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I'm an A-hole // Blogger Yay+Nay

24 September 2012

As I hang my head in shame, tail between my legs, I must admit that I'm an asshole.  I love that old quote, "excuses are like assholes--everyone has one and they all stink!"  It's good for a giggle...and it's also true!  I promised myself that I would get back to blogging, and that I wouldn't offer any "why I haven't blogged" excuses.  Buuuuut, as I say, I'm an a-hole.  Life took that challenge, threw her head back, and laughed at me.  "Try this!", she exclaimed as she dealt me a broken computer (going on 4 weeks without my macbook pro!) and a job training schedule that's left me barely enough time to shower and walk my dogs.  Okay Life, touche. You win.

My computer still isn't fixed, and my job training is far from over, so I'm not making any promises.
While I'm here, let's have some fun and play a game of
Blogger Yay+Nay.

Blogger Yay:
The fabulous Jenna from The Life of the Wife, happens to be my personal makeup guru.  I know, you should be jealous!  But what can I say?  I seriously needed some help and advice, now that I'm back in California, land of cheap and easy shopping.


I went to Target, and Jenna texted me through some makeup must-haves.
Here's what I walked out with:


Makeup


I'm totally loving the falsies, and I also enjoy thinking of Jenna everytime I apply chapstick.  Is that creepy?  Probably!

My other Blogger Yay is that I received a VoxBox from Influenster.



I'm pretty stoked to be trying these products.  It's like they knew me and the shizz I needed {and love} when they put together this voxbox.  Lindsay swears by natural deoderant, and now I have some to try!  We've also been washing our own dishes 'round these parts, so the dish drying mat is a product I didn't know existed, but that I totally need.  Anyhow, once I have a chance to give this stuff a try, I'll let y'all know what I think.

Blogger Nay:
Back when we did vlogs about products we love, several bloggers talked about loving coconut oil as lotion.  Specifically, they suggested going to Trader Joe's to pick up some of the awesome, moisturizing goodness.  I'm a total sucker for TJ's, so any excuse to go is a good one in my book.  That is, until I tried the coconut oil.


Let me be clear, if you LOVE feeling like an oil slick immediately after showering, this product is for you.  You'll smell great, and you'll leave a greasy trail everywhere you go.  I wish I was kidding.  Perhaps in winter when this shizz is not liquid at room temp, it would be possible to apply small enough amounts to make this tolerable.  However, considering I would never slather myself in olive oil, vegetable oil, or bacon grease, I'm thinking this is just another product that should stay in the kitchen, as it was intended.

Well friends, I hope you enjoyed the game of Blogger Yay+Nay.  Please send me some good juju that my computer is fixible, and that it gets fixed soon!

And just so you can laugh along with Life, here's another gem.
Remember how I got back to the U.S. after 7 weeks of travelling and I said I wanted to stay put for awhile?  Once again, Life just listened, silently crafted her plan, and is now having a good laugh!
My work schedule for the next five weeks:
Week 1: Fresno
Week 2: Atlanta (through the weekend)
Week 3: San Francisco
Weeks 4+5: Kansas City (through the weekend)

So much for staying put!  Once I'm through with my job training, things should settle down considerably {at least that's what I keep telling myself!}  My brain is so full of science that I've been forgetting things like how to add, which streets to turn on, the words to prayers I've previously memorized, days of the week, and which team I picked for my fantasy football this week.  I'm not sure if this makes me smarter or dumber.  On the flip side, ask me anything about immunology, conventional and non-conventional MRI's, multiple sclerosis, and Parkinson's disease!  One of these days, I hope all this knowledge can co-exist harmoniously.

I love you my bloggy friends!  I hope y'all haven't abandoned me just yet.

Oh Happy Day!

28 August 2012

This weekend, I got to do my favorite thing in the whole world.
Something I haven't done for the last three years,
something I used to make a living out of,
and considered to be a huge part of my identity.

On Saturday, I woke up at 6:30am,
did my morning meditation with a smile on my face,
and then I slipped on my cowboy boots,
and got ready to head to the horse ranch.

One of my former riding students
bought a beautiful, big Half Arabian in February.
I've been dying to catch up with her & meet her new horse.

The feeling of being back in the saddle just makes me feel so warm and fuzzy.
Even writing it now brings that flood of feeling.
I'll never forget how to ride.  I'll always just have it.
I've spend enough of my life on the back of a horse that it will stay with me forever.
Watching Michelle warm up her horse reaffirmed that I still have my eye for it too.
I can watch someone ride and know exactly what's happening,
and what correction should be made to fix any problem.
Meet Richochett....
{aka Ricky}








Michelle standing him up for Halter

Without a doubt, it's one of the best feelings in the world
to be on top of a horse.
I'm going to continue working with Ricochett and Michelle
and we might even do some showing next year (!!!)
So, yeah, this grin might not wear off for quite some time.

Making the Donuts

23 August 2012

Big news around these parts....

I GOT A JOB!!!!

{via}
And not just any job, my plan A I really want this one job.
As most of you know, I'm a big believer in the Universe having a unique, awesome plan for each of us.
This job search has been an excellent reminder of this phenomenon.
Despite having applied for jobs while traveling, I got almost no action.
However, as soon as we returned to LA, it was on like Donkey Kong.
I had recruiters calling me, I had phone interviews, face-to-face interviews,
and I knew pretty quickly that there was one position that interested me far more than the rest.
Since then, I've done multiple interviews and ride-alongs with this company,
culminating in a final interview last Friday in Sacramento.

By Monday afternoon, they provided me with a job offer.
Was I excited? Hell yes!
Did I accept the job right away? Hell no!
One of my goals for this job search was to practice my negotiating skills,
and to really make sure I was getting the best package possible.
After 24 hours of negotiations, which included my manager-to-be fighting with HR several times,
they provided me with an offer that I felt good about accepting.

I think I'm more excited than the time my mother-in-law sent me Reese's peanut butter eggs in Australia.  Yes, it's that exciting.
I'll still be doing sales in the same industry as before,
but it's a new company and new products.
There's more opportunity for advancement,
and a much larger bonus potential with this new company.

Let the celebrations commence.

God Bless the USA

20 August 2012

This is about as patriotic as I get, people.
Without further ado, my Things I'm Grateful For: US Edition...

  • Pandora radio
  • Large, easy-access parking lots
  • Trader Joe's
  • Yogurtland
  • being able to easily call & text friends/family
  • my dogs!  my sweet, sweet dogs
  • Olympic coverage biased toward my home country
  • cheap fuel {yeah, I said it}
  • cheap everything, for that matter
  • weather reports in Farenheit
  • using our electronics without plug adapters

I haven't been around the blog world much lately.  Part of me feels that I owe you all and explanation for that, and part of me says {in my best Cartman voice} "whatever, I do what I want."  Seriously though, let me take a crack at this.

Excuse #1:
I went to my week-long meditation retreat at the beginning of August.  It's an annual event for me, and I always make it a week without any computer or television.  I also limit cell phone use to the occasional communication with my husband.  Needless to say, I wasn't doing any blogging during the retreat.  But even more than that, I generally come home from the retreat with a new perspective on my attachment to the internet.  I realize how free I am without it, and how much time I waste on my computer.  So I'm always a little hesitant to jump right back in.

Excuse #2:
After returning "home" from my retreat, we emptied our storage space back into our apartment.  I spent one night amidst the boxes before flying to Albuquerque to visit my sister & pick-up my dogs.  Visits with my sister {and my cute nephews} always fly by, so once again I try to really limit my computer time and capitalize on the visit.  I took quite a few pictures & video clips with blogging in mind, but cannot quite seem to devote the time to it.

Excuse #3:
Fast forward to my return from Albuquerque.  I arrive back at my apartment to the sad reality that all my life's possessions are still in boxes, suitcases, and piles all over the house.  Like it or not, I had a lot of work to do.  In addition to unpacking, there's all the other small tasks associated with moving back home--like updating our renter's insurance policy, changing our car insurance, going through the stacks of mail we accumulated, and the list goes on.  I could continue, but I think you get the picture.

storage space
our bedroom...yikes!

Basically, life has taken precedence over blogging.  And for the most part, I feel really good about that.  I'm trying to let go of this idea that I have to blog 5 times a week.  I want to free myself from feeling guilty if I don't write a blog posts, or don't find time to read my favorite blogs.  This should be a hobby, not a chore.  

In an effort to reduce any obligation I feel toward blogging, I'm going to stop selling & swapping ads for awhile.  Once your ad expires in Passionfruit, I won't renew it.  If and when I return to regular blogging, I'll revisit this :)

So let's collectively cross our fingers and toes that I find a way to gracefully add a little blogging back into my life.  At the very least, the following posts have been floating around in my head far too long not to blog them:
  • Paid Sponsorship Mythbusters (aka My Foray in the Land of Buying Ad Space)
  • Passionfruit: My Two Cents (on the things I like, and also why it's a pain for ad swapping)
  • Pictures & words about Saigon, Taiwan, Japan, and New Zealand!

Spiritual Sunday

12 August 2012

"You cannot make steel until you have made the iron white-hot in fire.  
It is not meant for harm.  Trouble and disease have a lesson for us.  
Our painful experiences are not meant to destroy us, but to burn out our dross, 
to hurry us back Home.  No one is more anxious for our release than God."

-Paramahansa Yogananda
"Man's Eternal Quest"

Moustache Madness

10 August 2012

On the last day of our vacation,
my husband finally decided to shave
the stubble that had been growing for a week or two.

Husband: I think I might shave a moustache.
Me: Yup, go ahead honey.
{mentally: "yeah right, he'd never do that!"}


I guess you can plainly see who called who's bluff.

I cannot take him seriously with that thing.
It's like everything he says must be part of 
some episode of "Reno 911."

It's either cop 'stache or porno 'stache
and the fact that it's so short and stubbly
is almost more ridiculous.

However, I just drudged up a picture that can trump it.
Several years ago, Jeff came back from camping in MI,
and before he completely shaved his beard,
he shaved this gem.


Enjoy this photo while it lasts.
I might be a dead woman by morning.

All Is Right in the World

08 August 2012


Let's recap,
Mazzy ran out and immediately gave me one-hundred kisses on the lips.
Toby had be to put on a leash in order to force him to come out of the house.
Haha!  He's my little, old man and he doesn't like change.
However, about fifteen minutes into our reunion, he was back to normal.
Both pups literally didn't leave my side the entire night.
I broke the rules and let them sleep in bed with me.
It was glorious.

I'm so, so happy to have my family back together.
I missed them like craaaaaazy.

So at this point,
all is right with the world.

Spiritual Sunday

05 August 2012

"Dear Father, whatever conditions confront me, 
I know that they represent the next step in my unfoldment.  
I will welcome all tests because I know that within me 
is the intelligence to understand and the power to overcome."

-Paramahansa Yogananda
"Metaphysical Meditations"

Absentee

30 July 2012

Hi Friends!
As if I haven't been absent enough,
this week I'm gone to a weeklong meditation/spiritual retreat.
It's something I do every year, as an opportunity to unplug from the "real" world,
and soley focus on my spiritual life and being a better person.

{via}
I suppose it's my blogging summer vacation.

Many of you have asked about our dogs,
and the answer is that we haven't seen them yet.
We fly to Albuquerque next week to get them!

So when I return from my week away,
expect some puppy reunion cuteness!

Spiritual Sunday

29 July 2012

"The greatest of all duties is to remember God.  
The first thing to do in the morning is to meditate on Him 
and think how you can give your life to His service, 
so that all day long you will be filled with His joy."

-Paramahansa Yogananda
"Self Realization Magazine"

Bad Blogger

25 July 2012

{via}

Please don't hate me.
I cannot seem to even think about blogging in California,
much less actually sit down to write a post.
Let's hope this changes, pronto.

However, I could give you some legitimate excuses.
Excuses like job hunting,
{I had a phone screen & have 2 interviews this week--what what!}
helping a friend undo this to her house:

{via}
Okay, I'm kidding with the picture.
She'll be mortified anyway if she ever reads this.
But seriously, we did do some major re-arranging and purging.
Major.

And my husband has a moustache.
So that's obviously a legit distraction.
Perhaps I shall show some photographic evidence
of that shizz at some point.

For now, 
just don't hate me.
Send me good juju for my interviews,
and I promise to get back on the wagon soon.

Hallelujah

23 July 2012

We're HOME!
{we got home Sunday morning!
Slightly jet-lagged but loving
every minute of LA.}
{via}

Spiritual Sunday

22 July 2012

"Don't concern yourself with the faults of others.  
Use the scouring powder of wisdom to keep the rooms of your own mind bright and spotless.  
By your example, other persons will be inspired to do their own housekeeping."

-Paramahansa Yogananda
"Sayings of Paramahansa Yogananda"

Blog Time vs Real Time

20 July 2012

I love having so much content to write about.
However, this blog time warp is throwing me for a bit of a loop.

Apparently I cannot say "time warp" without immediately
thinking of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.  This makes me happy.  {via}

It's like my blog is in it's own little time zone {or week zone if I'm being honest.}
So here's the deal...

In blog time, I'm still writing about Vietnam.
In real time, this is what our trip itinerary looks like:

June 1 - June 5 Hamilton Island
June 6 - 13 Bali
June 14 - 27 Vietnam
June 27 - 30 Taiwan
July 1 - 6 Japan
July 7 - 21 New Zealand

While it's important to me to write about all our travels,
it also feels sort of disingenuous to be writing about Vietnam, when that was weeks and weeks ago,
and there is exciting stuff happening in the here and now.

What's so exciting?, you might ask.
Well, tonight is the last night of our travels!
Yes, that's right, tomorrow we fly back to Sydney to grab our luggage,
and the following day we'll be on a plane back to Los Angeles.

We are so.excited.
So excited.

The travel has been amazing,
and, truly, I cannot wait to share so many of the photos and memories with you guys,
but we are ready to go home.
We are ready to see our friends.
We are ready to get our dogs.
We are ready to eat the shit out of enjoy Starbucks, Yogurtland, Chipotle, Trader Joe's, Souplantation,
and all our other faves.
We are ready.


And how can I not share this anticipation with you guys?
If I write about it weeks from now, I think it might be lacking emotion.
So I guess what I'm saying is this:
No, I'm not done writing about our Big Adventure.
Yes, there might be some weird time warp breaks to share what's happening in real time.

We are in one of the most beautiful places on Earth right now,
Queenstown New Zealand.
I'm too lazy to upload pictures at the moment, so you'll have to take my word for it.
It's gorgeous.  And we're enjoying it.
But a good test of being ready to go home is when even the most beautiful places
don't hold a candle to home.


Los Angeles....here we come :)

Fun Fact: Western Horses

19 July 2012

Because you guys requested more horse pictures,
and I'm a people pleaser,
I give you a glimpse at two beauties
that I was lucky enough to train and show
while I was in college at Michigan State.

MSU Sweet Emotion
MSU Sweet Applause



This blog post is part of the "Fun Facts About Emmy June" series, designed to keep you entertained and following along, while I'm gallivanting around the globe for two months.

A Seaside Escape

18 July 2012

Remember how Jeff and I hit a wall in Hue, Vietnam?
Well, we escaped to beachside Hoi An for a few days of r&r.
More specifically, we lazed around in A/C and ooh'ed and ahh'ed over
the gorgeous room and grounds of Villa Hoa Su.







Hoi An was such a cool spot.
It's a UNESCO World Heritage site,
because the ancient downtown has been a major trading post
for hundreds of years.
It's vibrant,
full of great restaurants,
and is the one of the best places in the world
to have clothes tailor-made for you.

And apparently there are dudes who can
use giant baskets as boats.
So, yeah.
Need I say more?

It was the perfect spot for me to kick my cold,
watch tons of Breaking Bad,
sleep away the morning,
and still take a nap in the afternoon.

We also got tons of ideas for how we'll design
the backyard of our future luxury mansion,
which I can only hope will include distant views of water buffalo,
as this one did.



Tuesday Travel Diaries: Vienna, Austria

17 July 2012

{a bi-montly guest post series}

Hallo und Guten Tag! This is Holly from Comedic Grievances. Oh man - I am THRILLED to be writing for Emmy June! When I stumbled upon her blog, I spent a pretty good portion of my afternoon sifting through stories about Australia as well as stories from Tuesday Travel Diaries. I love the TTD concept and am stoked to be sharing my experiences and memories with you. If you couldn't tell by the use of my extensive German knowledge there at the beginning (I know the alphabet too...whoa, right?), I'm going to talk about my European travels, focusing specifically on Vienna, Austria.

View of Vienna from the top of the Donauturm

The basics: where, when, & how long?
My study abroad group's homebase was located in Vienna, Austria. We left in September of 2008 and lived in Vienna for 3 months, returning in December 2008.


What route did you take? And how much was the flight?
The program is based out of Oklahoma Christian University (my alma mater) in OKC, Oklahoma, so we drove from OKC to Dallas, Texas, then flew to London. We traveled around London for a couple of weeks then flew to Vienna. I'm not 100% sure about the cost since this trip was technically included in my college tuition, but I believe it was somewhere around $2000 round trip.


Who did you travel with?
My group consisted of students from Michigan, Oregon, and Oklahoma - 55 of us total, which yes, made for a fantastic amount of drama as you can probably imagine. For obvious reasons, if I was on a 10-day free travel (country hopping), then I would travel with a group of 4 to 5 friends at most. If I was just going out and about in Vienna, I would travel with a larger group.

My friend Michael and me at Schönbrunn Palace

Neptune Fountain

Tell us where you stayed.
We lived in a castle (sweet, right?) called Schloss Neuwaldegg. It was built in the early 1700s, believed to have been used (at some point) by Maria Theresa as a summer home. Living there was pretty amazing except for the gargantuan hill it sits on. Coming back from 10 days of free travel only to be immediately faced with that beast of a climb was truly terrible. On the flip side, we were able to walk off all the gelato we had ingested which was an everyday occurrence.

All 55 of us! I'm the small girl on the left in the red jacket, posing awkwardly.

 
Schloss Neuwaldegg

Did you encounter anything unexpected?
Oh yeah. When you're living with 54 other people and country hopping on and off for 3 months, something unexpected is guaranteed to happen somewhere down the line. Unfortunately one of the more unexpected events was actually my own fault. You see, I have a few weaknesses: coffee, Coke, and chocolate. If any of those three things are within my sight, it's gone. So. There I was in Vienna - surrounded by those 3 weaknesses on a daily basis, and I couldn't control myself. When I wasn't drinking coffee, I was eating a Milka bar (you HAVE to have a Milka bar!). When I wasn't eating a Milka bar, I was grabbing a Coke from the nearest kebab stand. If chocolate wasn't readily available to eat, I ordered hot chocolate. I went nuts. After a while I noticed my heart rate didn't feel quite right. It was racing and eventually got to the point where I thought I could actually hear it thumping against my chest. I would lie awake at night just agonizing over my sudden heart condition. Then finally, after a coffee and chocolate break one night in Switzerland, my heart had had enough and I fainted. When I got back to Vienna the next day, I was taken to the hospital to see what the deal was with my crazy heart rate. The doctor did a bunch of tests, looked at the results, frowned, sighed heavily, and said, "Uhm, you're fine. You've ODed on caffeine". I was super embarrassed and didn't touch anything caffeinated for weeks. I gave in eventually, but I was sure to include water in my diet as well. So that's the time I went to the hospital in Europe. (A second visit happened a couple years later...Another story for another time.)

 
My traveling mates and I in the Swiss Alps, celebrating our climb with chocolate (the afternoon before I overdosed)


How accurate are the stereotypes?
As far as Vienna is concerned, I hadn’t really heard any stereotypes in a negative light. I had heard and found to be true that the Viennese appreciate foreigners who attempt the language (German), so I always tried to use the German I learned as much as possible. As far as European stereotypes go, yes, you have to ask for ice in your drink, and often you have to request that your water be “still” instead of “gas” (not carbonated or carbonated). Several countries do charge extra for ketchup, refills, and visits to the restroom. And yes, European chocolate is amazing (See: Did you encounter anything unexpected?)



Tell us about the food.
Viennese food is fantastic! One of the more traditional meals you can eat in Vienna is Wiener Schnitzel (fried pork or veal) and Pommes (German word for fries). You can also visit the kebab stands and get yourself, well, a kebab for starters, which is essentially a wrap filled with shaved lamb meat, tomatoes, lettuce, onions, and sauce that tastes kind of like ranch dressing. Breakfast is a necessity in Vienna and often consists of various meats, cheese, breads, cakes, and coffee. Then of course, there's gelato.

Nic and I eating gelato in Stephansplatz. Flavor recommendation: Biscoto!!

Were there any must see’s?
Where do I even begin? Definitely go see ALL of the palaces and their gardens – Schönbrunn, Belvedere, Hofburg. Vienna is filled with museums, churches, and cathedrals so I highly recommend going into as many as you can (Stephansdom is one of my favorite cathedrals). If you’re just passing through, then without a doubt, go to Stephansplatz. Stephansplatz is in the center of Vienna and is filled with shops (TWO H&Ms and a THREE STORY Forever 21), street performers, cafes, gelaterias (highly recommend Zanoni & Zanoni), and many, many Mozarts (stay away from them, it’s a tourist trap!)

 
Street performers in Stephansplatz (awesome ones)

Hundertwasserhaus

 
Beethoven's grave in Zentralfriedhof

Do you have any regrets?
I have one and only one, and I’m telling you because it’s very important to me that you don’t make the same mistake! While I was studying in Vienna, I dedicated a lot of my downtime to communicating with my boyfriend (now ex - Note: see my left ring finger) back in the States. Not that there’s anything wrong with keeping in touch with loved ones back home – that’s extremely important. However, there’s a distinct line between keeping up with your loved ones, and keeping up with your loved ones to the point that you don’t go out and enjoy your present. Thankfully this didn’t occur 'til the tail end of my trip, but regardless, don’t attempt to live in two places at once. Just live and enjoy where you are!

 
Belvedere Palace

Would you go back?
Studying in Vienna for those 3 months changed my entire life so much so that I LIVE here now. I always knew I would get back here some day, and after 4 years of waiting, my husband and I sold everything (except for our cat), quit our jobs, and moved to Vienna (with our cat). We’ll be here for at least 2 years – maybe more.

 
Husband and I preparing for our move to Vienna. Wiedersehen, OKC!

 
Enjoying a Kaffeepause (coffee break) at Café Central - very old and made famous by those who used to frequent here, like Sigmund Freud. Also Hitler.

 
Volksgarten

Anything else you'd like to share about the trip?
The Christmas markets! If you're torn about when to visit Vienna, give yourself a huge Christmas present, and come to Vienna specifically for the Christmas markets. Picture the most beautiful Christmas decorations and lights you've ever seen - got an image in your head? Vienna triples that. There's music, warm punch, and lines of booths with homemade goodies and presents. It's the best.

 
Christkindlmarkt Rathaus (Photo credit: Wiki)

Friends, if the opportunity to study or travel or couch surf in Europe ever arises, take it. Don't hesitate, just go for it. Europe is rich with history and culture and will change your life forever. If you find yourself in Vienna and want some recommendations, contact me! I'd love to help a fellow traveler out.

Stephansplatz at night

You can read more about my life in Vienna on my personal blog: hollykooi.wordpress.com
as well as the Vienna blog I co-write with my husband: gutenmorgenwien.wordpress.com
or you can follow my regular Vienna updates on Twitter @hollykooi
Schönen Tag! Tchüss!

__________________________

Emily here--Holly, thank you so much for sharing.  I love that you decided to move to Vienna
with your hubby after such a great study abroad experience.  I can definitely relate...having studied abroad in Costa Rica in 2004, and then returning in 2010 to marry my husband!  You are a great saleswoman for Vienna--the Christmas markets look amazing...and I, too, am obsessed with Milka chocolate.


Readers, if you enjoyed reading Holly's adventures in Vienna, please check out her blog.




If you're interested in sharing your own adventures on TTD, please shoot me an email.
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