Monday, September 22, 2014

Baby, Let's Pretend it's Cold Outside

Beautiful Woodbridge Lake

Well, it's that time of year: the time where it's still 90° F (32.2°C) outside but all of us Southern Californians pretend that we are experiencing autumn.

Today is actually the Autumnal equinox, so actually this post is quite appropriate for the day!

If you aren't familiar with Southern California weather, we get very hot summers and, depending on where you are, either mild winters (most places) or very, very cold winters (the desert)! I grew up in the desert, with extreme hot and cold temperatures... no real in-between. Most places, the leaves turn gold, then orange, then brown... here, they just seem to turn brown and fall off instantly! One morning, you wake up and walk outside and the trees are bare and the ground is covered in brown leaves, no ceremony or elegance to it!

The dreaded summertime heat lasts until at least mid-October. One year the warmth lasted all the way until Christmas... it was horrible! If I wanted warm weather on Christmas, I'd move to Australia, am I right? Just a couple years ago I went to visit Matt at his parents' house in the Pasadena area... it was 90° in January! Just let that sink in.

This year, though, I've done a pretty fine job of pretending that the hot weather has finally left us for good. We have had a few gray days, which is helpful, but they're mostly just warm and very humid, so I stay inside with the air con running and drink hot tea and curl under blankets with a good book (Pride and Prejudice) like it's a cold winter day. Ha!

I know a lot of people like summer, but I am really not one of them, sadly. This summer was actually the first I've enjoyed in several years because we've lived in into apartments that have community saltwater pools and live in a place small enough to set the air conditioner on "auto" 24/7 without having to sell a vital organ to pay for it. But most of my summers in recent years have been spent in places that don't have air conditioner at all, sitting in one spot on my bed with three fans pointed at me... you're good if you don't move away from the fans! It's not all beach towns here in California unfortunately.

Holiday Season festivities at the Haunted Mansion


But in autumn and winter, I am truly in my element. I'm absolutely one of those annoyingly festive people. Right after my birthday rolls around at the end of August, and then Labor Day passes, in my mind it is fall, and time to start decorating for Halloween, listening to spooky playlists on 8tracks, and walking down the Seasonal aisles every single time I go to the store. And then after Halloween? THE HOLIDAY SEASON. Throw Christmas lights on everything! Get candles that smell like pine and pie! Start drinking apple cider and hot chocolate like it's going out of style! I love it all.

So, basically, my holiday schedule is much like Disneyland's. Handy that I will be working there, especially in what I think is the most holiday-decorated place in the park: I will have an outlet for all that amazingly festive energy that is forced to go dormant in spring and summertime. It's perfect.

I'm sure most of you live in places where Autumn is actually a thing that exists, and you get to pull our your cute fall clothes and layers and vampy lipstick, but here are some things that this girl has been loving for this season:



Baking. Last night, I made my first loaf of bread ever: nut bread! It was so much fun to make and Matt had three pieces of it last night so I think he may have enjoyed it! ;) I took this picture and sent it to Susan Branch, whose blog I've been reading for several years now and who wrote this cookbook (and many others, all beautifully ahnd written and hand watercolored!) and she actually responded and followed me on twitter! Tis a beautiful thing, this nut bread.




Cooking. I've started cooking dinner more often. One of my goals this year for the colder seasons is to learn how to make perfect Shepherd's Pie (so, perfect beef stew and perfect mashed potatoes)... Matt will be my very willing guinea pig. I'm scouring Susan Branch's cookbooks for more fun recipes to make.

Trader Joe's Harvest Blend Tea. If you don't know, a few years back I used to make custom tea blends on Adagio... I was very into it. I made Once Upon a Time teas when the show was first airing, and TJ's Harvest Blend tea was exactly what I wanted to make when I made the Red Riding Hood blend, although I had never had it at the time. It is truly autumn in a cup. So delicious, and the apple in it makes it sweet.

8Tracks playlists with sort of spooky music. My dear friend Alison made a great one. I've also really been loving this one that is entirely film scores, meant to be a soundtrack for an alternate telling of the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale... one that involves a pirate! Pirates make everything better... well, fictional ones do. (And it certainly doesn't hurt when they look like Colin O'Donoghue, am I right?)
Pumpkin streusel muffins from Costco. Trust me, just get them. They taste like pumpkin coffee cake (aka everything I care about).

Eerie movies. The genre is horror, but they're not all that horrible. Nothing to violent or gross, just "darker" movies with a creepy feel to them. I just watched a film called The Moth Diaries on Netflix and it had exactly the mood I was looking for. Actually, it reminded me a lot of a modern day Great and Terrible Beauty... it had the same feel to it: Catholic boarding school for girls, creepy old Victorian-era building, things that go bump in the night! Love it.

(x)


The X-Files! Everyone loves the X-Files, right? Only yesterday morning I discovered that Matt had never seen the X-Files: not even a few seconds of it. Insane, right? I immediately mended that over breakfast, and then at dinner he asked to watch a few more. I have seen almost every episode of this show, but it's still just as great (and creepy!) as I remember.

I'm still figuring out what to do with this space, officially, once I start work, but I can guarantee that I'll keep posting! I don't know if I'll be able to have a set blogging schedule but I will try getting posts up in a timely fashion and make them worth your while!

Hope you are having a great day!

xoxo,
Jesse

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Accidental Hiatus UPDATES!

OOPS!

I swear, I didn't mean to go this long without posting here! I started several update posts and just never finished them because I got caught up doing other things. I'm sorry for being absent for so long!

The biggest update I have is that I GOT A JOB AT DISNEYLAND!!!!!!!!



Yep! It's happening for real!

I had my interview the day before my birthday (which was the 26th of August, and I'm 23 now, wahoo!) and was hired on the spot. It was easily the most pleasant hiring process/interview I've ever had, and everyone at Casting is so sweet and friendly! When I went for my interview and for "onboarding" (where you essentially finalize the details and hand in your paperwork), I made friends in the waiting room. Everyone is SO outgoing and easy to talk to and it's just been the most pleasant experience... and I haven't even started yet!

I actually was called in to interview for a Photopass Photographer position, but after the first part of my interview, my interviewers called me back in (I had two, basically... one was essentially being "shadowed" and both were very nice) and said that if I wanted photopass still I could go in for the second interview that position requires, or that I could either pick one of two merchandising positions or go for attractions. I had heard that they do this when they see fits for you in other departments: Disney is so amazing about making you feel like your skills are super valuable and useable! It was a wonderful ego boost after that long, fruitless, awful job hunt I was on for the past YEAR.

Funny, because I kept saying "I NEED a job before my birthday!" and the DAY BEFORE, I got one. I've always been a procrastinator ;) haha!!



After reading the job descriptions, I realized that Merchandising is an absolutely perfect fit! Just the right amount of customer interaction for me, and I get to help people pick out souvenirs and things! I already know most of their merchandise extremely well so that's no sweat :) Then they gave me my pick for which land I wanted to be in of those available and I chose MAIN STREET, U.S.A.!! One of my absolute favorite places in the park!

I have orientation, which is called Traditions, on the 27th and could not be more excited! I'm already trying to figure out what to wear, because the Disney Look is not complicated but finding long enough dresses for my height is a little difficult. I'm thinking of wearing a skirt I already own and just getting another lightweight blouse. Gotta stay cool, since we'll be walking around the parks for several hours!


It's still so very surreal that this dream has actually become a reality. I've wanted to work for Disney basically forever, and now I get to! Plus, I get to play in the parks a bunch now, too :) It's going to be so great and really fun, since I'll meet so many people! I'm sure it will be hard work at times, because it gets busy, but I can roll with the punches and am 100% up for any challenges I might face! I'll never take it for granted! :) I mean, nothing beats working in the happiest place on earth!

I'm especially excited that I get to start working when the holiday season is in full swing, first with Halloween, then CHRISTMAS! Christmastime is my absolute favorite time in the park so I'm extra excited to help make magic then! Gives me an excuse to get in the Christmas spirit early. Main Street is especially festive so I'm thrilled to be posted there :)

So, that being said, prepare for a lot of Disney/Disneyland/Cast Member related posts... I'll be living that Disney life! :) Posts may get more sparse but hopefully they will be much more interesting!! While I can't go into crazy detail or give any ~Disney Secrets~ or whatever, at least I'll probably have some pretty pictures! Yep, I'm definitely taking this opportunity to hone my photography skills, save up for the DSLR I've been wanting for a million years, and make that a hobby!

That's about it for now; I'll be back soon with answers to the Liebster Award questions! Thank you so much to Ellen, Jahan, and Lizzie for the nominations, I'm so very flattered!! <3

xoxo,
Jesse

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Strawberry Milk


There's something about pink drinks. To me, they just look more special than anything else: a pink drink promises sweet, fresh flavor. Strawberry milk is certainly no exception.


I first made this recipe from Pastry Affair three or so years ago, and it was so good that I've been wanting to make it ever since, but kept either forgetting or not having something that went into making it. Finally, today, I had everything, so I whipped up a batch of strawberry syrup.


The process is fun and easy, it makes your house (or apartment!) smell absolutely divine, and the end result is exceedingly satisfying. So much so that I felt the need to pass it on again!



INGREDIENTS

1 cup strawberries, sliced (frozen or fresh are fine, I used fresh)
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1/2 tsp vanilla extract (I used French Vanilla coffee syrup since that's all I had)


METHOD

Boil all four ingredients for about 10 minutes. Don't be alarmed when it gets super juicy and foamy! This is when your living space starts to smell like heaven. I took pictures as it cooked so you know what it looks like... I always like pictures of things like that because when I cook I tend to be paranoid.

When those ten or so minutes are up, strain with a fine mesh sieve into something that can handle hot liquids (I used a normal bowl). You can use the strawberries as a topping for something else if you'd like (Pastry Affair suggests ice cream). Place the syrup in the fridge until cool.

When ready, spoon about three teaspoons of syrup into a medium glass of milk (that's just what I used; adjust it to your taste!), stir well, and enjoy!

xoxo,
Jesse