Sunday, March 1, 2015

Adulting Milestone

After much procrastination, I finally christened my kitchen repertoire with a venture into the world of crockpot cooking. I cook nearly every week night after a long day at work and I've been fascinated with the idea of coming home to a meal that has cooked ITSELF during the day and is ready to eat when I walk into the door. Before investing in a crockpot of my own, I borrowed Shari's to see what I thought of the size. That was nearly a month ago. That sucker sat on a shelf taunting me with every passing day. 
I'll admit, I was intimidated by the crockpot. I'm familiar with pots and pans and cookie sheets, but crockpots are a total mystery. It's size alone was enough to send me scurrying for a frozen pizza instead of prepping for a warm meal. In addition to the size of the instrument, crockpot recipes tend to be very ingredient heavy. I'm not an ingredient grocery shopper. I grocery shop once a month (or once every two months if I can get away with it) and buy the staples. Pasta, chicken breasts, ground turkey, spaghetti sauce, Kraft macaroni and cheese, frozen vegetables grace my pantry and refrigerator shelves. I haven't yet mastered the art of weekly meal planning (probably because since I'm only cooking for one and this one doesn't care enough to make every meal exciting) and every Pinterest crockpot recipe I have come across called for fresh vegetables and things like corn starch. Who buys corn starch? What even is corn starch? 
I found a recipe on Sunday during a Pinterest binge that promised "easy crock pot sweet garlic chicken." They had me at easy and garlic, honestly. I had frozen chicken breasts in my freezer and garlic powder in the pantry so I assumed I was set. 
When I got home Sunday afternoon I finally clicked the link to see how to assemble my ingredients. I was met with a plethora of added ingredients that suddenly made this easy recipe seem difficult.
Here's how my crockpot meal prep went: 

  1. 4-6 chicken breasts. Duh. CHECK. 
  2. 1 cup brown sugar. huh. I think so. Let me check Kirsten's sugar stash. Oh, it's all frozen solid. I'll bang it on the counter until it loosens. It's not working, I'll just sprinkle in as much as I can. 
  3. 2/3 cup apple cider vinegar. I don't even have regular vinegar. Red's Apple Ale it is. I'll take a sip or two. Sunday Funday. 
  4. 1/4 cup lemon-lime soda. Definitely don't have that. Oh! Here's some lemon juice. I'll squirt a few drops into the mix. 
  5. 2-3 tbsp minced garlic. Garlic powder works the same, right? 
  6. 2 tbsp soy sauce. CHECK. 
  7. 1 tsp fresh ground pepper. CHECK.
  8. 2 tbsp corn starch. WHAT THE HELL IS CORN STARCH? I'm skipping this one. Probably not that important.
  9. 2 tbsp water. CHECK. Thank you City of Norman. 
Needless to say, when I turned that four hour switch on, I was nervous. But after an hour or so I started to smell delicious smells coming from the kitchen. All due to the garlic, of course. Why is it that garlic smells so wonderful when it's coming from food, but when it's coming from someone's mouth it's horrid? Something to ponder. 
Finally, 4 hours later, I sat down to an "easy crock pot sweet garlic chicken" breast. And it was AMAZING. None of my improvisations had ruined it! I skipped a few steps at the end because lack of corn starch which probably would have improved the intensity of flavor, but overall I'm feeling like A Very Lucky Chef and have overcome my fear of crockpots. #adultwin

Monday, February 23, 2015

A Snow Day Story

It's 2:08 pm on a Monday afternoon. I would usually be in appointments with potential students or calling new leads, but instead I'm sitting in bed with Netflix and a frozen pizza. How did I get here?
It's a snow day. But it didn't begin that way.
My alarm went off at 7:58 as usual and I began my morning. I saw a dusting of snow outside, but I hadn't heard from my boss about whether was campus was open or closed so I showered, ate breakfast, and left for my commute with plenty of time for cautious driving. 
On my way to work I fought the internal battle of wanting to go. It's a daily struggle to get up and go to a place where there is a high probability of facing rejection. Don't get me wrong, I love my job. I love that I have the opportunity to change lives everyday. But it does get hard. It can be hard to pick up the phone and call a potential student who has hung up on me 5 times that week already. But the job requires that kind of persistence and tenacity.
Which is why every workday morning finds me in the car giving myself a pep talk to keep driving. It usually involves inspirational music and the promise of an adult beverage when I return home that evening. This morning was similar, but as I made a slippery turn and thought "why are we even going in today, no one is going to show up for appointments," my brain countered with "there's someone who needs you today. Or someone that you need today." It is absolutely true. Everyday is a chance for an exchange of inspiration, either there is someone who I am supposed to inspire or there is someone who is going to inspire me to be a better representative or a better person in general.
We've been talking about our vision for the admissions department in meetings lately and part of what I suggested to the team is working on our integrity. We often meet students who are very unhappy with their current jobs and I tell them that they deserve to go to a job that they don't dread everyday. Our admissions team deserves the same thing, so I need to make the choice to be happy with my environment daily, no matter what the circumstances are!
As I made that slippery turn into the school this morning after my epiphany, I was actually excited to walk in those doors.
And then the school director met me at the door with "Oh, I was just about to call you." *facepalm*
Since I was already there, I figured I may as well be useful and spent a few hours rescheduling our Monday appointments and even enrolled a walk-in. She is why I do my job. She wanted to go to school so badly that she drove on a snowy, freezing day to find out more about her options. She was the reason that I didn't get the snow day phone call before I got to work. I was meant to be in the office for a few hours today to get to meet her. 
Snow seems to suspend the world in a magical shroud of mystery. I don't know yet what tomorrow holds. I could be snowed in with F.R.I.E.N.D.S. for company. But if I'm not, A Very Lucky Girl will find the reason why. 

Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Free-est Free Time

Not having homework is probably one of the weirdest feelings I have ever experienced. When I was school I felt that free time came at a cost, so it never actually felt free. More often than not I would wind up feeling guilty that I was not doing something for school, because there was always a paper to write or studying to be done. Free time rarely seemed to exist.
But now a whole new world of legitimate stretches of unfilled time lies before me and I am still figuring out what exactly to do with it.
I really hate sitting and doing nothing and I like to feel productive. I might need a regular hobby, but until then let me elaborate on what I've been doing outside of my work weeks so far.

  1. Although I am not a big TV watcher, I can binge watch Netflix television episodes with ease. And even though I own the entire Friends collection on DVD, the addition of the seasons to Netflix makes the transition between episodes so much smoother. Yes, next. Yes, I am still watching.
  2. I slacked off on my foreign correspondence during my last semester at university, so in the evenings while I watch Friends, I try to catch up with letter writing. My friends should consider themselves lucky if a Friends quote or two drops into the message on accident. 
  3. I recently began putting together a scrapbook of my study abroad journey and other adventures. Right now it is mainly just pictures and ticket stubs, but I will go back through and write my memories of the places and people in the margins. 
  4. I pinterest a lot. Pinterest always makes me feel productive, even though I know making a tshirt quilt is way beyond my sewing skill level. And then Pinterest leads me to Etsy and before you know it I just bought a graphic skyline of Edinburgh for the low, low cost of $18 plus shipping. How did I get here again!?
  5. I apartment hunt. The lease to the little grey house is up in May and I will move from Norman to Oklahoma City. I'm looking at one bedroom apartments all over so I spend spare time comparing floor plans and the prices per square foot. I have to make sure that Gable and I will be happy in our new abode! Yesterday afternoon I visited four different apartment communities and found a winner based on pet deposit, the presence of an in unit washer and dryer, and a monthly rent I can afford. Side note, why does being an adult cost so much? 
  6. I visit vintage and antique stores and find treasures. The Feathered Nest and The Rink Gallery are my new favorite places to shop. I bought a turquoise coffee table last weekend (and added some perfect coasters from Anthropologie) for the bargain price of $68. Everyone should expect all future gifts from me to come from such a store. 
  7. I cook. A lot. Not only is it budget friendly, but leftovers make great office lunches. Last weekend I made spaghetti one evening and the same meal fed me four days in a row at the office. I am currently exploring slow cooker options and plan on testing out Shari's crockpot to see what size I should invest in. 
January has been a transitional month. Monday marks week four of working for Heritage College and I can hardly believe I've almost spent an entire month with this school. Payday on Friday made it fairly real. On the hard days at work, when everyone seems to be hanging up on me when I've barely said hello, I think of the students I have been able to help. Like the young man who told me he had been living out of his car recently or the young woman who repeatedly told me she knew this vocational path was her calling. I can't imagine being A Luckier Girl anywhere else. 

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Post Grad Profession

I have completed an entire week of full-time work at Heritage College and I can honestly say that I love it. The week was not without a few bumps and bruises, but ultimately I am excited about the career I am beginning! 
The things I have learned in the past 7 days include:
  1. I was incredibly excited to wake up on Monday morning and get ready for work! Tuesday was a far less perky story. Which leads me to...
  2. Coffee. Coffee is cool. Commuting is not cool in the least. Although said coffee makes the commute slightly cooler.
  3. I am still learning at what time I need to leave the house in order to get to work on time. I either cut it really close or got there 30 minutes early, there was no in-between. 
  4. I need to keep plastic forks in my desk because there is no guarantee that there will be any in the break room. I ate my lunch with an ice cream scoop twice. 
  5. I have SO much support! Thankful for sweet friends and encouraging calls and texts as I transition to this new time in my life. 
  6. Tanner listens. I texted him Tuesday during the day from hell and mentioned I desperately needed a shot. When I went to his house for dinner that evening he met me at the door with a drink. 
  7. All of my coworkers are fantastic and I really cannot see myself ever dreading going to work!
  8. Landlines are confusing and I accidentally called the front desk about 8 times. They love me. 
  9. I am absolutely going to get tired of talking, but I am looking forward to all of the different students I will get to interact with daily. 
  10. I truly believe in the mission of this school and that will make my job so much easier. 
Week two begins tomorrow and I am anxious to start making calls and meeting with potential students. I'm equally excited to make my office mine with some personal touches!  I never saw any of this happening, but it feels right to A Very Lucky Girl. 

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Turn the Page

I'm a big believer that it does not have to be a new year for me to start something new. But coincidentally, 2014 and 2015 have both begun with changes on the horizon. Last year, 2014, I began an international journey. On January 3rd I left my comfortable American zone and traveled to Dundee, Scotland. Over the course of the six months I was there, Dundee became my new comfort zone and I was terrified to return to America after all of the changes that had taken place in me overseas. But I did it. I settled back into a routine in America and received my Bachelor's degree in December. 
I thought I had a job, a clear direction for life post-graduation, but I was mistaken. The DHS position that had been offered to me in November, pending my completed transcript in December, was yanked away in an email that I received a few minutes before one of my finals. It informed me that they had found another candidate for the job. Needless to say, I was furious and frustrated and probably dripped a few tears onto my final exam. Nobody enjoys rejection and I was even more concerned that I had not been actively searching for a job in the previous 3 weeks because I thought I had one. 
So I graduated with no guarantees for my future career. The only thing I knew for sure was that I wanted to remain in Oklahoma for the time being. The Monday after graduation I sent an email with my resume to a job posting I found on the OU Career Services website. I got a phone call three minutes later and she set me up with an interview the following morning. I was cautiously overjoyed. I did not want to get too attached to this position if it was going to be taken away like the previous one. 
The interview was nerve-wracking. There were three candidates all interviewing at once for the same position (though there were several openings in the department), and I could tell that I was the youngest and least experienced of the three. I answered the questions as best I could and left the building with medium to high hopes. I met with another lady two days before Christmas, this time one on one. We chatted comfortably and I really began to see myself beginning a career in those halls. 
The final step was an online assessment and I feared the worst, especially after bumbling through the two math sections. I waited and waited, phone alerts on loud, for a call after Christmas and finally got one on Monday, December 29th. The voice on the line told me the best possible news. She offered me a job. Starting the following Monday. With a starting salary far above what I would have made working for DHS. We worked out the details of when I would come sign some papers and make everything official and as soon as I ended the call I burst into tears. Happy and excited ones this time around. 
Tomorrow I begin a career in the admissions department at Heritage College in Oklahoma City. Heritage College offers technical certification for personal training, esthetics, emergency medical personnel, etc. and my responsibilities will include working with students who have expressed interest in the school, walking them through the admissions process, and discussing any reservations they may have about the programs. I am most excited to be working with students, because working in Gateway is what I enjoyed the most during my years at OU. I value education highly and hope to encourage the students I interact with to pursue their dreams for a better future. 
I'm not naive enough to think that it's going to be all sunshine and butterflies. There will be students who are difficult to work with, or who will simply give up. My new boss has already told me that I will most likely cry during my first week on the job. But she also told me that my first week falls on Spirit Week. Which means my first day of working as an adult is pajama day. Which means the professional attire I bought at Loft does not matter for another seven days. 
A Very Lucky Girl is attacking Monday and a new chapter in life in cupcake pajama pants. 

Sunday, December 28, 2014

O Christmas Tree(s)

Christmas is my very favorite time of the year. I love shopping for gifts for the people in my life and decorating trees with those very same people. And this year was the mecca of tree-decorating for me. I participated in not one, not two, but FOUR tree trimmings.
In my world it is perfectly acceptable to erect a tree immediately following Halloween. Fuel up on candy corn and march off to the attic to lug down the yearly accoutrement. So I texted Kirsten, one of my housemates, in the beginning of November, asking when we could decorate the tree for the little grey house. I was met with a flurry of texts about "IT'S NOT EVEN THANKSGIVING YET" and "I LOVE CHRISTMAS BUT WE MUST NOT TAINT THANKSGIVING." I personally believe that a Christmas tree only enhances the beauty of the thankful season, but I acquiesced to Kirsten's request to wait until after Thanksgiving. 
Lucky for me, Leeanna also conforms to the same Christmas/Thanksgiving meshing together that I do, so the fam tree (more about the fam in later posts I promise) was my first one to decorate this year! One Friday night we all gathered at home, fluffed the branches, and trimmed the hell out of that tree. It was beautiful. White lights intertwined with sparkling ornaments and a burlap bow on top with cascading ribbons down the sides. It was a masterpiece, but even more beautiful to me than the tree, was the way Leeanna and Joe made sure we all could set aside time to be there to participate in the activity as a family. They gave me a coffee mug this year on Christmas morning that reads "Friends become our chosen Family" and that fam of mine is the absolute embodiment of that. 
The second Christmas tree I decorated was at Shari's house. Megan, Marshall, Tanner, Isaac, and I went over there to partake in crab pasta and fluff branches. I did not participate in any holiday cheer with Shari last year so it was definitely a new different. I think a pretty tree came out of the evening though. 
The third tree was the one at the little grey house. We don't quite have all the same decorations and fancy trimmings that the other three trees had, but I've collected ornaments from all of my traveling so we put those on the tree and even though it looked a little naked, it's still my first tree ever in a home of my own. 
And finally, the fourth tree resides at Tanner's home. I was honored to be invited to participate in their family gathering and loved cramming ornaments on the branches until there was no more space left. We strung extra lights and beads until every inch of that tree sparkled. 
Christmas trees represent the center of love to me during the holiday season. It's where a family gathers on Christmas Day to show love through the language of giving. It's where my eyes always stray when I see one in a room. I'm drawn by the lights and the care with which each ornament was placed. To be invited to decorate the center of love in so many homes was to be A Very Lucky Girl. 

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Remember Me?

To be frank, this is weird. I haven't taken this long of a hiatus from A Very Lucky Girl since..well, ever. And I don't really remember how to write like A Very Lucky Girl. I turned in my final paper to dropbox less than an hour ago and here I am, still with phrases of Paradise Lost swirling in my head.
The last time I wrote here it was almost three or four full months ago. A lot can change in three months.
They've been good changes and hard changes and just plain changes.
Where do I start? How do I begin?

Well, there's this boy...whom I love and adore and admire with all of my being. I did not plan for this and Tanner's presence was most unexpected, but strangely welcome. I smile to think of how far we have come in only three months and what a precious blessing he is in my life.
It all started with our two friends, Megan and Marshall. I know I've mentioned Megan plenty of times in A Very Lucky Girl, but Marshall is her boyfriend, who also happens to be one of Tanner's good friends.
Megan mentioned back in July that Tanner and I would probably get along and at least be friends, if nothing else, but nothing ever came of that conversation until near the end of the September. Megan texted me a string of unfamiliar digits and commanded me to text him. I complied, with the charming opening statement of, "I've been commanded to text you." The rest is history and we've now been together for about three months and I cannot imagine life without him.

Which leads me to my next life career path. I graduated two weeks ago (yes, it's taken me 14 days to write this blog post, I told you I was out of practice!) with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature from the University of Oklahoma. When I first entered my senior semester in August I was set on finding a career that would take me out of the United States for a long period of time, if not forever. After meeting Tanner and finding my place in a family that I would hate to leave, I decided to broaden my job options to include Oklahoma. I am not thrilled with the idea of teaching, but I would like to be involved with students in some capacity. My post grad hobbies include sending out resumes, waiting by the phone, and....

Training my new puppy, Gable Blythe. I lost my Beignet-girl on December 1st. I hope she lived the happiest eleven years because she certainly brightened HALF of my existence on this planet and it was an honor to be her sister. Though Beignet is no longer suffering, I definitely needed a little puppy love to heal myself so enter Gable. He was adopted from Safe Haven (100% recommend) and is learning to use the restroom in appropriate places (i.e. anywhere but inside) and that people's limbs are not chew toys. It is certainly a transition to go from quiet and trained Beignet to a puppy with an opinion, but he is the best little snuggle bud when he wants to be. 

And, lest you fear I've lost my desire to travel, I most certainly have not! I spent American Thanksgiving with NAT! Yes! Nat! My Canadian soul sister who I hadn't seen in six months, Nat! I traveled to Edmonton, Alberta and apparently brought a blizzard with me because it snowed 24 inches in 24 hours. I had never seen so much snow in my entire life! And the COLD. I literally could not even with the cold. Far too many degrees below zero for this girl. Despite the cold, I was warmed by the pleasure of meeting all of the people I had heard so much about, including her new boyfriend! He and Kendra and Nat's family were sweet enough to pause their own lives for a few days to entertain this Oklahoma girl and that is the true spirit of Christmasgiving (which is what we celebrated in Alberta to get in all of the holidays)! I cried when I arrived and I cried when I left and I can pretty much guarantee that I will cry the next time we get together. Having meaningful friendships is something that I treasure, and though ours has changed a lot through all of our own personal changes since leaving Scotland I have no doubt that Flat 35 is for a lifetime. 

There you have it. Three, almost four months, in a single blog post. I know I did not do every life event justice in this summary, but I hope to rectify that with more detailed posts in the coming year. Until then, tell your friends to hire A Very Lucky Girl.