Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Project 2012: Snail Mail Love

I shared my KIND goals for 2012 with you last week, but I had one more thing up my sleeve. 

See, not only do I love getting snail mail, (because who doesn't really?) I have a pretty huge thing for stationary. Oh and stamps. And cute return address labels. 

So, in 2012 I vow to share my love of stationary with YOU. Each month* I will randomly draw 2 names/addresses and send you a card. Just for fun. Just for you. 

Want a 1 in 48 chance of getting a fun surprise in your mail box this year? Just send me your mailing address to ThatJessGal@gmail.com. Yay.

Love to all,
~the stationary obsessed loving gal, Jess

*Yes, I realize that I'm sharing the project with you on the LAST DAY of January. I guess I'm sending out 4 fun and random cards in February!

Monday, January 30, 2012

A Teahouse the Mad Hatter Would Approve Of

Anyone who is friends with me in real life, on Facebook, Twitter or even just follows my boards on Pinterest may have noticed I'm a pretty huge Alice in Wonderland fan. Basically anyone who could get me an original edition of Alice Through the Looking Glass would be my BFF forever. (and yes, I know that is redundant, thanks) 

Any girl who follows instructions on glass bottles reading "Drink Me" and glass classes containing cakes labeled "Eat Me" is obviously a winner in my book.  While I'm a big fan of door mice, late white rabbits and silly, emotional girls, one character who still freaks me out a touch is the Mad Hatter.

And Johnny Dep's portrayal, with the awkward chemistry with Alice? Only made me scareder. (and yes, I know that isn't a word, thanks) But finally the Mad Hatter and I have something we can agree upon.

That something is Pom Pom's Teahouse and Sandwicheria located in the funky Milk District of Orlando, FL. Pom's is a pretty popular hangout spot with the older emo/hipster scene. While I personally didn't see the appeal of hanging out in a crowded, slightly smokey from the sandwich press, atmosphere for an extended period of time, I will gladly stop in for a quick lunch and a brief perusal of the newest rotation of art on the walls. (both for sale, of course. The lunch and the art, I mean.)

Behold my newest aquisistion from Pom Pom's.

The Fu Man Chu – Asian Pulled Pork, Watercress, Goat Cheese, Ginger Cranberry Chutney & Red Onions on Pumpernickel Bread. 

Aka, a delicious wacky, perplexingly rich and light with each savory, sharp and sweet bite, sandwich. A sandwich that is I dare say, befitting tea time with the Mad Hatter. And considering I had this delight of a meal with a side of hot, sweet, oolong tea in the middle of the afternoon that is close enough to tea time for this gal!

And just think, I didn't have to fall down a rabbit hole, defeat the Red Queen at croquet or even paint a single rose red while enjoying my sammy. A win for me, and a well deserved nod to the Mad Hatter, himself.

Love to all,
~the silly gal who sometimes wishes she could escape to wonderland, Jess

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Forget SMART Goals, These are KIND Goals

BE KIND. No, it's not an acronym. This is my goal for 2012. Be Kind.

Simple, yes? I got the idea of a "word goal" from Rachel Wilkerson, who is all about the verb goals. Rachel says that verbs are great goals or resolutions because verbs are what "get things done." I think her logic makes perfect sense, but of course I couldn't just pick a simple verb. No, I chose an adjective. Kind is a description. But throw "be" in front, and by God if I don't have a verb on my hands after all!

So, what does "Be Kind" mean? Well, that's just the beauty of it. Being kind applies to nearly all aspects of your life. (Well, I guess if your goal for 2012 was to be more assertive, "be kind" wouldn't be such a great goal, but this gal knows how to speak up for herself and those she cares about. Just ask my boss.)

This year, 2012, I have declared the year of kindness.

I will be kind:

To my health
by snacking on more raw veggies
by resting, so I don't wear myself thin so often-even if that means I'm "lame" sometimes
To my body
by training with intention for my first 1/2 marathon (February) and at least 2 more sprint triathlons 
by spending time on my yoga mat at least once a week-either at home or in the studio

To my mind
by reading even more, especially nonfiction
by watching more documentaries and seeking out the hidden from view issues in our modern world

To my soul
by traveling domestically-hello road trips
by attending more cultural events
by living in the moment more and fretting about the future less

To my blog and readers
by finally getting my self-hosted site live
by posting 3 times a week consistently, with worthwhile content
by expanding my knowledge, connections and ideas through attending a blogging conference

To my future
by continuing to save at least 10% of my income each month
by finishing my professional license requirements and determining my next plan of action for continuing education

To my world
by supporting and advocating for local farmers/ranchers and all businesspeople
by investing in companies who have the same values as me
by researching/starting my own small garden in the summer

To my students
by listening to and being patient with them all, no exceptions
by striving to instill in them my own love of learning and puzzlement at the world's wonders

To my family and friends
by staying in touch, even when we lead busy lives
by staying in touch, even when we lead busy lives (yes, that one is worth saying twice)

I hope that 2012 is very kind to you, dear readers. I plan on ensuring this year is kind to me, because what you give, returns in kind.

Love to all,
~the striving to be kind gal, Jess

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Pretty Things in a Gloomy Month

I don't know about you guys, but January can seem a bit gloomy.  The lights and other fancy decorations of the holidays have been packed away (ok, ok, I still have mine out-I'm pushing it as "winter decor") and those glittery days and nights of holiday parties have faded. Let's not forget the crazy weather that we are having all over the country! A never ending deluge of snow, rain, wind and over-cast grey is enough to make any month seem gloomy.

Here are three things I've acquired this month that are keeping my days bright and shiny, even when the Mother Nature isn't so accommodating.

1- New Running Shoes! 

These Brooks Adrenalines are only my second pair of running shoes. I bought my first pair way back in the spring of 2009, when I was still living in St. Pete. Um, yeah, totally time for a new pair. 

2- Beautiful Heirloom Hothouse Tomatoes

These beauties were a bit of a splurge at Fresh Market, but considering I was supporting Florida farmers, I'm cool with that, especially since these babies were some of the best tomatoes I've ever eaten, season be damned!

3-Charming Grocery Store Tulips

When I "rescued" these cute pink tulips from Publix for a mere $6 "adoption fee" last night they were droopy and closed. Less than 12 hours later in fresh water they have stood up and opened to display lovely orange pollen inside. I adore fresh flowers, especially in the wintertime.

So kick the gloom of January and find something pretty to show off in your life.

Love to all,
~the "I'm always in search of something cheerful" gal, Jess

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Auf Wiedersehen, 2011

Nearly a year ago, I made some goals for 2011. They were pretty SMART. They were certainly detailed. And I'm fairly certain I never looked at that post again, until January 1, 2012. Whoops.

Needless to say, I didn't accomplish all the goals on my list, mostly because I didn't remember they were my on my yearly goal list. In spite of my lack of attention to my goals list I did accomplish some great things this year.

Here's a run down of my (itemized) goals list from 2011 (check the link above for detailed descriptions if you are interested), good, bad, accomplished or otherwise.  

1-Use my words. Frankly, I forgot this was a goal for 2011. That being said I have been much more contentious about employing good writing skills on a regular basis. I still have plenty of room for improvement in this department, however.
2-Make a move to self-hosting. I've always said that I'm true to my word, I just operate on a slow time schedule and that is very true of this goal. I have actually purchased my domain and am working on setting up my very own webpage/transferring everything over. I hope to have everything live by February of 2012!
3-Up my photography skills. This too is a work in progress. I am getting much more comfortable with all the settings on my camera and have been doing some research on setting up a small light studio at my house, since most of my time in the kitchen is spent in the evenings.

Food and Cooking
1-Cook one new meal a week. Considering I do this 90% of the time, I'm calling this goal a tasty success that I hope to continue for the rest of my life. I love learning new cooking techniques and experimenting with flavor profiles.
2-Buy more local/organic foods. Not unlike the cooking one new meal a week, I follow this rule about 90% of the time. I do have a very strong love of Hass avocados from California, so that is one local rule I can never follow. I'm a Florida Gal, but Hass trump Florida 'cados every time! 
3-Bake more bread. Didn't happen. I didn't even remember this was a goal. Whoops.

Health and Fitness
1-Be consistent with workouts. Still a work in progress, but I'm feeling better about this goal over all after a year of trial and error in 2011.
2-Master the 5k. I ended up focusing on training for my first triathlon this year, not running. But I also came to grips with my battle between running and racing.
3-Manage my food portions. Like most of my life, and apparently all my goals of 2011, this too is something I will continue to work on long past the close of the year, but I feel like I'm developing a better balance between worth it splurges on a second helping and eating just for the sake of eating.
4-Consistently floss and whiten teeth. A huge check on the flossing...still working on finding a whitening treatment that doesn't hurt my apparently sensitive teeth.

1-Balance my checkbook monthly. Hahaha, thank goodness my Mommy loves me and still is willing to do this one for me 2x a year. (Just a note-I do keep up with my fiances both in my checkbook and online, I just don't "reconcile" my accounts each month against the bank statement).
2-Save 10% of my income. I did pretty good on this. Of course I spend a good deal of those savings in Europe over the summer, but that was totally worth it, and likely the trip would not have happened without the additional cash I scrimped away.
3-Watch less tv. I still watch a lot of TV, but I've gotten away from getting sucked into repeats of shows I've seen before, so this is a success in my book!
4-Brush my dog's coat weekly. My baby boy is beyond spoiled, but this was another goal I was not successful with. In my defense (aka an excuse) he doesn't really enjoy being brushed, so this wasn't a total loss for either of us. Now, my clothes being fur free is another story.
5-Travel, hardcore. Check. Seriously.

Now, what would a good post be without some photos? Enjoy a visual reminder of the year gone by.

2011 will always stand out in my memory because it was my first trip abroad. 

While those three weeks in Europe will remain prominent in my memory forever, I was a busy gal in the entirety of 2011.


2011 may have been a tough year for us as a nation and a global economy but it was a pretty incredible year for me personally, and I cannot wait to see what 2012 will bring.

Love to all,
~the "it's best to reflect on the messes, successes and everywhere in between" gal, Jess