Girls with Goals

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To un Ristorante and Beyond!

Caffe LatteIn case you didn’t know, I’m taking an Italian class to prepare for my (late) honeymoon to Italy this summer. After only four classes, I’m very proud to be able to tell you my name, ask you where you’re from, count to 100 and name everything one would find in a classroom. The only problem is – I will not be visiting un’aula in Italy, nor do I plan to make someone listen to me count from zero to cento!

I know that all of these skills build a foundation to learn more complex aspects of the language, but I want to start practicing travel-y things like, “I would like some wine,” “How much does this cost?” and “Table for two.” So I’ve done a little independent study.

I know that to order my beloved latte, I would ask for un caffè latte. I could sit and drink this at un ristorante. This is a good start. So far I won’t go thirsty during my trip. However, I will need to eat, find the restroom, buy tickets to things, ask for a menu, order the raspberry gelato…you get the idea. So I started compiling a list of key phrases I want to memorize sooner rather than later.

My question to all of you is – in your own international travels, what phrases do you find most helpful to know? For example, when I was dining in Paris, I learned that you will only get your check when you ask for it. So I quickly learned how to say, L’addition, s’il vous plaît!

I would love to know what YOU would put on your own “must-know travel-speak” list. Grazie mille!

*Kiki

“Career Move Mondays” – Workin’ for a livin’

“So, what do you do?”

This question is easily the most frequently asked in introductory conversations, and I hate it. From the moment you meet someone, you’re immediately judged based on what you do for a living. Which, I guess, for most people is fine. But those people probably like what they do for work.

I think a more relevant question, which would be so much better for the whole getting-to know-you phase of a conversation, is, “So, what do you wish you could do for a living?”. Because in all honesty, how many people are actually doing what they truly love to support themselves?

Off the top of my head, I can name one person that I know, and I wouldn’t exactly call him “financially fit”. Doing what you love comes with a hefty price tag. But what could be greater than getting paid (however much or little) to do something you would easily do for free?

A couple of years ago, fresh out of college, when I was stressed and depressed about figuring out what I wanted to do with my life, my boyfriend brought up a great point. He said to me, “Some people do what they love for work. You work so you can do the things you love.”

This was the best little piece of insight I’ve gotten in a long time. I shouldn’t base my self-worth on what I do at work every day. There are so many other important aspects to life.

I love travel and adventure. I love seeing new places (even if its around the corner from my house). I love trying new restaurants. I love cooking. I love hosting parties. I love DIY projects and decorating my house. I love my pets. I love spending time with my family.

Why can’t my life be summed up based on all of these things I love, rather than where I work?

I’d love to find a job where I’m happy every day and like the work I do (which isn’t the case right now). I’d like to find a job where I make enough money to support all of the things I love, my true passions (which definitely isn’t the case right now).

Throughout the “Career Move Mondays” series, I’ll share my successes and failures in the hunt for the perfect job.  And if any of you come across an opening for a traveling cook who is inspired by trying new restaurants and dishes, who hosts parties for friends, pets and family in her beautifully decorated DIY house, please send it my way!

Ciao,

Florence

Dysfunctional Love

I. love. dogs.   I am the girl that will bound up to random strangers to pet, kiss, talk to…etc. their dogs.  Slightly weird and maybe a bit dangerous, I know, but if there is a dog within a 2 mile radius I am immediately sucked in.  Also, I should mention, the bigger they are, the longer I stare.

Being such a dog lover, it shouldn’t surprise you that I have one of my own.  And, yes, he is rather large.  A stocky cattle dog mix, tipping the scales at 75 pounds (a little heavier than ideal, but we’re working on it.)  He is my first attempt at raising a dog on my own, and, I must say, I am very proud of our lovingly dysfunctional relationship.

My dog hogs the bed, chases the cat, pulls me on the leash, wipes his face on the couch (right after a long, slobbery drink, of course), and jumps on every visitor that I have ever had over.  Sounds horrible, huh? 

My boy

Well, we have actually come a long way.  After adopting him from the Human Society over 3 years ago,  I have tried my hand at numerous, and sometimes disastrous training techniques.  However, over time I have managed to stop the accidents in the house, successfully crate train him, and teach him commands like “sit,” “down,”” stay,” “wait,” and “paw.”  These may seem like small victories, but if you are a dog owner, you understand that sense of complete satisfaction when your dog starts listening, responding, and working to make you happy.  It is an amazing feeling.  You are connecting with another species.

I read every dog book I can get my hands on.  I read inspirational stories of adoption and love.  I read training books.  I read non fictional books on different types of breeds.  Like many dog owners, I gain inspiration from the rehabilitated dogs on shows like The Dog Whisperer and It’s Me or the Dog .  I am a sucker for the underdog story (no pun intended) of the horribly spastic dog that will seemingly never recover from its obsessions, now living a normal, happy life. 

My goal is to be able to have the kind of healthy, happy, trusting, calmly assertive relationship with my dog that I imagine Cesar Millan having with him (if he ever chose to work with my dog!)

 I want to be my dog’s Cesar.  I want to give him guidance while also allowing him to enjoy the instinctual joys of being a dog.  I want him to feel safe and happy and stress-free.

It is true that my dog is my mirror.  The more tense or stressed out I am, the more unstable he is on our walks.  I have started clicker training with him to reinforce good behavior (especially while on the leash) and try my best to be my happiest, most confident self when interacting with him.     

I want to be the person that my dog needs.  I want to be his Cesar.

I will be posting some tips and tricks I learn during the training process.  Please leave comments about successful (or even failed!) attempts and methods for training your best friend (of the dog variety, that is).

Thanks!

*Hope

“Career Move Mondays” – Pigeon-holed

Welcome to the new series we’re starting called “Career Move Mondays.” We are each at the point in our careers where we’re looking to get in on the ground floor, looking to get into a new industry, or just make strides in what we’re doing. So this series will be a forum for our adventures and musings in the world of work–something we can all relate to. So here we go…

I’ve barely started my career (or is this just a job?) and already I can easily see myself becoming pigeon-holed into one industry, unable to try something new in the future because everything requires experience.

Unfortunately, aside from blogging about whatever I want, I can’t think of a paying gig (and this doesn’t even pay) that I can create and mold to encompass all my passions.

I love writing. I love teaching. I love decorating cakes. I love psychology. I love people. I love books. I love interior design. I love organization. I love cheese.

And I’m expected to just pick one???

I can’t viably have a new career every month. So how can I prepare myself to be a competitive candidate wherever I choose to go?

I’m thinking of using my entries in the “Career Move Mondays” series to explore various fields that I’m interested in, with the hopes that we all get something from it? What do you think?

Tell me, friends, how were you able to transition to a new field? Did you have to start from scratch–get a new degree, start at the bottom rung in the industry? How were you able to use your experience as a plus when breaking into a new world?

In other news, you’ll be seeing some re-design going on with the site, so don’t let any changes scare you off! We’re just trying to make this as functional and beautiful as possible! We are also implementing regular posting schedule, as well as some creative ideas for our posts. So make sure you stop by more often!

Freckles

Forgive me!

I’m playing with the site design, but we’ll have it settled shortly!

 

Freckles

This Locavore’s Dilemma(s)

Michael Pollan’s book, “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” outlines how something as simple as what we eat for dinner can have serious implications for all of us politically, economically, psychologically, and even morally. The book has inspired people all over America to change the way they eat; not just for their own health, but for the health of the earth and everyone who lives on it. And in my opinion, one of the simplest and most effective ways to change your eating habits is to become more aware of where your food is coming from: how its made, where its made, when its made, who makes it, and how all of these factors affect people, animals and the earth.

But enough about that. This blog isn’t some hippy-dippy space for me to rant about my causes. One of my biggest goals, though, is to eat fewer processed foods and really gain an understanding of where the food I eat comes from.

Eating locally is one of the easiest ways to do this. My boyfriend and I have started shopping at our local farmer’s markets. It’s amazing, really. Just this past Sunday, we bought most of our groceries for the week (fruits and veggies, meat, bread, spices, pasta, even soap!) directly from the farmer that grew them, the ranchers that raised them or the artisans that made them.  We talked to all of these people and were able to ask questions about the food, what’s in it, and where it’s from.  Try doing that at your neighborhood grocery store!

This “go local” craze seems like a walk in the park. Literally, the farmer’s market is at a park! In reality, though, it will take some serious effort to keep up this lifestyle. We went to the farmer’s market. We went to Whole Foods. We went to another local health food store. We went to our neighborhood grocery store. Then, after we got home, we went BACK to the grocery store in a mad dash, racing the countdown until dinner, to get items we had forgotten during our marathon grocery-shop! We’ll definitely need to work on our planning and organization skills to stick with this goal, because I can’t spend 3 hours grocery shopping every weekend.

Another obstacle is money. This stuff is NOT cheap. $7/lb for ground beef? But I can get it $2/lb at the grocery store! We’ve decided that we are definitely going to have to decrease the amount of meat we eat each week, which might pose a teeeeeny little problem for me: I am ALWAYS hungry. Protein is the thing that keeps me going between meals and snacks. I know there are alternative sources of protein. What are your favorites? Right now all I have are beans. Lots of beans. (And if you’re curious about why local/organic/natural foods are so much more expensive, I encourage you to watch the documentary Food, Inc.)

Now that I’ve bought all of my yummy local groceries to prepare delicious homemade meals, the HUGE question I’m asking myself is, “BUT WHAT ABOUT WHEN I WANT TO GO OUT TO EAT?!?!”. I have no delusions about my goal. I know I wont be able to eat 100% local right from the start, or even years down the road. There are restaurants around that have a focus on local foods on their menus, but what about the ones that don’t? Should I feel like a hypocrite for eating at these places? Should I feel like I’m taking a step backwards from my eating-local lifestyle?

All you locavores out there: How do you do it (while keeping yourself sane)? I’ll keep you posted on my progress (which includes a soon-to-be-built square foot garden – keep an eye out for my next post!).

Ciao,

Florence

Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now?

As a kid, Dr. Seuss’s “Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now!” was my favorite book. After the narrator suggests a number of ways in which Marvin can, “go, go, GO!” I would yell the infamous line, “Marvin K. Mooney, will you please go now!” with all of the dramatic frustration that a four year-old can muster.

A lesser known tidbit about this book is that in 1974 Art Buchwald of The Washington Post published a version of the book substituting “Marvin K. Mooney” with former U.S. President “Richard M. Nixon.” Ten days later, Nixon resigned. You can read more about this here and here (read the original Washington Post article here).

To keep the New Year’s theme going, I would like to look at the flipside of the New Year’s list of goals some of us posted earlier this month. As we eagerly and optimistically welcome into 2011 a slew of new goals, good habits and earnest promises to ourselves, what negative things are we asking to leave? To what “Marvin K. Mooney’s” do we need to demand a farewell in order to become our fabulous 2011 selves?

Here are mine. The substitutions I made are in italics with an * around them.

“*Poor body image* will you please go now!
The time has come.
The time has come.
The time is now.
Just go.
Go.
Go!
I don’t care how.
You can go by foot.
You can go by cow. 
*Procrastination* will you please go now!
You can go on skates.
You can go on skis.
You can go in a hat.
But
Please go.
Please!
I don’t care.
You can go
By bike.
You can go
On a Zike-Bike
If you like.
If you like
You can go
In an old blue shoe.
Just go, go, GO!
Please do, do, do, DO!
*Losing my temper*                                                                                                                          I don’t care how. 
*Sleeping past my alarm* 
Will you please
GO NOW!
You can go on stilts.
You can go by fish.
You can go in a Crunk-Car
If you wish.
If you wish
You may go
By lion’s tale.
Or stamp yourself
And go by mail.
*Driving too fast*                                                                                                                         Don’t you know
The time has come
To go, go, GO!
Get on your way!
Please *not thinking before I say*                                                                                                                                                 You might like going in a Zumble-Zay.
You can go by balloon . . .
Or broomstick.
Or
You can go by camel
In a bureau drawer.
You can go by bumble-boat
. . . or jet.
I don’t care how you go.
Just get!
*Being judgemental!*
I don’t care how.
*Nagging my husband*                                                                                                                  Will you please
GO NOW!
I said
GO
And
GO
I meant . . .
The time had come
So . . . 
*making excuses for not kicking bad habits* WENT.”

So maybe it doesn’t rhyme and it definitely doesn’t flow as well as Dr. Suess’s version, but it’s a fun way for me to say goodbye to my old ways. And it’s still really REALLY fun to yell, “Will you please go now!” What are your Marvin K. Mooney’s?

*Kiki*