Last night, I baked cupcakes. This doesn’t seem like all that big of a deal. But please remember that I really don’t have a hearty supply of baking dishes, ingredients or the tools to make elaborate creations at this point.
Happy New Year! Indeed, the roller coaster that was 2012 is behind us. I am grateful. As the clock struck midnight on 12/31, I was eager to welcome 2013. From everyone’s posts on Twitter and Facebook, it seems you are equally enthusiastic about a clean slate. Without going into tremendous detail, I will simply say that 2012 was not my favorite year. I am enthusiastic for this New Year and a refreshed spirit.
As you may remember, I do not make resolutions for the New Year. Sure, I’ve set a few personal goals about health and exercise, even deciding that I would not eat a bite of fast food this year, but I prefer to determine a theme for the New Year and let everything I do speak to that theme. My theme for 2012 was Rise & Shine and that largely had to do with my business. My life continues to revolve around my business and is dictated by it’s every breath. Still in its infancy in 2012, I suffered the growing pains many entrepreneurs who are operating on a shoestring budget experience. I made great progress in 2012, even though there were some struggles mixed in the bag. What matters most is that I ended 2013 on a high note and am poised to carry my shiny torch into the New Year.
And so with that, I wanted my 2013 theme to embody the spirit of momentum and moving forward. “Onward & Upward” was under consideration as was “As The Crow Flies.” In my search for the meaning of certain words and phrases, I discovered a great site which explains the meaning, origin and history of many of these types of sayings. Click HERE.
What I zoned in on, was one that has a sports reference, a competitive spirit and that determination I need to carry me through the year on a very bright note. Ladies and gentleman, my 2013 personal theme is, “Knuckles Down, Chin Up, GAME ON!” Think of a football team’s offense at 4th and inches, getting set on the line of scrimmage. The game-winning touchdown is at stake and as they put their knuckles down on the grass, lift their chin with the positive attitude and belief they will score, and dig deep inside their own being as they wait for the signal from the QB. Once they hear it, it is totally – Game ON! And that moment, that energy and impetus is what I want to strive for, capture and maintain in 2013.
I have much – so much – to accomplish this year, both personally and professionally. You can bet your bottom dollar that with this fire in my belly and my eye on the endzone, that I will exceed my goals. Yes, it is a Happy New Year and I look forward to a 2013 full of W’s.
Have you ever thought of creating a personal theme? If you were to chose a theme for 2013, what would it be? Share your themes, goals, and resolutions in the comments.
Wishing all of you a wonderful holiday season and merry celebrations. As I was going through some of my boxes a few weekends ago (I still have not unpacked them all!), I came across some old cookbooks and Food & Wine Magazines I’ve saved for their stellar recipes. As many of you know, I love to bake during the holidays and serve as the family head chef for the big dinners. One of my absolute favorite recipes is from a December 1992 F&W Magazine article on holiday parties. So here’s my small gift to you this year, the ultimate, the delicious, the amazing:
Makes 80 bite-sized brownies
2 pounds milk chocolate chips or chopped milk chocolate
1/4 cup instant coffee granules
2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
3 tablespoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups flour
1. Preheat over to 375°. Lightly grease four 8-inch square foil cake pans.
2. Place the chocolate and coffee in a double boiler over simmering water. Stir occasionally until the chocolate melts.
3. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the butter until fluffy. Gradually beat in the sugar, scraping down the sides as necessary. Beat in the eggs, two at a time, beating until the mixture is pale yellow, about 3 minutes. Stir in the vanilla, cinnamon and salt, then carefully beat in the the melted chocolate and coffee mixture until combined. Beat in the flour; you may have to finish this by hand.
4. Scrape the batter into the prepared pans. Bake for 35 minutes, until puffed, cracked and slightly resistant to the touch. Let cool on a rack, then cover and refrigerate overnight. To serve, cut each cold brownie square in 20 pieces.
Seriously – these are the BEST brownies I have ever had! I hope you enjoy making them and more so, eating them! They go great with coffee! ;p And if you really want to kick it up a notch, you can top each brownie with a dollop of chocolate frosting and a chocolate-covered espresso bean. Divine! Happy Holidays everyone!
Summer in San Diego is really a treat, and a season I have missed a lot while living abroad. Most people are out and about, seek activities outdoors and just soak up the blue skies and sunny weather.
Coronado has a Concerts in the Park series which began May 29th and runs until September 11th. My friends Michelle and Carrie invited me to the July 3rd concert and I accepted with enthusiasm. I love Coronado and was eager to celebrate 4th of July weekend.
Michelle and I were lucky to find a great parking spot (thanks to the miniature sizeof my MINI!) right across the street from the park and met up with Carrie, who lives in Coronado to reserve her favorite and “usual” spot on the grass.
I was impressed with all of the things people brought with them to the park. Large ice chests and folding chairs aside, people brought full-sized/on wheels BBQs, large foldable tables and some tables which looked straight from the dining room. The city lifted an alcohol ban for the concert series and so the bottles of wine, beer and mixers flowed generously. It was a first for Michelle and I who brought only a blanket to sit on, making us feel not only a novice, but as though we were seated at the kids table in and amongst adults in camping chairs.
The music starts at 6:00pm, and some enthusiastic visitors make their way toward the gazebo to dance on the grass or just dance at their picnic spot. Most folks enjoy the music as a backdrop to friendly conversation and campfire-like storytelling.
The three of us gals were talking, actually is was me who was yapping, when an absolutely unexpected and not-in-the-program event took place. In mid sentence, I heard this crackle and pop and looked up at a large Eucalyptus tree. At that moment, a large branch had snapped and was falling to the ground. Without other branches to break the fall, few people under the tree were able to move quickly enough and get out of the way. One man who was sitting in a chair, just wasn’t able to move at all and happened to be right in the line of the falling branch. It struck him on the head.
What ensued after that was a series of events which still have me shaking my head…
Many people stood around staring at the man and not helping. The people who were there with the man were taking care of him, and a few other guys pitched in to remove the branch (The branch was so big it took 3 grown men to lift it), but most onlookers just stood and stared. (It made me feel like I was in Vietnam, where everyone stares, but doesn’t help the hapless victim.)
All around, you could hear people say, “Well, there’s a lawsuit,” or “That’s an expensive tree,” and “That guy is going to get a lot of money from this.” Really? The branch randomly snapped off. It was really a freak accident. Why is it that someone has to be “at fault” for the incident? Why does blame need to be placed? Can we really not comprehend that it was an unfortunate accident? For goodness sake, no one could imagine this scenario nor want for it to happen.
The paramedics arrived quickly and which drew even more looky-loos as the guy was taken away. The city workers showed up about the same time, and along with the firemen, decided they needed to move everyone away from the tree and with police tape, sectioned off a circle around the tree, about 20 feet in diameter. Is this the protocol for fallen branches? Was this done because there might actually be a danger that more branches would fall, or was it done to just look good and responsible, as though the situation was being taken seriously and appropriate response taking place? Do you think there is a page in some manual that refers to this type of incident? Will they write one?
Most of the people at the park did not see the event and simply carried on with their picnics. The band still played and people still ate, drank and danced. But even after the man had been taken away and the under-tree had been sectioned off, several people came over to the section and stood there looking up at the tree. Were they trying to identify the guilty branch stub? Searching for the next branch likely to fall? Were they silently cursing the tree? More than one person stood in several spots and glanced up, trying to solve the crime, apparently. I was puzzled. What purpose did that serve? (That’s about the time I took a picture, because I was baffled by the number of people looking at the darn tree.)
As it got darker and we decided to meet up at McPhee’s, the city trucks drove up under the tree. I was almost certain they were going to cut the darn thing down and so had to ask a worker what they were doing. He said they had to assess if there were any other loose branches or any weak ones which may fall. I asked if they had to do this at night, and he explained that it had to be done before people were in the park the next day (early action in the park on 4th of July). I imagine the efforts were made simply to avoid any lawsuits from future falling branches.
I’m sorry that guy got hit in the head by a branch. That pretty much sucks. What a crappy thing to happen when you’re just trying to enjoy a picnic and some live music. But the over-reaction afterward and the assumption that the city would be sued and this guy would get millions of dollars… well that just makes me mad and embarrassed. That’s not my America.
We had a pretty low-key Easter Sunday at the Bright house yesterday. My niece, Laniah showed up in her pretty pink dress and cardigan and the munchkin was READY to hunt for eggs.
Dad had hidden them in and around the plants in the front yard. NiNi enjoyed the hunt, but was a little timid to stick her hands into some of the shrubs. She hates ants and bugs and was fearful that either was going to mistakenly crawl onto her hand.
After her bee/beetle/lady bug eggs (they were really cute) had been found, we went inside where she opened them all up to find candy, coins and dollars and in her giant eggs, a pink cuddly bunny, a new outfit and some summer sandals.
Happy New Year! It’s 2011! How about that! What did you do this year for the holiday? Where did you celebrate? I enjoyed O’Brien’s with Sarah, much like I did ringing in 2008, but this year I did NOT kiss the bartender at midnight! ;p
I think it’s safe to say that most of us are happy to put 2010 behind us. For many of my friends, it seems, this past year was a struggle. I think we are all welcoming a new year, a breath of fresh air in with open arms and lots of optimism. I am definitely ready to start anew.
As many of you may remember, I’m not one to make a long list of resolutions each year. Sometime while in Japan, I decided to just make a theme for the year. 2010, for example was “Rise to It” which was part of a movie quote “Life is an occasion. Rise to it.” And that was how I was feeling at the beginning of 2010.
My theme for 2011 is – The Reinvention of Shanna B. – I think it’s perfect for what lies ahead of me this year. I’m in new surroundings (sort of), I am leaning towards starting my own business versus getting a job, I need to figure out where I will live (SD or LA) and have the greatest hope that love will be mine. I think that all gets summed up nicely in “Reinvention.”
I’m excited for this year, excited for all that is to come and ready to move forward and toward great things.
What would your theme be this year?
Here’s another shot of Sarah, Jake and I – the terrible threesome for the evening:
Merry Christmas! I hope you are all having a wonderful holiday with your family and friends. Coming home this month was really good timing, I think. Most folks are in holiday mode, not a lot of work is getting done, and it seems more than appropriate to just chill out this month than to worry too much about getting settled in and what not.
It’s been awhile since I’ve been home for Christmas. During the five years in Japan, I was home just once. It was a lesson learned, as the airports were ridiculous (especially LAX) and most people were too busy with holiday plans to squeeze in a visit. After that year, I either traveled or simply stayed in Japan and prepared for the New Year.
After I returned from Japan, I spent Christmas of 2007 here in San Diego. But by the next year, I was off in Vietnam and spent the last two in Hanoi.
My parents love the holiday and they decorate the front yard with lots of lights and winter scenes. We have penguins sledding down the 2nd story balcony, an ensemble of critters riding a holiday ferris wheel, little snowmen lining the grass and a big polar bear wishing you a happy holiday.
The inside of the house is also decked out with fake snow in the living room and lots of Christmas critters, which NiNi finds fun to play with. One day, she determined that the Christmas bear was hungry. And so my parents helped her put some cookies in front of the bear. When she wasn’t looking, my dad took a bite out of the cookies. Imagine her surprise when she discovered that the bear could eat!
One of my other favorite things about Christmas is the cooking and baking. I’ve baked dozens and dozens of cookies this year and tonight we enjoyed the lasagna I usually make for the occasion. I love being in the kitchen, but have eaten far too many cookies already! They are too yummy!
But by far, the favorite part of the evening was watching my niece open her presents. She’s 2 1/2 and very expressive. Her first present was an zebra print track suit of sorts. She opened it up and exclaimed, “OOooooh! An outift! I LOVE it!” And then she held it up and showed us all and did that little wiggle that little kids do when they are happy, excited and can hardly contain themselves.
I’m glad I made it back in time for the festivities. I hope I started a new tradition of being here instead of missing it all!