Rainy Days

Since moving to Portland just over a year and a half ago, I’ve discovered the wonder known as…the crock pot.  Throw all your ingredients in, set the dial, go about your day, and you come home to a meal and a deliciously scented house!

Now, I actually like rain – the sounds, the smell – and I always seem to get some quality self-reflection in when the sky is open. Even though it rained in New York and snowed in New York and got cold in New York, I was never a big fan of soups and stews.  That being said, I became attached to warmer, steamier dishes my first rainy winter on the ‘left coast’; the rain makes everything feel an entirely different kind of cold – not the dry snowy air of the Northeast, but a damp and biting cold that makes me want to curl up in a blanket all day.  Enter the crock pot.

Once again, Pinterest has provided me with endless ideas and opportunity for my own creativity in the crock pot meal realm. Currently top on my list of winter favorites, Ropa Vieja.  My mom made this dish when I was little, and when I stumbled across the crockpot recipe for it a few weeks ago, I knew I had to make it.  Since that fateful day I’ve cooked the dish twice, with a few alterations, depending on what I had in my fridge and what sounded good to me.  Both times, I left out the capers because (and I’m not really sure why) they creep me out when I see them in a jar.  I also left out the bay leaf because I hate having to fish it out when everything is done cooking.  Other than that, I left the recipe the same and both times it came out wonderfully.  The second time I changed up the color of the peppers the recipe called for based on what I had on hand – because, I’ll admit, I didn’t want to run to the store.  For me the key to the recipe is the meat; buy a good cut – seriously.  I spent a few minutes talking with the butcher at my local store and he explained some of the differences in chuck and recommended a cut – and let me tell you, the meat fell apart perfectly (and just as he described) as it cooked!

Pair it with some nice crusty bread and a wine and you’re set for a rainy night in.  My brother and my boyfriend both have tried my version and love it as much as I do!

There are a million other recipes I want to try, although I’m a little limited in what I can make – no dairy for me, which means nothing with milk or cheese in it.  Unfortunately, I keep running into dishes loaded with cheese (I start drooling perusing the recipe to see if I can leave out my favorite – but forbidden – ingredient).  Despite this, I have managed to find a number of other recipes, including this Brown Sugar Balsamic Glazed Pork Tenderloin.

So that’s where you’ll find me for the rest of my second Pacific Northwest winter – perusing Pinterest and loading my crock pot full of ingredients!  Be sure to let me know if you have any crock pot favorites that you’re willing to share!

A Project for a Lazy Sunday

Since I didn’t have work today and my motivation for going on a run was at an all time low, I decided to do something crafty.  I’ve had a lot on my mind lately as I try to break my way into a marketing job, and anything creative usually helps me sort out my thoughts.

About a year ago, I started using Pinterest – the best and worst decision of my life, considering how much time I can spend on the site without realizing it!  A few months ago I saw a pin for making paper feathers.  I’m obsessed with feathers, I have this odd attraction to them and I find them beautiful and somewhat mesmerizing.  So I decided to tackle the paper feathers.  I made a bunch…and then was left trying to decide what to do with them all.

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Some I’ll use to make cards – my mom is long overdue for a letter from me – but I decided to make some decorations for my house.  I had a matte black box on hand from a gift I had received for Christmas and some silvery grey ribbon from a Nordstrom-wrapped gift I had given my boyfriend.  The ideas were forming…I decided to make some hanging decorations for my house.

The lid and bottom of the black box were the same dimension, which worked perfectly for what I had pictured.  I separated the lid and the bottom, set each piece on a flat surface, and arranged my paper feathers – I chose yellow and white to match the colors in the room I was making the decorations for.  Once I had an arrangement I liked, I affixed the feathers to each box piece (although I would have preferred a hot glue gun or tacky glue, I didn’t have either on hand, so I ended up using a scrapbooking glue stick, which worked well).  I let the glue dry completely and in the meantime went to grab some lunch (homemade sloppy  joes, yum).  With a satisfied meal under my belt, I found my ribbon and made sure each piece was the same length before gluing each piece to the inside wall of the box pieces to form a sort of handle by which to hang the decorations.  Again I let the glue dry, and voila!

These are the finished creations:

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For an impromptu project, I’m pretty pleased with the end result and the decorations ended up matching the other pieces in the room pretty perfectly!  I can’t decide which of the two I like more; I like the balance of the one with fewer feathers, but the fullness of the one with more feathers.  Either way, these feathers are definitely my new favorites, let me know what you think!

Social Media Goals: I Didn’t Even Know I Had Any

Over the last few years I’ve given a lot of thought to how I want my social media profiles to look and what message I want them to convey, on both a personal and professional level.  I want profiles to be inspirational, entertaining, and representative of my personality and myself.  Alternately, on a professional level I want my profiles to convey my skills, work ethic, creativity, and motivation.  Ideally I’d like my personal and professional goals to be accomplished on separate profiles; Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are all profiles I want to keep personal, whereas LinkedIn is ideal for helping me launch my professional development.  Realistically I know that rarely is any situation black and white; I expect that future employers might search for my Facebook to gauge who I am and how I might represent myself as a brand representative on my personal social media profiles.

My social media goals are to maintain social media profiles that are representative of my personal self and my professional self without becoming unbalanced in favor of one self or the other.  I want to be able to have a potential employer to look at my personal profiles and see not only who I am as a person, but who I am as an employee.  I think personality can play a lot into whether an individual fits into a certain firm; if a firm is very serious and buttoned up, someone exuberant and creative might not feel comfortable on a daily basis.  To achieve this, I’ll need a plan. What social media platforms will I use?  Facebook, LinkedIn, and my blog quickly come to mind as bi-purpose platforms.  Twitter, perhaps?  I find this particular platform less open to use as a dual role platform; my general feeling is that a Twitter account is either personal – and contains jokes or comments potentially not suited for work and potential employers – or used professionally as a vehicle for advertising, or to reference industry relevant news and articles.  Pinterest, Instagram, Vine? There’s potential there, although again, my sense is that these platforms may be harder to use to represent two separate, yet intertwined, identities.

There are dozens of other social media platforms out there; if I got creative I might be able to find a way to use each of them for both personal and professional aspirations.  I’m very interested in pursuing a career in either marketing or conflict management for organizations.  I know that any career in marketing will deal heavily in social media and digital advertising, given recent evolution of the marketing industry as part of the digital age; it’s probably about time I start exploring more social media platforms – learning about them, trying them out, and identifying their strengths and weaknesses.

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