  Store at room temperature, covered with wax paper, for up to a day or two; use plastic wrap and it will keep for an extra day or so.
Finished product
I ended up having enough batter to make an extra cupcake.  I was happy this worked out since I wanted to make sure I tasted it before feeding it to anyone else.

I was actually quite surprised at how not super green the cupcakes turned out.  It's extremely subtle when you bite into the cupcake.  The flavor is also subtle, but definitely sweet.  I'm glad I opted for the whipped cream frosting, because it just contributed to the flavors without overpowering it.

If I were to use buttercream frosting, I would probably use the buko pandan flavoring instead of vanilla, or perhaps use less vanilla extract.

It was a great experiment with baking!  It was also the first time I've baked in my new apartment.  I haven't felt much motivation to bake, which I'm sure has been a part of my needing to adjust to all the changes.  After this first time, I am definitely now feeling the urge to bake more.

It's a St. Paddy's Day miracle!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Did I Mention the 5K?

Dude...did I completely neglect to mention that I ran my very first 5k?

I totally did, didn't I?

Well, back on December 18th, I managed to make it out in the freezing cold to be part of the Jingle Bell Run! 

The morning was mainly spent trying not to freeze my toes off, and then looking for something more festive as so many folks were dressed for the occasion.

Here are my results:

Place Div /Tot  Div   Guntime Nettime Pace  Name     Ag S Race# City/state 
5031 1604/1723 F1829   47:10   39:30 12:43 Cecilia V 29 F  6605 Brighton MA  

Not bad for a first time!

But then there are the pictures.  They're horrendous! So horrendous that I didn't even try to get a copy of them.

Either way, I'm really proud of myself.  I still don't consider myself a runner, not by any means.  But it sure does suck a lot less than when it did in the beginning of my bootcamp adventures.

In terms of bootcamp, I'm up to the 3 days of bootcamp, plus I added a strength training class.  I'm thinking about adding a core strength class as well.

If only there was a nutritional bootcamp to complement all this working out.

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