It's in the Stars...

Thursday, September 30, 2010
How often do you read your horoscope?  Have you had your palm read?

I used to be the type of person who read my horoscope everyday.  Now, I read it when I remember to.  I prefer reading my horoscope at the end of the day to see if it was correct.  I find horoscopes, palm reading, fortune telling, and the patterns of the sun/moon/stars interesting.  I just don't change my life or have my life revolve around a prediction made by a woman who thinks she's psychic.

With that said, I think it's interesting how very accurate predictions can be or how it seems like the phrase "it was in the stars" is true beyond words. 

My best friends "aunt" (it's easier to describe her as that, as opposed to saying my best friend's mom's best friend) reads palms.  Every time we go down to Vegas and stay with her she looks at how things have changed.  The things she's "seen" in my hands have been dead on:
  • I like the finer things in life (not meaning so much that I'm a "brand whore" but more so I'm the type of girl who would prefer a weekend at a spa over a weekend roughing it in the wilderness)
  • I worry about the well-being of others before I put myself first
  • I enjoy traveling/I am WORLDLY
  • I'm in a profession where I'm surrounded by kids
There are more things that she has seen in my hand, but I will leave it at that for the moment.  One thing that is interesting is she was the first one to point out that my life-line "forks" about halfway up my hand.  It's kind of like I have this oval "Lake Tahoe" looking split in the middle of my right hand.  Then the lines converge back together.  She couldn't remember what that meant, and it left me wondering.

A few months ago, my mom asked if I wanted to join her at a psychic convention that was in town.  I thought it would be an interesting experience (it was) but it also put be smack-dab in wack-a-doo central.  Crystals everywhere.  People having their aura's cleansed by a didgeridoo looking thing.  Some guy chanting and dancing in weird, strange tongues. 

There were also people doing Tarot Card and Palm Readings. Still curious by my BFF's aunt's discovery in my life-line I went for the palm reading option.  He did a little pre-interview but I was very vague.  I didn't want to give him any information that he could then use to try to "trick" me into a prediction.  Again, he was oddly accurate.  Through reading my palm he told me:
  • I enjoy helping others, and I do this as a career (he guessed that I worked in Social Services...CORRECT)
  • I pass knowledge on to others (correct again, I have taught classes to youth in the community for years)
  • I often forget to take care of myself because I am busy taking care of others
  • I am destined for great things (WELL OF COURSE)
Again, he talked about many other things (I sat with him for an hour) but I won't bore you with that now.  I did ask him about my life-line split, and what that meant.  Interestingly enough he said that it could mean one of two things:
  • THE POSITIVE OUTLOOK: That everyone assumes or sees me taking one path in life.  However I am going to do the complete opposite and surprise everyone.  And this ties into the whole "destined for great things" part.  For example, if everyone saw me as a simple teacher, I would in fact, go on to be a teacher-of-teachers.  Or something like that?  Again, I'm not up on all this palm-reading lingo!!! 
  • THE NEGATIVE OUTLOOK: That things are going to go REALLY BAD sometime...possibly soon.  My world is going to be rocked, turned upside down, inside out, hit by a train, etc.  This experience will help me grow, make me stronger, and refocus me.  I will make it through "it" triumphant and more successful, and a happier, healthier person.
I remember thinking, "WOW...all that from my hand?"
Again, let me stress that I find this stuff interesting but I will never change my life because some guy with a ponytail told me that things may go to shit.  I just put it on the back-burner in my brain in case I may need that information later.

In addition to having my palm read and internalizing the prospect of my own personal "fall of Rome", several people over the last few months have mentioned the phenomenon of "Saturn Cycles" or the "Return of Saturn".

Return of Saturn?  Real or BS?

Basically (without weighing you down with all sorts of mumbo-jumbo) the "Saturn Return" is an astrological phenomenon that occurs at the ages of 27-30, 58-60, 86-88, etc., coinciding with the time it takes the planet Saturn to make one orbit around the sun.

It is believed by astrologers that as Saturn "returns" to the degree in which it occupied at the time of birth—approximately every 29.5 years—a person crosses over a major threshold and into the next stage of life.
  • With the first Saturn Return, a person leaves youth behind and enters adulthood.
  • With the second Return, maturity.
  • And the third and usually final Return, a person enters wise old age.
The first Saturn Return is famous because it represents the first test of character and the structures a person has built their life upon. Apparently if these structures are unsound, or if a person is living out of touch with his or her true values, the Saturn Return will be a time of upheaval and limitations as Saturn forces an individual to reevaluate their life and make changes. It is not uncommon for relationships and jobs to end during this time of life restructuring and reevaluation.

But the Saturn Return is not all about painful endings. It has been noted that during this time people tend to gain a better vision of where they are going in their life.  Many major life milestones seem to happen around the ages of 29 and 30. This is why astrologers believe that the thirtieth birthday is such a major rite of passage because it marks the true beginning of adulthood, self-evaluation, independence, ambition, and self-actualization.

My mom said she has entered her second Saturn Cycle.  From her 30s to late 50s she was a mother, a wife, and a full-time employee.  Then things changed around her 60th birthday. Yes she's still a mom, but my brother and I don't live with her or need her on a daily basis (LOVE YOU MOM). My mom is now retired.  And my mom is single (my parents divorced a few years back).  There was a tough period for her, but now she has a new release on life.  She seems happier, more confident, and more independent.

So knowing all of this, I can't help but wonder if I've gone through my Saturn Cycle?  I am on the tail-end of my 27th year on this earth.  That puts me smack-dab in the middle of the Return of Saturn.  I have had some really rough (low) moments this year, but at the same time I've had some really fantastic ones too.  For example, I lost my job, but I found a FABULOUS one in return. 

But for some unexplained reason, I'm hesitant to say that my Saturn Cycle is complete. I've always been an optimistic, glass-half-full kind of girl but for some reason I feel like there is more shit to come.  There is still  time until Saturn's return and I wonder what other havoc is going to ensue. 

I also can't help but wonder if this whole "Return of Saturn" thing has anything to do with the split in my life-line.  One would think that there would be a direct correlation?  But then again, I'm not a palm reader, an astrologist, or psychic. 

So what am I going to do with all of this.  Honestly?  Not a damn thing.  I will continue to live my life to the best of my ability each day.  I won't live my life on regrets.  I WILL put myself first.  Because by taking care of myself, I will be more able to do what I love (taking care of others).  But if (and when) things get bad....and then get REALLY GOOD, I will blame it all on SATURN!!!

Google THIS!!!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Monday marked the 12th Birthday of GOOGLE.   Although the exact date has always been a mystery, Google has always celebrated its anniversary every year on September 27. Now that Google is about to enter its teenage years, I can't help but think about what life was like PG (pre-google). 

It seems like just yesterday we all began to use a basic search page called Google. Google?!  I remember wondering what a "google" was, and why everyone was using it.  All other search websites had names like Excite, InfoSeek, and something called Yahoo. Before there was Google I remember being an avid user of and loved asking the electronic butler "Jeeves" to find my answer.  But when Google hit the net, I was instantly hooked. So besides having a silly name, why did Google become then number one search-engine used? 
  • It was SIMPLE
    • Where everyone else was adding bells and whistles, Google was taking them away.
  • It was FAST
    • Google was (and still is) the fastest search engine on the planet.
  • It was RELEVANT
    • Other search engines made finding information too hard.  Trying to find out why we have a trade embargo with Cuba? Pre-Google you would probably have to wade through TONS of not-so-authoritative results and page after page of irrelevant info.  Google figured out how to make the most meaningful results show up first.
  • .It was a BUSINESS (which makes more money today than anyone could have ever predicted)
    •  Once Google monopolized search traffic, the ability to monetize was, fair to say, a satisfying reward.
I can't imagine my life without Google now.  Besides it being my homepage, I know I use it at least 7 times a day (much more if I'm doing homework or shopping).  Is Ashton cheating on Demi?  I Googled it.  Graphic of a cannon needed for my UNR vs UNLV t-shirts?  I Googled it.  The address of the middle school I work at?  I GOOGLED IT! You name it, I've Googled it.

You know something has "made it big" or is at least relevant in our society when it makes it into the Merriam-Webster Dictionary.  You can Google.  You can be Googled.  And you can be caught Googling. 

Google has allowed the stalker in all of us to thrive.  Going on a date?  You can bet that person's been Googled before you leave your house.  Wondering if your ex is married?  Google him and find out! Looking for a long-lost friend?  Bet you can find her on Google! And what about Googling yourself?  I've done it.  I know you've done it!  Honestly, everyone I have spoken to has Googled themselves at one time.

Google is available over 120 languages and has been localized for many countries. Google has always had a sense of humor.  They have also made their interface to include some languages for humorous purposes like: Elmer Fudd, Pig Latin, and Pirate (just to name a few). 

Most of the students I work with don't know a life without Google.  They know what encyclopedias are but they always tell me that unless their teacher tells them they have to do it "the old fashioned way" they just Google their questions instead.  I do the same thing for my college courses. I prefer using Google first before I hit the books. The Internet is not always the best place to find credible sources for my research paper, but Google has never let me down when it comes to trying to find a focus or a starting point for a paper of research assignment. 

Recently I had a conversation about the "7 Deadly Sins" with some friends. We couldn't remember all seven and were going crazy.  "Back in the day" we would just have to deal with not knowing the answer.  We would just have to accept the fact that we may not know the answer until we got home and pulled out a reference book of some-sort.  Google has allowed us to never have to ponder a question or go with one unanswered. 

Just saying Google's name makes me smile. It pours out of your mouth in such a glorious way.  GOOGLE.  Fun to say, even more fun to use.  So with that said, it's time for me to end this blog.  Why?  Because I have some research to do for work and must get-a-GOOGLING! 

Benefits, Perks, and Travel

Monday, September 27, 2010

I know this is a little preliminary to say, but I love my new job! Yes, today was my first day but I'm already smitten. 

Within my first hour of training I found out that I'm eligible for complete benefits (which includes full medical coverage). I have been without health insurance for more time then I would like to admit, and I'm thrilled to know that in a mere 90 days I will have excellent dental, eye, and health care! Even better is all of my current doctors are covered by the School District's plan so I don't have to change anything. 
While some people hate going to the dentist, I LOVE IT! There is nothing like the feeling of freshly cleaned and polished teeth.  After almost a year of putting it off, I can't wait to see my dentist and get a good cleaning. When it comes to my eyes, I'm blind as a bat without my contacts or glasses.  I had my eyes checked recently for my CDL (Commercial Drivers License) Renewal  but did it at a WalMart Vision Center.  I can't wait to go back to my dreamy optometrist and gaze into his eyes has he inspects mine!

The good news continued today as soon as I got into the office and met with my new boss.  She immediately had me whip out my calendar and asked me to block off three days in October.  Turns out there is a state-wide conference in Vegas in the middle of next month and my attendance is requested.  By the time I left work today my airfare had been booked, hotel room had been confirmed (we're staying at Planet Hollywood), my conference registration had been paid for, and I was grinning from ear to ear.

 I love to travel, and when I can travel on the "company's dollar" it's even better.  The ironic thing is I was actually lamenting the other day about how much I was going to miss all of the work travel opportunities I had been given with my previous job.  During my 5+ years with my previous employer I went to conferences and trainings in Phoenix (twice), Vegas (several times), Baltimore, San Diego, Seattle, Salem (OR), Washington DC (several times), and Tampa...just to name a few.  When I found out that I get to travel with this job I was thrilled. 

Not only do I love to travel, I love attending conferences, meeting new people, and gaining new information and skills.  I'm even more excited about this trip because 20+ of my coworkers will be going to this conference with me, and it will give me a perfect opportunity to get to know everyone! And Vegas twice in a month?  How did I get so lucky?

So with all that said, I'm going to end this blog and start working my way through my 6+ inch thick Program Implementation Manual that I was given today.  Time to figure out what exactly is expected of me in this new job.  Minor details right?  Tee-Hee. 

Home Means Nevada

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Go Pack!

As football season gets into full swing, the debate of what we call the university in my city begins again.  It seems like there are many opinions when it comes the long running debate of Nevada vs UNR.

I have lived in Reno almost my whole life (I moved here when I was three from New York).  My dad is a professor at the university and I grew up calling it UNR (University of Nevada, Reno).  It was always the North had UNR and the South had UNLV.  As I got older, I realized that when I told people outside of Reno (or Nevada)  most didn't know what the "R" in UNR stood for.  Over the years I have begun to just call it Nevada, or University of Nevada.  When I refer to sports teams, I call them The Pack. 

Apparently there is a good deal of history surrounding the Nevada vs UNR debate.

The Reno school was the state's sole university and carried the name of University of Nevada through most its first century. Then the southern campus, which had been Nevada Southern was renamed the University of Nevada Las Vegas, UNLV. When that happened the Board of Regents renamed the older school, the University of Nevada, Reno.  It remains this way legally and officially still. 

Things get a bit more difficult though when it comes to the sports teams. UNLV joined an exclusive list of schools well known nationally, like UCLA and BYU, by their acronyms alone. That didn't happen with UNR, so in the early 90's there was a big push to take solitary claim over the Nevada title.  For the most part the efforts have been a success. 

The football team has Nevada written on their uniforms and Football Coach Ault calls us Nevada or the Nevada Wolf Pack.  The sweatshirts and t-shirts that I own say Wolf Pack, Pack, Nevada, or University of Nevada.  No Reno anywhere on it.

So this makes me wonder....what does everyone else think about this?  Is it Nevada?  Or is it UNR? What  I do know is that we wear our silver and blue proudly up North.  Get ready for a wave of blue next week UNLV, we're ready to defend our title!!!

Sarah's Gastronomic Adventures #3: Pizza and Football

Friday, September 24, 2010
In exactly one week from today I will be in Vegas. This will be the third time since May that I will be making the almost eight hour trek through the "scenic" state of Nevada.  The last two times over the summer, the goal was to cut loose, relax a bit, and party it up.  Although the plans are virtually the same this time, there is one other motive....the UNR vs UNLV annual "battle for the cannon" football game!!!

For those of you who don't live in Nevada, this is one of the most anticipated football games of the year.  It's the Pack blue versus the Rebel red.  The winning team not only gets the glory they also get the honor of ownership of the Fremont Cannon. The location of the game switches every year, and this just so happens to be a Vegas year.  (NOTE: I will write more about this football game and the North vs South rivalry later this week.  This is after all a "food-blog" entry today)

In preparation of next week's trip I got together with my girls for dinner and planning. My best friend suggested that we do homemade pizza. I thought the idea was brilliant (and something we hadn't done before).  Dinner was at my house, and I told my friends that I would make homemade Caesar salad, and would provide the basics for pizza (the dough, sauce, and cheese).  I invited them to bring their favorite toppings to use and share. 

Homemade CAESAR Salad and Pizza
Originally I was going to make dough from scratch, but then my day got busy and I never got around to proofing the yeast and dough.  I'm also not much of a baker (I'm a fabulous cook, but baking is a science that I seem to mess up
 5 out of 10 times). I went with the easier option and bought
 dough from the frozen section of the grocery store. 

As the dough was defrosting, I prepped the toppings I had chosen
 (sauteed mushrooms, bell peppers, black olives,
 oregano, basil, fresh tomatoes, pesto). 

I then made my Caesar Salad with homemade dressing.  I forgot to take pictures of the processes (I guess I got into my "chef mode" and was busier measuring then remembering to take pictures).  I did want to mention a few things about this recipe though.  It is (again) a weight watchers adaptation. 
Usually Caesar salads are "off limits" because of their high caloric intake on the dressing.  In this recipe you're eliminating the raw eggs, using a fraction of the amount of Parmesan cheese normal recipes call for, and are substituting some of the oil normally used for water.  I also added additional veggies (tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers) to bulk up the salad. 
Yes I know those don't belong in a tradish Caesar salad but c'est la vie. 

Finished Caesar Salad, ready to serve
Once all of my girls arrived, it was PIZZA TIME!  I sprayed baking pans with non-stick cooking spray and dusted them with cornmeal.  We each took a ball of dough and began to stretch them out.  Once the dough was to our desired crust thickness, they were put on the baking sheets and baked for 10 minutes (no toppings just the dough).  Baking the dough first allowed for a less soggy crust.

Then it was time to make our personal masterpieces.  We had a huge variety of toppings!  In addition to what I provided there was artichokes, pepperoni, pineapple, alfredo sauce, chicken, bacon, and more. 

Pizzas are topped and ready for the oven!
My Pizza

Pizzas baked in a 400 degrees oven for about 15 minutes
 until the cheese was melted and bubbly. 

My YUMMY pizza!
Another pizza, made by one of the girls
Dinner was a huge success! Everyone left happy and with full bellies.
 And our Vegas planning?  All done!
 We are ready to hit the road next Thursday
and watch Nevada kick Vegas' booties!

All Good Things Must Come to an End

Wednesday, September 22, 2010
So long's been grand.

It has finally happened, and I couldn't be more thrilled.  After being unemployed since the middle of July, I am returning back to the working world on Monday.  I will be working for the School District for their academic and enrichment program.  I will be the coordinator for one of the middle schools and am super excited to get the ball rolling.  I love working in my field of social services/non profit.  I love having a purpose. And I love having such a full heart and soul after helping others. 

Technically, I have been working since I was 15 (when I started teaching in my Temple's Sunday School).  This recent period from July through the present has been the first prolonged period of time I haven't worked.  Even while I lived abroad in Romania I ended up finding a job teaching students conversational English. 

So this period of unemployment (which I dubbed FUNemployment instead) was rough for me. I definitely developed a thicker skin through the job-seeking process, and learned a lot about myself. The road to employment wasn't an easy one though.  Everything "they" say about the difficulties in finding a job are true.  Not very many jobs (or at least in the field I was looking) and lots of people applying. Looking for a job became a job.  Endless hours were spent on-line searching job-seeker websites, rewriting and revamping resumes, filling out applications, returning phone calls, going to interviews, and waiting for callbacks or responses.  All of this to either be declined or told "it was between you and another person" and ultimately getting rejected.  The whole process was a bit frustrating and depressing.  No one likes rejection.  No one likes being told they're not good enough. It's hard not to take it all personally.  I knew I had an awesome resume showing over a decade of work in the this community.  I had great connections and fabulous references and recommendations. I had never had a problem finding a job before, and I kept wondering why I was striking out this time around. 

But, I'm a strong believer in "everything happens for a reason" and "let go, let God".  I learned to enjoy my FUNemployment (and had one of the best summers, with amazing friends, EVER).  And when it came to the job hunt, everytime I was turned down, I tried to learn from the experience.  As Jay-Z says, I had to "get that dirt off my shoulder" and kept on looking.  And behold, the most perfect job came my way.  I was told that I "blew everyone away" in the interview and that it was "refreshing" to call my references/former employers and hear such wonderful things. I'm a very humble person and prefer being the one giving the complement then receiving one (for those of you who have ever done a color-personality test, I'm a BLUE) so hearing these things made me blush a bit. 

With my FUNemployment coming to an end, I have realized a few things.
  • It's amazing what positivity can do! 
  • I am truly blessed.
  • Things are never that bad, and could always be worse.
  • I have an amazing, supportive family!
  • I have the kindest, most wonderful friends who care for me dearly.
  • Getting outside of your comfort zone from time to time is a GOOD thing.
  • It's ok to be vulnerable and give up the feeling of control.
  • Never give up.
  • Believe in yourself and others will believe in you!
Ok, the last part is a bit REALLY cheesy.  I guess I'm just excited for this new chapter of my life.  I'm excited to see what new partnerships and relationships will form from this new job.  I look forward to seeing what other doors will open and how I will continue to grow and evolve. I can't wait  to learn new things and meet new people. 

So, farewell has been a fun, crazy ride. But all good things must come to an end because I am returning to the working world!

TEN YEAR REUNION...Are You Ready for It?

Monday, September 20, 2010

Good 'Ole RHS!

Ok, I'm in a bit of denial. Denial over the fact that my TEN YEAR high school re-union will be coming up at the end of this school year (or next summer?). Ten years?!? Holy smokes! Most days I wonder where all of this time has gone. Other days it feels like it was just yesterday.

I actually enjoyed high school for the most part. I wasn't the most popular person, but I definitely had plenty of friends and fit into a variety of cliques/social groups. I swam swim team, I was editor-in-chief of my high school paper, and I threw a party (or 2 or 3) at my parents house (which knowing how sacred your home is now, I am forever apologetic to my parents). I earned three letters that still adorn my letterman jacket with that ridiculous flap on it. I liked the social part of high school much more then the academic.

With all that said, it surprised me a bit that I somehow was chosen to be the Class of 2001 "Reunion Representative". One of my closest friends (who I met originally in high school) had been browsing the Alumni Website and noticed that I was the designated contact. Since that discovery, I have received several emails from former classmates asking me when it is, what are we doing, can they bring their significant other, and other questions that I don't have answers to.

You see, I'm all about going to my reunion. My friend from high school and I decided that we would go together no matter what. It will be fun to see people. It will be fun to legally drink and party with the people who I used to drive up a mountain, huddle around a campfire and guzzle beer with. And thanks to Facebook (CLICK HERE TO READ ABOUT MY FACEBOOK ADDICTION) I know what most of my former classmates are up to, so conversations will be easy and awkwardness will be at a minimum (or at least one can hope for that).

But here's the thing. I am a great party planner (my friends don't get bday parties, they get extravaganzas), I just don't want to (or have the time to) plan and organize this event. Talk about a TON of pressure as well! I will be happy to help out and offer my input. Just being the representative is a role that's just not for me. And this gets me back to my original question of wondering how I was nominated for this large undertaking. I can think of a handful of people who were way more school spirited than I was. Someone who was on student council maybe? Someone who went to every hall decorating and float building event? Someone who painted their cars and their face for every game day? Or maybe someone who just has the time to put into planning our reunion? I emailed the alumni association last week. The basic gist of the response was:

  • They weren't sure how my name was acquired.
  • There are some guidelines that are available for planning a reunion.
  • And basically they didn't really know anything and would have to ask the Alumni Association Board for any real type of answers.
Really, it seems like noone knows anything. It's a good thing that it's only September and from what I understand "reunion season" is June - August. I'm not going to worry about it, as I'm sure the people who really want to take charge of this project will vocalize it over the next few months.

So, to whoever takes over planning the RHS Class of 2001 Ten Year Reunion....GOOD LUCK. We were an energetic, spirited group then. It will be fun to see how we are now! I'm totally excited (and a bit petrified) to see you all again. I can't wait!!!
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Repenting for Sins? This may take a while...

NOTE: I wrote this on Saturday (Yom Kippur).  Apparently I forgot to hit publish, so here's my Saturday blog...still relevant, just a few days late. 

Today is Yom Kippur.  The direct English translation from the Hebrew is the "Day of Atonement".  This day is called the Day of Atonement because that’s when Jews atone for their sins in front of God and God alone. But, in order to do that, all matters between mere mortals have to be settled first;  all wrongs must be righted and all debts must be paid (and that includes moral debts which are the trickiest because they are the pesky little ones  that we conveniently push to the back of our minds).  Traditionally we observe this holy day with a 25-hour period of fasting and intensive prayer.

A little Yom Kippur humor?

SO BASICALLY it means it's the time to repent for the sins you've committed in the past year. I have until sundown tonight to repent, and failure to do so would result in my name not being written in the "Book of Life". 

Pretty heavy stuff huh? 
I have to admit, that I'm in a bit of a "Jewish identity crisis" and seeing that it's Yom Kippur doesn't make it any easier.  This is the first year in my life that I haven't attended the majority of High Holiday Services (excluding the year I lived abroad in Romania, and maybe one year when I was sick as a child).  I have decided to take this time to do some self-reflection and praying instead of joining the masses at Temple.  I'm trying on this shoe, to see how it fits.  If it doesn't feel right, back to Temple I go next year for prayer with the other Jews.

So as I sit here, doing some self-reflection, I can't help but think about the "topic at hand".  REPENTING OF SINS!!!  --insert ominous "DUN DUN DUN" here-- Over this past year, what "sins" have I committed?  Who have I done wrong? What do I need to apologize for? Who do I need to apologize to? 

And this is where it gets tricky for me.  Let me start by saying, I don't think I'm a saint.  I have my flaws, I make mistakes, sometimes I make really bad choices.  But I'm human.  Haven't we all done something we later have remorse for?  It all comes down to that I truly try to be the best person I can be each day.  If I make a mistake or wrong someone, I apologize then (and not wait to do so once a year at Yom Kippur). I've never been the type of person who lives their life on regrets.  I regret nothing I've ever done.  Sometimes I have to learn hard lessons (and sometimes more then once) but all of those experiences have made me the strong, confident woman I am today. 

I'm a believer in Karma, and "what goes around, comes around".  If you are a good person, doing good things, and adding positivity to the world....good things will come your way.  If you're a sh*t, and a drain on the community/man-kind....things probably won't be turning up roses for you.  I lead a good life, I'm happy, I have a loving family, I have fabulous friends. Yes, things aren't perfect...but ultimately LIFE IS GOOD!!! I feel fortunate to have a day like today to re-focus and re-prioritize.  In the next year, I strive to be a better person.  And as a result I'm confident I will become a better daughter, sister, friend, confident, employee, and student!

Here's to a new year of positivity and growth...

Sarah's Gastronomic Adventures #2: Falling into Autumn

Friday, September 17, 2010
I am blessed to have some really FABULOUS friends in my life.  Friends that will be there for me in a drop of a hat. Friends who can make me laugh and smile. Friends who know how to give it to me straight and tell me the truth (even if it hurts).

Over the past year or so, I have become really close to an amazing group of women.  I felt so blessed when one of my best friends brought me into her group of friends.  These ladies have introduced me to a side of myself that I didn't know existed, and for that (among other things) I'm thankful. 

One thing I love about my girls is that we can have just as much fun staying in having dinner as we do hitting the bars around town.  We try to get together for a pot-luck dinner party at least every other month.  There is always a theme for the meal, and we always end up with such a feast!

Last night we had an amazing Fall-Themed Extravaganza! Homemade GBC (Green Bean Casserole).  Quinoa (a high protein grain) with sweat potatoes, edamame, and other veggies. A roasted Pork Loin.  WINE!!!  I made a homemade risotto as my contribution to the dinner.

Risottos can seem intimidating to make, but really they're SUPER easy. Here's my version:

Wild Mushroom and Herb Risotto
The trick with risotto's are to use short-grain rice
(it's starchier and will make a creamier end result),
have plenty of stock/liquid on hand (I always have a little more than what the recipe calls for at the ready), never walk away from it (this is a dish that needs to be watched the whole time), and never stop stirring!!!

Dried porcini mushroom reconstituting in hot water

Onion and Olive Oil cooking for 5 min.
Garlic and Mushrooms are added to the pot and cooked down for 4 min. 
Time to add the rice!
Porcini mushroom (with its liquid) and wine are added
The vino I used....YUMMY
Vegetable Stock is added to the pot a 1/4 cup at a time
Herbs: Sage (on the left) and Oregano (on the right)
After cooking for about 25 min. (all stock is absorbed and rice is tender), the herbs and cheese is added
The finished product!  De-LISH!
 Again, this recipe was taken out of a Weight Watchers cookbook. 
 You would never know the difference,
 and you feel like you're indulging when you eat this!
NOTE: The recipe calls for using a beef stock.  I used a veggie stock instead.  I'm currently not eating any meat except for fish
 (I will write about this in a future blog)
and wanted to make this a truly vegetarian dish.
Cooking Confession: When shopping for ingredients I thought that I had short-grain rice at home.  Turns out I only had a long-grain. I didn't feel like going back to the store, so I made the dish with what I had.  Obviously the recipe turned out just fine, but it would have been "creamier" with the other rice.

Taking Out the (Reality TV) Trash

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Reality TV:  You either love it or you hate it.  I'm one of those people who happen to LOVE it. I find that it's a great way to well, get away from reality.  I like the game shows the best.

Big Brother (probably one of the trashiest reality competitions of the them all) is one of my favorite.   I got hooked to it a few summers ago with a group of my friends. We would even have Big Brother dinner parties! 

Big Brother airs only during the summer, and is on THREE nights a week.  The show is based on a group of strangers, known as HouseGuests, living together 24 hours a day in the "Big Brother" house, isolated from the outside world but under constant surveillance with no privacy for three months. The HouseGuests compete for the chance to win a $500,000 grand prize by avoiding weekly eviction, until the last HouseGuest remains at the end of the season that can claim the $500,000 grand prize.

The HouseGuests of Season 12 of Big Brother

 This summer's 12th Season was probably one of the best yet!  Drama, trash-talking, showmances, sabotage, the most successful secret alliance in Big Brother history! They also had some of the best looking men this season.  As the summer went on, I developed a crush on hot Oil Rig Salesman, Lane! He charmed all of the HouseGuests (and me) and made it to the final two last night.  Unfortunately his funny, outgoing personality and his flawless, pearly white smile (I'm obsessed with good teeth) wasn't enough to win him the $500,000 prize. 

So Lane (if you're reading this) you should know that I believe you should have won.  Hayden and his mop-hair had nothing on you! Yes, you only won two competitions. Yes, you played dumb and acted as a "floater" for the majority of the summer. And yes, you are an Oil Rig Salesman who probably doesn't even need the winning money (since you mentioned you wanted to spend it on beer and going out). Even still, I think you were the best player in the game.  You were only nominated for eviction twice (both times as a decoy), and you played one of the best social games!

With that said, I would like you (Lane) to know that if you're heart broken about your half a million dollar loss, you're more than welcome to come to Reno and I will console you.  Or even better yet, I can come visit you in Texas?  I know that I am a little more than 3 years older then you, but I think it's time to stop playing around with girls, and time to move on to a woman.  We can play golf and ride motorcycles! I'll help to cheer you up (and re-acclimate you to the "real world" after being locked in a house on 24-hour surveillance for three months) while you help me complete two items on my "Sarah Scared Shitless List" (CLICK HERE TO READ THAT BLOG).  We can walk around town showing off our matching, perfect teeth.  And I will make sure that you get all the "Muscle Milk" you've been missing (Muscle Milk is the protein drink he likes, get your head out of the gutters!) .  You will never be runner-up in my book, and I promise to make you feel like you're the BIG WINNER! Think about...I look forward to your response.   XOXO.

Facebook is my CRACK

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Ok, I'm the first to admit it.  I'm addicted to Facebook.  It's like crack to me.  I check it when I wake up, I check it before I go to bed.  I check it every time it bing-bongs at me and alerts me that someone has: posted on my wall, liked my status, tagged me in a picture, commented on one of my pictures, etc.  And really who am I kidding? By having my other addiction (my iPhone) it allows me to have a Facebook App where I click the button more times daily then I can count. 

I'm the queen of taking pictures (and then posting them within 24-hours on Facebook).  My friends call me the "historian" of the group because whenever a moment needs to be captured, there I am with my camera.  But just as often as they ask me to take a picture, they also come with the warning of, "You better not post the picture on Facebook Sarah" or "You can post it, just don't tag me" or even "Can you create a blocked/locked album so I can see the pix but no one else can?"  I always oblige.

People ask me why I like Facebook so much.  I guess I don't have a specific answer.  I use my status updates more as a journal of my life, for myself.  I rarely post to get a reaction or a response from others (but if people comment, even better).  I like feeling connected to people, even if we're in different parts of the world.  I enjoy seeing people's photos, and love seeing my friend's children grow-up. I guess it appeases the "Jewish Mother" in me and my need to be a yenta (Yiddish for a busy-body). 

I have joked with a few of my friends from High School that there really is no need for our 10-year reunion next year (YIKES!!!). We all know what each other are up to via our Facebook pages and updates.  So with that said, I know I'm not the only one out there who has a Facebook addiction.

While making my daily rounds of my favorite news websites today, an article about Facebook caught my eye.  The article was titled 6 Things You Should Never Reveal on Facebook. They suggested that you NEVER REVEAL:
  • Your Birthdate and Place
    • You've basically just given identity thieves a key to stealing your financial life. A study done by Carnegie Mellon showed that a date and place of birth could be used to predict most — and sometimes all — of the numbers in your Social Security number.
  • Your Vacation Plans
    • By posting flights, arrivals and departures, locations and pictures it's pretty much giving criminals an open invite by telling them specifically when you'll be gone.
  • Your Home Address
    • Well this just seems OBVIOUS!  But suprisingly some 40%  of FB users listed their home address on their sites; 65% didn't even attempt to block out strangers with privacy settings. And 60% said they weren't confident that their "friends" were really just people they know.
  • Any Confessionals
    •  Employers commonly peruse social networking sites to determine who to hire — and, sometimes, who to fire. One study done last year estimated that 8% of companies fired someone for "misuse" of social media.
  • Password Clues
    • If you've got online accounts, you've probably answered a dozen different security questions (your Mom's maiden name; the street you lived on as a child; or the name of your favorite song). Got that same stuff on the information page of your Facebook profile? You're giving crooks an easy way to guess your passwords.
  • Any Risky Behavior You May Partake In
    • Insurers are increasingly turning to the web to figure out whether their applicants and customers are putting their lives or property at risk, according to  So you may like to go heli-skiing, or you may like to race your motorcycle at high speeds. You just may want to consider twice before posting it on your Facebook.  
 Some of the articles advice seems pretty obvious to me.  And I follow the majority of those guidelines to a "t". I guess I need to be a little bit more observant about posting my whereabouts when I'm out of town though.  One of my best pieces of advice for Facebook users is check your privacy settings on a regular basis.  Facebook makes changes to those settings, and doesn't necessarily inform their users.  If you haven't checked recently, there's a very good chance that your information is set to "Everyone" meaning anyone can see your posts, your pictures, and whatever your friends post. Last week, one of my friends was changing his 13 year-old son's settings (someone had found out his son's password and had "friended" all sorts of random people).  He didn't know how to do it and called me for help. Another piece of advice I offered was that even though the privacy setting of "Friends of Friends" sounds secure, in fact everyone can be a friend-of-a-friend.  Better just keep it as "Friends Only".

So with that said, I wish you all happy Facebooking. I know that I'm about to feed my addiction, log on, and post this very blog,  After all, it's been a solid three hours since I've logged on last and I'm going through withdrawals. 

40 Year-Old Riddle Stumps Adults STILL! What's YOUR Answer?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010
A riddle that came out nearly 40 years ago and is still stumping people today.  The way you answer it can explain a lot about how you view the world.

The riddle is as follows:
A father and a son are in a horrible car accident.  Unfortunately the father dies immediately.  The son is rushed to the hospital where the head surgeon says, "I cannot operate on this boy because he is my son."
The Question?  WHO IS THE SURGEON?

What is your answer?  Surprisingly, this riddle has stumped generations.
If you guessed that the surgeon is the boy's mother, you would be correct. 

Older generations are notorious for getting this riddle wrong.  Prior to the mid-1980s the idea of a female surgeon (especially a head surgeon) wasn't a profession that would pop into people's heads.  In a recent study, adults were asked the same riddle and still they answered the question incorrectly.  But when the question of, "Who was the surgeon?" was presented to children they almost always answered that the surgeon was the boy's mom. 

The children's answer to this question is apparently a generational thing.  Children today have grown up in a world where jobs/professions have not been limited by gender.  But for a surprising twist, many of the children also responded that the surgeon was the boys "other father". When asked to clarify what having a "other father" meant, the children didn't hesitate to answer that the boy in the story's fathers were be gay. 

This study warmed my heart and made me feel optimistic about this nation's future.  While older generations have a hard time seeing change, it seems as if the younger generations aren't affected by those predetermined notions and ideas of gender roles in a professional setting.  Even more exciting is that the younger generations aren't affected or bothered by the idea of a gay couple having a child. 

While the nation currently debates over the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell and states decide if the union of marriage between a same-sex couple is considered lawful, I'm confident that these issues will "go the way of the dinosaurs" and become extinct and obsolete.  These younger generations are going to be OUR FUTURE LEADERS. If their views as children indicate the progressive changes and thinking that will come as they enter adulthood, I am excited to see what the future has in-store.

Until then, take action into your own hands! 

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