Monday, May 30, 2011

Awesome Giveaway! $50 Gift Pack from Chapel Chronicles!

My dear friend Shonelle (she's hilarious! read her blog!) recently told me about this girl named Emma. She is a friend of a friend of Shonelle, and is just crazy talented and wicked motivated. This girl has some serious cajones, guys. Also, her initials spell out etc., which I think is kind of rad.

Emma is an artist and an entrepreneur...and she is only 14 years old.  Fourteen. Years. Old. And she offered to do a giveaway for my readers, which makes her even more awesome!

She has a website, a blog, and a Facebook page. Check them out. See how smart she is. And how awesome her drawings are. They're totally relatable and adorable and just plain nice to look at.

Here are some facts about the artist, Emma T Capps:
  • The Chapel Chronicles started as her eighth grade project, for which she chose to design and market an entire line of greeting cards. She now has 24 designs in English and Spanish (she's fluent!) on her Zazzle store. She also has a weekly Chapel comic strip series online.
  • She won a Gold Medal in the 2011 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards for Comic Art. It's the most prestigious national award for teen artists and writers, and she'll be honored at Carnegie Hall on May 31.
  • She's had 25 works of art and writing published in national magazines.
  • She recently got an awesome write-up from a USA Today pop culture blogger.
  • She raised over $850 in donations for 826 Valencia from sales of her products in April.
  • Did I mention that she's only 14 years old???

The lovely Emma T. Capps is giving away a $50 Chapel Chronicles gift pack (an assortment of greeting cards, notecards, comic book, magnets and buttons). To one of you! Featuring whichever design you choose! Wowza!

Here's how to enter:
  1. Go to her website and pick out your favorite design. Come back here and tell me what it is! And since I use Disqus comments, you can even take a screenshot or save the pic or copy the link to the photo and upload the image to your comment! (one entry)
  2. Like her Facebook page and come back here and tell me you did - honor system, folks! (one entry)
  3. Tweet, blog, or mention this contest somewhere else on the internet, and come back here and tell me you did. Please leave one comment for each thing  you do - honor system! (one entry per thing)
There is no limit to number of entries...I'd really love to help spread the word about this talented young artist, so please enter as many times as you like! And tell your friends!

Contest will run for a full week (because 7 is half of 14 and she's 14? Sure, that's why). I'll choose a winner next Monday at midnight (ok, maybe Tuesday morning) - so get your entries in by 11:59pm Pacific on Monday, June 6, 2011!  Enjoy!

Update from Emma's mom: Emma just completed her 25th card which is really sweet and we printed it ourselves because we want to try and have our own store where we can control the paper - on recycled paper. I'd like to send one to you and you could add it to the contest giveaway. There is also a pin. We're calling it a spring sympathy card but it's really a card for many occasions.

So lookee that! If you win, you'll get ANOTHER card! AND a pin! Rock on, and spread the word!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


It all started with what I knew would be a crazy week at work. See, we're moving offices on Saturday, and as last week drew to a close, I felt my chest tighten, ever so slightly, in anxious anticipation. Turns out, things have actually been going quite smoothly, much more so than I had thought they would. A hiccup here and there, sure, but overall, we're making our deadlines and everything is going according to spreadsheet schedule. And I do believe some of that can be credited to my new philosophy of self-care.

See, I'm starting to think that when I take care of myself first, I'll be a better partner, a better friend, a better employee, a better person. I've also recently been introduced to the Enneagram. While I'm not usually one for all the self-helpy, spiritual guidance, enlightenment side of things, I do love a good personality test. And I found the Enneagram to be incredibly insightful (for the record, I'm a 2 with some 6 tendencies). Sometimes (as with my housekeeping revelations), it helps to see myself in someone else's writing. To read a sentence and think, "Yes. That is exactly what is going on in my head." To put a label on it, quantify it a bit, to know, as I say, that it's "a thing." Because once you've identified the source of your frustration, anxiety, preoccupations...well, it's easier to make peace and move forward and be happier.

Not that I was particularly unhappy. But now I have this renewed sense of "Hey, I can take care of myself AND also take care of others, and by taking care of myself first, I'll be better-equipped to care for others!"And it feels good.

So how am I putting this into practice?

  • This weekend, a friend and I treated each other to belated birthday mani-pedis. I don't usually go for the manicure in addition to the pedicure, so it felt especially luxurious. We even splurged the extra $5 for French tips. Every time I look at my prettily painted fingernails, I remember that I can treat myself every so often, and that gives me a little feeling not unlike a feeling of power. It's a silly little thing, getting your nails done, but I notice that I treat myself a little more like a grown up with these French tips. The trick is to keep that confidence up even after the polish chips.  :)
  • I'm making a concerted effort to get into work earlier. We have pretty flexible hours at work, and lately, I've been quite tired, and have allowed myself to sleep in. Late. Late like I'm not leaving the house until 9:45am. Now, this is technically fine. I'm in to work by 10:30, which is when the majority of my coworkers arrive anyway. But the nature of my job is such that it is nicer for me to get in before the herd. Arriving at 10:30 also means it takes until 6:30 or 7 to get a good day's work done (I usually don't take a real lunch break), which makes it hard to get to certain ballet and pilates classes that I enjoy (see next bullet point). Anyway, this week I decided to start by leaving the house at 9am. I get into work around 9:40, and I'm generally finishing up my day by around 5:45 or 6. Lovely! I've realized that I actually like this earlier schedule (and yes, I know it's still a late schedule by comparison to most); I feel better about myself by getting up and going in the morning, and I really like getting into the office while it's still quiet. This also means going to bed earlier, because I do love me some shut eye! The goal is to start getting ready for bed at 11 and be in bed, falling asleep, by 11:30.
  • I want am going to do some form of exercise every day, in addition to my ~2 miles roundtrip to/from work. On Monday, I played Kinect Adventures for 30 minutes (really gets your heart racing!), and tonight I took a private pilates class (thanks, Groupon!). Tomorrow I have ballet, and Thursday I'll do Kinect again. Friday night I have to stay in the city (spending the night to avoid a super early morning commute for our move Saturday morning), so I'm not sure if I'll get in additional exercise, but I'll try. Or maybe it will be my day off. I would just like my clothes to fit a little looser, and I would like to get myself into a little better shape, so I don't huff and puff as much on hikes and fast walks.
  • I'm going to eat smaller portions. I'm no fool: I know I can't go on a diet. I'm sorry, but I love cheese and salami and bread and cake and all that delicious stuff. And I'm not giving it up, or eating diet versions or convincing myself that "it doesn't feel like I'm dieting!" But I can eat smaller portions. I can take a smaller plate of food and wait until I've digested and had a glass of water before going back for seconds. I can swap out whole wheat flour for white and choose to eat one dessert a day instead of two. Little things.
Anyway, this is just the beginning. I may just be on a high from the last two days, but so far, I'm liking this new attitude, and I'm looking forward to seeing where it takes me.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Cleaning House

It's no secret that I am a bit of a nut when it comes to cleaning and organizing. I can be a little obsessive at times, it's true, worrying about the dust and the clutter, even when it's not actually so bad (according to 99% of the human population). I'm fully aware that my "eagle eye" when it comes to dust on shelves and mildewy grout is...uncommon. Sometimes I watch shows like Hoarders just to boost my ego a bit and remember that what may look totally unacceptable to me is actually pretty normal. Or at least not that bad.

Anyway, I have a tendency to keep a running log in my mind of all the housework left to be done. Whether I'm thinking about it or not, it's always there. For example, if we were out to lunch, and you asked me, "Hey Kim, what kind of clutter currently sits on your dining room table?" I'd be able to list each and every item, and mention that the kitchen counters need to be cleaned, and the bookshelves need to be dusted, and the blankets on the couch need to be folded and oh, my dresser is covered in things to be put away, etc. etc. etc. It's tiring, keeping this running log that I'm not even always aware of keeping. Anxiety is a tiring emotion; it takes up a lot of energy. Energy that should be used for other things, things that I actually enjoy (not that I don't enjoy cleaning, I do. But I don't enjoy thinking about cleaning, and usually I just don't have the time to do the kind of deep cleaning I'd do if I had the time, so I just think about what needs to be cleaned and then feel badly that it's not being done).

A wonderful friend of mine wrote here and here about hiring someone to clean her apartment. It was like she had listened to my soul and knew what I was struggling with. Seriously, read the first one if you want some insight into Kim's Crazy(butnotreallysocrazyafterall) Brain. Reading her words made me feel like it was all ok, like I wasn't some sort of failure as a woman if I couldn't keep my 840 sq ft apartment up to my standards of cleanliness. Writing it out makes me feel sort of crazy for feeling that way, but feelings are feelings and that's the way it goes sometimes. It's absolutely comforting to know that someone else has gone through exactly what you've gone through. And I want to be where she is now, one month into paying someone to clean her apartment. The end (of that part of the story).

Last week, after a full week of calling around for estimates, I hired my first cleaning crew. They came, they saw, they cleaned, but the visit was not without trouble. They arrived late (making me late for work), and they missed a few key things, but when I called the cleaning company, they promised a 100% Satisfaction Guarantee and said they would return over the weekend to fix the mistakes free of charge. This weekend, they arrived several hours early (throwing off our morning plans), left a bottle of cleaning solution behind, and still missed a spot (though they did end up re-grouting the tub for us) - with the re-grouting, and the early arrival (they offered to come back later, but that would greatly inconvenience them, so I caved), our schedule for the day got a bit out of whack.

When I called back, the company apologized and said it seems there is a problem with this specific cleaning crew, and that for my next service (scheduled for June 1), they would send a different crew. I am giving this company another chance, but as in baseball, three strikes and you're out. Yes? The only reason I'm giving them another chance at all is because I would really hate to start over looking for someone new, doing the whole first-time intro and all that. I'd much rather have this work out. If it doesn't, it doesn't, but I'm going to hope it was just a flukey thing with this one crew.

We'll see. This is supposed to cut back on the anxiety about keeping up house, so here's hoping. It was lovely returning home to a freshly-cleaned house, toaster oven free of crumbs, floors mopped, couch cushions fluffed, blankets folded, bed made. It would be lovely to return home to that twice a month (or more, if we could afford it), not having to worry about scrubbing grout and dusting shelves!

This is all part of a new thing I'm working on called self-care. Finding things I can do to give myself a little break, treat myself a little. More on this later...for now, a clean house!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Bonus! Muffins!

Bonus post! Me and a muffin! I had a few bananas that had seen better days, and what better to do with browning bananas than turn them into muffins? 

Ta da! Chocolate chip banana, with a touch of cinnamon - and whole wheat flour to boot (I do like saying "to boot")! They are so delicious, light and fluffy. These muffins make me happy, a very slight tweak on a recipe I found online with my dear friend Colette many, many years ago (look carefully, and you may see her pretty face in the background of the picture).

Please ignore the mess behind me (and on my head). Such is life, I suppose. But who cares about a mess when you have muffins?

Sunday Afternoon Gardening

I had some time this afternoon for a little gardening, and I thought I'd share a few photos to update y'all on the status of the patio.

This is going to be a photo-heavy post, just giving you fair warning.

This is what the inside of the half wine barrel looked like
before soil and all that went in - the terra cotta pot pieces
curve over the drainage holes so the soil doesn't pour out.
Those bolts and nuts you see are what hold the wheels onto
the bottom of the barrel so it can be wheeled around the patio.
The half wine barrel, all full of freshly planted flowers.
(approximately 3 weeks ago)
The half wine barrel, today. The flowers are growing in
nicely, though some have gotten a little bit crispy from
a few particularly hot days. 
Today's work, part 1: twenty little seedling pots, seeds
planted and ready to grow! Will bought me the seeds for my
birthday - I hope I don't kill them! I have extras of all just in
case though. It may be too late to have started now...we'll see.
The patio three weeks ago.
The patio today - so much more color!
This parsley is a force to be reckoned with. I thought it had
died completely, but lo! It returns! I purchased sage and
oregano this weekend to add to the window patio floor box. 
A little overhead shot. The rosemary is doing
mighty fine, and I have high hopes for the
rest. The alyssum has grown so much since
April! Crazy!
So pretty! What's up with the little purple one? Love it!
A blossom on the lemon tree. Looks a bit
dead, but whatchagonnado?
(hope it gets better)
The snapdragon has seen better days (see: April), but I'm
going to see if I can somehow nurse it back to health with
water before I uproot and replace it.
Click to enlarge if you want to see some really cool textures.
This tree got quite dead recently, but it's
come back! The plant arises anew!
(yes, I said "got quite dead")
This flower is totally dead now, but look how pretty it
once was!

We'll end on another pretty note, with another flower that is
sadly no longer with us. 

Monday, May 16, 2011


Oh Target, I love you so. If you wanted to sponsor my blog and put your icon all over the place in exchange for free gift cards, I would accept. I would sell out for you. I. Love. Target.

I even love (in that sort of ironic "Oh don't you just love how blah blah blah thing that's not actually good") the Mystery of Target, otherwise known as Target's Law, wherein one enters the doors with a fine-tuned list, only to emerge hours later with $200 in stuff she did not need.  Just me?  Yeah, I didn't think so.

We have a new Target in our neighborhood. Ok, it's not even IN our neighborhood. But it's in Emeryville, which is a mere 10 minutes from our house. Compare this to the Target in El Cerrito, which is a whole 12 minutes away (but seriously, it's usually more like 15 or even 20 because you have to take the freeway which always has traffic right where I need to be), and you can see why I'm so thrilled. Ok fine. According to Google Maps it takes about the same amount of time to go to either store, but the one in Emeryville IS TOTALLY CLOSER! Sorry Google Maps, but you're wrong. You are not understanding the traffic on that particular section of I-80.

Aaaaanyway.  I went to this beautiful new Target (and lawdy is it beautiful and new!) recently to pick up a few essential items. I think y'all know where this is going.

My list:
  • basket for Will's dresser
  • container for garden tools
  • party food (for my birthday BBQ that was last week)
  • pimple cream benzoyl peroxide
  • Tide to go pens
  • charcoal
  • something that I put on my list but decided I didn't need to buy after all (and now I can't even remember what it was. I accidentally deleted my list but now I wish I hadn't.)
I actually got:
  • basket for Will's dresser
  • container for garden tools
  • pimple cream benzoyl peroxide
  • Tide to go pens
  • charcoal
  • 3 bras ($10.99-$14.99! And they fit!)
  • 2 cardigan sweaters (though I swore I would never buy another. They are my crack. Plus, they are so super cute and perfect for Spring! And I've already worn one of them!)
  • 1 beachy tshirt that will be perfect for casual weekends when it's all hot outside (and I've already worn it!).
  • 2 beach towels to put over my dirty patio couch cushions when guests come over (they work like a charm!)
  • yet another pair of gaucho jersey knit knee-length pants - but they were SO soft and in a color I don't already have, and I've already worn them a bunch! (I am very good at justification)
  • votive candles (that I did need for the party - better than tea lights for bigger lanterns)
  • oil-removing face wipes
  • some sort of pimple stick thing for already-popped pimples (gross, I know, but come on. you know you need one too)
  • 2 bags of chips and 2 lbs of grapes (party food?)
  • bananas
  • individually-packaged chicken breasts (you know those ones they sell at Costco that are all individually sealed and stuck together so you can stick them in the freezer and take them out one at a time? I love them.)
  • lighter (one of those nice, long ones, good for the BBQ)
  • bike shorts to replace the ones I couldn't find (though as soon as I washed them, they turned up in Will's underwear drawer)
But I didn't buy:
  • cushions for my patio couch
  • ice/drinks bucket
  • super cute serving trays (don't get me started on all the awesome, brightly colored springtime outdoor serving stuff. ack.)
  • a new BBQ
  • more party lights (I decided to re-use Christmas lights instead, even though they're not as cute)
  • fun $1 socks
  • paper lanterns
  • a foam roller
  • more stuff I totally wanted...I could seriously do some damage at Target with no spending limit.
Total damage: $269.  Thanks, Target.

So...everybody wins?

*I stole that photo from a website about finding your target heart rate, and for some reason Blogger won't let me edit a link to it. So, this is where I found it:

Review: Grand Cru Gruyere

A few months ago, a company called Roth Käse sent me some of their Grand Cru Gruyere to review. "Some" is sort of understatement. They sent me a gigantic wedge of the stuff, as well as a huge bag of cubed cheese (great for melting!) - and I enjoyed it like crazy.

I melted the cubes on French Onion Soup, on top of my "cover it with cheese and bake it" recipes, used it to perk up some day old mac and cheese, and perhaps even snacked on a few know, just to see how they tasted on their own (delicious, for the record). The wedge o glory was the base for my three cheese and champagne fondue (for the Royal Wedding Party), and it melted beautifully.

This cheese is stupendous, and I highly recommend it for any of your cheesy goodness needs! And

Ok, here's that wedge again, next to a set of standard-size
keys, so you can fully appreciate its size.
Bag of cubed cheese. So convenient! So delicious!
Can you smell the bubbly, golden-brown cheesy goodness?
Mmmm so good.

Note: These opinions are all mine, and were not influenced by the fact that this cheese was free. They didn't even make me promise to write a good review (or any review, at that). I just liked it.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Giveaway: Impact Theatre

In honor of my birthday, I'm giving YOU a gift! A few nights ago, I live-tweeted the final preview of Impact Theatre's Disassembly (if you search for the hashtag, #disass, you may see a lot of irrelevant tweets now that the live-tweeting has ended).  I had never live-tweeted anything before, and it was super fun. The play itself was very funny, sort of Christopher Durang-ish. And at 70 min (no intermission), it was short and sweet...though honestly, I would have enjoyed a second act (both for closure and for hilarity).  Samples from my live tweeting (possible spoilers, but not really) here, here, or here (and there's plenty more where those came from).

If you've never been to Impact Theatre, and you're located in the SF Bay Area, you should definitely check this out. The theatre is in the basement of La Val's Pizza in Berkeley, and you can bring your food and beer in with you! There are even little fold-up tables (the chairs are old school auditorium seats, like we had at my elementary school) so you don't have to put pizza in your lap. And bonus: Disassembly is a world premier! Go local theatre!

Impact is a great, small theatre, and I'm pleased to be able to give away TWO TICKETS to Disassembly (running now through June 11).

To enter:

  • Leave a comment on this post. Any comment. Any comment at all!
  • Spread the word! Tweet this, facebook this, digg, stumbleupon, blog, whatever - and then come back here and leave a comment for each thing that you did.
Contest is only open for the rest of the week - I'll choose a winner on Sunday, May 15. Apologies, but since the theatre is located in Berkeley, this contest is limited to those who could feasibly get to the show - or those who would want to gift the tickets to someone who could get to the show  :)


Some thoughts on turning 27...

  • I am now officially in my late twenties.
  • Birthdays are pretty much like any other day, except you can say things like, "It's my birthday! I do what I want!" and probably get away with it.
  • Walking to work, I thought about how nobody on the street knew it was my birthday (hi, I'm a narcissist, apparently). At this age, nobody knows it's your birthday unless you tell them. Or unless, of course, they are your Facebook friend.
  • opposed to being a kid, where your teacher/parents make a huge fuss, and maybe you get to wear a birthday crown or sash or something, and bring cupcakes to share with the class. 
  • Maybe I should have worn a birthday crown today. Nah. That feels wrong.
  • When you're the person who always orders/makes the birthday cake for everyone else, you have to trust that they'll do the same for you (ok, so maybe that's not necessarily a birthday thing and is more of a Kim's control issues thing, but whatever). Because who wants to make her own birthday cake?
  • 27 feels a lot older than 26. You know how some numbers just feel bigger? I always felt like numbers ending in 7 felt bigger, older for some reason. My reasoning has no logic, and doesn't even make sense, so I won't even explain it, because it's simply not true. Just one of those weird brain things.
My friend Aly sent me this picture today.
What can I say? Girl knows me well!

There's something to be said, I think, for birthdays that come and go without a lot of fuss. Not that I don't love a good fuss now and then, but sometimes, it's nice to let the clock strike midnight (and fine, technically I was born around 4:30am) with a kiss from the one you love. And to go to work like normal, with an extra little secret bounce in your step, and a new cardigan sweater (more on that in another post), smiling to yourself because the weather is lovely and it is your birthday. Perhaps because I just hosted a lively Royal Wedding Party, perhaps because I just have other stuff going on right now, or perhaps because it's just more my style, I'm hosting a small, casual birthday BBQ at our place tonight. Nothing fancy (I've done far less planning for this than I normally would for a party) but it should be a fun little gathering of whomever is able to come over. No stressing with RSVPs and menus, just good old fashioned potluck party time.

The Sharks play the Red Wings tonight (Stanley Cup Playoffs, y'all). Here's hoping they win it for me!

I have no idea who Flowers and Fun/Arena Flowers is, but
they sent this to me via Twitter, and it was a lovely little
surprise. Thanks, whoever you are! 

PS - Getting a video of your favorite 4 year old singing Happy Birthday to you in her PJs = very happy birthday indeed.  Precious.  Saving this forever.