Thursday, August 27, 2009

Trip to Georgetown

Tonight I met a friend for dinner in Georgetown. It's always nice heading to that part of the city and yet, I always forget how I tend to get frustrated with the influx of tourists meandering along the narrow cobblestone sidewalks. Nonetheless, I made it to my destination to meet L for a long overdue catch up. I've been craving Chipotle so I grabbed a salad from there while she got a sandwich. It was refreshing to be able to sit outside and talk. I took a new path home that followed Rock Creek Parkway from above but don't think it was any quicker than the way I would normally walk. I enjoyed the change of scenery though. Inspired by the fact that L had to go home and bake cupcakes for work tomorrow, I decided to do some baking of my own - the first time in my apartment's oven!! I made gluten free brownies and spiced them up a bit with some chopped walnuts. I also used applesauce instead of butter to make them healthy and yummy! I'd say that they were a success, and of course, I couldn't resist sampling one while it was still warm and gooey.
Tomorrow, as long as the weather holds out, I'll be heading to Virginia to spend the day with my friend at her pool. I'll be dreaming of more sunshine!

My Chipotle salad had lettuce, beans, corn salsa, red medium salsa, and cheese (but I had to take some of it off b/c there was so much!):

Brownie for a "bedtime snack" (I only had one, but it's picture didn't look too appetizing on it's own...):

My cardinal sin

This afternoon I did what no person should ever do - I went to Whole Foods hungry and ready for lunch. While I did resist many impulse purchases, I decided to treat myself to lunch there instead of waiting to eat until I got home.
I got some exciting news this afternoon - I have another interview! I'm excited to have 2 interviews and hopefully, one of them will lead to a new job! Add in the fact that I'm spending Labor Day weekend in Florida with my family and it's already looking to be a good week. I spent the rest of the afternoon taking care of some other errands, cleaning up around the apartment, and a bit of relaxing.
I found 2 interesting articles that I want to share. The first discusses why right now is the ideal recruiting situation for employers. The second came out last week but I haven't had a chance to blog about it yet. Since most college students I know started classes this week, I decided it's still a timely article to share - the Beloit College Mindset List for the Class of 2013. It offers an interesting perspective and made me feel a bit old.
Now, I'm off to Georgetown to meet up with a friend!

For lunch, I made a salad filled with veggie, including a kale salad, chick peas, black beans, and some rice. Topped with a bit of feta and parmesan cheeses.

For snack I had some soy crisps and made a fruit "smoothie":
1/4 c frozen strawberries
1/2 c frozen pineapple 1/2 c frozen papaya sparkling water, orange flavored a few mint leaves

It's been a busy week so far

I slept in a bit this morning after waking up early for meetings with various people at GW who work in student affairs. I was hungry when I woke up and made a quick breakfast so that I could head out to the grocery store for some items that they were out of when I went earlier this week. I realize now that it's felt really good to wake up with some place to be at a specific time, and I'm hoping that in the near future, I will have a job! Keep your fingers crossed! For now, I am following up with the folks I met with, looking for other opportunities, and preparing for a couple of interviews that I have coming up next week! Have a great morning!
I recently discovered a gluten free bread that is high in fiber and low in calories,
which is a rarity in the gluten free world. I had a slice with some PB and cinnamon
and some Greek yogurt with berries and green tea.

A little experiment

Over the past few days, I've been catching up on one of my favorite blogs - Eat Like Me on A nutritionist posts pictures of the things she eats throughout the day and incorporates her daily goings-on into her posts. Couple that with the fact that a few more of my friends have either been considering going gluten free or are supposed to be eating that way and are curious about the things I'm actually able to eat. So, here's my idea - I want to dedicate a couple of days to documenting what I eat for every meal. I'll highlight some of my favorite gluten free products, the fresh produce i love to eat, and the things that I whip up in the kitchen. Sound interesting? I'm going to give it a shot and we'll see how it goes... feel free to share your thoughts!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Calling all Longhorns!

I recently realized that when I moved to DC I became friends with many graduates of the University of Florida. Don't get me wrong. They are great people. In fact, some of my closest friends in the city. But, for the next few months, as college football kicks into gear, we have a huge conflict of interest.

You see, the USA Today Poll ranked my Texas Longhorns #2, just behind the Florida Gators. While this won't mean much until we get into the playoffs later this fall, I'm going to need some fans to help me cheer on the Longhorns to the National Championship this year. I'm hoping (if I have a job and am still in DC) to host a couple of game watching parties as well as wanting to venture out to the Rhodeside Grill, the official Texas Exes bar. Want to join for a game or two? Feel free to let me know either here or via email.

Hook 'em horns!!

Also, I found this for all of you in Dallas. The Co-op will soon be opening a location in Dallas, which will make it so much easier for me to get my Longhorn gear when I go back home for a visit!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Disney World for Grown Ups and an Endless Summer

So much has happened in the last week so I’m just going to dive right in:

Las Vegas. 2 words: holy cow. I had not been to Vegas since I was 14 so it was really like being there for the first time. Israel Amplified was a great conference. I was proud to represent SDT and have the chance to meet with women from our chapters from across the country who attended. Another perk of being at Israel Amplified was that I got to see about 10 of my students from my Birthright trip. The 839 reunion was wonderful and as always, shenanigans ensued.

When not conferencing, I got to spend some time enjoying the city, which made it feel like a little vacation. I went down to the Strip a couple of times and found all of the glitz, glamour, and pomp very exciting. I felt like a kid at Disney World (or maybe a 23 year old at Disneyland…) walking through all of the hotels, seeing the Bellagio fountain show, and seeing the insides of a few casinos. I admit that the Bellagio was my favorite hotel to tour:

  • The Chihuly glass ceiling reminded me of the glass I saw throughout Venice
  • The fountain shows were every bit as impressive as the ones I’d seen in movies
  • The atrium really did feel like the entrance to a Disney theme park with the perfectly manicured lawns, ornate flower sculptures, a ferris wheel, and so much more
  • The view of Hotel Paris across the street as well as hotels on either side made it a great location to take in the sights

I dabbled into a bit of black jack as well and am happy to report that I came away about even. I had just as much fun watching my friends play as I did (and none of the stress of worrying if I was going to lose money or not!). And, to end my time in Vegas, we had a night out on the strip. After a great dinner at a place in Planet Hollywood, we saw a Bellagio fountain show and then headed to Caesar’s Palace for the night. We saw the shops, gambled, and got into the club Pure, which was a blast. The night ended as the sun came up and I made my way to Dallas just a few hours later.

Dallas. Happy Centennial Sigma Alpha Mu! I was very proud to represent SDT at the Sammy convention and it was nice that some of the guys from Vegas were also in Dallas. I had more of an official responsibility in Dallas – to learn from and observe the Developing Leaders Initiative so that I can use it to make SDT’s Collegiate Leadership Team successful in its first year. I attended the facilitators’ training as well as most of the educational sessions throughout the weekend. Besides from a presenter or two, I was the only woman in a room of 200 men… maybe that’s why I was able to make some friends throughout the weekend J In all seriousness though, it was great to meet so many of the undergraduates and hear about their partnership with SDT on campus.

The big event of the weekend was the banquet on Saturday night (my 14th!!). To celebrate 100 years, there were awards given to 2 outstanding alumni and a slideshow of pictures of men throughout the fraternity’s history. I gave a speech and presented the Sammy Foundation with a gift on behalf of SDT which was a great way to tell alumni in the Dallas area about SDT and Sammy’s partnership relationship. I felt like the convention was really successful and I definitely walked away with ideas for the Collegiate Leadership Team, tips on making my resume stronger (thanks to one of the sessions), and some amazing networking contacts with a ton of people. I’m hoping that they materialize into something!

Outside of the convention, it felt really nice to be home for a few days. Even though it was a quick trip and I was busy throughout my time there, the week and a half leading up to my trip had been really hard for me. The comforts of home were much needed and I have felt much better since I’ve been back in DC. I found that being in DC without a clear direction or purpose in spending my time was a big struggle and while I was traveling, there was 0 time to think about anything else. On Sunday night before I left, my mom cooked an amazing homemade Italian meal and it was soooooooooooo nice to have a family dinner! I realized that I want to do everything I can to stay in DC and so far, I’ve put my best foot forward in trying to make that happen. I felt a bit apprehensive about coming back, especially after not spending too much time with my family in Dallas, and I’m excited to see them again in Ft. Lauderdale over Labor Day weekend!

The power of social networking. I got back from my travels on Monday night and the past couple of days back in town have felt really good. I’ve had things to keep me busy and work to be done which was quite a nice change from how I left town feeling. One thing that’s made the past couple of days so great was a meeting I had yesterday with someone at George Washington University. I was connected to him by someone I volunteer for SDT with. After a few weeks of emails, we met in person and it was the most valuable 30 minutes I’ve had in a long time. I learned of a couple of professional opportunities that are on the horizon, met his team, and he also reached out to 5 or 6 high level folks in student affairs at the university. Through these introductions, I now have meetings set up with most of those people next week. Things are definitely looking up and I’m going to prep for those meetings so that I can make a great impression. Please send positive thoughts – I’m trying to channel all the positive energy I can!

In addition to GW, I also made some great contacts with folks at Israel Amplified and the SAM convention that I’m following up with. Ideally, I would love to be working in student affairs or leadership training, or consulting, and I was able to meet a few folks in both industries. I’m sending out resumes, writing emails, and hoping that someone, somewhere likes what they see! A friend sent me this article yesterday that also gives me hope. It shows that the current job market in DC is the best in the country!

For now, I'm going to keep on networking and searching for opportunities, as well as try to enjoy the last few weeks of summer. The next adventure - Ft. Lauderdale with the family over Labor Day weekend!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Greek Week!

Those of you who know me in the slightest know that my Greek ties run deep. I'm certain it is a result of being raised around my dad's fraternity and having Sigma Alpha Mu conventions influence the locations of family vacations (always in August, and my brother and I were lucky to get to travel to some cool places. It's often been said that I'm following in my dad's Greek footsteps and I'm happy to admit that my upcoming Greek Week travels will end with my 17th (or maybe it's 18...) SAM convention banquet. And to think, I almost didn't go Greek!

My first of many Greek Week activities will take place in Sin City - Las Vegas, NV. I am going to a conference called Israel Amplified where Greek college students will learn how to effectively advocate for Israel on their campuses. I'll be representing my sorority, Sigma Delta Tau, at the conference and am excited to get to know some of our women as well as the students from numerous other Greek organizations.

A sure-to-be highlight of Israel Amplified is that 10 of my students from the Birthright Israel trip I staffed in June will be in Vegas!

My co-staff and I have kept in touch with many of our students but it will be great to see them for a mini reunion! It's wonderful to see that many of them want to strengthen their ties to Israel and learn how to promote the many aspects of the State of Israel on campus, and within their Greek organizations. 839 - I'm looking forward to seeing y'all soon!

The next stop on my tour of the southwest is Dallas. Once again, I will be representing SDT, this time at the SAM convention. Sammy is celebrating their centennial this year and I'm looking forward to the festivities. It should be fun to be at another convention while my dad is serving as their National President yet this stop is not merely for pleasure.

I will also be observing a program for a cohort of undergraduate leaders who have been working on some aspects of the conference for the past 8 months. I am chairman of a similar program for SDT (called the Collegiate Leadership Team) so I'm excited to see how the men have implemented their ideas through various workshops and conversations. I'm hoping that my time in Dallas will give me some ideas on how to run CLT effectively in the upcoming year.

It will also be nice to see my parents, brother, and hopefully other family and friends while I'm home. It's been hard for me to sit still so-to-speak this summer so I'm excited for another trip during my summer.

I hope y'all have a great week and I'm excited to share all about my Greek Week when I return!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Witness your Mind

Yoga class always begins the same way- with a few stretches and taking a moment to breathe and "clear our minds." There was one exception to this week's starting routine: the instructor asked us to witness our minds rather than clear them.

This mantra became the intent for my practice tonight and I must admit that my mind was very active tonight as I took time to distance myself from my thoughts and simply bear witness to them.

What's on my mind? Well, many things:
- making sure that I'm searching for jobs and submitting appropriate materials for the few things I find
- studying for the GRE (osmosis and schlepping my book all over DC with good intentions will not help me learn all of those vocabulary words!)
- it's sunny and I want to enjoy my favorite season
- my passport is trying to coax me into using it
- Israel is calling
and much, much more

The past few days have been a blur of confusion as I've tried to continue to make a "plan." While I have a few strong ideas of what I want to do, when I will make decisions, etc., yet nothing feels concrete to me and I'm yearning for some facts to help guide my intuition in making a choice. My mom calls it "analysis paralysis" - just not able to make any decisions at all. Perhaps it's because in the past, I've had the opportunity to make plans prior to having to act. This has always allowed me to stay one step ahead and make contingency plans just in case. This time around, it feels like I am planning and acting all at once without a clear picture in mind of a short-term plan. It's left me frustrated to say the least and half-heartedly following a few different options until I find something really compelling that I'm willing to act on.

I recognized that I'm in a funk and I'm hoping that my travels next week will help give me a fresh perspective (and hopefully I'll have heard back on a few things that are currently in the works!). I keep reminding myself that "everything in life is only for now" and I know that I will soon have plans, ideas, and too many things to do!

To shift gears, I want to write about a new experience I had on Sunday at the grocery store. Being gluten intolerant, I tend to quickly pass over the cracker / cookie / baking aisle. The only store that ever has mixes and interesting treats for me to try is Whole Foods. That is, until I happened to glance at the rows of cake mixes, just in time to find something new. Betty Crocker now has a line of gluten-free baking mixes (yellow cake, brownies, and chocolate chip cookies to be exact!)!

I've never been so excited to stumble upon cake-in-a-box before. In college, I would by the regular variety to bake for friends but I never got to be a part of that "regular" store purchasing experience. That is, until Sunday! I've now joined the ranks of Americans who can buy cake mix in a regular grocery store (for less that $7 a package). This might seem trivial to many, but you try to go years without being able to purchase, let alone eat, baked desserts from a regular ole' grocery store. I will admit that these options have existed for years. Yet, my healthy eating habits and tendency to splurge on berries and other things instead of Sarah-friendly GF baked goods means that I don't eat them very often. I haven't yet made the brownie mix that I purchased but look forward to making them soon (pictures will be posted).

I'm going to end this entry here as I am finding it difficult to organize all of my thoughts in a cohesive way. I hope that everyone has a great end of their week!