Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Time After Time

Yes, I added this to my Etsy shop on Monday. Yes, it is Wednesday and I am only now posting about it. Back when I was working 50+ hours a week and commuting 10+, I thought I would have all the time in the world to get all my hobby projects done as well as stay on top of daily maintenance stuff if I ever quit my job. I was wrong. Perhaps it is because I have about five million hobby projects going right now. Perhaps it is because, try as I might, I have a hard time sticking to a regimented schedule when I'm flying solo. Perhaps it's because the grass is truly always greener on the other side? Whatever it is, I do get a little frustrated when people assume I've got oodles of free time on my hands, but then I have to remember that I assumed the same of others in similar situations back when I was working. For that, I sincerely apologize. I now realize how one can "work" about 12 hours a day, six days a week for oneself.

I will say that the major benefit of my current situation is that it is loads more flexible than my old one. For instance, I was able to take several days "off" this past week when my sister, Mrs. Gee, came for an extended weekend visit. We pretty much ate our way across the Bay Area. Our favorites were Rudy's Can't Fail Cafe right here in Emeryville and the seafood stands in Fisherman's Wharf which, depsite being a tourist trap, were dee-licious and pretty cheap. Unfortunately, we both forgot to take our cameras anywhere. This weekend I get to do it all over again when some friends from L.A. drop by, so hopefully I can right my photographic wrongs at that time.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Now experiencing Kogi withdrawal

Fact One: There is a TON of good food by my new place, not to mention the Bay Area as a whole, and I have barely scratched the surface on sampling it, so I'm sure some new favorite haunts will be developed in the near future.

Fact Two: Both calorie and cash-wise, I have been working hard at eating out less. When I was living and working in Los Angeles, I think I ate out an average of 12 times per week (every day but Sunday for lunch and a few breakfasts and dinners to boot). I have now successfully curbed this to three times per week. I should be proud of that and stick with the program, right?

Fact Three: Despite Facts One and Two, I sometimes find myself craving LA food that is unavailable to me here, namely the following:

1) Kogi tacos. LA's infamous Korean BBQ taco truck that also serves hamburgers. Absolutely nothing in the world tastes like it. Although it was only around my last little while in LA, the former roommate and I may have spent a late night or five racing around town and parking illegally just to wait in line at the truck.

2) Tito's tacos. Old school tacos. Very cheap. I love their quasi-authentic quacamole/sauce/dip and their super-thick chips. (And I hope you all clicked the link and enjoyed that new jingle they've got on their website in both English and Spanish.)

3) A decent shawarma. I lived the Persian part of town in LA, and we had great Middle Eastern food within walking distance--Zankou and Sunnin were favorites.

4) Urth Caffe tortilla soup. Yum. I am working hard on perfecting my own recipe for home consumption, but it is difficult when you don't have the real thing to compare it against.

5) Also, would it kill them to build a Wahoo's closer than Palo Alto? I assure you, I haven't driven the substantial distance to satisfy my green sauce craving. Yet.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Is it hoarding if you compusively hoard shows about hoarding?

I was going to steal a picture of a hoarder's home off the Internet and post it here, but I felt too guilty. If you don't know what hoarding is or what it looks like, then feel free to look it up. Or feel free to walk away. I might suggest the latter...

So, the backstory, much of which has already been stated here: I recently quit my job, moved to a new area and commenced a job hunt. I knew that, given the economy, the job hunt would take some time, and prior experience had taught me that I do not do well when all I do all day is sit around and think about finding jobs. So I put myself on a regimented schedule where I work on the job hunt, arts, crafts, writing, cleaning, exploring the new area and improving my health--all during specified hours of the day. Indeed, despite the fact that I am unemployed, I am working about ten hours a day and I have eaten more home-cooked meals and put in more gym time than I have in years. The apartment is pretty spotless. I love where I live. In all, things are pretty great.

At the end of the day, and only then, I let myself wind down with a little TV (sometimes I will also have it on in my office as background while I'm working on projects, but I don't like soaps or talk shows or commercials for vocational institutions, so I usually end up turning it off). Sometimes I have DVR'ed stuff I want to watch, but sometimes I'm left to my own devices and 200 channels to fill the void. My go-to during such occasions was usually to find whatever channel was running a Law & Order marathon for the night, but I actually got kind of burnt out on it. And then, one day, while exploring what was available on my free "On Demand" television listings, I came across a program about compulsive hoarders. Having once seen a show that just featured a single hoarder and finding it fascinating, I was immediately hooked.

If you didn't know, hoarding shows are all the rage these days. A&E has Hoarders. One of the lesser Discovery Network channels had a show called Hoarding: Buried Alive, which appears to have been revamped for airing on the more popular TLC. For the most part, all follow a couple of hoarders each episode as they try to tackle their problem. Sometimes it does not seem like they are trying very hard. In fact, for the most part, it is one argument after another between hoarder and therapist or hoarder and hoarder's family member about throwing away a single item, which is probably some half-melted Happy Meal toy from 2002, while mountains of similar items awaiting similar arguments sit menacingly in the background. On Hoarders, they send dump trucks to the home and actually clean it out quite a bit. On Buried Alive, the therapist works slowly with the hoarder one room or area at a time, so when they give you a "one month later" update at the end of the show, the house is not clean, but the hoarder is proudly pointing to a new walking path and saying "Look, I can walk into the kitchen now without having to take those dangerous stairs I built out of discarded Igloo coolers to climb over my stuff! I am on the road to recovery!"

These hoarding shows are about 20,000 times more shocking and depressing than any of the murders or sex crimes regularly featured on the Law & Orders, and yet I cannot stop watching them. Like, I get really excited when I know I have a new one sitting on the DVR waiting for me to watch it. WHY? Is it just the usual can't take your eyes off the train wreck syndrome? And if not, what is WRONG with me?

Perhaps I'd be better off if all I did was stress about the job hunt all day...

Monday, March 15, 2010

Etsy Monday -- Mallard Purse

In green for St. Patrick's Day...

For those of you who have seen prior incarnations of my shoulder bags and zippered purses, I am happy to report that I feel I have finally perfected how to do it. The main difference is that I have reinforced the whole thing with a super-stiff interfacing so that it truly stands on its own. Other things new to this bag are the awesome, custom powder-coated heavy-duty hardware I ordered and the fact that I have abandoned the use of vinyl for an all-canvas bag.

Sorry to go on and on... I try not to talk up my own Etsy work to the point of puffery here, but I love this little guy and think I will have to donate this first one to myself for use for promotional and general change-carrying purposes. I've got some similar horse bags nearly completed, but think I will delay listing them until the coming weeks in order to give myself a little bit of an Etsy break.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Top Ten Reasons It's Good to Live Above a Shopping Mall

This is Disneyland's Main Street. More importantly, it is one of many windows above a shop on main street. We Noehren fam kids were very fortunate as children in that we went to Disneyland often because our grandparents lived next door. Our Disneyland trips ended the way I am sure those of most families do--in a zombie-like trek up and down Main Street looking for candy and a cheap souvenir to mark the occasion.

However, I was more interested in these windows above the shops, which I assumed for more years than could be considered normal were apartments where the Disneyland employees lived. I desperately wanted to live in one of these apartments and have the conveniences of Main Street and, really, all of Disneyland, at my fingertips.

Now, I am living the dream. As I've mentioned before, I live in an apartment complex above an outdoor shopping mall, very similar to those that have been popping up all over the country during the past several years as part of the "mixed use" development craze. It is like a modern Main Street with mall cops on Segways instead of white-clad street sweepers. Part of me is hesitant to discuss my mall-living here, as there is really only one shopping mall with apartments above it in my town and it is therefore easy to figure out exactly where I live, but I pretty much lost all my Internet stalkers when I switched from my old blog to this one and I've got the comfort of the fake name and a good security system as well. I suppose if any stalkers appear, I can just delete this post.

I love living at the mall. I love telling people I live at the mall, even when they are older women who give me screwy faces as a result. And so I have prepared a list of the top ten benefits I have gleaned so far from living on top of the mall. As the list demonstrates, the conveniences run both ways. That is, it is convenient to have a mall below your home, but it is surprisingly just as convenient to have your home above the mall. With that said...

10. Duh... the food. Fast food. And chain restaurants. And sweets and snacks. This mall has pretty great food. It does not have pretty cheap food. I feel like I'm eating at the airport at times. For the sake of my wallet and my waistline (and my desire to explore areas outside of the mall), I have put a limit on the number of mall meals I can have per week.

9. Technically, free parking at the mall. (For you. But not your friends. Meaning, technically, your friends also have to pay to park at the mall when they are simply coming to visit you.)

8. Coupons and other discounts given to residents by mall proprietors and restaurateurs.

7. Smug feeling that you're buying "local" when you're really buying mass-produced merchandise from H&M.

6. First dinner and then a movie, but dinner resulted in a doggie bag? No problem, just trot home between the two and store the doggie bag in your fridge.

5. You know how Alton Brown is always encouraging you to get to know your grocer or your butcher, as if you are going to go to Trader Joe's and demand to meet the manager and then invite him to go bowling? Well, living at the mall, you really get to know your retailers. Now I just walk into Rubio's and order "The Usual."

4. The ability to give simplified directions to one's home. ("Go to the mall. Buzz me.")

3. Justifying high-end purchases based on perceived saved transportation costs (e.g., "I'm sure it is just as cheap to buy designer vanilla extract downstairs at Williams-Sonoma as it would be to drive to the grocery store and buy generic vanilla extract. Plus, there's the value of my time!" BTW, my time is of absolutely no value these days.)

2. "Research Library" on the premises (aka Barnes & Noble).

And the number one reason to live on top of a shopping mall...

1. NEVER, EVER having to use the mall's public restroom (because the comforts and cleanliness of home are only a few feet away).

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Lost and Found

When you move, you are required to go through each and every item that you own. And when you do that, you find things you forgot you had. Such discoveries can be a real downer. For instance, when I am having a low moment, I sometimes buy cute clothes that are a size or four too small for me to use as "motivation" to work on health-related goals. But then when I don't meet those goals within five minutes, I stick the clothes in the back of the closet. And then when I move, as I recently did, I find them. All of them. With price tags still on. Most are only marginally in style at this point. What's worse, my mother saw them. Now they are providing a different kind of "motivation"--as in, I am motivated to curb my shopping habit and reduce my consumerist and wasteful tendencies. (Being on the job hunt helps with that as well.)

But sometimes when you move, you find GREAT things you forgot you had. Like gift cards! I discovered a bounty of them during this move. Most of them are to Starbucks--they were promotional gifts from court reporting companies and the like. (Another fave gift of legal service providers is tins of Mrs. Fields cookies, but I sure didn't find any of those lying around unused.) Those who know me know I am not a coffee drinker, but I am a newly determined Starbucks hot chocolate drinker. I also found some unused Christmas and birthday gift cards that have come in handy while setting up the new apartment. Finally, I found a random, blank gift certificate for a pound of See's candy dated 2008, which I used to purchase the lovely box of chocolates above.
The best part? The See's employee who boxed up my choices complimented me on my aesthetically-pleasing combination. Beauty in the ordinary--as sweet as the chocolate itself, no?

Monday, March 8, 2010

Etsy Monday -- Last of the Animal Prints

Perfect for your hunting lodge. Or your vegan, animal-rights loving lodge. Either way they're appropriate. How often does that happen?

Saturday, March 6, 2010

For Mrs. Gee

Per your request, I present the couch...

Thanks for helping me pick it out! I swear there is more artwork in the room than pictured here, but rest assured that more will be added to the dining area as well as some additional pillows for the sofa and a cool floor lamp.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Simple Pleasures

This week, I have found myself marveling at a few of the simple yet great things of my new life up North, such as...

Fishy ice cubes in my Diet Coke (caffeine-free, mind you; I think I'm on track again)...

... Ample room in my kitchen cabinets for all my quirky stuff, like red lunch baskets awaiting a barbecue that never seems to happen...

... and, finally, a fuzzy, soft blanket on my new comfy couch.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Etsy Monday(s) - A Horse is a Horse

So, I've gotten a little behind on my "Etsy Monday" posts, which more likely than not get posted on a Tuesday. Ah... semantics. Anyhow, during the past few weeks I have added these animal-themed items and more to my shop: