Thursday, December 30, 2010

Setting (and Keeping!) Your New Year's Resolutions


My New Year's wish for others usually goes something like this: "May all of your troubles last as long as your New Year's resolutions". In fact I might as well just get my holiday cards printed off with that imprinted on them seeing as I'm terrible at keeping resolutions past January 3rd.

Last October, I discovered a little project called 101 in 1001 and, being the chronic list-maker that I am, needed to make my own. As I got to thinking, the project was something akin to a long-term New Year's resolution, and why not make a list to focus on things I've been wanting or meaning to do with my fabulous year!

(I'm switching my list over to My Life as a Teacup from my previous account, so you can see for yourself over here!)

Some goals are clearly part of where I currently am in my life (I would only hope that, being a Japanese major, I would finish my Japanese degree) and others are travel or health or purely entertaining. And over the course of this past year, I've realized certain goals needed tweaking. At first I felt like a cop out. I made this list, wasn't it set in stone? Don't I have to complete every single item as planned?

You know what? - you absolutely don't.

My life path has changed thanks to some pretty dramatic decisions I've made regarding school. Prospects of grad school have since entered my life. Moving out isn't feasible at this time, so why waste energy on a goal that could be better channeled elsewhere? I've tweaked, I've prioritized and I've refined goals to something more concrete and couldn't be more excited to check things off my list!

Tips for Your New Year's Goal Planning:

Gala Darling couldn't be more right when she said that goals and resolutions are two separate things:
Goals & “new year’s resolutions” are completely different! A goal is something you can measure—a resolution is usually a response to eating or drinking too much over the silly season!

And how many people do you hear talking about their New Year's Resolutions come June? Something about the name itself implies that resolutions be dropped as soon as January leaves us. Check out some more of Gala's goal setting tips here.

Measurability - it's something I've gone back to in revising my goal list. "Learn more kanji" is undefined. Will just one count? Should I keep going until I have the written vocabulary of a native speaker? Clarity keeps your goals at a manageable level. "Travel more" seems like a more reachable goal when defined to something like "Travel to 3 new cities". "Play the piano more" is ambiguous in contrast to "Learn to play one song on the piano, flawlessly". Define your goals and see what a difference it makes!

♥ Don't be afraid to change your goals. Whether you have one resolution or two, don't be afraid to adapt if the circumstance calls for it!

♥ You may have your heart set on hosting a full Thanksgiving dinner or taking a Caribbean cruise. But if you know your situation at the present involves living at home or saving money, your goal may be better suited to a better stage in your life. I'd love to have a big 'ol turkey roast, but to do it how I've envisioned, I'd rather not skimp and just push it back to my next 101 in 1001. I'm not shelving the idea forever, just more properly categorizing, if you will!

Take it in little steps. Break up your goals into smaller chunks. If you're having trouble, say, eating a vegan diet, don't just dive in cold turkey. Spend more time shopping at the farmer's market and start by eating a meatless diet before trying to exclude all animal products right off the bat. That's not to say you shouldn't aim big, but if you're having trouble, just break your goal up into smaller, more manageable chunks! Or, per the ever snarky and enjoyable List Addicts, downsize.

I'd love to hear your plans for 2011! Do you have your own 101 in 1001 list? What things do you hope to accomplish this coming year?

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Happy Holidays!

Christmas Rex


I hope you all are having magical holidays, full of good food and friends and love!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Things I Love Thursday

♥ I had a surprise extra day off work this past week, which meant that I pretty much stayed in pajama's from Friday to Monday. Best. Weekend. Ever.

♥ Every year, around Christmastime, thanks to school breaks and people migrating home for the holidays, my high school's thespian group has its annual reunion at Starbucks. It's a whole big hootenanny (wow, that's actually in the spell check O.o) of laughter and old friends, inside jokes and gossipy goodness. It's just always so nice to see everyone again! I'm so proud of the people that come through that club!

♥ Christmas cookies. Need I say more? The holidays are the perfect time for food indulgence followed by hibernation.

little loves
this shot from HBO's 24/7 ♥ being classy and making nice dinner reservations ♥ kilts ♥ extra paychecks ♥ finally playing Pokemon Heart Gold ♥ Waltz of the Snowflakes ♥ amazing friends with equally amazing tastes in fun gifts (talking Yoda keychain and cupcake cookbook? Yes please!) ♥ Kay Nielsen ♥ Korean hip-hop ♥ T.O.P. of Big Bang has one of my favorite voices ever, next to Alan Rickman ♥ the best night's sleep ever ♥ Trader Joe's is an amazing place! ♥ LUSH Cinders bath bombs ♥ I've been doing some yoga before bed and I feel like I sleep so much better when I do!

What are you loving this week?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

link love

Superhero Grandma - This is perhaps the most heartwarming and giggle-filled photoshoot ever
♥ Just Bento has a lovely piece up on Ekiben you can buy at train stations!
Battle of the Lords: Vader vs Voldemort
A is for Ackbar
1000 Crane Mission is spreading hope and peace throughout the nooks and crannies of the word, one paper crane at a time! Sandy's lovely project is based off the story of Sadako and the 1000 Paper Cranes (and brings me back to my evenings of folding cranes for my host sister's volleyball team -.- I'm terrible at it, but Sandy's not!)
♥ Ooh, a magical see-through doorknob!
♥ Some famous art-inspired outfits, courtesy of Polyvore (thanks Teri!)
♥ Steve Pavlina urges you to reflect on What's Worthy of Your Attention
♥ We were just discussing this the other week: Denny's Fried Cheese Melt. It's like a grilled cheese on steroids. I'm currently working up the nerve to try this, just because (and simultaneously preparing my arteries for death)
What do you call yourself?
Every RPG Ever. I lol'ed.
What fun links have you found this week?

Monday, December 20, 2010

Waltz of the Lamb Bolognese

Every year, April and I take advantage of my discounted student tickets from Pitt and go see the Pittsburgh Ballet Theater's rendition of The Nutcracker. And by every year I mean that this time marked year 2 of the tradition :)

Pittsburgh, PA Benedum Center for the Performing Arts light fixture
source )
We opted for a touch of class this year and made reservations at Six Penn before the show.

Holy Pappardelle. Melty lamb. Roasted tomatoes. Sprouts. Feta. Heaven.

I can't even express my love for the big pile of melty comfort food that I stuffed in my mouth. Honestly, I didn't even manage a picture. I completely disregarded time and just tucked in. The cheese plate appetizer was equally amazing. There was some kind of Brie-esque cheese with what tasted like bits of rye inside? Mmm. They even had a "Winter Cottage" dessert which was essentially your own gingerbread house to devour. Eating dessert would've put me to sleep, so I opted for coffee, but I suppose the gentleman next to us was feeling adventurous.

We didn't even have our tickets until we got there, however. Pitt has a program where, with a student ID you can get discounted tickets to most of the cultural events downtown. And for $13, compared to the $60 it normally costs when I go to the ballet, I'm all for it. But the seats are selected from a random pool, and, while there's no truly bad seat in the Benedum, you never know where you're going to sit until you pick up our tickets from the Box Office. Last year we were in the second tier, which is where I normally get tickets at, which is a nice medium between being close enough and yet high enough to get a good view of all the action.

This year, our seats were in the Orchestra Pit:
(excuse the crappy phone pic)

Be jealous.

We didn't realize it until we handed over our tickets to the ushers with their little laser gun-sound making ticket checkers and did a double take. I mean, what else could ORCHPT mean? And it was literally a "What's behind door number one!?" moment. Next year we'll have to pick up a thrifted fur coat and hope for the best xD

A little more on the PBT:

In 2002, director Terrence Orr put a new spin on the Nutcracker, incorporating scenery and little nods to Pittsburgh's history into the performance. The main backdrop is an artistic rendering of a house that used to be in Shadyside. The woods in which Clara and the Nutcracker Prince take the sleigh through the snowflakes mimics the view from Mt. Washington and the book from which the toys appear out of during the battle with the rats is "Kaufmann's Christmas Stories for Girls and Boys".

Every year, something different happens, small, but a surprise. This year, Grandma and Grandpa stole the show. The children and dancers from the PBT's school always take part and this year was a truly wonderful show.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Things I Love Thursday

Carnegie Library
♥ I've started wrapping Christmas presents, and I have to say, I've improved since this time last year. Though I'm sure my kids won't ever believe a magical man in a red suit is procuring and wrapping their presents with how pitiful my wrap jobs are, I'm finally starting to see the wrapping of presents as an art in itself.

Oishii Bento, despite being a Japanese-named sushi restaurant run by Koreans (with subsequently good Korean cuisine) is amazing for food and bento reminiscent of Japan. And delicious sushi! It almost makes me want fish for breakfast again. Almost.

little loves
dinosaur ornaments ♥ hardcover books ♥ The entire works of H.P. Lovecraft is on feedbooks ♥ Pantone color of the year is Honeysuckle! ♥ cranberry orange spice tea ♥ HIMYM ♥ sleeping in ♥ crispy bacon ♥ mittens! ♥ Sailor Moon gifs. If there's ever any accurate representation of any mood, SM has it. Observe: thisthisthis and this. Accurate ♥ these kitschy cupcake ornaments peppermint bark Ghirardelli chocolates ♥ maple taffy lip balm ♥ hockey fights ♥ british accents ♥ David Tennant ♥ beekeepers ♥ the library ♥ pomegranates ♥ Reiley deciding to help me wrap Christmas gifts 

What are you loving lately?

Friday, December 3, 2010

How To Make Money By Selling Back Your College Textbooks

If you're in college, you know how expensive textbooks can get. Brand new books can cost upwards of $100 and buying from your campus bookstore only seems to empty your wallet faster. Even the buyback programs most campus book retailers partake in yield only a minimal 50% return on the books you've bought (some seemingly less than that). With the 10-some books I've had to buy this past semester and the looming 20-some books I have to look forward to next semester as an English major, my holiday budget is starting to look dismal. Actually, it's been looking quite that way since 2008.

Whether you've got two books to buy or twenty, here are some tips that'll keep you away from expensive bookstores and hopefully put some money in your pocket this year...

Keep your books! While this depends on what major you're in (a bio major who has finished volume 1 of Fundamental Biology 101 probably can move on to bigger and better things) I can barely count how many times I've taken a literature class two terms later with Paradise Lost on the required reading list -- again. If you're desperate for money, you might need to sell those extra books at the end of term ASAP, but if you can spare the few extra dollars and are in a major like literature, hang on to those books, especially the classics. Not only would it be a nice addition to your library, but it'll save you the hassle and extra $4.50 of buying the same book again.

Check out used bookstores if you have a class that requires a novel (probably not so easy for textbooks). When the book lists for literature classes go online, the first place I check is Half-Price Books. I've managed to pick up rather obscure novels and classics alike for roughly the same price I'd pay used on Amazon (plus shipping).

Amazon's used option is a godsend. If my local used bookstore doesn't have what I need, Amazon is my go-to. Though you pick up tons of books for dirt cheap, shipping often costs more than the book (a 10 cent book with 3.99 shipping -- eh). It still usually works out cheaper than buying the book new at the bookstore. Buying textbooks used on Amazon saves me the most, I've found. I scored a retail price $74 textbook for $40-some dollars.

If you have to buy from your bookstore, buy used. Most campus bookstores have an option for selecting used books over new ones when available. If it doesn't bother you to have a few bent pages or some notes scribbled in the margins, used will save you a hefty chunk of money. If you're worried, the extra pencil marks aren't that distracting and your wallet will be fat and happy.

Go digital. Most books and even a few textbooks can be scored for your digital e-reader for a maximum of $9.99. Amazon even has the Complete Works of William Shakespeare for 99 cents so you can tote tons of star-crossed lovers with you wherever you go without killing your back.  I don't have too much experience using digital books as a cited source in papers (especially with the Kindle's locations rather than page numbers) but as long as it's cited correctly, I see no major hangups. Talk to you professor first though, to see if they have any concerns.

Borrow from a friend. If you have friends who are in the same major or took that class last term, ask if they can lend you their books! (thanks Stevie B! xD)

Amazon's Buyback Program is my new favorite thing ever. Rather than sell my hardcover calculus book, brand new, back to my campus bookstore, Amazon took it for $75 dollars, well over what I would've received elsewhere. After selling just two of my books I was left with an Amazon credit for almost $150 which I was able to turn around and pay for all of my 20-some books for next term with $50 left over. The credit counted for Amazon and used independent-sellers on the site and I was able to buy a few things off my wishlist and some Christmas presents with the leftovers! (via Andy) "Best way to save money on Rent them for 30 bucks and they even plant trees for you afterwards."

How do you keep the cost of textbooks down? Tweet your tips!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Things I Love Thursday

Doctor Who is my new go to television show. It feels like Wishbone and sci-fi television decided to get together. I've only just finished the Eccleston season and I'm excited to see all the goodness I hear that is Tennant, but right now I'm coming down of a marathon of AWESOME (and not to mention the uber-creepy episode about the WWII gasmask children-people? Yeah, crazy nanogenes) and plan on continuing said marathon on Saturday

♥ When my Dad went to Amsterdam on business last month he brought me back a Van Gogh mug (I've clearly inherited my love for (post)impressionism and mugs from my Dad). One day when pulling it down from the cupboard, I noticed the handle felt kind of funny, in a good way. Upon closer inspection, I realized that the handle is totally shaped like an ear! Ahahahaha. Best thing ever.

♥ I can't stop listening to Florence + the Machine's Lungs album. I picked it up quite impulsively on my way to the checkout line on Black Friday and haven't really listened to anything else since. I had listened to Cosmic Love nearly everyday while in Japan and knew that with what few songs I heard I really enjoyed them. It's like Sigur Ros meets a jazz singing Melora Creager in dreamland to me and I can't get enough. Favorites:  Drumming Song, My Boy Builds Coffins, Howl, Cosmic Love, Girl with One Eye

little loves
homemade holiday cookies ♥ a nice big steamy cup of tea ♥ these memes always make me laugh ♥ the Xbox is back! ♥ goji berry face masks (even though they kind of feel like dirt at first ♥ the super soft skin that results from said face masks ♥ having a library card to the Carnegie again ♥ Pens vs. Thrashers tonight! ♥ running into Marge & Don at the store! ♥ gloves

What are you loving lately?