It’s a sad sad truth when you realize 9 out of 24 hours of your day will be spent in a cubicle or thankfully in my case, a 4-walled office. A swivel chair, desk, cabinets and even a bookcase were already in the room. But! It needed a dash of Faith, an essence of je ne sais pas and so forth. I’m still in the midst of decorating the office slowly but here’s some fun dilly-doolies that I kinda think are all kinds of awesome (aside from pics that is):

ZEN GARDENS: Hello, it’s like having your very own mini-beach on your desk! Frustrated with work woes? Just gently rake the sand into oblivion or very complicated, deep patterns that speak to your soul.

BASKETBALL HOOP: Recycling and honing your unofficial NBA hoop-throwing skills? Double score. Plus your co-workers will always want to swing by your office to have their turn. New BFFs anyone?

REED DIFFUSERS: Sleek & stylish plus it tickles your olfactories in a most pleasant fashion. But please make sure to do a sniffing test beforehand in the store or read reviews before purchasing online. The thought of filling your office with the overpowering waft of fake apple pie? Not so much. Current scent: bamboo sugar. Whatever that means.

PLANTS: One of the easiest things you can do is put a little leafy green action in your office space. Oxygenate! My co-worker from my previous job gave me a friendship plant and I absolutely cannot under any circumstances, let that plant die. No sir!

I also threw in a zebra-print chair cushion for good measure. Now if only I could hang up curtains, paint the walls, throw up a mini-chandelier … okay, maybe that’s going overboard.

So Glamour magazine has a section that I absolutely delight in reading called “Hey, it’s Ok!” It lists the little things people do that might sound a wee bit odd or against the norm but psh, it’s all about being yourself.

Thought I might share some of my own. Hey, it’s okay to …

  • Write off someone as a potential soul mate because they refuse to share food. If you can’t steal bites of each others dishes, the rest is just downhill.
  • Have a Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, Blog, Yelp, Tumblr etc but still think your real life persona is so much cooler.
  • Believe in musicals, theatre, dance and classical music and completely dismiss opera. Squirming in your seat for 3+ hours to rustic German or Italian? No thank you!
  • Wear slippers to the grocery store, there’s a reason for those hard soles.
  • Coo and awe over cuddly babies when they’re bubbly and happy but once they start crying, be relieved to hand them back to their rightful guardian.
  • Only wear a hat when you forgot to take a shower that morning and then smile as your co workers compliment you on your blue slouchy knit beanie.
  • Think that if people working out nearby are able to read a magazine or a book, they’re not working out HARD ENOUGH.
  • Secretly believe working at a ice-cream shop might have been one of the best jobs ever and I’ve held over a dozen different titles. Clown cones, Ice-cream charades and working with your BFF – life doesn’t get any better.

What are some of your “Hey, it’s Ok!” nuggets o’ life? And yes, I do realize I use bullet points more than your average person.

Here is my typical approach of drafting a new blog post:

1. Look at my blog’s homepage and realizing I haven’t posted since Nov. which is ancient history in the blogging world.

2. Decide to hate my header image … and my blog template. Proceed to spend nearly 59.99 minutes finding another suitable, minimalist blog template before realizing it costs $ to actually change the CSS sheet. Realize this is ridiculous and settle on another template from the mind blowing 15 that WordPress has to offer.

3. Finally come up with a witty blog topic before Googling the subject at hand and having  enthusiasm deflated after seeing Retro Crush & 1,000 Awesome Things having BOTH talked about it long ago.

4. Decide to not care and go forth. Thusly, here is my manifesto on why modern-day playgrounds can go gather dust and leaves for all I care. Because the playgrounds I grew up were practically a rabbit hole of wonder and oh yes, D.A.N.G.E.R.

Exhibit A: A playground I sketched a few years ago in one of those neighborhoods that seem to spring up nearly overnight. You know which ones I’m talking about. Gated communities with private playgrounds, their own sidewalks and I kid you not, their own elementary school.

Do tell, can you identify anything in the picture to the right that resembles something a child would want to play on besides that pathetic excuse for a slide? No! These plastic contraptions in their garishly bright colors have continued to replace the playground of my childhood and taking all the fun with it.

Unidentifiable tree bark has replaced sawdust, Tic Tac Toe has pushed monkey bars to the wayside and See-Saws are just mere whispers of 1994 (your kids will see your old photos and ask what strange board thing you’re sitting on). Then the horror of all horrors, the tetherball pole that entertained many a recesses has a forlorn looking piece of frayed string around a rusting pole. That’s exactly the sight I’m greeted with at my old elementary school stomping grounds. Because apparently throwing a ball around some rope is very very dangerous. And so are monkey bars. And metal slides (can’t have it heat up in the blazing hot sun and scorch your poor bum.) So what are we left with?

Empty playgrounds, that’s what. Maybe my generation is the last of its breed to run around outdoors proudly sporting scabbed knees and sun kissed cheeks. I taught myself how to ride a bike, how to ice-skate and learned to fall before I could get anywhere worth going. Video games weren’t a part of my vocabulary but now, kids are either skipping childhood and jumping headfirst into angst-ridden puberty or holed up in front of the computer playing Farmville by their web-savvy 7-year old selves.

A little touch of je ne sais pas build character. The outdoors shouldn’t be avoided but the wussy playground of current just can’t hold a 10 year old’s attention quite like YouTube. Lifelong friendships have formed from one game of FourSquare (and no, I’m not talking about the kind you can play on your iPhone.) Recesses were about camaraderie and contests on who could spin around the most on the highest metal bar.

Look how delighted these random children look! DELIGHTED!

Maybe these are the thoughts of a slightly jaded 22-year old, I already sound like one of those annoying adults who whine about how things were so much better in the ‘good old days.’ But hey, if someday money permits, maybe I’ll build an entire playground circa 1996 in my own backyard. You’re all invited.

Did the title draw you in? Mission accomplished. One of my good friends and I have birthdays merely a day apart and decided to go all out. Our party is a masquerade murder mystery set at the Academy Awards. Do you see the waves of epicness radiating from that description?

It’s beyond difficult to plan such an elaborate party. Participation is key and gosh darn it, our guests need to participate. At least 9 people are needed to pour their hearts and souls into fictional characters to set the scene. *dims lights*

Advice for those who want a murder mystery party in the future. Try host party for ideas. We actually had to purchase the game itself although all the materials were electronic. How times have changed. Scripts, black butcher paper and chalk, basic plastic masks for those unmotivated enough to buy their own. Me thinks the birthday gals are emptying our wallets but it’s all in the name of fun.

Party venues in Seattle are hard to come by unless you want your own residence to be the scene of the “crime.” Work those connections, we were able to score a banquet room downtown for no moolah whatsoever. I still wonder if event planning is my cuppa tea. I’m leaning towards “yes” since it gets the adrenaline rushing and the creative juices flowing. Who knows if it’s in my future.

The photo above was taken in Venice at the same time as the header image to this blog. I must have been standing with masks worth well over thousands of dollars. Every one was hand-stitched, painted and molded. Swarovski crystals, antique lace, and beyond. Eager tourists could also rent out their own costumes at extravagant prices from these shops to parade around the Ponte dei Sospiri (otherwise known as the ‘Bridge of Sighs’ – how romantic sounding but not so charming when you hear that it refers to prisoners who used to sigh at the breathtaking sight of Venice before taking literally, their last breaths.)

And that’s your history lesson for the day!

This logo has struck fear or complete elation into the hearts of business owners everywhere. Well, in the U.S., Canada and U.K. anyway. Restaurants proudly sport them like boy scout badges while those without, are probably working towards the day when they finally receive the notice in their inbox. Why this obsession with an almost entirely consumer generated website?

Those wielding spatulas like to follow food blogs of which there are bajillions, only slightly exaggerating. Those of us who like to eat out 8 times a week? We cling to Yelp! like a life preserver.

According to smSmallBiz.com, “Yelp drew nearly 29 million unique visitors in September.” Now those are some impressive looking stats. Not surprisingly, a lot of visitors use the site to check on which restaurants they should eat at when they visit a new city, what the local tips are for a particular venue or bar and so on. It’s actually a smaller percentage that take the trouble to create accounts and actively review on a regular basis. And that’s where I come in.

You see that screenshot to the right? —> Dagnabit, I sweated blood and tears to earn that ’09 badge. It’s not the sporadic Yelp! users you should watch out for but the the ones knighted with the coveted red elite badges. Elite are intense – hundreds of reviews, dozens of uploaded photos, the first to review the 100,000th Starbucks in Seattle and all over the “Talk” pages (basically message boards for Yelpers.) And business owners take ’em (er, *us)  seriously. 2-star reviews with constructive criticism alert owners to quickly backpedal and ask the community what they can do better next time. Some owners get a tad too unethical and try to offer cold hard cash or comps in hopes of getting better reviews.

Yelp! How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

1.  Obviously fake spam reviews are almost immediately flagged, pitchforks are raised and then taken down.

2.  You can review almost anything. A.N.Y.T.H.I.N.G. so go ahead and add the new hot dog stand that opened up down the street. Unless someone else already beat you to it.

3.  Elites are real. From glancing through our reviews alone, you can tell what nightlife haunts the reviewer likes to frequent, whether they’re vegetarian or hard-core carnivores and if they’re willing to endure flippant service for dirt cheap happy hour prices.

Elites are invited to exclusive wine and dine type of events which only further bolsters the community feeling you get out of being a regular. New transplants to Seattle and other cities even join Yelp! as a way to meet others and feel welcomed. And I can honestly say that I’ve seen a romance blossom b/w two Yelpers. *wink*

And last but not least, Yelp! can boast of being the iPhone’s first augmented reality app. I’m not sure if it’s still in Easter egg mode (sorry, I’m a happy android user.) You download and shake shake shake to activate. It then layers nearby venues, you can point at a restaurant and it’ll show details and so on. Insane right?

My URL: faithy.yelp.com

Current ♫: Carnival of the Animals by Saint-Saëns. Now I know where the theme from Edward Scissorhands might have gotten its roots.

I love the 90’s sites are a dime a dozen. But who cares eh? It’s fun to reminisce! After reading a thread that someone started on Yelp! (they started it for me apparently – ridiculous!), let me share my wise observations of the years of yore. Born in late ’87 qualifies me for a solid 90’s child status.

FASHION:

  • Flowered leggings – atrocious but frackin’ comfortable!! Perfect for flipping on bars at the playground
  • Jelly shoes – they were the summer-time Uggs of the day. Every girl had to have a pair and if you didn’t, you were shunned (my elementary school was cruel).
  • Anything that the Fresh Prince wore

TOYS:

  • Skip-its! They started getting fancy and had ones with lights and those that counted how many times you skipped. When children actually exercised outdoors.
  • Tamaguchis and any electronic pets: so out of control that teachers had to ban them. But then how would my dinosaur be happy?
  • Marbles and Pogs – so many were lost on playgrounds
  • Polly Pockets when they were still POCKET-sized. Geez Mattel, get with the program.

I WANT CANDY:

  • Warheads made everything so much more gravy. No matter how much pain your mouth was in, you still had alollipop a day to make your doctor your best friend.
  • And heck yes, I collected Spice Girl stickers from those Fantasy Ball lollipops and slapped them in my sticker book, all 24 baby!

And last but not least, Sweet Valley High which probably made me the bookworm I am today. Don’t hate. I read more stimulating novels now, thank you. But SVH sparked it all.

I read every Sweet Valley series, not exaggerating. Every. Single. One. Sweet Valley Kids, The Unicorn Club, JuniorHigh, Senior Year, University, Elizabeth … and imagine my reaction when I find out the lovingly kooky Diablo Cody (the she-goddess of “Juno” geniusness) is making a SVH movie with a tentative 2012 release date. Move over, I’m first in line.

Are you ready for this? Are you?

can one quietly dazzle their brilliant smile? / we haunt the naked shadows over time & rhythm / they blaze in the wild

Brought to you by Twitter Magnets. The only time I would be able to put together a poem is when I have a bank of words to choose from. I think I refreshed the page for half an hour to grab the symbol “&.” Shut it. I’m productive and wildly creative. =)