Monday, July 16, 2012

in which a very interesting summer comes to an end

but, hello, it's only july 16th.

we'll see what life has next in store for me.

okay, so things have been absolutely crazy lately.

months ago, i landed one of my very happiest jobs, and by far, the job i experience the most success out of, in my entire life.

i'm managing a contemporary bistro in downtown cincinnati.
i'm surrounded by good food, interesting ideas, fascinating people, and i'm learning and working hard
every. single. day.

i'm allowed to be flexible, be innovative, and i have excellent examples above me, in terms of my boss, his boss, and their contemporaries. it's very cool.

so let's look at the pay off of this.

on one hand, i love acting. i looooove it.
but i'm in a constantly slow market, and i don't have enough money to get out of it.

so i understood very quickly that the best i could do for myself was to enjoy myself day after day after day, as best i could.

i found this bistro, and day after day after day i'm excited, encouraged, supported, and interested in the day, product, and people.
THAT is rewarding, and very cool. 

i had to take a ton of time off this summer.

aaron and i went to a wedding in wilmington, north carolina.

then i went to texas for my sister's graduation.

AND i went to iowa for a ten days.

all of this began two weeks after i began working at the bistro

so, in the midst of new schedule (i work 3 pm - 11(or 12, or 1, or 2 am), new location, new wardrobe, new everything, i'm constantly driving/flying/leaving the city for various events.
i'm not in one place at one time. i can't focus because i'm constantly gone.

and then, i have the opportunity of all opportunities.

months ago, when i was still employed with the university of cincinnati's IRB, i just happened to think, "well, i'm doing something unexpected in a city i'm feeling a need to leave.....why don't i do something unexpected in a city i CHOOSE to be in?"

so i looked online.
and i found a job for a research compliance assistant
and i applied.

that was february.

THEN, all of a sudden, in the middle of all the change mentioned above,
i get a phone call

and they ask me if i'm interested in interviewing for a job in LA.

and everything about me screams

the job is amazing.
it's in research compliance, a HUGELY important field
and, biggest kicker for me, it has an intense training program
which is THE NUMBER ONE reason i felt so helpless last time i did the work.
i needed help, i asked for help, and nobody could help me.
(it was humiliating.)

and this job solves that problem!
it would pay relocation to get me to LA
it is in beverly hills
it pays enough for me to live in LA (and then some,)
and it solves all the problems i've had my entire life.
all i've wanted
my entire life
is to move to LA
(methinks. my guts tell me one thing and my mind gets swayed by other's expectations of me.)

and suddenly,
i would have been there.
i would have been in the perfect place to act my pants off.
i would have had flexible hours
good and steady pay
important work
and more sunshine than i can handle.

they flew me out there
they paid for everything
and i had an intense four interviews
that i knocked out of the park

i was sitting on santa monica pier watching the sunset and weeping because FINALLY, finally, every decision i'd made in my life, every decision i knew was a good, solid decision i had EVER made in my life, was culminating in that moment, in that visit, and finally, i finished writing the story i'd been writing my entire life. 
i finally was sitting at santa monica pier OF MY OWN ACCORD, of all of my own, lost, faithful, hard work, and it was time to see what was next.

then i tried not to think about it.

my heart was ripped out of my chest last year
when i was PERFECT for a role here in cincinnati
in every single way
perfect perfect perfect
and i knocked it out of the park
and i didn't get it
and i spent SO MUCH TIME being so disappointed in the ways of the world


i very quickly learned that even the most perfect things just don't work out. 

aaron and i got in a huge fight
and we're working on what this new information means for us.


when i received official word that the job isn't mine
(and, honestly, it's for a very good reason, they went with someone who had more direct experience in a way they needed,)
i finally breathed a breath of relief for 

now i can see what's next.
i'm loving and enjoying my life

and of course i would do that in LA
but i'm doing it here
and i've not lost anything that i didn't have already.

i love my job
i'm loving my life
i'm exploring my options

i will decide what is next,
as i figure it out,
but i'm certain it's going to be amazing

i'm sculpting my dream life with my eyes closed.
i will settle for nothing less.

Monday, July 9, 2012

working like crazy

been working like a nut-case lately
extended hours mean i'm working hard 9-10-11 hours daily
with just enough time to collapse into bed and let my feet ache for the next 5-6-7-8 however many hours of sleep i can get.

doesn't deter from the sweetness of this lady, happy with a treat.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Cupcake Challenge: Take the Cake

we went to 

and we were
of delighted.

first and foremost
walking into Take the Cake
was like walking into a happy little space of your life

we spent a few minutes looking at the uncomplicated display
taking in the variations of a theme
with beautifully thick icing and shards of a topping
then purchased two, a cup of coffee, and a glass of water.

the space inside was gorgeous.

a long raw wood table was our pick
lined with funky chairs
and facing a big window dripping with garland-y.

we took photos.
split our cupcakes,
and took a bite.

"you know this was only $2.50, right?" says stephanie
and i practically choke on my coffee because i can't believe it.

we've bitten first into her choco with cream cheese icing, drizzled in caramel, and topped with choco garnish.

the cake is heavy.
compact, cuts easily, and holds shape
not sticking to our fingers
not falling to crumbles on the way from fork to mouth.

the flavor is light, but thorough
just enough chocolate to hit the back of your throat
just enough moist cake to fill out the rest.

the icing,

to pair with the cake
(you'll remember we both loved how light abby girl sweets were yesterday,)
so, consistent
but not hugely sugary
and i love that it's absolutely perfect with my coffee.
bitter and slightly sweet = perfect.

the abby girls proved sugary, too much so for more than one serving.
these prove sweet, but heavy, and nice combo for instant cupcake comfort food.

we rated 
Take the Cake

star star star star star

So far, in Cincy, for 2.50 cents per satisfying whallop of cupcake
Take the Cake 
has done it right.

They understand the simple vs. luxury element of a cupcake
pairing simple design with basic skill.

they take the cupcake seriously
and we loved it!

steph said she'd gladly eat another.
i said i'd need to digest more
but i think one heavy, slightly sweet, very moist cupcake from 
Take the Cake
(especially for 2.50) 
is enough to make me drive across town should i ever need a sweet treat.

Check out our other contestants!

Washington Park Re-Opening

Cincy has had, for the past few years, and as long as I can remember,
a very scary park in OTR.

Washington Park was terrifying for years.
Rumors of violence, homeless people, druggies, shady situations
all flew around this park.
A professor of mine once said a man was shot on her doorstep across from the park.

I obviously never ventured down there.

Cincy had a rap for years as having the most dangerous neighborhood in the US.

And it's slowly changing.
There's a lot of re-vitalization going on.

OTR is proof of that, where trendy, contemporary restaurants are creating and interesting restaurant row  dotted with quality, local shops.

And now, there's the park.

Cincinnati re-launched Washington Park today across from the Cincy Opera House
debuting it as a family friendly, all folks included kind of place.


Stephie and I got down around 10 am to witness the opening events.
Food vendors
singing choirs of japanese children
castle-styled playground equipment
mini water park and fountains
musical play equipment
concert lawn and stage
and lots and lots of smiles.

i'm very hopeful about the new park.
it's gorgeous, lovely, and a triumph for the city.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Big Cupcake Challenge: Abby Girl Sweets

stephanie continued our rampage--UM, i mean, our scientific collection of cupcakes today at 
Abby Girl Sweets.

We broke down Taste of Belgium piece by piece,

but it turns out,
it's really hard to judge an Abby Girl cupcake piece by piece.

It's definitely a thing you need to experience as a whole.

First of all,
the cupcakes LOOK gorgeous.
They're simple.
They're not floofy.
They look like the flavor they represent,
and actually,
there's a nice uniformity to the display that represents the Abby Girl Brand.

We like simple.
Simple is better than too much floof (on nearly everything.)

We picked up three, and split them in half.
Peanut Butter
and Key Lime.


We began with the peanut butter.
I was impressed with it's smell, right away. I could smell the PB as I went to chomp into it.

We took long, lovely bites, and exhaled in happiness.

Stephanie mentioned it was moist, fresh. 
We discussed that it's decidedly a Peanut Butter cupcake, 
and not actually a Reeses flavored treat, which somebody (meaning me) might assume.
The choco cupcake is good--but light on the choco.

The icing was heavenly.
Creamy, smooth, portioned well.
It melted in your mouth, didn't stick to your tongue, 
and stephanie "liked that the icing's not 50 ft in the air."

per the peanut butter, most of the flavor was in the icing.
but once you complemented it with the cake, it was good.
we both found it decidedly sweet, decidedly sugary, but hey, peanut butter's gonna be that way when you mix it with powdered sugar, right?

next up.
i loved it.
the cake was more chocolatey
the icing was more creamy
stephanie loved it
we devoured it.

i was taking notes, so i devoured it more slowly.
but devour it i did.

by cupcake two, we found our theme
"we keep eating abby girl cupcakes."
"we don't talk about them so much"
"they're perfect as a whole."

for an Abby Girl treat, you really need the whole thing.
the consistency between flavors is amazing.
this cupcake was decidedly like the last,
but equal in flavor and experience.
we both liked the cakes held well and were moist
and both delivered what cupcakes should deliver:
a compact, full, cake and flavor experience.
it was perfect.

last up.
key lime.
stephanie oohed! when we cut this one in half.
inside was a cream filling.

we lifted, we bit, we savored.
the first bit really hit home
the flavor develops STRONGLY, quickly
and then pans out really fast into a gelatin-like key lime taste.

it was okay.
very sweet.
with a dryer cake.
the frosting was the perfect complement, still
and consistent with what we'd come to expect, two cupcakes in.

We ended up talking to the owner who stepped out of the back to ask where we were from.
I mentioned I lived in town, but Steph was here, and we were doing a cupcake tour for the sake of science.
The owner laughed, asked where else we'd gone, and we had minor discussions about our TOB experience.
Then she talked a little bit about Abby Girl sweets, and I learned that actually, her sons, DUDES, bake the cupcakes---she just sells them.
She said years ago one of her sons started showing up at family events with delightful treats, and nobody had any idea he could bake. Then he just kept at it, and now, here they are! Right in the heart of downtown.

The store is cute.
They do a lot for themselves by embracing the cute factor of cupcakes and painting their store in pinks.
We both wished it had more of a dine-in experience.
We ate off of napkins and asked for a plastic knife.
We'd love a small dining area that was comfortable,
and we'd love more of these.

We rated Abby Girl Sweets

star star star star

we'd absolutely recommend these
but we wouldn't necessarily drive ten miles across town to buy them.
or would we?

i think the kicker about Abby Girl Sweets was how sweet they actually were.
We were both happy after one cupcake
and a little too sugar-ed up after 1.5.

Check out our other days!

free candy bar?

"what? YES."

steph and i were handed free candy bars today on the streets of cincinnati.
of course we accepted.
what kind of heaven is this?

they melted immediately,
and are reforming in the icebox.

tom + chee, part deux

i love tom + chee.

i have such a great obsession with this obsession-worthy place.
they make grilled cheese sandwiches that do not fall apart when you dip them in soup.

well, actually,
if you wanted a grilled cheese donut,
they have that too.

if you wanted to combo up your own grilled cheese
"build your own" as they call it,
they have that, as well.

and if you wanted to taste any of the multitude of sandwiches and salads on their menus,
heck, this is the place for you.

good bread.
good cheese
happy customers.

we did, in fact, share
a grilled cheese donut.

tom + chee is famous for this treat
and it was pretty good, i think.

sweet, like glazed donuts are
but cooked like a grilled cheese, so crispy.

the sugar/cheese combo was good
but not crave-inducing.

i'd have it again
but i wouldn't order it right again, methinks.

i paired mine with a great caprese salad
seeing how it was hot as hades outside and steph and i had both just come from yoga.
i needed something light.

she paired her half of grilled cheese yumminess with a grilled mac n cheese w/bacon sandwich
and i about died for her it tasted so great.

eensy beensies

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

ghost of july 4 past

once upon a time
like, two years ago
i had this great fourth of july party
where we made way too much food.

it was amazing.
casey and mikayla slumber partied 
for, like, two days
which is the best way to spend time with your friends
because later you'll look back on that and go
OHMYGOD remember when we all just slumber partied for like, TWO WHOLE DAYS?!

it's soo great.

this fourth of july
i'm working in the bistro!
but i wish you
and yours
the happiest of fourths.