Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Iphotos

Everyone always asks what I use to edit photos. I basically just use two apps. I use picstitch which is brilliant for collage layouts and Snapseed. Snapseed is brilliant. I love being able to pin point small dark areas and highlight them. Nothing is worse than someone's smile being hid by a dark shadow. I usually use an effect called "drama." The effect tends to make the picture grainier, but I feel like the effect helps to highlight aspects of the photo that otherwise would have gone unnoticed. I then upload the photos to Instagram. Check out my Instagram web profile here. Something tells me that Instagram will not last past my mid-twenties without drastic updates, see my reasoning here.

On a lighter note, I also just uploaded a new app called More Noel. It adds sparkle and bubbles to any photo. Perfect for the Holiday season! What are your favorite photo editing apps?

Iphotos

I love my camera. If you know me well, you'd probably realize I die a little inside whenever I think of how I had a blackberry while studying abroad. I had no opportunity to mobile upload to Instagram. (The horror.)

So obviously, I'm excited to see where Twitter takes the iPhoto in the upcoming year. Instagram was bought by Facebook for 715M in April. It is no surprise that the two largest social media networks are now battling it out over photo-sharing capacity. I loved Instagram for it's simple integration with Twitter. Now, we have a standoff of sorts between Facebook and Twitter, and it really took off this week with Instagram adding some critical features -  crop & span. Brilliant. No longer do we have to worry if Instagram will crop half of our friend's faces out of photos. No more third party apps for simple tasks like cropping!!! That capability was long overdue.

The battle started directly after the buy out.  Back in October, Instagram made other updates to it's program. I.e. if you tag a friend on Instagram, Instagram would automatically use that friend's twitter handle if you went to tweet the photo after. This is awesome for Instagram users and for Facebook in turn. However, Twitter does not want to be a second tier program to Facebook. Twitter pulled the "Find Friends" option on Instagram. Instagram added web-based profiles. Twitter introduced "Twitter Cards" to allow for seamless larger photo-sharing. Instagram photos originally would show up in Twitter's stream; however, Instagram did not want to be simply included in Twitter updates. Instagram stopped the collaboration. Currently, there is still at least a link available, so friends can still reach your Instagram photos through Twitter.

The new year may bring the end of Instagram for myself and many others. Twitter is rolling out new technology! They recently added filters. This is an exciting time. Don't look so shocked Facebook. We are all sure you realize that 100M accounts are not an overwhelming number to overtake. (Ahem Myspace). We can be a very fickle tech audience. You should know that better than anyone, which is likely why you bought Instagram out in the first place.


P.s. Be sure to turn on your privacy settings on Instagram! The site is slowly turning over user's photostream into a user profile. Our photos will be public unless we turn privacy on. Thanks Facebook.. Luckily, it's only one little switch and not like Facbook's ever-changing list of options. Another reason why I am hoping for continued tech roll out by Twitter to enhance photo sharing options.




Monday, December 10, 2012

Cranberries

Cranberry Infused Vodka

Two limes
2 bags of cranberries
cup of sugar
Chopin potato vodka

This is an awesome seasonal host gift. My cousin made them two weeks ago and they were delicious! It is pretty simple to do. Start with a layer of cranberries. Putting a hole with a fork in each before popping them into a jar. I used bottles from the Christmas tree shop $1.99! Then do two or three thin slices of lime, then a bit of sugar. You want half a lime in each bottle and a quarter cup sugar in each bottle. Wait two weeks & voila!





If you have any cranberries left over because you bought the 2 for
$5 bags like I did... Here's the recipe for the cranberry sauce I made tonight!

Cranberry Sauce

Bring 1 cup water to a boil.
Put a little over 1 cup sugar into the mix.
Then 4 cups cranberries.
Let it boil for 5 mins then bring to a simmer for 10 mins.

I added a half cup of blueberries, half a clementine of zest, a 1/4 tsp of nutmeg, and a sprinkle of clove and cinnamon.

Continue to simmer for 5-10 more mins.

Let cool, it'll thicken up as it cools into a wonderful sauce! Let it cool to room temp, then put in the refrigerator to continue thickening/cooling. Loving the aroma that has filled the house :)


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Jule's Jewel Collection



Juliette and I have been obsessed with things that sparkle since we were little girls. Juliette used to  show up to our neighborhood kickball tournaments in gold sparkling high heels and a pink vintage dress.  Just before middle school we decided we wanted to open our own fashion business together. Our style tastes balance and complement each other. Which is why you can be assured you will always find exciting pieces on our site. We are starting our venture on Etsy and seeing where it takes us. We hope to give you a new outlet for Christmas shopping and to help individuals buy quality items for a fair price. Check us out, and see what we have been dreaming up!  Currently, we are featuring exquisite holiday earrings and startlingly simple office studs.



Warm Holiday Wishes,
Juliette and Helen



Thursday, November 29, 2012

Lasagna

Joe was supposed to come home from work and show me how to make Lasagna. However, he stopped to get gas, so he was a bit late. I had already started boiling the pasta strips (putting in a decent bit of salt and olive oil so that the noodles didn't stick together) and browned the meat mix (hamburg meat and sweet Italian sausage). So I was either going to be left with noodles that stuck together or a imperfect lasagna trial mess... you know me, I tried the later.

After the meat was browning for a bit, I added minced garlic, cilantro, Italia seasonings, garlic and onion powder, salt and pepper.

Near the end of the browning period, I added a cut up red pepper.

At the very end, I also cooked up some spinach. Three heaping handfuls, it literally heats up to nothing. After this was cooked a bit, I added it into the meat mixture. By this time, the pasta strips were almost done.

I strained the pasta strips and waited for them to cool a bit.

Joe walked in as I started layering. Thank God, or I would not have started with a layer of sauce!

We took out a pan, sprayed the bottom with Pam. Then we put the cup of sauce down. We used a Roasted Peppers and Garlic Sauce.

We put down 4 strips across the pasta sauce, then a layer of the cheese mix, layer of the meat, layer of sauce, layer of 4 pasta strips across, layer of cheese mix, layer of meat, layer of sauce, layer of 4 strips across, layer of sauce, sprinkled mozzarella.

The cheese mix was made from a bag of shredded mozzarella, 15oz ricotta cheese can,  light Italia seasoning and an egg.

Really good for a first try! The only bad part was that I cracked the egg into the cheese mixture... instead of cracking it into a separate bowl. A piece of egg shell was left and Joe just happened to get it. Winner Winner? oops

Shrimp Scampi

Feeds 2-4

Boil half a box of linguine pasta

Haha & those are not my man hands! I'm taking the photo.
1/2 lb Uncooked shrimp <- shell it by pinching the tail and pulling off the exoskeleton. You may have to push away the sides of the exoskeleton from the shrimp too.

Take your shelled shrimp and lightly mix in a half cup of floor, powdered garlic and onion, salt, pepper, lemon pepper, Italia seasonings of choice to taste.

Once they are lightly dusted with the seasoned flour, stick them in a hot sauté pan that has been prepared with butter.

After 5 minutes add more butter, minced garlic, cilantro or choice Italian seasoning.

Sauté shrimp until bright pink.

Strain pasta once cooked.

Once the shrimp is fully cooked, mix in the pasta (into the sauté pan).

Let simmer for a minute then serve!
Yum!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Halloween 2012

Update on the Halloween post: We had our Bentley Class of 2012 zero year reunion at Tequila Rain. It was Tequila Rain's Monster Mash! How silly of Bentley to plan it on a Halloween weekend, we were all really concerned that no one would show up with such a mash up of events. But it ended up working out really well - we even broke the most attended zero year reunion record. We topped 300 students, which is over a third of our class. I was impressed. I would always hear admin stating thing like: your class is much different than previous classes. (emphasis on the much) I think we're pretty awesome.






& I guess you all know what I was for Halloween. The Statue of Liberty! I cannot tell you how many people came up to me saying, this is the perfect costume for you! Their reasoning: you love America, and you're tall...

Advertising




If you've been following this blog at all - you'll know how much I enjoy branding, typography, advertising, pr etc. I enjoy seeing all sides of a company and enjoy participating in different facets of advertising. I have been in commercials for The Pawnbroker and have done some modeling. Most recently, I participated in LaceAffair.com's seasonal shoot. The owner is adorable and has such an incredible vision for her business. I really enjoyed reminding myself what it's like to be on the other side of the camera. More recently, I have been the one taking photos. Hopefully, I'll be taking some adorable holiday photos of my cousin, she just lost her two front teeth! (All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth!!) I love photography and editing in general, so I can't wait to start this next project while I'm waiting to find the perfect job! :)


The Mo'


The end of November is nearing, so I have to post about Movember. Thankfully, not as many adults participate in this charity movement, as much as, the college scene seems to. As of November 1st for one month, mo-bros start clean shaven and work their way towards a classic mo of their choice. Last year, 854,00 individuals participated to raise 126.3M for programs supporting men's health. I really disliked the college scene Movember. Most of my guy friends would grow out their stache. I wish they had come up with a cute "wear the color blue" campaign like Pink for Breast Cancer... instead of the Mo idea. Scratchy beards are not fun to kiss! The movement started in Melbourne and has since gained worldwide mo-mentum.

The Movember Effect: Awareness & Education, Survivorship, Research
The funds raised in the US support prostate cancer and testicular cancer initiatives. The funds raised are directed to programs run directly by Movember and our men’s health partners, the Prostate Cancer Foundation and LIVESTRONG Foundation. Together, the three channels work together to ensure that Movember funds are supporting a broad range of innovative, world-class programs in line with our strategic goals in the areas of awareness and education, survivorship and research.
                                                                                            Source: http://us.movember.com/

Advertising

I have always loved adverts. I am obsessed by them. I love analyzing them and am not afraid to state my opinion to anyone in the room. My friends tend to roll their eyes when I get more involved in the commercials than the T.V. show.


I am sure my roommates of 2010 loved my intense screaming regarding the Reebok advertisement for toning sneakers. It just angered me so much that they zoomed in on this woman's butt. As if this is the most important aspect of being fit. A cute butt. My guy friends called me a feminist and one of my girlfriends bought the shoe to achieve a cute butt. (I don't think it worked) Regardless, I was completely turned off of Reebok as a result. I also wrote them an email telling them so. I was really offended and learned a ton of other women were as well! When applying for jobs recently I have been highlighting my ability to analyze adverts critically, this is not an ideal  review example, just a demonstration of how strong a critic I can be with my personal opinion and how I follow through to ensure the right people hear it.


What are your favorite commercials lately?! Mine has to be the Slinky on an Escalator by GEICO. So stupidly "awesome." The number of times I hear this in a day just confirms how great it is... we'll see how much longevity it has, I'm sure it'll get annoying at some point. Even more recently, I have been enjoying the Chevy commercials featuring good ol St. Nick.







Thanksgiving

My father has everyone from my mom's side over for thanksgiving each year. We had over 30 family members in attendance. My mom has eight brothers and sisters and a few of them have kids who are having kids! Makes for a three level tier of family members running around my house every fall. Apparently, this year, I fell asleep after dinner. I was watching football with Joe and I thought I was up the entire time. He claims I am mistaken because he was helping my family do dishes while I slept. I don't remember doing any dishes this year, so he might be right... I do remember getting jumped on by my little cousins and chasing them around the yard playing tag. I can completely understand if I fell asleep on the couch! (oops)

My favorite part of the the Thanksgiving Break is the Turkey Soup and Pilgrim Sandwiches (Comprised of the usual turkey leftovers, cranberry sauce and stuffing) my Dad makes the following week. So good!

This Thanksgiving was a bit hectic. Usually I go out with my high school friends, but this year I decided to hang out with Joe and his family the night before, then went to brunch at 8am,  then to his high school's football game at 10 am, next was lunch at my house, then we went to watch the Patriots at his grandparents. It was a pretty busy 24 hours.


Take a Gamble

I'm not a gambler; however, I would describe myself with a calculating risk-taker. I have put down $25 on black in roulette - won $50 bucks, walked away.  

It's time to dig deep here. 425M Powerball ticket is at stake! So, I am going to buy a quick pick and one carefully crafted list of numbers and hopefully win big! I've always wanted to be successful enough to buy my dad a place in Maui to take my mom to VK for the winters. Maybe this will help make that happen quicker!

The News

Recent news stories have had me in tears laughing. I cannot wrap my head around the multiple sources relaying faulty information. It's a joke how people believe everything in today's world and it is absolutely terrifying how quickly things can spread without proper investigation. People spread news without even looking for a source or reason as evidenced by Facebook's most recent privacy hoax.  Most of my tech/digital "in the know" friends were re-posting a viral privacy notice, so a lot more of my friends did as well.  

This was circled through facebook users in the form of statuses. The only reason why I did not re-post myself was that I searched Berner Convention and all that returned was a Berne Convention. The UCC code made no sense  to me as I had taken a Contract Law course while at Bentley University, but one could easily have researched the code as well to learn that the code has nothing to do with online privacy.

The second thing that had me in tears in the past few days was a story that was picked up by a state newspaper in China. The Onion, a satirical news outlet, has struck again!
"The People's Daily on Tuesday ran a 55-page photo spread on its website in a tribute to the round-faced leader, under the headline "North Korea's top leader named The Onion's Sexiest Man Alive for 2012."
Quoting The Onion's spoof report, the Chinese newspaper wrote, `'With his devastatingly handsome, round face, his boyish charm, and his strong, sturdy frame, this Pyongyang-bred heartthrob is every woman's dream come true."
"Blessed with an air of power that masks an unmistakable cute, cuddly side, Kim made this newspaper's editorial board swoon with his impeccable fashion sense, chic short hairstyle, and, of course, that famous smile," the People's Daily cited The Onion as saying.
I am still laughing, my mother gasped when I read her the article and chortled a bit. Hope you all are enjoying these media blips as much as I am! And are taking away the key message of this blog post - Check for sources! Don't believe anything. 

The third crazy news piece that has actually made me more nervous about who has access to our personal information, including government officials, is the latest news surrounding the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. A young man noticed the letters SSN followed by a number on one of the fallen pieces of parade confetti. This tipped him off and he started picking up the strips of paper and noticed various pieces of protected information from the local police department. Including a piece of information about Mitt Romney's motorcade route. We live in one crazy media world. I hardly believe that any of our information is truly protected anymore.





Monday, November 26, 2012

Newport




After dropping off my sister at Salve Regina. We wanted to go on a tour of the Newport Mansions, better known to locals as the Newport Cottages as they were the summer homes of America's wealthiest. We decided to go on a tour through Marble House as it is one of the three cottages decorated for the holiday season. Marble House is so called as it is comprised of 500,000 cubic ft of Marble. It was home to Alva Vanderbilt, a woman with particularly lavish tastes and a solid belief in education. She used her home to educate and bring European architecture across the sea. The entertaining room was brilliant with it's golden leaf decor. The Gothic room reminded me of Westminster Abbey. My favorite room was the library with commissioned art on the ceiling of four matriarchs (geometry, algebra..). My second favorite room was her bedroom, it looked like a fantasy room with light purple patterned tapestry adorning the walls.  She was a realist. She knew that, if you were a woman wanting to achieve anything significant prior to the 19th C., social and economic standing were the only two things of importance. She fought hard during the suffrage movement to help women win the right to vote.
In addition, to the well designed self-guided audio tour, here are some sources I glanced through: http://americancivilwar.com/women/Womens_Suffrage/Alva_Belmont.html 

We would have liked to do the Elms and Breakers - the other two Newport Mansions decorated for Christmas. I have heard from secondary sources as well as from first hand accounts that Marble House is  supposedly the most glitzy of the three decorated mansions. The Breakers has the most Christmas Trees. The Elms is supposedly decorated most associated like a hunting cottage, not quite sure what this means, but I cannot wait to see them for myself!  My favorite decorated room in Marble House was the kitchen. It smelled divine. It featured hundreds of lemons, oranges, clementines poked with cloves and pine. The coolest part of the kitchen was what looked like an antique baking mold in the shape of a military man and ship. 



After our mini tourist trip we went to Brenton Point to watch the sunset. We then went to pick up my sister and her friend to take them to dinner at the Gas lamp Grill. Everything was delicious, exceeded our expectations - mostly because we were expecting more along the lines of pub food.  The chowder had an entirely different taste than expected. It was a tad spicy!  







Saturday, November 10, 2012

Wonder


Just finished reading "The Confessions of an Economic Hitman" by John Perkins. It was a readable account of his personal and conscientious reflective journey as a so-called EHM. The overall message leaves the reader wondering how many people contribute to the corporate and government conspiracies throughout the world. More importantly, to what extent do we all contribute to these conspiracies and financial facades in our everyday lives.

This book really got me thinking about our most recent presidential election. I am most displeased with the inconsistencies that occur throughout our nation. I hate big government with a passion; however, voting regulations should be consistent throughout our nation. My sister Juliette was able to vote in NH. While I am happy she finally registered (as all members of the US should be allowed to vote), the registration period had already passed in MA. She was able to vote in NH due to the recent "Out of State Student" legislature that recently passed in September. No offense to NH, but I would not want out of state students, who live in NH for a total of 4 years max, voting for laws that effect the entire state's long-term population.  Regardless of that side issue, with today's economy and technology, there should be a viable way for individuals to vote anywhere in this country. It's ridiculous that technically anyone can vote by walking into a building, stating a street, and claiming a name. While it is illegal, is it possible? Absolutely  Why do we need photo identification? To drink? Yes. To buy cigs? Yes. To get a library card? Yes. To vote? Nope, not needed. Voter fraud should not be able to occur. The corporate world and tech stars who create what grandparent's consider "big brother apps"i.e. "Find My Friends" should be able to solve what I see as an issue with today's voting system. It's simply outdated, and the recent voting machine and system glitches is a clear sign that something has to be fixed.

A few things I considered before voting:
Who will most let federal government act as a guideline and protector for allowing the individuals, county, and state legislature to act freely.
Who will create the most opportunities for individuals to succeed. I do not believe entrepreneurs and business owners should be taxed the way they are currently. People who have the perseverance and gumption to get ahead in this world, individuals who are creating more jobs and increasing domestic trade by opening businesses, should be punished and hindered by excess taxes.

Additionally, I am supportive of all efforts that encourage international students, who study and prove they are capable of applying their higher education in the states, to stay and build a life here. Thereby, contributing to building this nation in a positive and proactive nature, and encouraging the continuance of the ever stifled "American Dream."

Regardless of who I voted for, I hope that Education and the encouragement of preventative care (nutrition and fitness) continue to be two of the most consistent items on our nation's agenda in the upcoming years.  I feel these two topics are closely related and if these issues are left to fester, they will surely become this great nation's Achilles Heel.

"EDUCATION AND INCOME 
Obesity has long been associated with education and income. The report found that about one-third of adults without a high school diploma were obese, compared with about one-fifth of those who graduated from college or technical college.
And one-third of adults who earn less than $15,000 per year are obese, compared to one-quarter of those who earned $50,000 or more per year. The obesity-poverty connection reflects such facts that calorie-dense foods are cheap and that poor neighborhoods have fewer playgrounds, sidewalks and other amenities that encourage exercise."

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/09/18/us-obesity-us-idUSBRE88H0RA20120918

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Homecoming

Delta Phi Epsilon - Fall 11

Delta Phi Epsilon - Fall 2012
Can't wait for the girls abroad to come home to double our chapter
and all of the wonderful new girls we are going to get this winter!
SO excited for a new addition to our family tree!
I was surprised by how few people came back this year compared to last year. I felt like a lot of people would have came back as it was so nice out. Free fried dough, fried apple pie, fried oreos, swing set, fb game, tons of other food, beer on draft. It always surprises me that Bentley Students are unaware of how much fun Homecoming can be, some students even head home! It's mind blowing to me. It surprises me that more friends and family do not come back for the day. Homecoming and Spring Day have always been my two favorite days of the year!

The Zero Year Reunion for the Class of 2012 was a huge success. The alum admin did a wonderful job getting us involved with the committee and setting up the event. I was a little worried about it because I hate Tequila Rain. Every other time I have gone there, the club is filled with sketchy men aged 45+ who just leer at every girl that walks by. It also ended up being Tequila Rain's "Monster Mash" and we all know I strongly dislike Halloween. But it ended up being a ton of fun and we had over a third of our classmates show up from our grade!! Insane.


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Halloween Spiders

I hate Halloween. I cannot stand the Holiday at all. The idea of scary masks covering up the faces of those I love is literally scarring for me. I still remember my great aunt Alice showing up at my house to help my parents hand out candy with a scream mask on.

That doesn't mean I haven't had great Halloweens. Some good memories include: freshman year dressing up with my pledge sisters, my father's 60th Halloween bash, dressing up as gypsies with my xc team and running through Spider Gates.

But I truly cannot stand Halloween - this is coming from a girl who hates to even watch scary movies. Sleeping Beauty is as scary as it gets by choice. I really dislike my friends who have made me sit through T.V. shows like Walking Dead and American Horror Story. More recently those who made me go through a haunted house in Salem while all I wanted to do was go on the foliage cruise! The Haunted House, really was not that scary. I was more afraid of my friends who kept poking me when people jumped out and made noises!


I don't think I have dressed up the same as a previous year yet. Sunflower, pumpkin, cheerleader, cowgirl, witch, sailor moon, gypsy, group fruit of loom (I was the banana) hermione, Greek goddesses, unicorns, etc. Can't wait for my costume Saturday night!


I made my Grandmother's spiders this evening. They are so good! Melt the butterscotch in the microwave in a casserole dish. Stir with a wooden spatula every 20 seconds for two mins. Add hot water to a large metal bowl and place casserole dish inside. Then add nuts and stir into mix until covered. Be careful when adding the noodles. Then daintily drop onto wax paper. Easy treat to help get a party into the ghostly spirit!




Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Mountains

Recently, I've had the urge to hike. The weather is gorgeous. It's fall, everything is so colorful!

I've hiked a beautiful section of the midstate trail. I went with Joe and his dog Keystone to Leominster and hiked through Crowhill ledges to Balance Rock in Westminster. It is a gorgeous hike with only one steep area. The hike took about two hrs, but we were booking it because Keystone kept pulling me into a run. Joe thought it was hysterical. There is a section that you can rock climb, and we saw a few individuals there. We even saw an elderly  couple from Chicago making their way down the path.I know this is terrible, but we were betting whether or not they would make it up the ledge.

I then went climbing with my sister Juliette at Mt. Kearsarge. That took an hr and a half. We took the 1.2 mile up and then took the 1.8 mile back down as it loops around the mountain more with impressive views. It wasn't terribly difficult, it had three moderate climb areas going up. Juliette for once in her life was tired. She was panting and even asked for a 30 second break. It made me laugh because Juliette is usually the one who is racing ahead leaving me behind.

I also ran a 5k this past weekend with Joe at Mt Wachusett - The Cider House 5k. It was far from a PR course. Even if you could have done well, it was up the hiking trails. It was impossible to pass the individuals that were hiking instead of running from exhaustion. I also went to Wachusett the following day with Margaret to hike the "stair master trail." Aka Pine Hill. it took us an hr total to hike to the summit and back down. It's a .5 mile trail. Not too shabby!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Yoga


My friend Maggie and I decided to try out Bikram Yoga. Heated room, 90 minutes, 26 postures (which are shown in the first diagram below!), a mat, a long towel, and water bottle. I have attended a class at least 2-4 times a month over the past three years. I love it. It's such an exhilarating feeling when you finish a class. The best part about it is how relaxed it is. Sounds crazy, but it reminds me of Cross Country. There are team sports and there are individual sports. Bikram reminds me of my old running teams where not everyone is at the same level, but everyone is doing their personal best. There is something really great about watching someone skilled practice yoga next to someone like me who cannot always do all the positions due to exertion. There are some individuals who get to their first class like Maggie and do everything right the first time. The instructor thought we were kidding after class when we explained it was her first time. There are other individuals who try the first ten poses then sit on their mat for the remainder of class, joining in when possible. Everyone tries at their own rate. Not every day is going to be a good day performance wise, but it's worth it just to show up. It's up to your body and mind to tell you when to stop or help you propel forward. Like I said, just like my cross country days.


It is extremely beneficial and you sweat out a ton of water weight. After your first class, you feel so energized and so in charge of your life. It is a wonderful mind enhancing, body stretching experience. After the second class you will realize the improvement in your personal limberness. The heat really helps warm the muscles and helps to deepen your stretching abilities  (I never thought I'd be able to raise my leg behind my head, I did it by my third class!) You learn to self-soothe as you control body and mind in an uncomfortable situation. It is phenomenal. Bikram also helps cleanse the body of toxins. "By the tourniquet effectstretching, balancing (using gravity), and creating pressure all at the same time. The blood supply in arteries and veins is being cut off, creating pressure. When released, a lock gate effect is created, causing blood to rush through veins and arteries, flushing them out. Also, pressure is applied to the heart by its relative position to the rest of the body." -Bikram FAQs Bikram also helps your balance. 

I also recently went to a beginner yoga class with my mother. It was extremely slow paced and I was the only one in the room younger than 30, but it was a wonderful experience. It really reminded me that no matter how easy the positions are, there is room for improvement technique wise. Going at a slower pace really demonstrated how easy it is to align your body incorrectly. A few individuals in the class mentioned they were having back problems, so the instructor led the class through a back strengthening process. My back felt better after class! Here are three of the poses she went over featured on LiveStrong! If anyone knows of any other great back extending/stengthening poses, feel free to leave a comment!

Here are some other cool yoga posters! Can you tell I'm obsessed and think everyone should strive to find a class they love?! (All photos in this post are linked to the sites I found them!)



Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Apple Cider Ice Cream



This recipe below was absolutely amazing. I am looking forward to making it again soon.  


Joe and I used fresh apples that we picked at Tougas Farms in Northboro.




Apple Pie









This was an amazing recipe, the pie lasted two days.
Here are some key things we did while baking:
  • Make sure that the butter is frozen to ensure the flakiest crust.
  • Honey Crisp apples for the filling
  • Almond flour for the crust
  • We used a cold beer bottle 
  • We used tin foil along the edge to ensure the sides did not burn.










Thursday, September 20, 2012

Becca


Check out the video here or click on the photo above to go to the site! Yes, not only is she featured on the Web page, but she had a cameo. I'm still laughing. She seems much more composed than I could ever be and looks great in it. I especially love the quick smile at the end. 

The video is certainly much better than our childhood days of "It just keeps coming in." Click on the photo below to check out that lovely advertisement...
Did anyone else inappropriately think "That's what she said" after every viewing?  

I am still a bit annoyed with my father about that commercial. I  had just gotten back to Worcester after a fun weekend in Boston with my high school gfs. I felt gross, had been sleeping on the ground for the past few days in a sleeping bag and I was congested because of the cat at the apartment. I looked like hell, no make-up, and was wearing the last items in my sleepover bag. My mother picked me and my gf up from the train station in Worcester and instead of going home, we went to my Dad's work to film a commercial. ARE YOU KIDDING ME. Still upset about the lack of a heads up. Those lines were memorized right then and there. Legit, that might have been a second run-through. Why isn't my memory that wonderful now? Studying for the GMAT would be 87% easier.

Update: That commercial is still airing. This is one of those hand hitting head, groaning, staring at Dad incredulously and laughing. He claims it's a great commercial... It does have a certain marketable stickiness.  In fact, Becca used to get followed around stores when we were younger because people recognized her from the commercial! I'm going to convince him ASAP to let me create a new one. Becca and Jules be ready at Thanksgiving. Marisa, are you finally ready for your debut? 




"Does It Work?"

Pawn Broker - Installment III


In stores one of the most common questions is: Does it work?

Of course it works. We do not even consider taking in an item without making sure it works. We would not want a broken item as much as you would not want a broken item. No pawnshop is willing to pay hard earned cash to attain something they could find in a junk yard; moreover, no pawnshop is willing to pay hard earned cash for something they couldn’t turn around and get rid of through selling.

Majority of merchandise found in pawn shops on sales floors are pre-owned, this does not mean that they are worthless items. The pawn shop is the ideal place for economics majors. At one point this floor item was either bought by the pawn shop, or the loan was left outstanding for a substantial amount of time. An item may be pre-owned but the longer the store sits on the item, the longer the store clerks allow the item to depreciate or in the case of gold recently appreciate. They’re going to price an item when it goes on the floor for what they think it is worth to the average customer. If a customer comes in and the clerks have been sitting on the item for awhile, they are probably more likely to sell the item at a cheaper price; however, the store owners are usually (and understandably) not willing to go lower than what they took it in for.

It’s a hard concept to explain to a customer when they’re asking, “How come you’re loaning me a dollar when you can turn around and sell it for three?” Well, the two dollar difference pays for utilities, storage, postage, payroll, accountants, etc. but most importantly, security of your item. Those two dollars just got stretched a long way… and of course you expect the pawn broker to make enough to get by, so they can continue giving out loans. The economics of the business holds the pawn brokers accountable, almost to the point of saying they are more honest than the average bank that is backed by the government with empty hands.

Well, how about an item that doesn’t really devalue? Like Jewelry. “I paid thousands for this ring, I expect thousands for it now.” Thinking it devalues or appreciates, is not the way a pawn broker looks at items on the loaning side of the business. The pawn broker determines what they believe the true value is. Brand name items might sell in the store, but a pawn shop could never find another customer readily willing to pay what it was initially worth. So what is jewelry really worth to the pawn broker? Weight in gold? Clarity of Diamond? All Jewelry is based on 4 Cs: Cut, Clarity, Color, and Carat. Every diamond that comes in to a pawn shop is tested, even unmarked gold is tested. Gold is paid for usually within a percentage to the gold rate on that particular date. 

The real question the pawn broker asks himself in the end is: What good is one more ring to me? The answer is: none. The pawn broker is there to serve the customer and receive a small percentage skimming over the top to eventually help the business’ bottom line. If the customer is selling or trying to acquire a loan on an item, it is always best that they come in with a price in mind. Not just saying, “I want to get rid of it, what will you give me for it?” As aforementioned, the answer would be: nothing. A pawn broker becomes a packrat of sorts filling rooms with items that they personally do not want or need. It is always better if the customer comes in for a loan thinking realistically, knowing the pawn broker doesn’t really want their item, saying, “I really am trying to acquire ___$ can you help me with that” and then go from there. The customer will get much further in negotiating than if just asking “what will you give me for it.” It’s a yes or no, and if taking out a loan, that’s what it is all about.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Shirt Crafting

I have always been big into re-designing clothes. Like cutting my favorite old jeans into jorts or making them into a skirt. The skirt was awesome because I took the time to sew on lace around the edge and time to embroider it with a cute design. Jean skirts were all the rage in middle school and high school. While I love that skirt, I am glad I'm past that fad for now. Last night I was a bundle of energy and needed a project. So, I took an old fagged out shirt from The Loft. I had been meaning to recreate it as a pillow, but made it into a cute tank using the method everyone has been pinning. I hate when shirts wear out, drives me cray!

Cute right? Decent way to get more wear out of that fagged out top!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Saratoga, NY

I really have been traveling New England these past few days. Moving Bec and Jules into college was intense. RI and NH in one weekend. MA, ME and NY the next. A lot of driving. Hopefully, no tree hungers are reading this post! (sorry becca)

I went to Troy, NY not Saratoga; albeit, we did take a day trip to shop! We went to Saratoga Sundress and a few other shops. Rachel bought a few things and even scored her favorite jeans from the GAP - "these make girls with a bootie look great! Right?!" I love her. She is always a blast to be with. More importantly, she ordered the most amazing hot apple cider and was willing to share.

Rachel lives in Troy, NY with her bf Jeff while she is attending RPI. She's a smarty pants engineer who works at a mushroom factory. You can laugh, I do. Regardless of laughter, it is a really cool business concept. You know the packing peanuts? (the styrofoam nuggets that you sometimes receive in packages?) The company she works for, mass produces bio degradable peanuts, the material used: mushrooms. And get this, it is not only Eco-friendly, but cheaper to use! Amaze-balls!

Anywho, Jeff passed the test, he could handle both Marga and I visiting at once. He even made Marga a flourless chocolate cake - she just learned she's a glutard. We'll just have to see how he handles Marisa... I loved his apartment, it was very organized. Even his cat was enjoyable.

For those that don't know, I am scarily allergic to cats; not an I "need an epi pen, get me to a hospital" scary, but an "my face is congested and bulky, my eyes are ready to fall out with the tears" scary. I took sudafed and was happily medicated the entire trip. I even joyfully petted Molly until she got off my pillow each morning.

She's an odd cat. As Rachel explained, apparently she had a rough time at a different apartment. This was because her owner (not Jeff) lives with a roommate who has two cats. These two cats would gang up on her. So she would hide in the bathroom tub. The other cats hated water and would leave her alone in there. Pulls on your heart strings a bit, doesn't it? Anyways, Jeff being a wonderful host put her in the only room with a door, the bathroom. So my allergies would not be as bad that first night. Molly escaped as soon as I went to brush my teeth. I found her nestled up in my bed. It was a good idea and try.

Marga and I had a sing-a-long the entire way back from NY and even scored some fresh apples instead of McDonalds at a farmer's market - ideally set up at a rest stop!

It was an exceptional weekend in NY.

Meal 3 Acorn Squash

Sorry, I know. I need to post more photos of the prep work. I'll do it next time. I was so hungry and it was so good that I couldn't wait! This meal takes about 45 mins if you're multi tasking each dish and time it right!

Entree
Maple salmon
17 mins at 400 degrees

Side - Stuffed shells
Boil shells and stuff with a mixture of:
Egg yolk
Marscapone 3 tbl
Ricotta 1C
Two cups cooked spinach
Teaspoon of pepper, garlic, onion powder, itallian mix powder
Then pour spaghetti sauce in a covered baking pan, place the shells in the pan, cover with extra sauce.
Bake 30 mins at 400 degrees.

Veg
Acorn squash
Cut in half, scrap out middle gunk with spoon, score with knife.
Drizzle with honey about 2 tsp
Sprinkle about a tsp of cinnamon
Add light brown sugar if you have a sweet tooth, but this is really a sweet treat regardless!
Nuke in the microwave for 6-8 minutes until the outer shell is soft and malleable to touch.


Maine Adventures

I love spending time at the camp, but I easily get bored and consistently need new goals to accomplish - even when I'm supposed to be relaxing. My most recent success was building my bf a sign for his birthday.

Joe had given me bottle caps - I had been begging him all through college to collect them. I had wanted to make a Bentley sign out of them. He got them to me just around our graduation. - Bit late for my project.. So in my car, there were baggies full of bottle caps. His mother actually saw them when we were getting something from my car for countryfest. That was embarrassing, really looked like an alchie. Regardless, I figured I should use them for making a gift for Joe's Birthday. Especially since he was nice enough to give them to me!

I went to a wood scrap yard in Maine for the bottom piece and headed to lowe's for the border. It was hectic trying to figure out what to use on the bottle caps, hot glue? Plexiglass? This is when my Dad got involved. He loves projects just as much as I do, perhaps more. He just hates to admit it and grumbles a lot to fake it. I brought this fact up, and he grumbled. I stated giving him a hard time, "why can't we just have fun? I know you enjoy it. Doesn't always have to be a mission." I love playing the brat. My mother thought it was hilarious. He picked out a varnish wood glaze. We bought two packages - thankfully. For the rest of the trip whenever we did a family activity, my mother would laugh and say, "Are we having fun yet?"

I ended up using hot glue around the edge of the bottle caps to ensure they stayed in place. It was fun designing it, almost like a puzzle. I had trouble at first figuring out was to spell out/ design. Bentley, fishing, beer, Gannon, Joe, Joseph, JMG, it was a tough choice. But I settled on fishing. In the event he wants to pass it off to someone else, figured "fishing" would be the easiest. Luckily, he loves it. I I think it's tacky, but figured it was perfect for the recent grad's man pad.

Anyways, designing it turned out to be the easy part. Dad nailed in the sides, like I said, he Has to be involved with every project. He then helped with the varnish. We poured it over the bottle caps and then around the caps in the border. My dad went down to finish his cigar, but I stayed to watch as the varnish started leaking out the sides. I placed cups to catch the draining mess. My dad yelled up at me from his lawn chair, "leave it alone." Just trying to save our newly painted porch! (See our last Maine adventure post.) "Are we having fun yet?" The glue finally became tacky and started curing - it came out mint.

Taking off the newspaper was a process because everything stuck together. It was such a mess. Everyone's hands were sticky. My mother had to use gasoline, soap, and rubbing alcohol to get the glue off, which was a bit extreme considering all the product calls for is soap - if it comes in contact with skin. "Are we having fun yet?" Albeit, gloves would have been a bright idea.

My father then burned the newspapers in the fireplace. For some odd reason the smoke was not going up the flue and the smoke built up and set off not one but two fire alarms. "Are we having fun yet?"

Yep, I think we are. Especially because everyone is laughing together at the absurdity.

I enjoyed helping Dad take the pontoon boat out of the water and kayaking around our lake front. I'll post more about that later.

The photos of people holding fish is my immediate family - going clockwise from the top left, me, Jules, Becca, Dad. There is an entire wall for my external family's trophy fish. A normal trophy fish for us is a 4-6 lb bass. We all love that camp :)

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Blogging

I read this awesome article on ifb about blogging and copyrighting. Read the article here. I had always wanted to include some form of copyright ever since taking Digital Photography. I learned that anything one posts to Facebook is liable to end up in advertisements across the globe. I decided it was worthwhile to save the incredible photos for myself and just post the average ones!! While unethical, it is legal to use photos from Facebook. So, I am really happy I found this site through reading the article I linked above! http://creativecommons.org/choose/

Meal 2 Peanut Chicked

Entre
I had mixed reviews. Granted the third critic ate it re-heated and is extremely picky.

Need:

4 pieces boneless chicken
1/2 C peanut butter
1 egg
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp red pepper
1/2 C milk
1/2 C flour
1/2 C butter melted
Cracker Crumbs (Ritz)


Step 1. Rinse chicken and then stick in a baggie with the flour to coat.
Step 2. Mix peanut butter, egg, salt and red pepper then blend in milk.
Step 3. Dip chicken in the mixture and place on a lightly coated plate. (I used a quick spray of PAM)
Step 4. Drizzle on butter, add crumbs

350 degree oven for an hour

Side
I had pre made half a box of pasta. I then added half of a large tomato in chunks after it had chilled in the fridge.

Veg
Zuchini cut in thin quarter inch circles
red pepper
olive oil
salt
garlic powder
ritz crackers

Bake at 350 for 30 mins




The Pawn Customer



A friend asked what the average customer is like and I can tell you no two customers are the same. It’s often comical the extremes of socioeconomic spectrums that can be observed in the store simultaneously. We have lawyers coming in for  their son’s new interest in musical instruments, we have daughters coming in to buy Rolex watches for their fathers, we have students buying calculators, contractors buying mass amounts of tools, the dyi husband in need of a drill, the businessman in need of a laptop, people buying Dvds, cds, game systems of all sorts. On any given day, we can have a professional violinist sitting in the store testing out different bows, truck drivers in need of a gps system, college students in need of a t.v., a husband in search of an anniversary diamond, kids in need of a replacement ipod, sound system, and/or new camera equipment. There are certainly no expectations set by a pawnshop employee as to who will walk in the door.

The average national Pawn Shop Customer is supposedly:
• Age: 36
• Household Income: $29,000
• 80% are employed
• 82% have high school diploma or GED
• 33% are homeowners
• All ethnicities

Pawn shops can act as a local hero for the walk-in customer:

“For over 250 years Pawn stores have been a solution for this exact type of short-term loan. If your credit is tight and bank account drained, a Pawn store will allow you to use something you own as collateral for a loan to get you to the end of the week.
Do you know that in America, more people have health insurance than access to a checking account? Do you know that an $80 Pawn loan for 30 days is less expensive than a bounced check, Utility reconnect fee, credit card late fee or payday loan?
A study released by the FDIC in February 2009 reported as many as 28 million un-banked and 44 million under-banked Americans. Other studies show that 32 percent of pawn customers borrow only twice per year to help cover unexpected expenses.
The Consumer Federation of America found that more than 50 percent of Americans are living paycheck-to-paycheck. When it comes to financial alternatives, pawn customers do not have many safe, convenient, regulated choices.
” 

Meal 1 Baked Salmon

Entree
I usually grill salmon, but the recipe picked said to bake. I hate trying new things in the kitchen when cooking for others. I like knowing something is going to work before I try it. This ended up being simple and tasted healthy, which everyone can appreciate!

Need:
Salmon slice
Maple Syrup
Honey
Lemon Pepper
Salt

Cook at 400 for 15-20 mins

Side
This would have tasted a billion times better if I had made it mashed instead of baked!

Sweet potato (microwave for 6-10 minutes)
Then cut open and add
Caramel Sauce
1tsp cinnamon
2 tsp butter
3 tsp brown sugar
sliced marshmellows to cover - Microwave for 15 seconds

Veg
Asparagus
extra olive oil to drizzle
lemon pepper
2 slices bacon

I was dumb thinking more bacon the better. In reality, the bacon won't cook if it's really fatty. Winning. I'd suggest cooking it a bit before wrapping the asparagus bundle.  I put 6-10 asparagus in a bundle.

400 degrees for 12 minutes





Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Kraft V.S. Pawnbrokers


My Summer Job as a Pawnbroker – Installment 1

I have been asked a lot this summer, “Where are you working?” (I am currently working for my father when needed at his stores until I obtain a Marketing/Management role, or a position closely associated to the field I studied at Bentley.)  They then ask, “What does he do?” If asked I tend to take time to explain a bit, and they are usually intrigued. Shows like pawn stars have really done an admirable job of creating a more positive image for the pawn industry, trying to negate the negative image that has been painted with commercials, literature, and the film industry. However, some individuals are still blinded by the negative image that has been ingrained into public majority for decades upon decades. One flare up recently by Kraft and recent negative feedback from a relatively close comrade cut deep. Both humorously depicted Pawn Shops as the negative and seedy store fronts from the past. Both sources were highly uneducated in their depiction of the store and how it is run. 



First, let’s dispel the major flaws with the Kraft advertisement. No child i.e. anyone under the age of 18 could ever sell or pawn (take out a loan on an item) in a legal pawn shop. It is against federal law. Additionally, the idea that a Pawn Shop would willingly take in stolen goods is preposterous. I researched the likelihood of this occurring and learned that less than 1% proved to be stolen items, national average. Here is an interesting take on the industry theft possibility by our friends on the History Channel : The pawn stars.

As you can see, he/she would have to be a relatively incompetent crook if they were trying to get away with selling a stolen item to a Pawnbroker.  Not only are Pawn Shops trained to appraise items quickly. All items that a pawn broker takes in are submitted to a database with all of the loaner/seller’s information. This database is directly tied into the police stolen item reports. Security is tight on a store based level. Most stores use camera systems to film entire transactions, some even go so far as to take finger prints. The pawning industry is very highly regulated. They are regulated on an extremely local authority level, and also, state and federal levels.
“The pawn industry is a heavily regulated provider of consumer financial services. In addition to state licensure requirements and laws concerning the terms and conditions of pawn loans, pawnbrokers are subject to 13 federal laws. These federal, state, and, in some instances, local laws govern every aspect of pawn transactions including interest rates, loan duration, redemption methods, record-keeping and transaction reporting requirements”
For the record, as a marketing major, I relatively enjoy the Kraft advertisement. The advertising company did a great job with the color scheme, the message, the lines, and the actor choices. However, the advertisement took a stab at a very unstable industry with the popular public. A strong company such as Kraft did not need to nationally campaign by unintentionally knocking other industries down a few pegs. That would be the equivalent of the pawning industry asks what the girl wanted the money for and the little girl answering “organic healthy local food! Dad only buys Kraft.” and then depict all of the negative chemicals and/or demonstrating working conditions involved in the making of Kraft macaroni. Let’s go so far as to depict a piece of an employee’s hair slipping out of the plastic hat going into the pasta machine, or beads of sweat dropping into the cheese. Icckk!  Can you imagine? The advertisement is simply not a good example of business ethics; albeit, humorous.
This effort is a year old, but I am glad it was not just me who took offense to this commercial!

Monday, September 3, 2012

College Girls

Becca & Juliette are off to college. This was not without some classic Longvall Family zaniness. Becca's boyfriend came and helped us move the heavy things. He was only there for 20 minutes as he had to make a bus to get to a FB game, but he wanted to help my Dad move the fridge first as he knows my Dad has a bad back. Clearly, he's a winner so far. Bec's room is on the third floor at Salve Regina. I still hate that she can go on the cliffwalk when ever she wants. I feel like I would be such a different person if I had gone to school in Newport. I love it there. We went down to First Beach, which is close enough that she could walk to it from her dorm. We had Dell's Lemonade because you really can't go to a RI beach and fail to slurp some down. 

The Black Pearl was phenomenal. Best Lobster Salad I have had all summer. I was in heaven after I drank an IPA, sipped on some Clam Chowder, and nibbled on my Lobster. Who am I kidding. I slugged the beer, poured the soup like Beast from Beauty and the Beast, and then scarfed down the Lobster Salad. It was that good. It's moderately pricey for a lunch meal, but it seriously was the best New England meal I had all summer. (Yep, beat out the squire!)


Dropping off Juliette was gorgeous as well. She is in NH at Colby Sawyer. It is gorgeously located with prime views of the mountains. I cannot wait to visit her this winter to ski/snowboard! We moved her in (she is thankfully on the first floor). Her room is small and was missing some furniture. Moving her in was somehow more involved than moving Becca in. Juliette though had brought less things with her. Go figure. We went to eat at the Flying Goose after. It is an adorable restaurant and apparently the first solar powered brewery in NH. We always purchase the onion rings and goose bread for apps. They are delicious items. The goose bread is a really hearty bread which tastes amazing on cold evenings. Juliette always gets a bowl of clam chowder, but Mom and I usually opt for one of the specials. This time Mom's special, Baked Alaskan Cod, was barely cooked! It was awful and made me question why I always think it has a amazing food. The waitress handled the situation perfectly, saying she was going to talk to the manager immediately, offered to take my mother to speak with him, and took the item off the bill. Completely saved my opinion of that gem of a restaurant. 

Juliette is still at home as we are picking up her friend from France today from Logan Airport and dropping them both off at college later this evening. It's so weird to think that I'll be the only one at home now with Mom & Dad. Hopefully, I'll send out applications this week and hear back from a few of them. I'm not terribly optimistic, most of my friends sent applications out to 200 locations. If I have sent out maybe 6 over the course of the summer, I still have 194 to go. Cross your fingers for me!