Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Dream diet

I noticed this on a news board... what an ideal thing to get paid to do. (Though I'm sure the perks beyond the chocolate are small.)

If anyone out there is part of this study, do share details as you progress. :)

Volunteers Needed For Chocolate Study, University of East Anglia

LONDON (Reuters) - Calling all chocoholics: British researchers recruiting volunteers willing to eat a bar of chocolate daily for a year, guilt-free and all in the name of science. The trial starting in June will explore whether compounds called flavonoids found in chocolate and other foods can reduce the risk of heart disease for menopausal women with type 2 diabetes, the researchers said on Monday.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Real Hours

Having a *real* full-time job is quite an adjustment. For the past year, I have been getting up at 7:30am and getting home by 5pm. Now, it's back to a schedule I haven't had probably in five years. I actually have to get up like everyone else around 6:30am and return home before 6pm if I'm lucky. (I know, little violins playing in the background full of insincere pity.)

It's totally normal and I'll get used to it. Right now, however, it's darn weird.

If it weren't for virtual files, I'd have a pile of reports and articles to read that stands taller than me (and that's not too hard). Everything feels laid back because my new boss knows that my first month is going to be slow. Still, there's this unsaid pressure to get up to speed and contribute to meetings. Yikes, what did I get myself into?

Throughout my life, I've shied away from big challenges because I hate failing or letting others down. I fear I've put myself in that situation. Everyone I've worked with has always had incredible confidence and faith in my abilities. But I've been away from serious work for so long, I don't know if I remember how to do any critical thinking. And honestly, the wedding is quite distracting.

My group is very friendly. I just hope I can make them like me and not say anything blunt and stupid that's going to make them realize how geeky and awkward I really am. :p

Saturday, April 19, 2008

I like it!

That was Tim's conclusion as we hopped into the car. It's also so cute to see him excited. We've been tasting cakes this past week, and the last place turned out to be the best.

Cake testing is probably one of the most fun parts of wedding planning (unless you're on a diet). Comparing the three places we've been to, it's incredibly helpful to sit with people who are the actual bakers. They should be able to tell you what's a good idea and what's not rather than just say "yes, we can do that" to everything you ask.

We visited the first cake maker last weekend. When you walk in, there's no question they're in the wedding cake business. That's all they do. We really like having a cream cheese filling between layers of white and chocolate cake. Their cakes are definitely tasty. The problem was the consultant was a young guy who probably has no involvement in the cake making process. We didn't feel he answered questions well if they weren't on the handouts in front of us. My guess he's the office manager and delivery guy.

Tim and I met up for lunch to visit the second place. It's a favorite bakery of mine. I like stopping by for their flakey and crispy palmiers. I've also tasted a few of the sheet cakes which are yummy. Sadly, the wedding cakes were awful. They sweetened everything with simple syrup and the fillings were a bit greasy tasting. My stomach didn't sit well afterwards.

Our third place was a bakery I found using Yelp several months ago. I'm always up for trying new French pastry places. I had bought a sampler box for a lunch party and had decent results. My only fear was that they'd be pricier. I can't totally speak for Tim, but I'm pretty sure that we enjoyed the cakes here more almost immediately.

The samples were wonderfully generous. Unlike the other two bakers, we were given full wedding-size slices. It made it much easier to understand portion size. (Of course, you can't tell from this pictures since we already took some healthy-sized bites.) There was red velvet (cupcake), banana, hummingbird, chocolate ganache, and lemon with blackberry jam. The cakes were pretty dense but delicious. The flavors and texture were well balanced, not oily, dry or too sweet.

We have also been toying with the idea of serving individual desserts rather than slices of cake. So she gave us a chocolate mousse to try. We bought the raspberry mouse to have a fruit test. We've seen pictures of cupcake wedding cakes. They're cute, but a little too casual for us. The individual desserts would be fun for color and variety. The only danger is people taking more than one before everyone's had a chance to get theirs. But it's understand when you taste how yummy they are.

What a breakfast eh?!!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Fair negotiations

Ebay is one of those sites that is a love-hate relationship for me. I think it's a great idea in principal because people can sell used items for more money than if they had to sell it to an antique store. On the other hand, I worry about purchasing stolen items and wonder how much it's caused retail prices to rise so that stores can recoup their theft losses.

The other variable factor is human behavior. I've had many very smooth experiences buying and selling. I've been ripped off once. I've had to return things. It's tricky to know who you can trust and how to fairly deal with people.

This week, I tried to buy a used veil. The title and description said this was an elbow-length, rhinestone-edged veil. It was simple with a little bit of sparkle which is exactly what I'm looking for. The start price was $9.99.

I sent the seller a couple questions which were promptly answered and reassured me the person was organized. I ended up being the only bidder and won the item.

When it arrived, it was clean and in very good condition. When I tried it on, however, I realized that it was longer than elbow-length. For those who don't know veil styles, an elbow-length is just what it sounds like, the bottom edge of the veil should stop around your elbow. That translates as around 30" in length.

This particular veil had a blusher that measured 30", but the back layer (the one that counts) was actually 36" long. Veils between 36" to 38" inches long are called fingertip veils. I checked three different websites to confirm.

So, I wrote the seller back politely alerting them to their listing error and asked to return the veil citing the error and my petite height as the reason. They acknowledged their fault for the error and said they'd make an exception and refund me the purchase price.

Before sending the item back, I wanted to verify the actual refund since I had also paid them $6 for shipping. I didn't feel it fair that I should have to pay for shipping both ways (which costs $4.60 each way) when the reason was not a simple change of heart.

The response was that they would refund me the purchase price plus the cost of shipping *minus* the cost of relisting the item as long as I provide positive feedback. Is it my responsibility to pay for their relisting? It seems to me the error was their fault, so it is not my problem once I return the item. I also checked Ebay's website and found that the basic component of the relisting fee will be credited to them if the item is resold. If that's the case, then they would be getting money from me and Ebay.

I wrote back explaining this as factually as possible (minus the last sentence). I even let them know (if they were already aware) that they will get a credit for the purchase fee they paid to Ebay since I will be returning the item (credit is about 75 cents).

Does this all sound fair? Am I missing something here? I feel like they're trying to take advantage of me or blame me for the return when it was their error in the first place.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

All about me

As I mentioned, my birthday just passed. Since we could celebrate on my birthday, Tim took me out for a nice dinner the night before. Other than some loving acknowledgement of my birthday throughout the day at the wedding, I didn't get anything else related to my birthday.

I whine a little towards the end of the night because I realized that Tim had not given me neither a card nor a gift. I was a little hurt. It didn't have to be some grand gesture, certainly I consider the engagement ring to be his "big" purchase of the year. Still, a small, token gift seemed appropriate to me. I told him of my disappointment and hurt feelings. I couldn't understand why he had done nothing.

In his usual fashion, he shrugged it off as nothing. You have to remember that nothing rattles him be it work deadlines or emergency situations. Sometimes his calm disposition can be frustrating.

When I whined and complained enough, Tim's comment was, "you're going to ruin everything."

His comment made me wonder what he could possibly be talking about. When he observed my confused look, he added, "we going to have that nice dinner with your brother next Friday." (My brother's birthday is close to mine so we decided to taste a more upscale experience.

So does that mean he's holding something back? Or is he counting on paying for my meal this week as my gift?

Since we haven't ever actually been "together" during my birthday I really wanted something special. In the past few years, we've simply been friends during the time of my birthday. While he's always done something fun and unique (treasure hunts leading to books or music), I guess I was thinking he'd make this a more memorable "first" birthday with me. Why didn't he think it important to at least give me a card or a little gift on my actual birthday? Am I being a spoiled brat or is it fair that I feel somewhat cheated in my birthday expectations?

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Still trying to impress

I attended a wedding this weekend. I am a friend of the bride, 5N. It's one of those weddings where a handful of us were, frankly, surprised to be invited. We know the bride through a friend who introduced us to her from occasional dancing get togethers. Honestly, we probably only run into 5N once a year.

The wedding was lovely, though a bit formal compared to ones I've attended the past few years. The ceremony had a live string quartet and a carefully scripted talk by the officiant. We had a reading that explained the expectation of marriage, a moment of reflection as the quartet played a song, a second reading, and then a rose ceremony while Bette Midler's "The Rose" song played.

5N looked *extremely* nervous. Her smile didn't look right as she entered the room. Her movements were all incredibly stiff as if someone had put a steel rod down her back. I worried that her stiffness would stand out in the video and photos. Everything looked great and it would be awful if her own fears flawed the memories of her wedding.

She was totally herself at the reception. Clearly, she could now relax with the ceremony finished. 5N joked that she was counting on us to keep the dance floor moving.

The one funny thing about the wedding is that it turns out the groom is friends with someone I met through speed dating. GF and I actually went on one date and things just fizzled because after three weeks I was still waiting for him to ask me on a second date. (Later, I found out he couldn't understand why I never e-mailed him back. Yes, after four weeks I didn't bother because I was busy dating two other guys.)

He got married last year to a cute girl. She seems rather nice and I'd have to say she is lovely. They're a good fit on the surface because they both play volleyball, are tall, and aren't not intensely career-oriented. He's a nice guy so I'm glad he finally found someone.

GF spotted me and came over to congratulate me and Tim on our engagement. I gave him a hug and congratulated him on his marriage. I made a little small talk with him and his wife but the conversation felt a little tired after a few questions. Not sure why?

So I have to admit, I couldn't help want to make sure he noticed something cool about me. When the dancing started, I danced a couple stand out song with my guy friends. I was looking to show off, just have fun. In the back of my mind, however, I couldn't help wonder if GF was watching. I wanted him to be impressed, to think "wow."

Why do I have these silly, catty feelings? It's harmless. It doesn't affect GF or Tim. It's just one of those times I have a need to feel desirable to men. I'm totally happy and comfortable with Tim, but I guess it's just human nature to be wanted.

Friday, April 11, 2008

On to the next chapter

Whoops, wow I didn't realize it's been two weeks since my last post. But not to fear, I plan to catch you all up in the coming week.

Today is a big day because in a few hours, I will no longer have this computer. It's my last day at my job and I'll be checking out with HR soon. I've been wrapping up all sorts of little projects and administrative things. I've also done my best to transition my work to people on the opposite coast who, frankly, probably don't really care much about my stuff and are likely hoping to pass it off on someone else.

People here at work will be dropping like flies in the coming weeks and months. Already there is another person leaving next month. My counterpart is looking at his options to get out of here sooner than later. Our temporary big boss will be out of here by the end of May. Everyone else is shoring up their resumes and networking. It's time to abandon ship.

I'm all smiles today because I know I will have the next week off. There's plenty of wedding stuff to do but the bigger stuff is already out of the way. Next week will be floral and cake related. In the meantime, we're going to have an awesome going away lunch for me and the person leaving nextr Friday. Then tonight, Tim is going to take me on a "date" to celebrate my next job and birthday! Ah, spring time!