Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Professional Adieu

Farewells are always difficult, whether they are professional or personal.  Today marked the end of another chapter in my life as I said goodbye to my colleagues.  I have had a good 2.5 year run.  My work father gave me a big bear hug and was happy with his wine and chocolate.  My boss loved her gift and said it was thoughtful and fitting because she entertained alot.  I was also treated to a lovely lunch.  This is the way I wanted to leave: happy.  I am touched by how many people have told me they enjoyed working with me.  Hermits always assume no one cares about their existence.  One colleague said he learned alot from me, that is always an amazing thing to hear when one is just starting out in their career.  While it was hard, it felt right.

I am a big believer in saying goodbye the right way.  Why? Because it may be the last time you say goodbye.  Farewells are important.  They bring closure, peace, and comfort when tragedy strikes (all of us will experience tragedy).  A good farewell, especially in the work world, requires some planning.  Despite the lack of attachment associated with work, people still need time to process loss.  Even if that loss is an employee at the bottom of the organization who has decided to move on (like me).  So give your adieu a week in advance.

Then there is what to say.  Heartfelt, genuine, and positive are the themes that should come through in a written goodbye, no matter how unhappy you are.  Remember, you might cross paths again. Finally, there is the goodbye you give to those that you truly will miss.  That is the hardest of all.  Fortunately in the work world, an end to a work relationship opens the door to a personal one.  As I start the next chapter in my career, I am most looking forward to the new personal relationships that come with a professional adieu.  A top notch goodbye guarantees opportunities for life long friendships.

My last outfit....A little nostalgia from the college years.

Dress: From my college days (over 10 years ago)
Shoes: Madden Girl
Earrings: Self made

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Art of Gift Giving

To give someone a gift is an art.  Gift giving, for it to be truly meaningful, requires thoughtfulness, planning, and good listening skills.  All three are necessary to truly find and give someone a gift that leaves their hearts touched.  I love gift giving.  It is one of my favorite hobbies.  If I had all the money in the world, I would spend the vast majority of my time looking for, purchasing, and giving gifts.  Unfortunately, my bank balance does not allow for this kind of generosity, so I limit my gift giving to the moments that really count.

One of those moments will be tomorrow when I say goodbye to my colleagues.  Among that group will be my boss and my work father.  Two individuals who have made the last two and half years incredibly productive for both my professional and private life.  Given their contribution to my development, a gift was warranted for each of this wonderful people.  I came home a little early to purchase the items I will be giving them (along with thank you cards of course).  I thoroughly enjoyed my experience this afternoon as I mulled through items to select that perfect gift.

For my work father I settled on a bottle of local Pennsylvania wine and a bar of organic dark chocolate.  The man loves food.  On one of our many get-to-know-you moments he shared a story with me about a taste bud experience that involved alcohol and chocolate.  We had recently tasted some local wine at a store, and low and behold, one of them paired very well with chocolate.  It was meant to be.  For my boss, the best boss I have every had in my 17 years in the work world, I bought a decorative glass plate that is painted with purple flowers (purple is her favorite color).  My boss has two sons and I figured she could use something pretty with all the testosterone that runs through her household.  I can't wait to give my gifts tomorrow.  I hope their hearts are touched, that is always my aim.  There is nothing like ending a professional relationship well. 

The gifts for my two favorite people at work:

For my work father

For my boss

This is what I wore yesterday, my outfit today was meh.

Dress: Thrifted
Shoes: Rocket Dog
Earrings: Self made

Thrifters Anonymous

Monday, July 25, 2011

Good Food

Good food.  What is good food?  As I read yet another statistic about how our nation's health is worsening, I ask myself that question.  Is it food that is healthy? Perhaps, the good food label is only reserved for those dishes that are decadent or complicated to make or both.  Is it food only found in specialty stores of the expensive variety?  When I walk through the aisles of the grocery store, I try to discern which foods are good and which ones are not: it is both difficult and confusing.

The good food debate is gaining steam in America and it seems every interest group wants to own a piece of the conversation.  While some advocate for fresh, organic and minimally processed, others struggle simply to put food, any food on the table.  For those in the second group, categorizing food as "good" or "bad" seems out of touch.  It turns out we have a fair amount of food insecurity in our nation.  Your neighbor may not have access or be able to afford good food.  In this land of enormous plenty, that does not seem to make a whole lot of sense.  We want to eat what is "healthy", but the data is not so consistent or clear on what "healthy" is.  So what is one to do?  How can we tell what is good food?

For me, good food is tied to my early years living with my grandparents.  They had fruit trees, vegetables, and coconut trees in their backyard.  Grandpa went to the market everyday to get fresh fish, or meat, or whatever happened to be on the menu.  Everything tasted good, EVERYTHING: from the bittermelon dishes to the sweet coconut water, a gift from the trees in the yard.  Then there were the bananas, little, petite, picked the day we ate them, and most of all delicious.  As an adult, that is the "good food" I yearn for.  It is both a result of those happy years and the feeling that food that one witnesses grow and mature simply can't be bad for you. 

I have always tried to eat good food, but quality food is sometimes not affordable (especially when one is attending graduate school).  My father used to say, even when times were especially difficult, that the one thing he would not sacrifice was good food.  "I work, so I can eat well." He said, "Everything else comes second." That has always stuck with me.  The most basic reason to work is to be able to eat.  Without food, good food, one has difficulty getting on.  Now, as an adult, I can finally afford good food.  I can go to the grocery store and buy food, regardless of price, and not feel guilty.  (Don't get me wrong, I am not a billionaire and can't afford grass fed organic beef or Wild Alaskan Salmon everyday, once a month is probably what my budget will allow.)  It is liberating to be able to finally eat good food.  I am grateful I can do so, since I know that many of my country men and women cannot.

So yes, I fall on that end of the continuum that eats organic, mostly local, and minimally processed food.  I have lost 25 pounds on this diet of good food.  I don't worry about calories, or fat content, or points.  I simply eat good food.  My community supported agricultural (CSA)  farm allows me this decadence for 24 weeks out of the year.  I eat organic berries, squash, melons, cucumbers, eggplant, peppers, potatoes, and a wide array of vegetables not found in grocery stores.  This food is picked the day I pick it up and consumed the week it is picked.  For the first time in all my years in the States, the food I eat tastes like the food I had living with my grandparents.  I cherish every morsel I put in my mouth, because good food is not a guarantee.  It can yanked from you like a good job.

When my 24 weeks are over, I still eat organic and minimally processed, but it is hard to eat local when it snows.  The CSA has a winter share, which perhaps this year I might be able to afford.  It would be amazing to have good food all year round.

All of us deserve good food.  We should not have to choose between a bag apples and a loaf of white bread because the apples costs more.  I like to think that I vote with my fork every time I choose the organic option.  Yes, it costs more, but at the end of the day, I work so I can eat.  Health is indeed wealth, and good food is the necessary ingredient.  With good food, and the good health that comes with it, I am already one step ahead.  This makes me wonder, how can we as a society demand good food?  This is America afterall, shouldn't we expect the best?  I don't have the answer to that question, I just know that we should all have access to good food that we can afford.  So the next time you contemplate what to make for dinner or purchase for consumption, ask yourself: Is this good food?

This weeks CSA bounty....


Friday, July 22, 2011

106 Degrees!

You read that right, it was 106 degrees outside on my drive back from work.  It was 90 on the way to work.  I heard on the radio that in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia it was 90 degrees.  I don't know about you, but something seems off about that.  Maya is probably boiling.  (The Mr. is out right now hunting down a portable air conditioner.)  Since I couldn't very well go to work naked today, I wore this whimsical red paisley number.  It also happens to be made with silk.  Silk......., sorry, my brain sort of stops working when I utter the name of this luxurious material.  I bought this at a Goodwill awhile ago and loved it because it is red, flowy, has paisley print, and of course, is made out of silk.  I will officially come out of the paisley closet and admit I love this frumpy kind of print.  The color combinations are so endless, it suits my eccentric style.

The sandals I purchased at a DSW a few days ago.  I thought they were kinda expensive, but the Mr. was so insistent I caved.  They have a made-in-ancient-Rome look.  Having been to Rome, a very charming city, I love how these shoes remind me of that fantastic trip (I went with my mom, who had never been to a European city).  Finally we come to the jewelry.  I made the earrings, necklace, and bracelet.  The ring was a gift from my grandmother.  I would write something more witty today, but it is just too hot.

Dress: Ice (thrifted)
Shoes: MIA
Jewelry: Made by me

Thursday, July 21, 2011

It. Is. HOT.

It is close to 100 degrees outside and feels like a furnace. The inside of my house feels the same since I don't have air conditioning. I feel for my poor Maya who must be so uncomfortable (she is sitting in between two fans, panting). The new job starts in a little more than a week! I am starting to get excited, but it still doesn't feel real yet. 

I truly believe that things work themselves out. Sometimes it doesn't seem that way in the moment, but when one looks back at the series of circumstances as a whole, it all starts to makes sense. This new job feels the same way. Savoring it is important, because at some point I will feel overworked and under appreciated and at that time, I have to remember how I felt at this moment. That is just the way the work world is sometimes. That shouldn't deter one from doing their best and having personal integrity. At the end of the day you can't change someone else's behavior, you can only change your own and hope other's use that as a guiding example. Influence is a powerful thing, most of the time we don't even know we have it.

I wanted to wear something bright and cheery today. After a week of mostly black outfits (I really love black and as a result, my closet is full of items in that color). I thrifted the skirt some time ago and it is actually purple, for some reason it comes out blue when photographed. The shirt is from JC Penny and the shoes are from Daffy's. This is out of my normal comfort zone, but since I have only a week or so left, I thought I would go out with a bang.

Skirt: Pat Argenti (thrifted)
Shirt: St. John's Bay
Belt: Thrifted
Shoes: Boutique 58
Earrings: Made by me

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Human Touch

On most days I consider myself to be a solitary person. Solitude seems to be essential in my ability to function. When people ask me to describe myself, I say that I am a modern day hermit, someone who doesn't really enjoy people. Humans, in general, are complicated, and too often unpleasant. Sometimes though, that same calming solitude, can be torture. It is a fine balance between serenity and loneliness.

This past weekend and today are fine examples of when the human touch can be nourishing to both the mind and soul. There are times when all of us need the company of friends and the appreciation of colleagues. We humans are social creatures after all. Interaction with other sentient beings is essential to our way of being.

The Mr. and I went to a potluck on Saturday where we spent several hours eating good food and having an engaging conversation with a physicist and former dancer (get your mind out of the gutter, she was not that kind of dancer). We talked about our families, the problems that ail our society, relationships, careers, but most of all we laughed. One cannot laugh and feel the full joy of that activity without the company of others. This brief moment was so perfect, I wish I could have bottled it up so I could bring it out in trying times. It never fails to amaze me how such pleasure can be had doing the simplest of activities.

Saturday Outfit to Potluck
Dress: Kohls
Purse: Wilsons Leather
Shoes: DSW
Necklace and Earrings: Made by me
Chickpea Dish Ingredients: Organic garbanzo beans, organic onions,organic potatoes, organic pasta sauce, Himalayan sea salt, Organic cayan pepper, Organic black pepper, grapeseed oil, Organic turmeric, allspice, curry  powder, organic ginger.
Riata (yogurt dish): Organic yogurt, organic cucumbers, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, organic cayan pepper, black
pepper, tamarind sauce

The perfection of that moment was followed by spending time with Maya on the beach the following day. My baby girl was unsure of the water at first, but with a little coaxing, she seemed to recognize its potential. She also thoroughly enjoyed chasing an inky black great dane that looked a bit like Marmaduke (albeit smaller). Needless to say, the weekend was pretty perfect. God, how I love having a dog. Hermits, it turns out, really enjoy pets.

Maya frolicking at the beach....

Enjoying the view
Splashing around

Making new friends

Playing with daddy

Posing with mommy

Finally, we come to today. I emailed my farewell note to everyone today. The response was overwhelming in a positive direction. I had no idea that so many people thought so highly of me, or would miss me for that matter. I always assumed no one noticed, it turns out I was wrong. No matter how awkward one is, or how reserved, we all want to be noticed. It is a shame we wait so long to tell people the things we think are great about them. Imagine what the world would be like if we spent half our time telling those we interact with everyday how their presence makes a difference in our lives. While I always say please and thank you, I don't tell people often enough how great they are. At this next job, I resolve to do this more. With those I care about, I resolve to do this half the time at minimum. After I tell people that I am a modern day hermit, I always point out, that hermits have hearts too. Ours are just more more prone to break than regular folks. So we have to spend a little more effort protecting them.

Outfit today.... 
100% Thrifted
Top: Urban Behavior
Skirt: The Limited
Shoes: BCBG

Thrift | Everybody, Everywear

Thursday, July 14, 2011

I Made My Decision

I made my decision Tuesday night and decided to accept the offer at the other company.  After staying up till 4:30 in the morning and not getting so much as a thank you, I had, had enough.  It is time to start afresh while I still like everyone at my current job.  My boss told me I would have to continue to work on a team that I don't especially care for.  Working with them essentially means career suicide, since I am rarely able to meet my deadlines when I work on their projects.  (They also don't seem to have the words "thank" and "you" in their vocabulary.)  So now with that wrenching decision complete, I can look forward to a new job in a new month (I start August 1st).  This the first place I am going where I actually know people (who I also like), so the transition should be nice.  I told my work dad yesterday, that was very difficult.  You know what this sweet, wonderful man's reaction was?  He said, and I quote "Well, I'm going to miss you."  How wonderful is that?  I am looking forward to the evolution in our relationship as it transitions from a professional one to a personal one.  I think I am going to get him and my boss thank you gifts for being so wonderful.  In a world where people are so unpleasant, it is important to recognize those who are not. 

My craft room is completely painted.  It looks bright, green, and awesome :).  I have been so busy with work I haven't had much time to work on it. Since I am no longer young and spry an almost all nighter takes longer to recuperate from.  I think tomorrow I will work on painting the trim, and then it will be ready for decoration.  I am also getting new glasses tomorrow. Yay!  It's been three years, and my eyes are begging for something stylish.  I wore the outfit below Monday.  I bought it from the juniors section and it is still to big.  <sigh>

Dress: Kohls
Belt: Thrifted
Shoes: Michael Kors (Thrifted)

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Joys of Being an Employee

It finally rained after some scorching weather.  The veggie garden is going to be appreciative of that.  I was supposed to find out the details of my promotion today, so I could make my decision.  Unfortunately, the powers that be decided not to honor their commitment to tell us today and delay the info dispersing another two weeks.  Needless to say, I am "disappointed" with my employer.  I personally feel that if you make a commitment (especially on something as important as someone's livelihood), you should honor it.  Especially, if you espouse that you value your employees.  On another note, my boss has been incredibly kind about the whole thing, and that makes me think that maybe I don't want to move.  My work father is not making it any easier by being so awesome.

This weekend's plan is to complete the craft room so that I can get to creating.  On the creating front, I have gotten a head start by adding tags to all my posts (it turns out I own alot of purple clothes).  Maya has been a trip lately.  She showed her displeasure to the hubs (for being late) by tearing up mail (nothing important).  It was pretty funny.  She also now barks at things that are only visible to her (that is not so funny).  All in all I have an awesome dog.  Pets add such fullness to one's life: joy, humor, and love.  Regardless of how bad my day has been, I come home to a welcome that screams "I am so HAPPY to see.  I LOVE YOU."  I recommend a pet for everyone, it will at the very least cure you of glumness (I'm not a fan of the word depressed, I think glum is more accurate).  Oh, and below is what I wore today.  Orange is another fantastic color.

Dress: Banana Republic (outlet)
Shoes: Moda
Earrings: self made

Thursday, July 7, 2011

In Anticipation of EBEW

I missed the last EBEW challenge, which was lace.  boo :(.  This time I decided to be proactive and wear the outfit early so that I can link it in time.  In general, I am not  the biggest fan of yellow.  However, I am finding that the sunny disposition color is more needed in my wardrobe, given the increase in frustrating days I'm experiencing.  I find that yellow is indeed a mood enhancing color.  The outfit I'm wearing is old.  The top, skirt, and shoes are minimally 3 years old.  The skirt is actually too big for me. I had put darts in a while ago, but it is still loose.  No matter, it fits well enough to wear in public, the only thing that counts.

The jewelry I'm wearing today is a set I made.  I adore jewelry.  Unfortunately, that adoration only applies to silver, gold, and platinum.  I think this is likely due to the fact that I am allergic to metals that are not one of those three.  Makes for expensive gifts for the hubs to get me :).  Anyway, I started jewelry making as a hobby.  (I thoroughly enjoy hobbies of all kinds.)  With work and life being as hectic as it has been, not to mention my disorganized house, I haven't done much lately.  I thought I would start wearing some of the pieces I like the most.  No point leaving them in the jewelry box to gather dust.  This is one piece where I am pleased with the outcome, so I thought I would share it with all of you.  Let me know what you think.  Once the craft room is done, I can start doing my hobbies again. :)

Earrings: Sterling silver
and swarovski crystals

Necklace: Sterling silver, rose quartz drops, freshwater pears,
and swarovski crystals
EBEW Outfit
Skirt: Arden B
T-shirt: don't remember
Shoes: Target
Earrings and Necklace: Made by me

Yellow | Everybody, Everywear

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

I Got the Job!

I got an offer for the interview #2!  Some much needed validation, since interview #1 didn't yield good results.  Now comes of the hard part of trying to decide to accept or not.  I will hear about the promotion this week as well, so hopefully by Friday I'll have enough info to make a sound decision.  I told my boss that I got an offer.  It is only fair, given I really like her and the people I work with.  I've been told that it is a good thing for one's employer to know that they may lose a valued employee (according to my boss I'm a valued employee, well that's what she tells me anyway).  Regardless, I think the outcome will be a good one.

The renovation of the craft room is coming along nicely.  I have primed the walls, added texture to all of them, and have painted 3 walls.  I still need to add texture to the slanted portions (I have a cape cod style home) and paint the remaining walls.  I decided to go with a cheery lime green for the walls.  The accessories will be burgundy and deep purple.  I can't wait for it to be completed so that I can share with all of you.  Bright green may seem over the top, but hey, you only live once.  On glum days I am hoping the in-your-face-be-happy color will cheer me up.  Now many of you may wonder why on earth I would texture my walls.  Very simple: hideous, shellacked, poorly installed wood paneling.  After 4 layers of primer, the shellack was still bleeding through.  Fortunately, it is not bleeding through the paint.  I don't have the funds to hire someone to redo the upstairs with sheetrock and such, so the best alternative was texture.  The paint is a matte finish, so the texture does not look bad.  The walls look generally even, which is a much welcome change from before.  I'm thinking I will be done with this project this weekend and then I can FINALLY get to some sewing and crafts.  I can't wait, it will be stupendous :).  Below is what I wore today.  This dress is thrifted and a size 8.  It fit a whole lot better when I weighed more.  Now at a size 0, it is a wee bit big.  Hence the oversized belt.  Once the craft room is complete, this will be one dress in the alterations pile.  I hope everyone had a lovely 4th.

Dress: Jeremy Spencer (thrifted)
Shoes: Moda
Belt: from another dress (Kohls)
Jewelry: made by me

Friday, July 1, 2011

Feeling Ethnic

The July 4th weekend is here!  It will be nice to have three days off (I have work unfortunately).  We are thinking of  going to the beach.  I have a ton of projects around the house that need to be completed (tiling the kitchen floor, finishing my sewing room, staining the front door, etc.).  The Mr. is not very handy, so its all on me.  I can never seem to find the motivation to get my DIY home improvement projects completed.  I'm hoping this will be the weekend.  Anyway, I wore something a bit ethnic today.  I haven't  worn this top or shoes in forever, so I thought I would let them have their moment of glory.  The top and shoes are from India, I love the gold detail.  I am wearing jeggings I bought on our recent trip to Rehoboth Beach.  They are from the Express outlet store.  Let me take a moment to express my frustration at finding clothes that fit.  I am a petite person (if you can't tell from my photos).  I am about 5'1" and 100 pounds (on weeks I don't eat crap).  Which essentially means everything is too big or too long and sometimes both.  This makes the shopping experience frustrating to say the least.  I was not always this small, my weight loss has just made it more annoying.  So, since all my jeans are too big, this lovely number works well.  I have finally found the confidence to wear shape hugging clothes and things in mini form.  So while this newfound confidence lasts, I am taking full advantage and wearing all things skin tight and short :).

Top: India
Jeggings: Express Outlet
Shoes: India (gift)
Belt: Thrifted
On the career front, the initial feedback from the interview was positive.  It remains to be seen if that will turn into a job offer.  No worries though, my boss informed me I am likely get promoted next week (she needs approval from the powers that be).  Sometimes the universe just works in your favor.  Since that is rare for me, I am enjoying this moment while it lasts.  Whatever happens, I am confident it will work out for the best.

The terra cotta veggie garden is doing well.  There was a little hiccup in that I noticed that something was chomping on my buds (my money is on the bunnies I see hopping in the yard).  I bought a barrier thing to put around it to prevent any more damage.  It is not the most appealing to the eye, but hey at least I'll get to see my sprouts grow up.  I am also including the fruits and berries growing happily in the yard.  I picked the wild raspberries yesterday and they are delicious.  I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday :).
Barrier to keep the bunnies at bay

Bush Beans

Sweet Peas



Wild Raspberries