HelloGiggles-Top Ten Signs You're An Adult

This article from HelloGiggles called the Top Ten Signs You're An Adult is completely true for me, especially number 1. Check it out and let us know if any of these signs apply to you. I'm guessing at least five of them apply to most post grads!

P.S. It's New Year's Eve tonight! I will be staying in with my parents tonight to ring in the new year and I can't wait. Especially since I was just visiting some friends in NYC yesterday and we mistakenly ended up walking through the crazy crowds in Times Square. People were already in the corrals to watch the ball drop, at 6pm last night. I know some people thrive on stuff like that, but getting pushed around the sidewalk by tourists with huge backpacks is not appealing at all to me.

This is actually the first New Year's Eve that I haven't had to be someplace wearing something sparkly. I think I'll start out tonight with some wine, a bath, and a face mask. We hope 2012 is the best year yet for all of our readers! Just want to say again how much we appreciate everyone we've connected with since starting TRPG.

Top 5 TV Show Characters I Can Relate To

When I watch TV I have a habit of inserting myself into the show. There is always a character that I either see myself as or can relate to, or looks alarmingly like me. I know this is how the writers want it to be, they need to draw people in by making the characters easy to relate to. However, there have been entire seasons of shows that have mirrored my life, or at least in my head they did.

So, below are the top 5 characters that I relate to.

  1. Jessica from True Blood. This is only because she is my celebrity doppelganger. So much so that my ex was drunkenly convinced that I was a vampire.
  2. Robin from How I Met Your Mother. One of my exes was a Barney and we happened to have been seeing each other the same season Robin and Barney were together. I also would love to be a news anchor and don't want kids.
  3. A mixture of Bree and Lynette from Desperate Housewives. I'm secretly a soccer mom, even though I'd rather be the powerful career woman like Lynette, but I'm also a wine-o control freak like Bree.
  4. Carrie from Sex and the City. I have had my own Mr. Big and being a sex columnist is my dream job. Although I am not even close to making her style mistakes.
  5. Deb from Dexter. Curses too much, works too much, often runs from commitment. We are like soul mates.
I felt like the end of the year deserved some lists of Top things and this is what I came up with so far. What characters resonate with you guys most?

Old Friends

I wrote a post last year about how I feel lucky to have maintained such a solid group of high school friends, but I just wanted to revisit the subject since I spent Monday evening with these same old friends and it was an awesome time. It's great to have people in your life that have accomplished such varied things, but are also still so grounded and easy to pick right back up with after not seeing each other for a year (or years) at a time.
From 2008 ish. Just a few awesome friends hanging out at a laser roller rink
I also think spending time with my diverse group of friends helped to reinforce that there really is no right or wrong at this stage in our post grad life. All of my friends are living such different post grad lifestyles. A few are in serious relationships, some work 60 hour weeks, others are in a completely differently field than they expected, some are in grad school, a few live close to home, and others live across the country.

As a group of friends we've progressed from slightly dorky high schoolers to (still dorky) young adults that are busy working, financing new cars, and renting apartments that cost more per month than what we would make in an entire summer at our high school part time jobs. We get tired at 11pm now and only drink beer that actually tastes good.... we're growing up.

A few of my favorite high school girls. And bonus points because we were actually still in  high school when this pic was taken.
I was sad to say goodbye to my old friends for what looks like another year, but I know we'll be back together, reminiscing about happy times before we know it. And maybe when we all become extremely successful we can take awesome friend-cations and visit each other more than once each year.

Best of 2011

A friend and I have a theory that odd numbered years suck. 2011 was no exception, overall not the best year. However, nothing is all bad, and I would like to share the highlights of my 2011 before it is forever in the past.
  1. My Trip to Turkey. One of the best decisions I have ever made and I will never forget it.
  2. Two raises and a promotion at work. My social life may have gone downhill this past year, but at least my work life is headed in the right direction.
  3. The 2011 National Book Festival. I got to see some of the best authors speak and share.
  4. The writing group I am a part of now. I have gotten a lot of much needed feedback and motivation.
  5. Winery hopping while the weather was nice. Definitely some of the best day trips that exist. (Below is Naked Mountain Winery, yes, it is called, Naked Mountain.)
  6. All the new friends I've made over the past 12 months. I'm pretty much against people, so you should all feel very privileged.
  7. The Hunger Games. Don't even pretend like you didn't read and love them. I can't wait for the movie but have low expectations of it being even close to as good as the books.

How was 2011 for the rest of you? Was it miserable all around or just for me? I can't be the only one this theory applies to. Fingers crossed the even year of 2012 brings many more highlights!

Ho Ho Ho

My roommates both went home for the holiday, one is 22 and one is 32. It got me thinking about what age you start making your own Holiday traditions and stop going home for your parents'. I get that family is a large part of the holidays, and spending Christmas with the family is pretty standard. But at what point do you stop taking days off to travel to see them and instead start doing your own thing for the holidays?

I stopped going home for the holidays last year. I skype with my family on Christmas morning, but that is all. I don't like returning to the small town I grew up in, and we don't really have any traditions, other than the food that is made on Christmas Eve.

Christmas, to me, is almost as much of a Hallmark Holiday as as Valentine's Day. I have no connection to the religious aspect of it, and it all seems to be centered on gifts and food, cheesy music and too many decorations. Don't get me wrong, I love gifts and food, but it's not a reason to travel home for. Especially not when I have friends in town to spend it with.

All Christmas means to me this year is a three day weekend to relax. I have been so stressed lately it is insane. I was so stressed yesterday that a muscle in my toes spasmed. It was a strange sensation I hadn't had before. It threw off my balance because the toe wouldn't stay where I needed it. It's like my body was telling me I had to stay put.

So I plan on cooking, relaxing with friends and watching Dexter this weekend. The holiday will be in the background making the frosting on my cake green and the wine mulled, but it will be just like any other weekend.

Does that make me a Scrooge?

Office Relationships

Lately, I've been watching The Office on Netflix, and am totally entranced by the awkward chemistry that is Jim and Pam. For those that have never seen the show, Jim and Pam are two co-workers at the fictional company Dunder Mifflin who start out crushing on each other and eventually end up together throughout the seasons. I won't give away too much detail in case any of you haven't watched this amazing series yet. I may be a bit biased since John Krasinski (Jim) is one of my celebrity crushes..

Office relationships are really not an issue in my office since the majority of the staff is married, in a relationship outside of the office, or separated by about a 20 year age gap, but I have been wondering what is considered office appropriate in larger companies.

So here's where I turn to you, post grads! Are you allowed to date co-workers at your job? Is it the norm in your office, or frowned upon? Have you ever been in an office relationship? Fill me in!

Changes!

Hey all, I'll be making a few changes our blog over the next two weeks, so please hang in there as our style changes a bit. I promise the results will be pretty and will make our site a bit easier to navigate!

Winter Beach



Strangely enough, Rochester has not seen any type of major snowfall yet this season. Day after day I hear news reports about how this time last year we already had seen four feet of snow. This year? Nothing!

I figure our luck will run out soon, so I drove about 15 minutes away from the city to Lake Ontario beach to snap a few shots before the snow hits. Due to some lake effect snow last night, there was some actually snow on the beach. I was also literally the only person on the huge beach, which was a little bit eerie. Walking around the abandoned beach made for a peaceful way to spend an afternoon. Makes me wish I lived walking distance to a place like this, maybe minus the snow though. 

The coast of Lake Ontario

This lake is HUGE. Can you see Canada on the other side? 


Gotta love that winter sky

The Theory of Twice Removed

I have a theory about dating. First off, I hate most aspects of it with a passion. I hate awkwardness, I hate the Q&A part of getting to know someone else, I hate the pressure associated with dating a new person. This is how my theory came into being.

There are several ways to meet someone new, but most of them suck. If you meet someone at a bar I can almost guarantee that they will not be in your life more than 3 weeks. You can try online dating, but ever since the Craigslist killer, this creeps me out. You can ask your friends to set you up, but if that goes badly then all the awkwardness increases times a thousand.

My solution: The Theory of Twice Removed. I'll explain. The best people to date are friends of friends of friends.

- If you start dating someone you are friends with shit will likely hit the fan. It could ruin a friendship, your current friends will feel the need to take sides if it ends badly, etc., etc.

- If you start dating a friend of a friend they are still too close in proximity of your main friend group to avoid them. You probably met at a party,
but they will also be at every party after this one. They are pretty well vetted by someone who's judgement you kind of trust, but if it ends badly even more people will feel awkward. Do you really want to be asked why it didn't work while the person is drinking a beer in the other room?

- If you start dating a friend of a friend of a friend you are in a perfect situation. Example: Your friend's, roommate's best friend. They are far enough removed from your circle of friends that you will probably not awkwardly run into them at a party, but close enough that if you are interested it will be simple to get them there. No one's feelings will get hurt if it doesn't work out, except maybe theirs.

The last 3 people I dated fit my theory. None of them worked out, sadly enough, but it doesn't matter because I never really have to see them again. On the bright side, if they do happen to be a mutual friend's party, we can still hook up. It's a great position to be in.

The only issue I have encountered with my Theory, is that everyone tends to hang out with the same people. At some point, the pool of FoFoF will run out. But I think I am willing to take my chances until then.

My First Christmas Tree

This weekend I bought my first Christmas tree! It's amazing that even as a fake tree, this little $7.99 gem resembles a Charlie Brown Christmas tree.... but I still love it. I haven't decorated for Christmas since living on my own, so this tree is kind of a big deal for me. Even though I love traveling home for the holidays to my parent's fully decorated home, I think it's important to make some of my own holiday traditions as a I start to get older. This little tree will be the start of mine :). What about you all? Have you started any awesome holiday traditions of your own since graduating?

Disconnecting

Dealing with Stress

Something I think many post grads struggle with is disconnecting from our jobs after work. Whether our bosses can reach us by email or smart phone at any time of the night, or we just torture ourselves by obsessing over work after the day is done, it can get to the point where it's just not healthy.

Last Christmas I whined and complained on this blog about how I only had 2 and a half days home for the entire holiday. At that point, I didn't have paid vacation time, and felt like I was being guilted into only taking one extra day off for the holiday. I hated my friends that got the week in between Christmas and New Years off, resented my company for the limited vacation days, and was generally just in a negative mood for the whole Christmas season.

This year I'm doing things a little differently. I'm taking four vacation days and making the five hour trip home for the entire week between Christmas and New Years. This break is going to give me the chance to see a few more of my downstate NY friends and spend some holiday time with my family that I just didn't get last year. I'm in a much better frame of mind this Christmas season because I have this break to look forward to. I'm allowing myself some time to disconnect.

I think the best way to figure out how you can disconnect is to simply think about what makes you happy (outside of the workplace) and then go for it.  For me, the absolute best disconnect is visiting home and seeing family. I saved up my vacation time for months, and I'm going for it. For others it might be taking a trip to another country, or even having a staycation where you allow yourself to do absolutely nothing.

While taking time away from the office is the ultimate disconnect, it's also important that a disconnect from work can happen on weeknights and two-day weekends too. Here are a few ways to do so:

1. Distract with fun: I'm lucky that my current co-workers and supervisors do not expect me to take work home. However, I'm a stresser by nature and often find myself worrying about various work projects when I'm off the clock. To distract myself, I de-stress after work by running at the gym, reading, teaching myself Dixie Chicks songs on the guitar (yup... maybe I'll post a blog of that sometime..or not), and cooking. All of these activities give my mind something pleasant to focus on that relates in no way to my job.

2. Create space: If your boss has taken to frequently emailing you at your personal email and calling you after working hours, try waiting to contact him/her back until working hours the next day if it's not an emergency. This is a gentle reminder to the company that your home life does not require you to be constantly plugged in, and you might not be available after hours for work related business.

3. Ask for space: If you work in a job that is less regimented with workday hours, consider asking that you be contacted only in the case of emergencies after 7pm every night (or whatever time is comfortable for you). Sometimes being upfront with your employers about your need to unwind can be beneficial, especially if you point out that time for rest means you will be more productive during the day.

Work is an important part of life and being a dedicated employee is great, but allowing work to mentally weigh you down outside of the office is just not healthy. Venting about work to your girlfriends over margaritas is one thing, losing sleep because you are obsessing over the next workday is another.

Do you ever have problems disconnecting from the office? How do you tune out the workday and relax?

Some Favorite Posts

Allison has been summarizing some our favorite posts from within The Real Post Grad, but I want to make sure we are also spreading the word about other great posts. As bloggers we have other blogs we follow and 20 something bloggers we click with. It is a strange world here in Blog-ville, it's almost like we are making virtual friends with people we have never met. On that note, if you like our blog, you will probably like theirs too.

Some of my favorite posts from outside The Real Post Grad the past couple weeks include:

  1. Lauren's Thoughts has a great one about technology ruining our lives.
  2. Analyfe has a book review of something I now want to read.
  3. Forever 20 Somethings has a great piece about Transformers, and I don't mean the movie.
  4. Girls in Their 20s goes through Office Style on a budget
  5. Thought Catalogue tries to explain why Girls like Jerks. I took this one to heart, I know it is true.
These are just some of my favorites from blogs other than ours. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank you all for being such loyal readers. We really do appreciate it.

Warby Parker

Does your health insurance plan offer minimal or no eye care coverage? Still need new eyeglasses? I would highly recommend checking out Warby Parker.

Warby Parker is an online shop that offers a wide range fashionable and vintage inspired frames for men and women. The best part? Your Warby Parker prescription glasses of choice will only set you back 98 dollars.

As other glasses wearers can attest, glasses are not cheap. Before checking out Warby Parker, I went to a few different stores, including Empire Vision and Lens Crafters, and found that they charge upwards of 300 dollars for very standard frames and lenses. I'm very picky when it comes to shopping for anything, so I always have a tough time finding glasses in stores that are perfect for me, and I really don't enjoy the salespeople that breathe down your neck while you're looking.

Buying glasses online seemed impossible to me at first (how do you try them on???), but it's actually very easy with Warby Parker. Here's how it works:

Step 1: You need your prescription. I see an opthamologist since eye problems run in my family and I had cataract surgery in high school (that thing old people get...), so I got my prescription from my doctor. If you don't see an opthamologist, you can get your eyes tested at an optometrists office for around 60-90 dollars (sometimes there are even sales on eye exams).

Step 2: Visit warbyparker.com and pick out five frames that you like. Warby Parker mails you these frames (including return packaging) for free so you can try them on in the comfort of your own home. And make your family members and boyfriend vote on their favorite like I did.

Step 3: Place your order. You can even scan in your prescription if you're afraid of filling it in wrong on their site, or simply give them your eye doctor's number and they will call to find out your prescription for you!

Step 4: Wear your awesome glasses and feel proud of yourself for getting such a great deal. Warby Parker does not accept insurance, but does offer you a receipt that you can mail to your insurance company if you do get some coverage.

Warby Parker has gotten a bit of a reputation as a hipster brand in the blogosphere which is why I initially tried going the more traditional route when I needed new glasses, but I can assure you that even though some of their styles border on hipster territory, many do not!

My new Warby Parker glasses!
Feel free to ask me any questions if you've considered Warby Parker, or visit them online- their customer service department is very helpful.

(I also just realized this post sounds like an advertisement for Warby Parker, but I wanted to clarify that we were compensated in no way for this review! I just really love a good deal. )

How to Use Leftover Stuffing

After Thanksgiving I had a lot of leftovers. I made enough food to feed about 6 people, but there were only 3 of us, and 2 left a couple days later. If you do the math, that means I was left to eat food for 4.3 people before it went bad. Fact.

I am personally not a huge fan of stuffing most of the time. The flavor is great, but the consistency isn't my favorite. I like it when it is baked so the outside is crispy, but we didn't have the patience or space in the oven to make that happen this year.

Instead of throwing away my leftover stuffing, I decided to make mini-quiches with it. Bare with me, please, they were actually quite delectable. For 6 of these creations please read below.


Ingredients:
- Leftover Stuffing
- 3 eggs
- 2 slices of cheese (any kind you like, I used Havarti)
- Some Spinach

  1. Grease 6 holes in a muffin pan and pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees
  2. Spoon about a tablespoon of stuffing into each greased hole
  3. Put a couple spinach leaves on top (1-2 per mini-quiche is fine)
  4. Layer on a quarter of a slice of cheese per mini-quiche
  5. Scramble the eggs in a bowl and pour about a half an egg into each hole
Bake for 12-15 minutes until eggs are cooked through. Use a knife to unstick from the sides of the pan and voila! The are great as finger foods, so simple to make, and delicious, even to the girl who doesn't like stuffing.

Icelandic Adventure

Remember last year when I used my tax refund to go Turkey? Well now that it is almost the end of another year, I have again started to think about how to spend my refund. I will actually be sticking to a destination from my original "Where Should I Go Next" list. Iceland!

I will be traveling with two of my closest friends this time instead of going solo. While traveling so far alone was certainly an adventure, I am looking forward to having company in my debauchery on this trip.

The trip will be at the end of March so that we are there during the prime viewing season of the Northern Lights. So far our trip will include:
  1. Whale Watching
  2. The Blue Lagoon
  3. Puffin Island
  4. Eating puffin (apparently it's like chicken there)
  5. Going to the Elf Museum
  6. Northern Lights
There are several more attractions being considered, but the above are definitely going to happen. Right now we are in our planning and discovery phase of the trip, so almost everything sounds awesome. We also watched the Bizarre Foods and No Reservations Iceland episodes to prepare. If anyone has any books, movies or music I should check out before the trip please let me know!

Judgey

I've noticed a few peaks of judgement in my life so far. One was in middle school, where the girls are mean, the boys are short, and everyone has some sort of braces contraption in their mouth or new glasses. The next peak was senior year of high school. As my class prepared to make the leap from our small town lives to college, people were judged based on their college choices (or lack thereof). The third judgemental peak has occured in the year since graduating college, where the question "so.. what do you do?" seems to start off every first conversation. I finally feel like this judgement is simmering down as I enter my second year as a post grad. Maybe the fourth  peak will be when everyone starts to have babies and get married? Who knows..

I can't say that I have never looked at a Facebook profile or heard some gossip about a high school acquaintance and thought about how my life is so much more put together then theirs. I'm sure people out there have done the same to me. Since I feel completely rotten when I do judge others, I've been trying to instead think with an open mind about people who are living lifestyles that are different from my own.

For example, a few of my good friends have moved back the Hudson Valley (where I grew up) after going away to school. When I graduated college, moving home was the last thing I wanted to do and I couldn't imagine why anyone my age would choose to live there. But I've come to realize that there are family reasons, boyfriend reasons, school reasons, job reasons.. there are countless reasons why these people have chosen to move back to their hometown, and the ones I know seem very happy.

Another type of judgement I've noticed in the post grad world stems from job choice. I am much less judgemental about jobs for some reason... probably because my job is not glamorous and mostly serves to pay the bills. I can't tell you how many times I've overheard grad students throwing digs at post grads who aren't following their passions or are stuck working retail jobs. I've seen those that were lucky enough to land their high profile dream job look down on those who haven't yet, instead of embracing how luck and timing have worked in their favor.

I think we could get a lot more out of our lives by trying to minimize our judgements as post grads. Like Shikole posted a few days ago, this is the time of our lives to set our own goals. While we are the only ones who can determine our own happiness, I think we can also work on appreciating each other's goals while we're at it.

Why it's Hard to Adjust to Post Grad Life

I've been thinking a lot lately about why I am having a hard time with life in general. I have always been able to adjust quickly and easily to whatever situation was thrown at me. Sometimes it took me a few days, sometimes a few weeks, but it has been over a year since graduation and I am still not entirely adjusted. But, at least now I think I have pin-pointed why.

  1. We have no built-in goal. Through High School and College alike we had a built in goal: graduation. There was an end point, there was a plan, there was light at the end of the tunnel. We were working towards something. Once we graduate most of us have 1 goal: get a job. Ok, well what about after we have a job?
  2. No Built-in vacations. Since we entered the schooling system we have had built in vacations. Summer was longest, followed by 2 weeks for Winter Break, one week for spring break, and some 3-4 day weekends sprinkled through the rest of the year. We could relax, read for pleasure, travel, whatever we chose. Now most of us have 10 vacation days a year and have to fight for holidays and weekends off.
  3. The repetition. Every day includes the same tasks, people, problems, solutions, places, etc. No longer do we have 2 or 3 different topics to focus on in a given day. We can't change what we focus on every semester. We have a job, and a boss, and some co-workers, who may change slightly, but the focus is still the same every day.
  4. Our support system has scattered. In college most of our friends lived in the same city, if not the same house. You could easily grab coffee after a class, have a mini-freak out, and feel better about life. Now our friends have scattered to different cities, sometimes even different countries. And mini-freak outs are turning into major ones.
These are the three main reasons I came up with that are making this Post Grad thing difficult. I know that they do not apply to everyone, but they are broad enough to be relatable. While I know that there are ways to remedy numbers one and three, I am not at the point of acceptance yet. I am half in denial that this monotony is now my life and therefore will not yet try to fix it. I keep hoping that one morning I will wake up and something magical will happen and it will no longer need fixing.

And then I realize that in order to actually get my life together I need to set some goals and make some changes. Here's hoping I have the energy to work on that very very soon.

Thanksgiving is my Favorite

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I love that it is centered around food and being grateful for things in your life. I love that it is one of the few holidays not centered around religion. I love that I get to see my sisters during this holiday.

My 2 sisters who are no longer in high school arrived Wednesday night. The youngest got stuck with Mom, but she will get her turn eventually. I was excited this year because I had decided to make my own pie crusts for the apple pie. I also had
a new idea for my turkey: Garlic Rosemary.


Things I am grateful for this Thanksgiving 2011:
1. My friends and family
2. Having a job, even if it eats my soul
3. All of you for reading our blog so loyally
4. My health. I know it sounds cliche but my immune system rocks and I am very thankful for that.

Instead of shopping for Black Friday, my sisters and I went to the National Portrait Gallery and then to Chipotle for lunch. Definitely one of the better decisions I've made lately.

Happy Thanksgiving!

My thanksgiving was very nontraditional this year (more on that to come) but I wanted to make a quick list of what I'm thankful for.

-my family
-my friends (old and new!)
-my boyfriend
-that I live close enough where I can travel home for the holidays (5 hrs doesn't seem so bad when I realize that many are plane rides away from family)
-my job for allowing me to live comfortably and with health benefits

There are so many little things I'm thankful for, but these are the basics. It's officially the holiday season! Anyone have plans to hit up the stores tomorrow for sales? I definitely do not haha..

This Will Make Monday Better

Well Post Grads, it is almost Thanksgiving. Finally. Which means most of us get at least a day off from work. But there are still 3 days standing between us and relaxing after stuffing our faces. So, I wanted to share with you a video that makes me laugh hysterically no matter what. I'm not kidding. Every time I watch this video I crack up. It is so true it is scary, and this is how I usually get through a Monday. Please enjoy. (And if you are watching this at your desk make sure you have headphones on and don't laugh TOO loud.)

Stupid Questions

My job is very stressful. If that has not been abundantly clear in previous posts, now you know. This week especially I have had an abundance of stupid questions asked to me. I know what you're thinking "But Shikole, there is no such thing as a stupid question! My professor told me so!"

False. Read on and you will understand.

Example 1: Client tells me on Tuesday they would do anything to get Fios installed by the end of the week. I make this happen. The Fios tech calls at 9:30am today to tell me he is on the way to do the install. I alert the client.

Client response "No, now isn't a good a time, can you stall them until noon?"

This is not a valid question. Do not ask me such ridiculous things.

Example 2: A new hire is placing an order for a client on the client's credit card.

New Hire: "Who's address should I put as the billing address, ours or the clients?"

This is not a valid question. Do not ask me such ridiculous things.

Example 3: Client emails with an "urgent" problem. It reads: "I tried calling So-and-So and got a recording saying his voicemail is full and I can't leave a message. Can you fix this?" Well, Lady, this usually means that So-and-So needs to empty their voicemail.

This is not a valid question. Do not ask me such ridiculous things.

Example 4: At 6:30pm, after normal business hours, a client calls because she can't figure out how to email a picture from iPhoto. I explain to her that all my technicians have gone home for the night and we will assist her in the morning.

Client response: "Well why don't you just text Boss Man and tell him I'm waiting at my computer for help?"

This is not a valid question. Do not ask me such ridiculous things.

Today all I wanted to do was scream at the top of my lungs until everyone stopped asking me questions. It was the only way I could think of that would be effective. Or maybe I need to find an anti-stupid drug to put in the DC water supply. For now, I will settle on wine as a resolution.

Birchbox Review

Today I decided to make a little video reviewing my new Birchbox subscription. Wondering what the heck a Birchbox is? Watch the video to find out :).

10 Questions: Shikole

I told you I would have it soon-ish! Disclaimer - my computer hates me, as I mention in the video, so if it freezes or goes black, oops! Enjoy!

Cocktail Hour

Generally when I'm out at a bar or ordering a drink with dinner, I'll get some sort of beer or wine. Mostly, this is because I really don't know of any awesome cocktails to ask for. I know simple cocktails like vodka cranberries, screw drivers, and white russians from my college days of mixing drinks with the cheapest ingredients possible, but beyond a few of the basics, I'm clueless when it comes to a good cocktail.

My boyfriend loves a drink called the Tom Collins. I had never heard of this cocktail before meeting him, and never actually tried more than a sip of one until this weekend. We made them using a really easy recipe at my apartment and I loved them! Mostly because I couldn't taste the gin at all. It just tasted light, citrusy, and bubbly.

Here's how you make one (from drinkmixer.com):

2 oz gin
1 oz lemon juice
1 tsp superfine sugar
3 oz club soda
maraschino cherry
1 slice orange

In a shaker half-filled with ice cubes, combine the gin, lemon juice, and sugar. Shake well. Strain into a collins glass almost filled with ice cubes. Add the club soda. Stir and garnish with the cherry and the orange slice.



Let me know what you guys think! Any fun cocktails suggestions?

Back to Earth

I apologize for being M.I.A. lately. Between work and trying to write a novel my brain has been fried. I promise I will have my 10 questions video made soon-ish. At the moment all my charm is being used at work and all my creativity is being used on my novel, leaving little to make a good video. Some important things to think about while I am being a hermit:

  1. Mississippi voted down the personhood amendment, so there is still hope for mankind.
  2. I have a new iPhone 4s, so tweets at least will keep on coming.
  3. Lie to Me is an amazing show. I am recently obsessed but have no time to watch.
  4. The holidays are right around the corner, help me find good recipes?
  5. Pinterst is my new favorite thing, find me, follow me.

And finally, I will leave you to listen to my new favorite song by Childish Gambino, although it is edited. He is featured on NPR right now, though.



How You Found Us?

Hey guys, quick post on my lunch break! I was just checking over our "search terms" under our stats and these are apparently a few of our most common search terms for the week:

"Norman Rockwell date night"

"depressive photography"

"anxious hands"


Hmmm..... hope you all found what you were looking for..?

I Love Mindy Kaling

I read Mindy Kaling's new book, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns), in one day. I honestly can't remember the last time a book made me feel so good about life. Mindy's book is a memoir arranged into hilarious essays, ranging from her childhood experienecs and breaking into a comedy career, to dating tips and her thoughts on relationships.

Most people know Mindy Kaling as the character Kelly Kapoor on The Office, but many don't realize that she's actually a writer and producer for the show as well. I'm pretty positive that every person who reads this book will automatically want Mindy to be their best friend

This book would probably be most appealing to an audience of women in their 20's and 30's, but I think men that are willing to open their minds could actually learn a ton by reading Mindy's advice- so I would reccomend this book to anyone!

Rating: 5/5 stars

Cover Letter Check List

When applying for jobs online, your cover letter and resume are what will land you an interview or send you straight to a company's trash bin. The other day, my friend was writing a cover letter for a position and asked me for some input, which led to a debate about how long a cover letter should be and what exactly it should entail. I ended up creating a list of things that I have looked for in cover letters when hiring for my company.

Let's start from the top of the email!

1. Address your cover letter to someone. If the contact person on the job listing is Mr. Bossman, start the letters of with a "Dear Mr. Bossman," even if you're just writing an email. If there's no name on the job posting, a simple "To Whom It May Concern" will do.

2. Use the company's name in the first paragraph. This goes along with tip number one and makes your letter much more personal. The last thing a company wants to see is a generic letter that you copy and pasted to fifty different employers.

3. In the first or second paragraph, state a reason why you would be a great fit for the job based on something you've been able to research about the company. I completely understand that a job is a job in this economy. We aren't always picky when the words "full time with benefits" are tossed around. This doesn't mean that you can't look up the company's website and do a little googling to find out more about the company you'd like to work for.

Bad Example: I have a wide range of skills that would make me the perfect candidate for Company X.

Good Example:  In researching your company, I noticed that Company X offers social media services. My freelance social media consulting work has actually required to me to do the same tasks listed on your website.

4. Avoid overusing cliche phrase like "determined and innovative individual", or saying that you have a "passion for _____" . Believe me, I've been guilty of both of these! If you are a dedicated and passionate worker, instead try to briefly describe how you exemplify these traits.

Bad Example: I have a passion for writing, so I would be honored to work Town X Newspaper.

Good Example: In addition to my full time job as a content editor, I write freelance articles, and run my own blog.

In my opinion, a passion should speak for itself.

5. Keep length in mind! Growing up, when my mom would edit my essays she would tell me to "add more meat" but stay away from "fluff". While meat is meaningful content, fluff falls more into the "I have a passion for..." category. By keeping your cover letter brief but pointed, you will catch an interviewers attention, and keep it.

6. Sign your cover letter with a "Sincerely", followed your full name, your contact info, and a link to your LinkedIn profile.

7. Always attach a resume!!!!!!!!

What do you think post grads? Would you cringe if I was the one reviewing your cover letter, or do you agree with my check list? I'd love to hear your input and some more cover letter tips!

Post Grads Hate: Broken Cars

My car is a bit of a lemon. I am very much aware of this. Even so, I love her. She is a trooper and has gotten me through many a road trip, late night Taco Bell run, and basic every day trips around town.

Monday morning, the Shikar, as she is so lovingly named, decided not to start. My first thought was "Shit, I don't have jumper cables on me." My next thought was, "F**k this is probably going to cost money." And finally, I thought enough to call my boss to tell him I'd be late.

I held out hope that my battery was dead until I finally got the jumper cables, tried to jump the car, and got no response. The engine still wouldn't even try to turnover. Which meant one of 2 things: my battery was so far gone it had to be replaced, or there was something else that was broken.

I am very lucky in that Boss Man has a spare car he is letting me borrow while mine is broken, but I still had to get the poor Shikar to a mechanic somehow. Translation: I had to PAY to get the Shikar TOWED to a mechanic. And all this before I would even know what was really wrong with her.

I got the call this morning, at work, with the diagnosis. She needs a new starter. On top of the struts I already knew she needed. Those things are a liiiitle more expensive than a new battery.

I love my car, but I hate how unpredictable the costs associated with it are. I never know when some vital part is going to decide to stop working. And I don't know which part it will be. I feel like a lot of Post Grads have this same issue. We work so hard to budget our money to afford life, to pay off our loans, to be able to take a trip home for one holiday out of the year. When our cars break down it can be really detrimental.

As always, the Shikar has taught me that I am grateful for even having a car, and that I should somehow learn how to plan for these things better.

10 Questions- Allison

Shikole and I have been wanting to make videos a part of this blog for a long time. We finally decided that since we've been getting some awesome traffic lately from 20 Something Bloggers, it was the right time to make a "get to know you" video. So, we made up a list of 10 random questions for each of us to answer. Here are mine! Shikole's video will be coming up soon!



Apple Bread

It snowed this weekend. Granted, we did not get nearly as much as the Tri-State area, but DC doesn't usually get snow at all, let alone in October. And cold weather is yet another trigger that makes me want to bake.

So I decided to make some apple bread. Apples are a great fall flavor and I have been wanting to incorporate them into a recipe for a few weeks now. I also recently bought a bread pan that I wanted to break in, so a bread was definitely in order.

Ingredients:
2 Apples, chopped
1 Stick of butter
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cloves

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Combine butter and sugar until smooth
3. Beat in eggs
4. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon and cloves
5. Mix dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until dough forms.
6. Fold in apple pieces
7. Bake for 1 hour

I wish I could share how it turned out, but it is still baking. My apartment smells amazing right now, though, which is always a good sign. The aroma is also helping my creative process, my NanoWrimo outline is coming together splendidly.

Halloween Light Show Video

Happy Friday! Since this weekend I'm sure lots of post grads will be out and about celebrating the holiday, I thought I'd share this awesome light show I saw circulating around Facebook. This is completely awesome, but can you imagine their electric bill?

Sex Dreams

We all have them. And while Allison has been all productive making pumpkins and cleaning her apartment, I've been over analyzing my inappropriate, out of my control, slumber movies.

My latest sex dream made work today very awkward. Although, I don't know if it even counts as a sex dream. Every friend I have said that to today has had the response, "How can you not be sure? Either it was or it wasn't."

False.

My dream involved the cuddling while scantily clad, in the same bed, with hair amiss. Picture that. Now tell me what just happened. Sex. It was very apparent that the deed was done, but luckily I did not have to witness it in my head. So, there is a "kinda" sex dream.

Some of you may be thinking, "Why would you want to miss the fun part of the dream?"

Well, readers, my kinda sex dream was with one of my bosses. That's right, I had to go to work today knowing that in my dream I had had relations with one of my bosses, and then cuddled. I felt dirty all day even though I had not actually done anything. It was horribly awkward.

And of course now I am over analyzing the kinda sex dream. What does it mean that we did it in my subconscious? Am I attracted to my boss? Am I really desperate to get laid? Was it good? Would it be good? I looked up dream meanings on different websites but none of them had a clear explanation for me, mostly because i only had a Kinda Sex Dream. An article at Divine Caroline had the most helpful response for me, but still did not make my day less awkward.


Have any of you had a really awkward sex dream? Please share so I feel the slightest bit less strange about having a kinda sex dream about one of my bosses.

Apartment Detox

This weekend I completed the "throw away 50 things" challenge from my last post. Let me tell you, it was an amazing experience. It reminded me of one of those those fancy rejuvenating juice cleanses that eliminates your toxins, except for your apartment. Or so I've heard.... I don't have the will power needed for juice cleanses.

I'm pretty positive that I could easily find about fifty more things in my place to trash and will definitely repeat this "apartment detox" in the next few months. Having less clutter around helps me to feel at peace, which is exactly what I need after a long day of work. Here's photo evidence of my results:


In the mix: shrunken clothing, old credit card bills, assorted beauty products, old magazines, college papers, uncomfortable shoes, art project disasters.. the list goes on and on.

In addition to my cleaning binge this weekend, my boyfriend and I went pumpkin picking and carved them up Saturday afternoon! I carved mine into a nighttime scene, as depicted below. Did anyone else know that white heirloom pumpkins have light green insides? You learn something new everyday..

Throw Away 50 Things

I have a little bit of an issue with throwing things away. I'm not a hoarder by any means (you've seen my apartment! I have proof!), but I do sometimes find myself attached to certain things that hold "sentimental value" that really just clutter up my life and surroundings. Old copies of the magazine I wrote for in college? Sure, it would be fine to save one of those.. except I found about ten copies of each issue in my old college backpack the other day. A necklace that I bought for a school dance in high school? It might hold a sweet memory, but I had questionable taste back then, and it's pretty much just clogging up my jewelry box at the moment.

There's also plenty of un-sentimental clutter, like the almost empty Bath & Body Works lotions I save just in case I need to smell like Cherry Blossom or Sensual Amber someday. Or the old bank statements that accumulated on my desk before I finally went paperless.

So, this weekend I plan to use an idea I read about on the website Makeunder My Life and throw away 50 things in my apartment. The fifty items can include clothing, outdated paperwork, or even smaller things smaller things like makeup or dried up highlighters (yup, pretty sure I've got some of those laying around too). I'm planning to donate anything that's in good shape, but the rest of my junk will be finding a new home in the dumpster.

Stay tuned for photos.. this should be interesting. Anyone else want to take part in the challenge with me? Link up your blog below!

Flashback Friday

A week or so ago I linked up a few of our favorite relationship posts and today I'm going to link back to a few of our best posts on apartment living!

Home Sweet Apartment A guide to furnishing your first place and a few photos of mine!
Flood Waters Rising When disaster strikes..
ISPs for Dummies We're all connected to the Internet in our apartments.. learn more about your provider!
Making the Best of It My decision to move to Rochester, NY and what I learned,
What Moving Has Taught Me About Independence One of the hardest parts of apartment living? Moving!

Have a great weekend post grads! Tomorrow I am planning to do almost every fall activity possible. This will include pumpkin picking, carving, a fall foliage ski lift ride, and finishing the day off with a haunted house! What are your plans?

The Game of Life

Do you remember playing the board game when you were a kid? Picking what color car was just given to you to play with and getting in line to "attend college" at the start? When I was younger I actually did the math to figure out how old you were supposed to be when each of the major events happened on the board. Please don't ask me what it came out to, I don't remember and have no intention of doing that much math again.

Looking back at this game now I cannot understand why it was fun because it is so unrealistic. Maybe it was fun, BECAUSE it was unrealistic. Just looking at the Big Green "Pay Day" squares gets on my nerves. Automatic pay day? Really? I wish I got an automatic payday for driving around in my car.

This game made me believe that if you went to college, you got a cool job. That was all: college = job. This is false and the makers of the game should rethink that. Even more aggravating, though, is that everyone bought a house. Everyone automatically had enough money to buy one, wanted one, and got one at the same time. There was no "apartment living" or "crashing on a couch", no, everyone bought a house, even if it was the beat up trailer option.

I want to remake The Game of Life into something more realistic so that no other generation of children grows up with such butterfly and rainbows expectations. Changes will include:

  • Instead of "have a baby girl" the space will read. "pregnancy test positive" and then there will be 2 options "have the baby" or "abort!" Aborting will get you a life LIFE token.
  • Rockstar will not be a career option. It will be replaced with Unemployed.
  • There will be no stop sign forcing you to marry or buy a house or get a job, there will be no stop signs at all.
  • Loans for college will now be $80,000 instead of $40,000. Maybe college cost that little back in the 60s when this game was created, but not anymore.
  • Paydays are not automatic, they only happen when you spin a 10. Then you will realize how lucky you are to be getting paid.
  • You walk your little person around the board until you can afford a car.

It is sad how unrealistic everything is when we are children. From Disney movies to board games, we grew up with some very false ideas in our heads. I guess it's time to grow up and play Gin Rummy instead. Gin and Rum are things that haven't changed since we were kids.

What's Your Walk Score?


One of the major priorities I keep in mind when apartment hunting is walkability. I love where I live in Rochester because I have restaurants, cafes, and grocery stores all within a few blocks of my apartment. I know wherever I live next, I will have to be positive that I can walk to at least some nearby attractions.

It was pretty easy for me to determine where I wanted to live in Rochester since I went to college nearby and could scope out neighborhoods before my move, but this wouldn't have worked if I was moving across the country for a new job. Thankfully, Walkscore.com exists as a useful tool for post grads that might be moving to a brand new area and are looking to live in a walkable neighborhood.

The Walk Score website is extremely easy to navigate and provides a "walk score" for any address or city in the U.S on a scale from 0-100. For example, the walk score for my current apartment is an 82/100.. pretty good in my opinion! The walk score for the town where Shikole and I grew up? 6/100. This is why we moved to cities, people.

Another valuable tool on the website is their new apartment search/ commute calculator. No one likes to be stuck in an hour of traffic after working 8 hours. This tool helps you to locate apartments near your job and takes into consideration your preferred mode of transportation for commuting (by foot, public transportation, or car).

Hope you find some of these tools helpful! Let me know if any of you have experiences with Walk Score!

Maple Spice Cookies

When I am stressed I bake. And for this Post Grad, it has been an extremely stressful week, month and year. I actually feel like the Friends theme song is my anthem: my job's a joke, I'm broke and my love life is D.O.A. SO to remedy the situation I took a trip to the baking aisle of Safeway to get some supplies.

Today I decided to make a delectable fall treat: Maple Spice Cookies. Sweet but not too sweet with a touch of spice, all wrapped up in a golden brown cookie.

Ingredients:

2 cups Flour
1/3 Cup Butter
1 Egg
1 Egg white
3/4 Teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 Teaspoons maple extract
1 Teaspoon vanilla Extract
1 Cup Brown Sugar
A few dashes each of All Spice, Cloves and Cinnamon


1. Preheat the oven to 325
2. Combine the sugar and butter (softened) until mixed thoroughly
3. Add the eggs and extracts. Beat until well blended.
4. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and spices.
5. Gradually add dry mixture to wet mixture while stirring. It is ready when it forms a dough.
6. Put balls of dough on greased cookie sheet. Bake for 10-15 minutes until done.
I also like toppings on cookies, so half of these got Maple Syrup drizzled on top and the other half got a thin layer of frosting. Both turned out to be the perfect fall cookie and made my stress levels temporarily decrease. I am sure the sugar also helped.

The Tech World

I used to know nothing about technology. By nothing I mean I could press the "on" button and then I was lost.

After being at my job for about 16 months, I now have some knowledge as to how things work. So much so that I can give instructions as to how to set up email from the server on an iPhone. But now I have noticed that I've crossed over to the dark side.

When friends explain the state of their technology at work I get stressed out. The company my roommate works at does not even have a domain. They use gmail. And not one of their computers has more that 512MB of storage space. I actually had a reaction to this; I needed to fix it. I started laying out an upgrade plan in my head and explaining why my way is better. And I actually knew what I was saying.

I was watching FlashPoint the other night and had a similar reaction. They started talking about assigning a dynamic IP to something and I actually started yelling at the television. You need a static IP to do anything like that.

This is no doubt a sign that I work too much, but it is also a sign that I am learning things I never had an interest in before. I still don't think I have much of an interest, but knowing that rebooting a computer solves most of its issues is very helpful in life.

I am glad that this job has taught me something, but I hate that I am now picking up on tech related issues outside of work. I need to bake something to make this all better. Maple Spice Cookies anyone? (hint: there will be a recipe up for this later.)

Meetup

When I moved to Rochester, I knew about four people in the entire city. I figured this would be a great start to making friends, but soon realized that my boyfriend and I worked very opposite schedules and my college friends had busy lives and their own significant others to spend time with.


So, I started looking into other options. I considered taking classes (which required money I didn't really want to spend) and volunteering (still attempting to get more involved in this). I eventually decided to check out a website I'd read about in a few magazines: meetup.com

The only problem? Every Rochester meetup group seemed to cater towards 40 and 50 year old singles who loved to cook together and go bowling. Needless to say, these groups didn't exact fit what I was looking for. After thoroughly searching all the groups in the Rochester area, I finally just decided to create my own group for Rochester 20 somethings. Putting myself out there as an organizer made me responsible for planning fun events for a group of people I had never met. I was very nervous before attending my first meetup, but thrilled when I saw the number of members triple over the first few weeks of creating the group.

It turns out, I had nothing at all to be worried about. In my past year in Rochester I've met tons of nice new people through the group, and I plan to join meetup groups in every city I move to from here on out. Meetup.com has improved their site since I began the group and now any group member can create an event on the site. This takes a ton of pressure off of the meetup organizer and has helped to make our now 100+ member group much more collaborative. As a group we've held picnics, bar hops, hiking excursions, brewery tours, concerts, visited art galleries, and so much more.

I've since stepped down from my "organizer" meetup position, but I still attend events regularly and have met some some great friends through the site. I would definitely recommend this site to anyone moving to a new city. If there's not a group out there that fits your age group or interests, don't hesitate to make your own!

Have any of you attending a meetup event in your area? What were your thoughts?

Charity Walks

I really enjoy participating in Charity Walks. I love knowing that there are thousands of people there walking with me that also want to help. I love walking in DC because there are so many historical monuments and picturesque scenes along the way. I love knowing that my small contribution and an hour of my time will help people who need it more than I do. And I still love the shirt you get for participating.

In DC there is a Charity Walk "season" if you will. Between September and December there is a walk almost every weekend for a different cause. Next weekend is the Light the Night walk for Leukemia and Lymphoma, the Help the Homeless walk is right before Thanksgiving, you get the idea.

In a couple weeks my friends and I will be participating in the Whitman- Walker Aids walk for the 5th year in a row. DC has the highest rate of Aids infection in the country so this walk is a very personal one for many people who participate. We have a team called the Awkward Turtles if anyone in the DC area would like to join us in our quest. If you are not in the DC area and can spare a few dollars we would also appreciate donations to the cause.

Do any of you participate in charity walks in your city?

Bring It Around Town

We have nearly 400 posts on this little site of ours so I thought it might be fun to link to a few of my past favorites in upcoming entries! It's Friday, which means it's "date night" for many post grads out there, so I'm linking to a few of my favorite entries from our relationship category!

Relationships
Wedding Bells Are Ringing
Post Grad Dating Rituals
Online Dating
When Dating Becomes A Chore


Also, check out Lauren's Thoughts for a few cute fall inspired date ideas!

Guest Post: Why Blogging Isn't a Waste of Time

A few weeks ago we discovered Erin over at Analyfe. She has a fantastic blog that covers musings of a Post Grad trying to navigate life. Obviously we were drawn to her. Below is a guest post she has agreed to grace us with. Please read about her other topics, books, and thoughts, over at Analyfe when finished.

"Have you applied for any jobs recently?" I glance up guiltily from my blog stats every time I'm asked this question. Truth is, five months after graduation and ten months after beginning my job search, I've lost hope in the conventional job search. Companies receive hundreds of applications for each position, and unless you're the cream of the crop, you aren't even considered.

The past month or so, I've taken networking to an extreme. Rather than being ashamed of my unemployment, I've become eager to learn about every possible opportunity. I've stepped out of my comfort zone and forced myself to talk to people about my skills, my interests, and even my blog.

I've been blogging for about ten months and it's not been something I talk about; however, lately I've reconsidered whether blogging is really a bad thing. Maybe through writing and maintaining a blog, I'm building marketable skills.

  • I blog daily as part of WordPress Post-a-Day 2011, which shows my dedication, persistence, and commitment.
  • Ten months ago, WordPress terrified me and I didn't understand anything. I've since mastered nearly every aspect of the site and its tools and resources. I’m a quick learner.
  • Blogging makes me a better writer; it helps me develop my voice, hone in my skills, and simply gain more experience.
  • Having a public blog exposes me to the world and makes me vulnerable, yet this vulnerability allows for constructive criticism and compliments from strangers. My fear of criticism has disintegrated and my adaptability has skyrocketed.
  • Blogging is essentially an extensive social network. The blogosphere is where I can go and know that I'm not alone, that others like me are struggling to find work and to find their way. Blogging gives me hope and encouragement.
  • I promote my blog through Twitter, a Facebook page, 20 Something Bloggers, and Google Plus. I've unknowingly become a social media marketing maven. I know how efficiently to share what I have to offer, as well as discover and promote others' content. I understand how the internet mediates mutually beneficial relationships among web users and know how to take advantage of it.

Going back to networking, I was recently put into contact with the owner of a small local paper. I offered my personal blog as a sample of my writing and she was thoroughly impressed with my work. I'm still in the training stage, but I hope to take on the job of freelance copywriter for the paper, and eventually write feature stories.

Another company got in touch with me, offering an interview. "I have several resumes in front of me, many from applicants far more qualified than you, but your cover letter was phenomenal. I'd like for you to come in so we can talk a bit." My good writing skills led to an interview I probably wouldn't have gotten otherwise. I still can’t stop grinning.

I've received criticism for spending so much time blogging when I "should" be out looking for a job. I've often felt guilty about this; however, in the past few weeks I've realized that blogging is actually helping me in my job search. Blogging is improving my writing skills and enhancing my ability to commit to a project and see it through. Blogging is teaching me to self-promote, network, and empathize with others (by following their personal blogs). Blogging has boosted my confidence and kept me sane. Without realizing it, blogging has prepared me to face the adverse economy.

Blogging isn't a waste of time. Don't let anyone tell you it is.

City Mouse

Allow me to paint the scene for you.

It's Wednesday night. I had just come home from an awesome night celebrating my friend's birthday and tasting Oktoberfest beers. I walked into my kitchen leisurely for a glass of water, flick on the light and see something tiny and brown scurry under my microwave. I let out a scream that probably woke up neighbors on both sides of my apartment.

I have never seen a live "wild" mouse in person, only in pet stores and in cages. We found a dead mouse in the apartment I lived in last year, but it was almost a given in that space. The apartment was run down, and old, with lots of nooks and crannies for mice to hide. But not my new apartment!! I clean diligently here, it appears like my apartment is sealed off, and my building is well maintained.

With my adrenaline pumping, I cornered the mouse, tipped up its little microwave hiding spot, and screamed again as the tiny mouse came hurdling right towards me after an HOUR of luring it out. I used my broom to scare it back away, and it jumped off of my counter and under the refrigerator. I spent the next hour googling "things mice hate". Eventually I fell asleep at 2 am, petrified that I would wake up with a mouse in my bed.

Mouse: 1 Allie : 0

This weekend, my boyfriend baited traps with peanut butter and we hoped to lure my new furry roommate out from under the fridge. All weekend long we noticed that the traps were moved slightly, and peanut butter had been eaten.. but no mice were being caught! 

Mouse: 2 Allie:0

So, I'm taking more preventative measures. Did you know that mice hate the smell of dryer sheets, cayenne pepper, and mint? Right now my kitchen smells like an overly seasoned laundry room.

Anyone have any ideas for trapping this guy that I haven't thought of? I'm thinking about borrowing a friend's cat..

NanoWrimo Season

November is novel writing month. Every year NanoWrimo has a writing contest where participants write a novel in a month. I participated last year but only got about 1700 words out of the 50,000 that were required to complete the challenge. I did, however, at least force myself to start writing again.

This year, I already have a concept in mind. I still don't know if I will make it to 50,000 words in just 30 days, but I'm already in better shape than last years challenge.

I think I have mentioned before that I want to write a book of personal essays. Think David Sedaris meets Chelsea Handler with a splash of Sloane Crosley. That will be my book. I also already have a few topics in mind for chapters of my novel in the making. Wait, I think that is now 2 steps ahead of where I was last year.

The rules state that writing cannot begin until November, but I think planning my writing before then is completely legitimate.

I know that several of my friends and fellow bloggers are participating in this challenge as well. I would love you to add me as a writing buddy on the site! Let me know if you're interested and I will send you my username.

Good luck to all. Let's write some novels.

Guest Post at Analyfe

Our fellow blogger, Erin, of Analyfe has been gracious enough to let us do a guest post for her. It is up now and we hope you all will check it out! You should also read past our guest post to her own posts because they are fantastic.

Thank you Erin!

Single Girl Problems

We have not been writing many posts related to relationships in Post Grad lately, and my older post about being Post Grad and Single is still getting a lot of traffic (thanks all!) so I figured it was about time to add another relationship post.

Now, I'd like to start off by saying that I love being single. I love the freedom and independence, not having to answer to anyone else or plan around anyone else's schedule. I love the possibilities. You never really know when you will meet the next man worthy of a date, so you look at every single one you pass and wonder if something will change him from a stranger to a lover.

That said, being Single also has it's drawbacks. The most prevalent problems I am facing are below:

  1. No one else is around to kill bugs/mice but me. And I will if I have to, but it is certainly nice to have a man around to be all tough and manly and just take care of it.
  2. I have no t-shirts to steal... I mean wear. For some reason mens' t-shirts are just SO much more comfy.
  3. I get self conscious about sex. Not the act itself, trust me that's fine, but the potential numbers I'm accumulating while single. There's a movie that just came out with Anna Farris called "What's your Number?" where she finds her exes in order to avoid raising her number. Yup, done that.
  4. For some reason men like to be the one driving, which is fine by me. Especially in this city, driving is stressful. But alas, while single I have to drive myself around.
Now if those four things could be solved, AND I could stay single, I think I'd be a happy camper.

Home Sweet Apartment

I showed you all a few pictures of my apartment when I had just moved in back in May, but I thought I would share a few more since I've been settled for a few months. Living on my own as a post grad has been the best decision I've made in a long time. While I'm not opposed to having apartment-mates in the future, they will need to be friends that I know I'm compatible with.

Here are a few photos of my finished apartment and some suggestions for furnishing your first solo place!



Tip #1: USE CRAIGSLIST. My coffee table, tv stand, desk, swivel chair, bookcase, and kitchen table are all from Craigslist. I get a little weirded out buying couches or chairs from Craigslist (I worry about bed bugs or other infestation issues), but I know plenty of people that have been successful getting couches off of the website. If you are comfortable with used things, you could literally furnish your whole apartment with affordable second hand items.

Tip #2: Dual purpose pieces. After a ton of research, I ended up purchasing my futon from Walmart for about 150 dollars. I chose this one because I knew I wanted to have friends and family come visit me and have a comfortable place to sleep. It's pretty comfortable as a couch and also opens up into an awesome sleeping area.



Tip #3: Choose your splurges carefully. I love interior design and design blogs, so it's easy to be swept away by adorable pieces I see. My splurge item will always be bedding, and eventually when I move into a larger apartment, and comfy sectional couch. My splurge for this apartment was my flower chair. It was a little over a hundred dollars from Target, but I thankfully had a 50 dollar gift card to put towards it, making it much more reasonable.



Tip #4: Keep an eye on the curb. The end table next to my futon was found outside of my office next to a dumpster and I have seen a ton of awesome pieces while running through my neighborhood that I would love to take if I had the space. Craigslist may be cheap, but curbside shopping is free!

Tip#5 Pay attention to apartment bulletin boards. I haven't gotten any of my pieces this way, but people use the bulletin board in my apartment building all the time when they are moving and looking to get rid of things. I've seen free chairs, tables, and couches listed.

The Wicked, Beloved Goon Squad

This weekend was the National Book Festival in DC, one of my favorite free festivals offered in the Nation's Capital. Every year authors gather in different themed tents to speak to their fans as well as sign books. This year there was even a Magic School Bus that children could walk through.

The author line up this year was impressive and I was so excited to see them I woke up at 7:30am on a Saturday morning to make sure I could get downtown in time for the 10am start time. That's commitment right there.

The three authors I heard speak were phenomenal and each one offered up something different. I left with several pieces of advice from each and a lot of inspiration.

The first speaker was Toni Morrison. Yes, the same woman who wrote Beloved and Jazz and several other books that you've probably heard of. This woman is apparently 80 years old (for some reason every single author felt the need to share their age) and is absolutely amazing. She told 2 anecdotes I could relate to but my favorite was her explanation of how she learned that words were powerful. She said she was about 5 and writing with chalk outside with her sister when she saw a word in graffiti on a building. They wanted to learn the word so they copied it in chalk. Then their mother came out and freaked, making them get the hose to wash the word away. Can you guess what word it was? I'll give you a hint, it starts with F and ends in -uck.


The next author I think I liked hearing the most even though I haven't read any of her books yet. Jennifer Egan wrote "A Visit from the Goon Squad" which I now must read. Her talk was a lot more helpful to me as a writer, she shared her process and gave tips that I very much appreciated. She started by telling us all that her stories start with just a place and a time. Not a character. Not a plot line. Not even a fully developed idea. Just a place and a time are needed to explore where the story can go.

Jennifer also shared that her writing group is an imperative part of her process. A friend and I recently joined one in hopes this would be the case. Hearing this from such an accomplished author makes me appreciate my group even more.

The third and final author I stayed to hear from was Gregory Macguire, author of Wicked. He explained to the audience that he came up with the character for the Wicked Witch of the West from his fascination with Hitler. Yes, Hitler. I really liked that he shared this because it made me realize that as a writer I have the freedom to create a character without boundaries. Previously I have come to a road block in my stories because I have an incomplete idea in my head that I haven't considered altering. He helped me re-discover the creative freedom writing gives.

I would like to thank all the authors who contributed to the festival and especially the three that have inspired me to do more with my current writing projects.