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November 2012

What The Hell Has Been Goings On

Here's what the hell has been goings on around here since I last wrote that I was going to use this space as a chronicle of my stint as a human, from the marvelous to the mundane.

So, let's see: I've been doing this weird nesting thing. I think it's the weather. I decided to cook up some Southern dishes to reprazent at the Orphan Thanksgiving* held in Bernal Heights that I was so blessed to be invited to, and since cooking is something I don't do very often, making three dishes was a big leap. 

First up, I made Snickerdoodles. About 50 of them.

Snickerdoodles

I made damn sure to follow the recipe exactly because I am notorious for leaving out an ingredient entirely or putting in 2 cups of sugar when it said flour. And strict carefulness paid off: they were, if I may, fucking delicious. I should know, I ended up eating a dozen or more*.

Then I made a simple cornbread. It was...not so great.

Cornbread
It was too dense and slightly too dry, although a nearly three-year-old really got down on dipping it in his cranberry sauce, so at least he was a fan. 

But the coup de grace was the macaroni and cheese which was actually penne pasta with cheese, because Safeway was straight up out of elbow macaroni, because somebody waited to go to the grocery store until the last minute. I'm looking in my direction here. (In fact, Safeway was also straight up out of baskets of all kinds--those on wheels and those you carry by hand. None. Nada. I precariously balanced all of my items in two arms with a couple of things stashed in my purse.) But this macaroni and cheese was divine, I won't lie.

Mac
It had mostly Beecher's Reserve, a Seattle cheese that was gifted to me, and Boursin herb and garlic cheese...YES YOU KNOW THE KIND. That spreadable awesomeness in the little white box? That's right, right into the mac and cheese. Which was baked, by the way, with butter and breadcrumbs on top. Paula Deen was hating on me so hard that day.

Butter
Cooking all of that deliciousness (save for the cornbread) was an incredibly relaxing experience. It was so calming. So satisfying. So rewarding. In fact, I found it so pleasant that the next night I stuffed an organic chicken breast with fresh thyme and herb chevre, made skin-on mashed sweet potatoes and whipped up a kale, pomegranate and spicy candied pecan salad, for which I candied those pecans MYSELF. Like a big girl.

Peacns

And like a big girl San Franciscan, I biked all over to get fresh, quality ingredients. 

Oh, I forgot to mention. I got a bike:

Bike
It's pretty much the best thing. I am so in love with it, and on the days when I don't get to ride I get a little down in the mouth. With a bike I feel so free, especially since before I had to get around on my feet or SF's public transit system, which is notoriously unreliable. (And for me lately, dangerous.)

It has a basket in the front where I can stash a bag of groceries or a change of clothes. The weight in the basket definitely affects how difficult it is to ride, which I learned the hard way when I got very brave and biked to work on Monday. I did a practice ride the day before, but without much in the basket, and it went sailingly well.

My confidence high, I took it to work the next day despite it being a little foggy. I put a change of clothes for the gym I didn't go to, along with lunch and my purse, into the basket, strapped on my helmet, hiked up my pant leg and hit the road where I quickly discovered that having all that shit in the basket made the steering act very differently. The handlebars seemed more sensitive. Anyway, I thought it was hard. Combine that with rush hour traffic and a crapload more cyclists in the bike lanes with me and my palms got more than a little sweaty. 

But the ride back was the real butt clencher. It was dark, for one thing. And since I haven't driven in a while I forgot I can't see so well at night. Brake lights and street lights and darkness and people in cars rushing home had me doing the quick breathe freak out. At one point, at a roundabout near a significant overpass, I jumped off my bike and walked it. I was scared.

I think I'll get a few more miles under my belt before I try the commute in the dark again. 

In other news, I moved from New York City one year ago this week. I don't have to tell you that time has wings and don't give a fuck. A year? Crazy. Crazytown. 

Skyline

I miss New York, but I don't, you know? 

I certainly miss New Yorkers. Very much, I do. I went to New York for a wedding and I had a much better time in those 3.5 days than I did almost the entire time I lived in New York. 

Us

A wise man once said, "Going back to visit New York after living there is like having crazy sex with a hot ex, but not having to put up with any of their shit afterwards." And nothing could be truer. And that's precisely how it was.

Us2

I drank too much, slept too little, danced, laughed, ate bagels and got to see faces I'd wanted to see for a long time. And I also watched two wonderful, beautiful people get married under a bridge. 

Wedding

It was a very good time.

It's probably also a good time to give an update on the Terrible Two, Goat and Gracie.

Cats

They are healthy and rambunctious and doing just fine. Goat is crawling on me right now trying to suck the wool of my sweater, which, as you might imagine, is impeding the writing process. He's a wool sucker, and at 2 years old (they just turned two, yay!), he shows no signs of stopping his habit of burrowing under my arm and "nursing" on whatever clothes I might be wearing.

What I've read suggests that there doesn't seem to be much harm in the wool sucking, and he gets so blissed out when he does it, that I usually just let him do it. Is that weird? That's probably weird. But since I trim his nails, it really doesn't bother me. Oh God, this is weird. I should keep my weird cat nursing stories to myself.

Onward!

So, unfortunately I'm not going home for Christmas this year. The plane tickets are just too outrageously expensive. And let's face it, traveling during the holidays sucks tremendous amounts of ass. I wanna be in Tennessee with my family whom I haven't seen in a year, but it's just not in the cards, most of which are maxed out.

I could work and bank extra vacation days, but that would be sad. Instead I'll likely do what I did last year and have a three course meal at a fancy French restaurant and drink champange and watch movies and basically do whatever I want without even a twinge of guilt. Luckily I enjoy my solitude quite a bit and consider it a gift, so a Christmas in San Francisco will be a treat. Not as good as waking up to Mom and Amy and going to Dad's for an amazing meal and gift trading, but pretty good still. Maybe I'll even plan something like a solo hotel stay as a fun Christmas bonus. I love, love, love staying in hotels, which all my friends who travel for work think is completely bizarre, but hotels are so terrific to me for some reason, and I can't even put my finger on why. Doesn't even have to be a fancy hotel for it to feel luxurious. 

What else?

Oh, I miss my restaurant friends a great deal. I probably stop in to Cupola for a glass of post-work wine way too often, but that place is where I can find some of my favorite people that I don't see nearly enough of any more. They ask me to go out with them, but it's when they get off, which is when I am going to bed. So, no dice or shots of Fernet or late night fun for me.

I'd say that is a fairly thorough recap of what the hell has been goings on. This rambling post was fun to write. I should do more of these.

*Those who don't go home, come here.

**Haha, obviously more.


Life Update

Oh, hi.

Look at this, I've had time to come up for air.  And it's bright up here.

So, I don't plan to write about work too much here on Sparkwood & 21, as I'd like to keep my job. Sometimes my judgement about what is good to share with the world at large and what isn't is skewed. I'm an oversharer. I love to tell a good story. But lately I'm becoming striving to be more strategic and logical and less reactionary and emotional, while still always trusting my gut. Always. Every time on that last point. Speaking of points, mine is that I've decided it's logical to just omit the work stories and avoid any pitfalls.

That said! Hoo boy, I've been busy. "My plate," as they say in office lingo, is overflowing. 

I am currently running twelve (12) social media accounts for six different CBS Local properties: CBS 5, KCBS, CW Bay Area, Alice Radio, Live 105 and 997 Now. Singlehandedly. I post literally hudreds of times a day, everything from breaking news to "meet Carly Rae Jepsen." Additionally, I am doing social media relations/coaching with on-air staff. 

Socialmediapapers

It's a handful, and I still haven't quite gotten a handle on it yet. I need better time management skills yesterday. Always feeling behind at work is why there hasn't been much activity here.

Which is sad.

But! I read a blog post from my friend's girlfriend about how she uses her blog as a record, a way to remember what has happened, and that's such a wonderful reason to have a blog. My goal is to record more things here starting now.


How to Start a Blog

A good friend of mine asked me to please send him notes on how to start blogging. I laughed because this dear friend used to give me ten tons of shit about having a blog, and so I was highly amused that he wanted to know how now. Then I was informed the info is "for a friend."

Uh huh. Suuuuuure.

Anyway, after I wrote him an email I thought it was worth reposting here. Maybe not, but I'm doing it anyway.

HOW TO START A BLOG

First, you have to put your blog posts and pictures and stuff somewhere, so you have to pick what is called a blogging platform. Plenty of them are free and awesome. No need to pay for one. There are lots of fine options. You can use Blogger.com, Typepad.com, Wordpress.com, but the one that I think is the easiest, the prettiest, the most likely to get a new blogger read and by far the hippest is Tumblr.com.

Just go to Tumblr.com. Fill out the quick three screen registration. Then it will guide you through the setting up process. You'll get to pick a category to put it in, then choose a name for the blog itself. This is pretty important. Make it unique and something people will remember. Not like, "Ashley's Musings" or anything bland like that. Then it will create a URL for the blog. It will be something like, http://mynewblog.tumblr.com.

You can pay to get rid of the tumblr part of the URL for pretty cheap by registering a domain. Tumblr makes this an option in the setting up process. That way you can have AshleysMusings.com, but for the love of God, no one should call their blog that.

Then you get to pick what it looks like. Tumblr has a buttload of themes you can pick from, half of which are free. They are very nice looking. It is fun to go and look at all the different "skins" your blog can wear. I recommend picking a theme instead of trying to design it yourself (which Tumblr allows you to do). Leave it to the pros. You can also spend like $20-$100 for a nicer theme which will be less common since, duh, it's not free. That can give a new blog a nice edge, but totally not necessary.

After that it's pretty much go time. This is the part where, after one post, people freeze. This is the part that is actually blogging.

Bloggers-blog

You have to write. Or if you're not writing you better be posting photos. Or podcasts. Point is you have to make something. This can be pretty much whatever you want. I assume if you want to start a blog you know what it is you want to publish. So, get your ass in the chair and do it. Write your first post. Tumblr will make it obvious how to do so. It's as easy as using Microsoft Word. VERY IMPORTANT: Don't get intimidated. Just write the first post and hit publish. Just get it out there. Then immediately write a better, second one. Then publish that, too.

Blogs don't have to be perfect. They are better if they are not. Publish your first draft. It's not like anyone's reading it yet anyway unless you have had some kind of ribbon cutting party where you handed out the URL on gift bags.

Then keep doing it. Then read other blogs and comment. Market your blog in whatever way you see fit. But you have to keep updating it. Regularly. That's it.

That's how you start blogging.