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Posted on Oct 29, 2012 in Blogging | 14 comments

Frankenstorm

Hello all! I am writing this from the comfort of my own home, whilst still in my pajamas, since Hurricane Sandy is about to wipe through the eastern seaboard. My office (and the federal government) both announced their closures last night, so I’m working from home and trying to make the most of the time I have left with power. Last time anything remotely close to this happened (the derecho that I got caught driving in!), our house lost power for a good 3 or 4 days (though it was worse for a lot of people — including my parents!) I know that the companies are more prepared this time, having heard about the storm for days, but I’m sure we’ll still be without power for a good while.

Guess that means I better get this post out while I can, eh?

Saturday night, we had a Halloween party at the Powell household!

My friend Holly, from Canada, has been visiting this week, thus making this the second Halloween we’ve been able to spend with each other in a row! (I was in Ottawa at this time last year.) The year before was the first Halloween party that my brother, Ben, his fiancee, Taylor, and I were able to throw at our house.

As you may already know from my glorious Harry Potter-themed birthday party this past April, I kind of love throwing parties. We don’t do it craaaazy often (just once or twice a year), but I love being a hostess! Decorating, prepping snacks, making sure that people are having fun (er, I hope they had fun!) and all that good stuff. Holly and I spookified the house just a smidge, made sure there were snacks-a-plenty (including the ah-mazing cupcakes that we decorated, pictured above and below, which I could not stop staring at like a total creeper), and before we knew it… party time!

At our last Halloween party, Ben did a great job of capturing almost all of the guests costumes when they arrived. Unfortunately, there was a bit of a camera mishap pretty early on in the party, so we only snapped pics of a few people. Sad! There were a tons of great costumes that came after, but here is a small sampling of what our awesome friends came dressed as. Can you guess who they all are?






Aileen and Jackie, in the last photo, definitely win in my book for best costumes, as Tweedledee and Tweedledum. Though Tom’s Sean of the Dead costume + accompanying zombie was pretty epic, too. Oh, what was my costume, you ask? Well, first, let me show you my costumed (and reluctant) partners-in-crime.


Yep, Harry and Daxter were buggin’ out… in all senses. But they looked flippin’ adorable, and were, in fact, the inspiration for my own costume!

My costume is actually a reversible ladybug/bumblee costume (the bee print is on the inside), and I had a bit of a hard time deciding which one to be. In the end, though, polka dots always win. But I guess I have a fallback costume for next year?

And Sean was a bugcatcher. Kekeke.

Definitely a fun party! It wrapped up earlier than most of our parties have in the past, but I was actually kind of grateful for that since I was exhaaaausted. I feel like as we get older (I say as if I am so very ancient indeed, haha), parties that last until 4 AM just don’t really happen anymore? I gotta say, I’m kind of okay with that. You still get all the fun, but half of the residual next-day exhaustion/hangovers. At least until next year’s birthday party, that is. (Spoiler alert: it’s going to be Hunger Games-themed! My Quarter Quell!)

I hope that everyone is able to stay safe and dry through the hurricane as it worsens, especially if you’re in a coastal area. Hopefully things will blow over (too soon?) sooner rather than later!

<3

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Posted on Nov 1, 2011 in Dear Diary, Food | 15 comments

Oh Heyyyy, Ottawa!

So I had promised myself that I wouldn’t do a big long recap of my Ottawa trip, since I did exactly that after my last trip back in February. Buuuut, we all know how good I am at sticking to my convictions, hahaha.

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My parents happened to be in town at the same time as me (as part of a big Canadian road trip), so I spent most of Friday hanging out with them and gambling my dad’s money away at the Casino du Lac-Leamy. But the following day, as you may already know from yesterday’s vlog, my friend Ai Rei took me to The Works, my most favoritest burger joint with the most creative topping combinations I’ve seen to this day!

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We started out with some small shakes – chocolate almond for me, and avocado (!!) for her. Both were uhhhhmazing. Unfortunately, the waiter didn’t ask how we wanted our burgers cooked, and I forgot to offer the information voluntarily, so they came out well-done. SOB.

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Luckily, the patty was covered in approximately 6.3 pounds of cheese, so it still tasted pretty good!

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Proof.

Aaaaand, sweet potato fries on the side. I know, I know. But this was pretty much the only heinously unhealthy meal I had while in Ottawa, so take that as you will.

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All of downtown Ottawa is very reasonably walkable, and we needed to get some movement in after that lunch anyway. So we traipsed down to Glitz Cupcakes and Company and split a few mini cupcakes. Then we just wandered around the Byward Market area for a while, taking in the shops and fun Fall sights!

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I am saddened by the fact that I never paid attention to all the amazing fresh produce stands and local butchers and fishmongers back when I lived here! Oh hindsight, you rose-colored devil.

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Oddly enough, I have yet to find a bubble milk tea place down here that matches the kind that I can get up in Ottawa (though, of course, even that is NOTHING compared to the real stuff from Taipei!) And though our wandering probably seemed pretty aimless, we did have an eventual goal.

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BEAVERTAIL TIME!!!

My beloved beavertail (fried dough smothered in cinnamon sugar, gwahaha) was waiting for me! But, because I really am trying to be “good”, we split this sucker in half. You can even see the line down the middle, hehe.

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If ever there were an appropriate time for this: NOMNOMNOM. So much deliciousness. And more was to come, since that same night was the Halloween-themed wedding shower for my friend Holly and her fiance Scott!

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Lovebirds.

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I spent the night catching up with old friends, drinking wine poured from bottles labeled “Spider Venom” and “Toxic Waste” (mmm, so deliciously deadly…), and eating my fill of strange Canadian candy.

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Smarties down here are NOT the same as Smarties up there! (Fact: theirs are better.)

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There was a pumpkin carving competition too. Our team (Rei, Michael, Lucas, and moi) brought our A-game, and did NOT produce a vomiting pumpkin.

IMG_2517 Carving

Nope, instead we ended up with…

Whasian Pumpkin
A Whasian Pumpkin!

Bahahaha, and can you believe we didn’t WIN?! It was rigged! Rigged, I tell you!

Team Whasian

I also took pity on a poor, uncarved pumpkin (there ended up being more pumpkins than teams) and made a sad (literally!) attempt at carving it on my own.

Sad Pumpkin is Sad
Sad pumpkin is sad.

Other festivities included a toilet paper ZOMBIE-bride game, and the most inventive themed dinner EVER.

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Seriously, however they came up with this dinner concept, I was impressed. It took a lot of effort for the hosts to coordinate, that’s for sure!

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Let me try to explain how it worked. We were each given a list of spooky dishes, then told to number them in the order we would want to receive our courses. Then we had to trade lists with the person across from us. THEN we find out that our napkin and cutlery were included in the list!

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What this meant, of course, is that not only did most of us end up receiving pumpkin pie as our appetizer, many of us didn’t have anything to eat it with but our hands! I ate my main course with just a knife. Skillz, I tell you. Everything was actually quite manageable and hilarious until it was time for the “dessert course”.

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Which, for me, ended up being a fork, a spoon, and my napkin. Womp wommmmmp. Ah well, at least everyone else thought it was funny. So I ate up their attention for dessert instead. Also, popcorn that I stole from the living room.

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The trip ended with Lucas, Ai Rei, Michael and me back together and brunching it up at the Mayflower Pub with an incredibly healthy and not-at-all artery-clogging eggs florentine. Then before long, it was time to say goodbye yet again! These trips always seem to go by so fast. I attribute that to having had so much fun with my friends, as well as to The Hunger Games books. Which I started on the plane up to Ottawa, and had finished by the time the plane back had touched down. So, yeah. Another thing meant for teenagers that I am now inappropriately obsessed with. We’ll have to talk about that.

When you visit home (or college, or just a place you’ve lived before), what are your priorities? See old friends? Eat at your favorite restaurants? Check out the changes that have been made in your absence? I tried to do all of these things, but as a result felt like there wasn’t a lot of time to enjoy each thing. Guess that just means I’ll have to go back soon. šŸ™‚

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Posted on Oct 31, 2011 in Dear Diary, Vlog | 29 comments

I’m Back, Eh?

Bonjour and Happy Halloween!! I have returned from the Great White North!

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It was great to see old friends and revisit my old haunts in Ottawa over the weekend. As I’ve mentioned before, I graduated from high school there so I love being able to get back occasionally and make sure those fires of friendship ain’t dying.

Bros for Life

Luckily, I don’t think that’ll be happening anytime soon. I tried to maximize my time as much as possible, so I flew back in on the later side last night. I tell you this so you potentially forgive the fact that I’ve only gotten through editing about half of the zillion photos I took (who, me?). Ergo, the full recap of the weekend may have to wait until tomorrow.

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I did, however, get the chance to edit together the sweet, sweet, Canadian vlog that my friend Ai Rei helped me film! So hopefully another classic Gretchen vlog will tide you over until then. If you’re viewing this post via email subscription, be sure to click through to see the video!

Fair warning: this may or may not but definitely does showcase me at my lamest. It’s also a little disjunct since it was shot over the course of several days. So, y’know, no judging.

Okay fine, judge a little. šŸ˜‰

For those of you who aren’t able to watch until after work (womp womp), here’s a little something in picture-form, too. Remember my desperate plea for help in the Halloween costume department in my last vlog? I was looking for something cheap, easy, portable, and ideally kinda cute too. Well, the costume also gets revealed in the video above, but here’s what I ultimately landed on:

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Get it?

PJs + Tiara = “Sleeping Beauty”!!

Haaaaahahahahaha. Okay, okay, kinda lame, I know. But it cost me exactly $0 since I already owned everything (what, you don’t have a tiara just laying around?) and I think I pulled off the punny-ness. I was also given the title of “Sushi Princess” that night, so you can roll with that if you like it better. I’m good either way.

I miss my friends already, but it’s always nice to come home. Well, to be honest, it wasn’t “home” that I missed as much as these guys:

home sweet home

What did you dress up as for Halloween?

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Posted on Oct 27, 2011 in Dear Diary, Food | 29 comments

Welcome, Great Pumpkin!

Today’s the day! I’ll be off to Ottawa in just a little while, where I can hopefully leave the frustrations of the week behind and celebrate Halloween in style! Hopefully without going too far overboard while I’m at it… urk.

Admittedly, I did my fair bit of doldrum dwelling yesterday after my le terrible weigh-in. But, never a fan of self-pity, I did try to turn it around. Like all of you wonderful readers were saying to me in the comments, it’s a new day and a new week! No reason not to move forward in full force. So for once I actually counted every calorie I consumed yesterday (1254, shock!) and cooked myself a dinner that was ridiculously healthy for how tasty it was.

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One intensely bountiful produce drawer, plus:

Satay
A few tablespoons of deliciousness, equals:

I EAT VEGGIES.
Veggie bowl to the extreme!

Going out of town means I had an intense game of pantry roulette to play, after all. Had to use up all that produce! In the bowl was spaghetti squash, onions, mushrooms, asparagus, and kale, peanut sauce and some green onions for garnish.

SauteAdd teh veggies
KaleSquish, Squash

Just more kitchen therapy to help haul me out of the doldrums. It worked! Still a little discouraged about my weight situation, but it’s getting better.

Sweet as Pumpkin Pie

Of course, the pumpkin carving party I crashed at Amanda’s didn’t hurt either.

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Such a gracious hostess, hahaha.

In true Halloween spirit, we carved our pumpkins with a scurry movie on the background afteer some mild objections from me. I can’t handle scary movies — I got roped into seeing House of Wax once and had nightmares for like three weeks! But this one, “The Frighteners”, had Michael J. Fox in it so it wasn’t that bad.

Guts
Mmm, guts.

Amanda, her roommate Brad, and our friend Eddie all ambitiously followed patterns from a book, so they ended up with very cool and intricate designs on their pumpkins.

Skeptical ScultorIn process

Me though? I was going for an even classier approach.

Too Much Candy

Bahahaha. And with that image now forever burned into your memory, I bid you adieu! (See? I’m already getting my French-Canadian on.)

Have you carved anything interesting for Halloween this year? Or seen any pumpkins of note on a neighbor’s doorstep, perhaps? Since becoming an “adult” and moving out of my parents’ house I’ve found that my pumpkin carving has fallen by the wayside. Sad! I definitely have to remember to keep this tradition alive.

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Posted on Oct 19, 2011 in Dear Diary, Vlog, Weigh Ins | 55 comments

Being Productive

What is more productive than being stuck at home for two days straight with intense kidney stone pain? Why,vlogging, of course! In keeping with my past attempts, I am continuing to try to up the ante in terms of production value. Enter my brother’s amazing (er, expensive) camera and me spending 10 minutes just trying to focus the lens (and still not totally succeeding.) Oh well!

That may or may not be Vampire Diaries paused in the background. NO JUDGING.

To sum up the video for those of you who can’t watch it yet, I feel much, much better (thank you so much for your concern and well wishes!) According to Le Doctor, this means I either passed the kidney stone or never had one to begin with (I am rather skeptical of the latter hypothesis, for obvious reasons.) I’m not super thrilled at the fact that I’ve used up two days of PTO from work, since I’m taking more days off for my trip to Ottawa over Halloween weekend, but there’s not much I can do about that now. What I can do, however, is figure out a cute, creative Halloween costume that is carry-on-able so I can take it with me when I go! Hopefully you guys can help out with that one, since my creativity feels pretty spent at present moment (for what reason though, I couldn’t tell you. Maybe I’m just not as creative as I like to think, hahaha.)

48/365 This Is Not The Enemy
source

In other news, I weighed in this morning but I’m making yet another executive decision NOT to officially report it here since I don’t feel it really counts. Don’t get me wrong, I would LOVE to be able to count it, seeing as how two days of pain, irregular eating, and the inability to, er, hold onto my food (gross!) has brought me not one, not two, but THREE pounds lost. However, I’m not stupid (well, not always, anyway) so I know it’s not a “real” loss. And now that my appetite is finally back, things are sure to go right back to where they were. I’m eager to keep the false hope to a minimum, haha.

Hopefully these fading twinges of pain mean that I can get on track with training for the 15K. I’ve actually decided to follow a training plan FORREALZ (whaaaat?!) So today I’ll see if I’m up to some yoga and tomorrow I’ll be on Thursday of Week 3: 2m + strength training. It feels oddly good to have a set schedule like this! Even though I fully acknowledge I’ll probably be terrible at sticking to it. It’s the thought that counts, right? šŸ™‚

Any halloween costume ideas for me? Remember: needs to be packable, TSA-approved, and awesome. You are all much, much more creative than me soooo… HALP!

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