Sunday, February 26, 2012

The week leading up to the EPIC TRIP

So I've been trying to cut back on spending/going out in preparation for hitting up NYC so I don't have a whole lot to report on this week... But I am SO. FREAKIN. EXCITED to go to New York City for the first time ever! Madeline and I are heading there for 4 days and then coming back to Boston for the remainder of her spring break (she's never been to either) aaaaaaaaaaand she'll have her 22nd birthday while we're in NYC. It doesn't get much better than that! So basically next week's blog will be amazing - I can't wait to post all the pictures I'll be taking! Ok, so for this week...

Whole Foods has the most appealing displays ever! I just read an article about this and how WF appeals to Millennials - you should definitely go check it out here.

I don't even like peppers that much and this makes me want to do nothing but sit down with a bell pepper in each hand taking bites out of them like they were apples.

New discovery - Vermont Maple & Sea Salt popcorn. Quite the process to make (pop popcorn, open bag, add canola oil pouch, shake, add sugar and salt pouch, shake), but oh so worth it...

My lunch/dinner last Sunday - the aforementioned popcorn, fresh cut strawberries and kiwi, and black beans and quinoa with avocado. I felt really healthy...

This next series of photos illustrates the progression on my tea experience at Thinking Cup Cafe. I ordered a green tea and got this amazingness - you get a cup of piping hot water and this mossy ball thing in it and you're like 'hmmmm, somebody dropped dirt in my tea....' Well, low and behold, the mossy ball thing opens up into a flower! That's the 'teabag'! People come up with the coolest stuff...

Doesn't it just make you feel like you're in a hippie version of Willy Wonka? Cause obviously Willy Wonka would have candy and chocolate and the like, but this is the 'healthier' version.

Aerial view

Almost done :(

Yesterday I met up with Niraj for brunch. We'd originally planned on going to Stephanie's but apparently they don't serve brunch on Saturday. I was bummed about this at first, but then Niraj suggested we have the exact opposite of brunch instead - SUSHI! I still hadn't found a good sushi spot in Boston so I was definitely willing to try a new place and Umai didn't disappoint! We were lucky enough to get seated in the little alcove facing the street so we got plenty of bright sunshine and could people watch as shoppers walked up and down Newbury Street. Since this was no longer a brunch place, there weren't any cocktails but we did try this delicious beverage - sparkling saki! I'm not a huge saki fan but this was actually really tasty! It was very light and refreshing - I highly recommend trying some :)

My Deluxe Combo Lunch Special - 6 pieces of the chef's choice and a spicy tuna roll. More spicy mayo on the side, of course.

After sushi, I met up with some new friends at MiniLuxe to get our nails done (something I'd only had done twice before). I really liked this place because you could see just how clean it was - the opened a new pack of surgically sterilized nail tools for me when I sat down, so you're guaranteed cleanliness. The girl doing my nails was really friendly and talkative and and it was really relaxing. I think I'll definitely be heading back to pamper myself a bit every once in awhile :)

The epic wall of nail polish. The color names were really cute!

After getting our nails done we headed to Max Brenner to satisfy our sweet tooth (tooths? sweet teeth? I dunno) so I had some marshmallow hot cocoa. See my pretty nails? 

To finish out my day, I'm going to try to sell some old clothes to a thrift store (need all the extra cash I can get for NYC!), go grocery shopping for the short week, finish cleaning my apartment, and I'll have some people over this evening to watch the Oscars. Then this week I'm meeting up with my trainer, working, packing, and HEADING TO NYC ON THURSDAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Can't wait to tell you all about it! :)

Oh oh - almost forgot - I have to share this video with you! It's probably the coolest medley I've ever heard....they're a bit pitchy at times, but it's hilarious and well done - the guy singing the Tarzan song is my favorite but the Little Mermaid scene is AMAZING: 

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Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Vow (and other things)

Yesterday I had a 'girls day' and it was AWESOME. It's been awhile since I've had the chance to do some all-out girly stuff for such an extended period of time. I met up with CJ and Lisa at Quincy Market where we perused the shops (and did a little purchasing as well) and then tried to head out for something sweet (but the lines at Mike's Pastries, Modern Pastry, and the Thinking Cup were RIDICULOUS) before going to the movies to see The Vow... It was an awesome day and I enjoyed every minute of it...up until the last 5 minutes of the movie. I won't ruin it for anyone who hasn't seen it, but let's just say that in my book, that was THE most unsatisfying movie ending of....all time. Yep, top bad ending award goes to The Vow. But hey, at least you get to watch Channing Tatum for an hour and a half, right?

On to some photos from the past week or so....

I was going through old (digital) photo albums and reliving my study abroad semester. This is one of my absolute favorite shots of one of my favorite spots in the city - Sacre Coeur. The painter's square is just around the left side of the building...

Something to brighten my workday - a champagne truffle and the fuzzy penguin I keep at my desk (cause it's cute) :)

Walking home from dinner with CJ and Lisa, I passed by a twinkle-light-lit street and it made me happy. I really need to get some twinkle lights for my room...

New recipe for this week - something I've seen online a lot this past week: baked avocado with egg. I chose to top mine with Tabasco sauce and shredded parmesan cheese. Pretty tasty!

For Valentine's Day...haha, get it?

I don't know if anyone else watches "The Voice" but it's something I tune into occasionally. Well this past week featured a singer named Chris Cauley (he's really awesome) and guess what - I've actually met him! He performed with saxophonist Will Scruggs at Western Carolina University where I was attending Summer Ventures (math camp FTW). I bought his CD and got a picture after his show - a fan from the beginning! You can watch his audition on The Voice here.

Adanna got me started on taking walks over lunch which is a great way to get in some exercise and fresh air in the middle of the work day. This is a shot from my walk on Tuesday.

Cute little tug boat :)

One day I will make it here for a crab least, I'm assuming they serve crab cakes there haha...

I can never get enough of this! I love the city!

I can't wait for summertime - this is going to be gorgeous :)

Ayep, I work on Atlantic Ave...

I got a new desk!!!! Just look at all that space..... It's heaven (oh the little things)

I've missed having walls so I could put up pictures (don't worry family, I'm bringing some photos from home to put up!)

A clock...on a building...somewhere at night. I thought it looked cool.

Playing the finger game at Coogan's with Charlie and Dante.

Chocolate chip and walnut pancakes for breakfast...cause I can!

I saw this chair outside of an antique shop on my way to the dry cleaners and thought very hard about getting it...if it's still there when I pick up my clothes I may just have to bring it home with me!

There are a ton of street performers at Quincy Market/Faneuil Hall. While on the top floor of Urban Outfitters, we saw this guy...putting his whole body....THROUGH A TENNIS RACKET. Unbelievable...

Can you see it???

Gives me the heeby geebies 

This stuff (at Victoria's Secret) smells AMAZING.

After shopping as we were walking towards the movie theater we passed by the open air market in the North End. I wasn't prepared for grocery shopping but I'll definitely be back - the prices were INSANE (insanely good, that is).

Green beans - 2 lbs for $1!!!

I think it's open every day...

Me, CJ, and Lisa grabbing snacks before The Vow

One of my purchases from the day - this gorgeous purse! I can't help it, handbags are my kryptonite. 

And this infinity scarf to match - on sale for $6 :)

I showed you a shot of the full moon I'd taken on my cell phone, but this photo by my coworker Cullen Winkler does it way more justice. He's super talented - you can check out his blog/more of his work here:

Another shot by the talented Mr. Winkler. 

And the last from Cullen - a view of the Boston skyline. Big thank you to Cullen for letting me post these!

And lastly - what I'm doing right this moment. I'm waiting for my sheets to get out of the dryer so I'm writing up this blog post on my bed while enjoying a snack I love to have growing up (introduced to me by my neighbor Mimi from back in Fayetteville) - hot tea with Danish cookies.

On the docket for this coming week? Meeting up with Adanna tomorrow on our DAY OFF for a walk and grocery shopping, meeting up with my trainer after having been sick this past week (no idea how much of a setback it's been not to work out - eek), figuring out the scary world of doing your taxes, giving a presentation at work on my experiences volunteering with Year Up, and grabbing coffee at Thinking Cup, picking up dry cleaning, working out, cooking a new recipe, reading my next book...oh yeah, and my day job ;-)

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Friday, February 10, 2012


Last night I attended a lecture given by a professor who was supposed to discuss the changes that need to be made to our urban education systems. Although I didn't feel that the lecturer gave a well-constructed and insightful talk, it did force me to start thinking about the state of education in America.

In a perfect world, everyone would be able to have the kind of educational support I received growing up.

I attended a public elementary school for kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd grades in an urban area of North Carolina - an important introduction into the education system which allowed me to see the structure of a 7-hour regimented school day, experience planned play-time, and learn at the same pace as 25 other squirming 5-year-olds.

In the 3rd grade, I started being homeschooled with my 2 younger sisters. This was a FANTASTIC environment for learning - while my mother made sure I covered all subjects every school day, I was able to choose the order in which I completed them, the pace at which I worked through them, and have the ability to teach myself new material. I ate 3 square home-cooked meals a day, had some of my lessons with my sisters (and homework assignments appropriate for each of our grade levels), attended homeschool group meetings (for more learning opportunities, playing with other kids, and field trips), and had a mom who could answer my questions whenever I needed her to if I was stumped. I didn't have a 'tiger mom' or a 'helicopter mom' but I did have a mom who made sure my sisters and I completed our educational requirements, took music lessons, joined youth organizations to round out our 'soft skills,' and learned to be independent and self-sufficient. By the end of 8th grade I was already starting pre-calculus (my favorite) and biology - subjects I most certainly wouldn't have been able to cover in a public school system until high school.

I did attend a public high school in rural North Carolina - the one where my dad was a teacher. Being an outgoing person, I transitioned easily into public school and immediately started taking honors and AP classes, joined the marching band and soccer and cross country teams, and started taking my dad's business classes. I was immediately hooked on the subject and continued to take his classes and participate in DECA, an organization for marketing students. My dad encouraged me to compete in business plan competitions and it's with his help that I was able to learn the basics of business and how to write with a business mindset. I got the chance to compete at the local, state, and national level with DECA and got to have my dad there coaching me every step of the way. Without both of my parents helping me grow and learn and experience so much, there's no way I could have graduated salutatorian of my high school graduating class and gotten into the best public college in the U.S. - UNC Chapel Hill.

I'm lucky enough to have experienced an education where I knew without a shadow of a doubt that I had parents who were rooting for me to succeed academically. I had been told from an early age that I would do well in school, I would try out different clubs, sports, and musical instruments, I would go to college, I would study abroad, and I would graduate from all levels of school I attended. Because of their support and my own personal drive, I did accomplish all of those things.

Now all this is not to say that the way I experienced school is the only right way to receive an education - there are PLENTY of alternative ways (public, private, or homeschool) to be a fulfilled and accomplished learner. I'm not trying to sound like a self-important braggart either; I'm simply telling you my educational story - I work with 22 other bright, motivated, and driven recent college-grads who ended up at the same 'ultimate goal' (i.e. our current job position) I did while each coming from uniquely different educational backgrounds (complete with awards, accomplishments, and Ivy league degrees). I'm not saying I'm an expert on the subject of educational policy and reform, but I'm not completely ignorant either because I've experienced it and heard about it from the perspective of actual educators. I was taught at home and had an excellent teacher there. I had great high school teachers - my dad, Mr. Bobbe, Mr. Babb, Mr. Goodman, Woody, Mr. Buckner - and bad ones (who shall remain unnamed). I had award-winning college professors - Mr. McCombs, my Spongebob and Southpark-loving Calc II teacher, and Setzer, my trail-blazing, book-writing business communications teacher; and professors who decided to ride on the coattails of their tenure and take the easy road to retirement. I've gotten to go through the system firsthand, and my experiences are hot off the press. And now, at age 24, I'm in my 2nd job post-college and work in an industry where the state of our educational system as at the forefront of everyone's mind, including my own.

My dad is now a career development coordinator and he works hard to help high school students in my rural hometown to get real work experience in local internships. My mom is an ESL instructor who coordinates the ESL program at the community college across 3 counties while teaching multiple classes a week to help many from the local Hispanic population learn English. I work at a company that's working hard to create a comprehensive software solution to help today's learners transition from K12 to post-secondary school to careers.

What are YOU doing to help educational reform?

**Disclaimer: This is a personal blog. The opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of my employer, my colleagues, my parents, or anyone else.**
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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

What happened this week in the life of Emily

Had some pretty cool stuff going on this week...the pictures will explain it all better than a couple of paragraphs :)

Chessa came to Boston!!! She flew in from San Fran for a conference....after she got out, she came to see me at work, so of course we had to head up to the top floor for the best view in town. My face looks goofy but check out *THE SHOES*

Oh silly Chessa gettin' picture crazy

Girls night out! 

Missed this A LOT.

Out at the club! First stop was The Point in the North End, then we hit up Middlesex in Central for some dancing. So. Much. FUN.

My first experience with raw oysters... The taste was alright (you squeeze on some fresh lemon juice and put a dab of cocktail sauce on top) but the texture was just plain weird. Glad I tried it but it's not something I need to eat again.

Transition photo - I love that this is what I see when I wake up in the morning! Tons of sunlight streaming in, my pretty flowers, the reflection of my French Doors photos...makes me happy :)

So as most of you know, I have about 30 New Years Resolutions I'm working on, one of which is to cook one new thing per week. On Sunday I headed over to my friends Lawrence and Niraj's place to hang out before the Super Bowl. We all got hungry and Lawrence taught me how to make fresh pork dumplings! 

Step 1: Blanch bok choy, drain, mince, and squeeze out excess water. Rehydrate some dehydrated mushrooms by soaking in water, then mince. Add into mixing bowl with ground pork, salt, pepper, olive oil, soy sauce, and some Chinese cooking sherry. Mix by hand (crucial to mix with hands!).

Lawrence, the Dumpling Master

Niraj, the Watching Master

Now get some dumpling shells, found at your local Asian food market

Also get a bowl of water and a cookie sheet

Spoon pork mixture into dumpling shell

Wet the outside rim of the dumpling shell

Fold in half and pinch in the middle

Fold in the tips to make a little pocket

Ta-da! Dumpling

Presto - you've got a bajillion dumplings just ready for the eating! But just cook them! They can either be boiled if you need to make a ton in a hurry (being careful not to let the mixture turn to mush - add cold water to the pot to keep dumplings from sticking together) or by pan frying (add some oil at the bottom of the pan, fry dumplings until they are brown on the bottom, then pour in a small amount of water - watch out for the popping hot oil! - and cover with a lid and steam the rest of the way).

Pan fried on the left, boiled on the right. Served with a sesame oil, soy sauce, and toasted sesame dipping sauce, made my the oh most wonderful Niraj. These guys really are amazing :)

View from L & N's rooftop deck - I am infinitely jealous, but will most definitely be stopping by to take advantage of the view once the weather gets nicer.

Who has the world's sweetest baby brother?????? THIS GIRL!!!!!!!!!!!!! Benjamin came up with the idea to send out Valentines all on his own and I got mine in the mail yesterday. It made my day - Benjamin I love you!!!!

So the focal point of this picture is supposed to be the full moon, but the camera on my phone isn't advanced enough to zoom in and take clear pictures...but it's still a pretty snapshot 

And to round out this post...a picture of the 10 oz filet mignon topped with brie, prosciutto, and fig demi-glaze I got while out to a team dinner at Smith & Wollensky. Truffled mac & cheese and green beans with toasted walnuts and brie cheese on the side made this a most excellent way to end my Tuesday.

Time for bed pour moi... Night night!

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