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Posted on Mar 12, 2014 in Dear Diary, Food | 3 comments

Whirlwind Week

Oh what a week, what a week, what a mighty fine week!

When I last left you, I was on my way to not-quite-sunny-but-wonderfully-temperate San Francisco for a week of Yelptastic shenanigans with the other 150+ Community Managers from ’round the globe. We called it #CMWeek14 and, as you can imagine, it was just as awesome as you’d think.

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1. Goodies from the hotel welcome bag; 2. Beer + dark chocolate sea salt popsicle at the welcome party

There was a lot of learning, waaaaayyyy too much eating, a decent amount of me trying not to be the awkward “new kid” in front of so many seasoned Yelp vets (obviously I failed at that one, ahaha), and just generally a whole lot of good times.

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1. Sushiritto: IT EXISTS; 2. Personalized latte from the Yelp barista

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, I am extremely blessed to have this job. I mean, to not only be able to do things that I love everyday, but to work with such amazing, talented, creative, and awe-inspiring individuals to boot? Those of you who are Yelp Elite Squad members in other states (maybe even countries?) know exactly what I’m talking about.


My Regional Team: NC, DC, MD, PA, and VA in the hooooouse!

Our days pretty much consisted of nonstop sessions, group lunches and dinners, and then me being dragged into the party hardy fray after all of that. Don’t get me wrong, it was a BLAST, but I rarely go that hard on my own turf, let alone with a wonky time difference thrown into the mix. The night we took over a karaoke bar was 100% worth it alone, but believe you me, I suffered afterwards.

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In fact, it seems like the second I set foot back on northern Virginia soil, my body was like, “BWAHAHAHA. AND NOW I SHALL HAVE MY REVENGE.” I got sick, and I got sick harrrrrd. Maybe it’s just the symptoms of CM week withdrawal, but it feels more like bubonic plague.

Of course, the train never stops rolling these days, so I didn’t let a little thing like being on my deathbed stop me from pulling off another swell Yelp Elite Event! On Sunday, just two days after I got back from SF, was Yelp’s Social Petworking!



Since having Daxter at an event has pretty much been my goal from the very beginning, it wasn’t too hard for me to rally for this one. That said, I’ve pretty much spent every other moment — both waking and sleeping — in bed, trying to shake this dang plague.

And why is it so important that I will myself back to health? Because tomorrow I’m off AGAIN! This time, it’s back to Macon, GA for my niece Mia’s FIRST BIRTHDAY! (Do you guys remember when SHE WAS BORN?! Yeah, an entire YEAR HAS PASSED SINCE THEN. Crazy.)

Life, man! It’s happening! Oy!

Anyway, that brings you all back up to speed, and with this next trip being hopefully a little less pedal-to-the-medal (I can’t imagine Mia wanting to go balls to the wall on her first birthday, but you never know…) I’ll be able to get back into the groove with blogging, eating, weight loss, and all that good stuff.

On a related note, I gave up potatoes for Lent this year, so let’s see how that goes, shall we?

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Posted on Jan 30, 2014 in Dear Diary | 15 comments

Investing in Me

I have never been what most would call “frugal.” I am not thrifty, I am not a couponer, I am not a price-comparison shopper, I am not a budgeter. I am, to the endless annoyance and bewilderment of my far more financially responsible sister, one of those people that just buys stuff.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to be tacky or insensitive or bragging about my privilege or anything like that, I’m just being honest. I recognize that I’m very fortunate to be in a position where I can buy most of the stuff that I want without having to plan for it — and, of course, I’m not talking about impulse-buying $1000 handbags or giant plasma screens or any huge ticket items like that. I’m just talking about things like the sushi dog plushie I ordered off of Etsy, or my Stitch Fix (and BirchBox… and Julep…) subscription, or the two pairs of Seychelles shoes that I purchased off Amazon last night.

So, yes, I am very fortunate to be in a place right now where, between my full-time job, my book sales, my blog income, and various other projects (like the occasional photo gig or shooting weddings with Ben), I do have a bit of disposable income. And while it has been important for me to have that buffer, not so that I can shower myself with gifts but so I can afford things like Daxter’s most recent trip to the emergency vet, I’ve recently (or, rather, finally) come to the conclusion that my money could most definitely be better well-spent.

I’m not much of an investor. I mean, I have my 401(k), and I have a Roth IRA set up, and now that I work for Yelp I have some stock option stuff that I still don’t fully understand, but I’ve never devoted too much of my time to figuring out where to invest my money. Most of my extra money ends up going into my savings account, and I’ve always been fine with the 0.004% dividend or whatever I get from that every month, haha. And while, as I get older, I’m sure that being financially-savvy and investing my money wisely will become more of a priority for me, at this specific time in my life, there’s really only one thing that I think I need to concentrate my investments in: myself.

The past year has included a lot of awesome stuff in the life department. I landed a true dream job, I wrote a book that, at least according to the Amazon reviews thus far, isn’t terrible, I’m in a great relationship, I have an awesome family that I am obnoxiously close to, fabulous friends… life’s pretty good. So, unlike the first time I started on this health and weight loss journey, when a lot of those other things were pretty much at their lowest, I’m in a pretty amazing place. Which is why concentrating on my weight loss, concentrating on breaking those terrible habits, instituting some good ones, and generally finding that balance I so desperately crave, is finally a priority again.

I’ve always been a big talker. I talk a lot about all the things I want to be do, the experiences I want to have, and the ways I want to improve myself, but I’ve never been particularly great at follow-through. Like, I want to go hot air ballooning and I want to visit Japan outside of Narida airport and I want to finally eat at Toki Underground, but I never make plans to actually do any of those things. And so, beyond what I’m doing to improve my health and lose weight, I’m in a place where I also want to do all the other things for myself I always talked about doing. And so, for once, I am.

Which is why I finally bit the bullet, and decided to get LASIK back in October.

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And is also why two days ago I got lingual braces.

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You’re welcome for that extremely flattering shot of the inside of my mouth.

I actually had braces back when I was 12/13, but once I got to college stopped wearing my retainer (sorry mom and dad!) and, well, you know how it goes. And while my teeth are not in the worst condition, my top teeth have always bothered me. Some people may be quick to say that I don’t “need” braces, and while that’s technically true because it’s not like my teeth don’t work, it’s something I’ve been wanting to fix for a very long time:

EYEphone Outtake

Ignoring the rest of the bizarre photo (don’t ask), this is a good example showing the off-kilterness of my teeth. So I got lingual (behind the teeth) braces, just on top. My bottom teeth are also kind of messed up, but the orthodontist wanted me to get a tooth extracted and all sorts of craziness, plus you can’t even see them when I smile and I totally admit that this is primarily a vanity thing soooooo… yeah. And my teeth hurt crazy bad and my tongue is super pissed at me for putting metal all up in my mouth, but on the bright side, eating is extremely difficult right now so this should be awesome for my diet. #silverlining

But here’s where my original point about money comes full-circle — finally! — because obviously when you’re talking about stuff like metal brackets in your mouth and laser eye surgery, you’re not talking nickels and dimes. You’re talking thousands and thousands of dollars. But, as I said before, it’s not like I had really been spending most of my money on particularly significant things (Daxter emergencies aside, of course). And this kind of stuff? It is significant, at least to me. Because it is spending money ON me.

Getting LASIK is already the BEST money I could have possibly spent on myself. I know I owe you a thorough post about what getting LASIK was like, but for now I’ll just say that it was totally, completely, 100% worth it. If you’re feeling impatient, you can check out my Yelp review of The Eye Center for a more detailed look at the actual process, but I promise I will update you all here soon.

And there it is! As my sister pointed out when I was speaking with her, I got my LASIK in 2013, and I’m doing my braces in 2014, so let’s start taking bets now on what ridiculously expensive thing I do for myself in 2015, eh? Personally, I’m gunning for a week-long trip back to Harry Potter World (the Diagon Alley expansion opens this summer!!!) or… something else. ๐Ÿ˜‰

In what ways have you invested/are you investing in yourself? It doesn’t have to be monetarily, that’s just the direction I took this post in. Could be money, could be time, could be effort… After all, the things I’m doing to improve my eating habits, exercise habits (kind of…), and overall health are big investments in myself as well!

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Posted on Dec 31, 2013 in Blogging, Dear Diary | 7 comments

2013 Close Out

Ahoy-hoy, friends!

I hope everyone had a baller Christmas and holiday season! Mine was unsurprisingly awesome, thanks in large part to this little Santa Baby being around this year:

I know I swore that I wouldn’t become one of those aunties that is obsessed with a child that I didn’t even pop out, but, I mean, c’mon! She’s pretty cute, right? And you know what’s even cuter? Stuff like this:

It’s like looking straight into the future if Sean and I ever decide to cook up a (double) Whasian baby of our own, hahahahahahaha.

Yep, Mia’s first Christmas was a rousing success, even if I did go a liiiiittle bit overboard with presents this year (even more so than in years past). But hey, it IS the giving season, after all, isn’t it? Everyone ’round the Powell Family Christmas tree was very generous this year — I got a PS Vita from my brother, amazingly adorable cocktail plates from my sister-in-law Taylor, a bread machine from my sister (IT. IS. AWESOME.) and Sean got me an iPad MINI! Funny story, actually…

So, being the Christmas nutter that I am, I may or may not have been bugging Sean on an almost daily basis as to what he was getting me for Christmas. And, true to his nature, his response each and every time was “Snowman poop.”

For reference, this is what he meant:

Thinking he had, of course, been joking the entire time, I opened my gift from him, eager to see what it was. And it was… snowman poop.

Yep, an entire professionally shrinkwrapped bag full of marshmallows. I was… thrilled. But, of course, since Sean is a trickster of the trickiest kind, he had actually hidden the iPad mini inside the marshmallows. And of course Ben got the whole thing on camera, hahaha. So sneaky…

Anywho! So yes, Christmas was wonderful! My December was also filled with plenty of Yelpy holiday goodness, so, for those who are wondering, the job is absolutely just as awesome as ever.

And tonight, the holiday festivities continue with a classy New Year’s double date with my good friends Lara & her husband Dan! Then tomorrow it’s… 2014! Hot damn, I know how cliche it is to say, but this year REALLY flew. Guess that’s what happens when you have a job you love, eh? Not to mention the constant looming pressure of trying to get a sequel out while people still remember the first book, ahahaha. Either way, 2013 has definitely been good to me (though, granted, not good to this blog… ehehe… sorry).

I hope that you all have an incredible New Year — no matter how you choose to celebrate it — and I can’t wait to see what the next year brings! I have some DEFINITE plans to get back on the health bandwagon (I’ve let loose a bit much over the past few months and I am really feeling it) so hopefully that will help me get back on the blog train, too.

Onward & downward, eh?

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Posted on Dec 12, 2013 in Uncategorized | 7 comments

The Past 4 Months, As Told By My Hair

WARNING. WARNING. PHOTO OVERLOAD APPROACHING.

So actually, after publishing that last post, I realized it’s not really fair for me just to pop in with a hi, hello, here’s a new recipe, kthxbye, now is it? I mean, you guys need CONTEXT for what I’ve been doing for the past few months, don’t you? Well, even if you don’t, I’m going to give it to you, so there. After all, You’re up to date on the fact that I got LASIK back in October (it’s AWESOME, in case you were wondering), but other than that, I’ve been terribly lacking in details. Well, here’s a brief recap! Fair warning, though my life is like 85% Yelp now.

Powell Family Reunion over the summer

My friends Lara’s and Aileen‘s weddings in September!

Visiting my sister and niece in Macon, GA in October

Yelp’s HallowMEME Elite Event at the State Theatre for Halloween (can you guess which Hipster Disney Princess I was?)

Briefly met celebrity chef Mike Isabella in November (spoiler alert: we did NOT become best friends and he’s kiiiind of a dbag…)

Carly + Alex Leaves

Shot engagement pics for the enchanting Carly and her fiance, Alex

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Threw a superhero-themed birthday bash for my dad’s 60th cakeday!

And, most recently, threw Yelp’s Ho-Ho-Holiday Party Elite Event!

Oh, and just in case you haven’t been able to see in these photos, or haven’t been keeping track via Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, here is a specific timeline of what my hair has gone through over the past few months. Because I like to have a chronicle of these things, and also since, you know, that’s what this blog is REALLY all about. ๐Ÿ˜‰

I feel like the last time I checked in on the coiffure-front might have been when my hair looked like this:

Buuuut that was back in… August. Soooo, eventually all that blue-pink-purple hotness faded out, and I ended up finding a new hairdresser/soulmate in Linh from Be Scene Hair Studio in Bethesda. And back in early October, he turned my punked out, turned up hair into this:

Mmmm, ombre…

Of course, as I’ve now had a taste for the wonders of dramatically colored hair (and because I can get away with it now due to my rocksome job with Yelp), eventually I had to have MORE.

So now my hair looks like this:

HAHAHAHAHAHA, just kidding! That was just phase one in getting it to look like THIS:

Oooor, if you put me in a photobooth at a Yelp event and turn the flash on, it looks like I’m wearing a ridiculous purple wig:

Bahahaha.

Regardless of what particular shade it looks like in whatever the current light situation is, I love it, love it, LOVE IT, and I’m pretty sure I’m never going to stop. Now, that said, I’m taking suggestions on what color I should go for next. I mean, it’s kind of big decision, trying to figure out what shade should I end up kicking off 2014 with! So feel free to leave a comment with your choice du jour, and have an amaaazing night.

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Posted on Jul 5, 2013 in Dear Diary | 10 comments

Farmer Gretchen

Yep, you read the correctly. Last week I took a little foray into farm life.

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Well, lavender farming, that is.

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Hehehe.

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My friend Rachel had a deal for entry to Seven Oaks Lavender Farm, so last Friday we headed off to the farm, which is about an hour southwest of Northern VA. The drive is VERY pretty, and we thought it’d be a fun place to take some pictures (in addition to cutting some lavender!).

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We were right! The actual area with lavender bushes is actually quite small, so that was a smidge disappointing, but we still had fun clipping lavender and enjoying the site. The entire farm smelled absolutely INCREDIBLE right from the get-go. Mmmm.

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We weren’t the only ones enjoying the sights and smells, either! In addition to the families making their way through the lot (lots of moms with their daughters — super cute!), Seven Oaks raises adorable little bunnies you could pet, there was a Boston Terrier on watch, and…

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BEES!!!

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Oh man, there were bees ERRRRRVERYWHERE. They pretty much ignored us the entire time, so it was mainly fine, but every now and then there was a super shiny big black one that got a little too close and scared the living daylights outta me. Whoosh.

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Thankfully, I survived, and we still ended up with a very nice selection of lavender clippings to take home with us. We also got to peruse the farm’s lavender shop for a bit, which was really nice (and blessedly air conditioned!).

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We didn’t end up purchasing anything, but it was really interesting to see all the cool things that they use lavender for! There was everything from lavender cupcakes to sachets for your dresser to dryer packs to tags to affix to your dog’s collar. They even had lavender granola!

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It was a great way to spend some time enjoying “real” Virginia — complete with farmlands and mountain backdrops and the like. I definitely recommend it, especially if you’ve got a little girl — as long as she isn’t allergic to bees! ๐Ÿ™‚

Sean and I are off to IRELAND tonight (squeeee!) so I’ll be fairly incommunicado for the next 10 days — though, given the infrequency of my blogging lately, you probably won’t even notice, hahaha. At any rate, I am super excited and will hopefully come back with lots of glorious photos of the Irish countryside, and a belly full of more shepherd’s pie than I can handle. See you on the flipside!

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