Late night thoughts

Last night I slept terribly. It was a million degrees in my room. Except not really. In reality, it was cool enough that the a/c wouldn’t turn on unless I set the thermostat at 66. And even that wasn’t cool enough. Eventually I turned off the a/c and just opened the window. It was only moderately cooler outside, but between the breeze and the fan pointed directly at me, I eventually cooled off enough to sleep a bit… before I woke up sweating again. Thanks pregnancy hormones.

So, as it turns out, I was awake most of the night. And my thoughts turned, as thoughts tend to do in the middle of the night, to life. I did a lot of thinking about a lot of things last night, but upon reflection this morning I realized most of my thoughts were about my career.

If you’ve been following the blog for a while you know that I’m an attorney. What you probably don’t know (because I’ve been a terrible blogger for the last 22 months or so) is that I’m not a practicing attorney anymore. I did let you all know that going back to work when Stella was tiny was really really difficult for me. And I let you know that my law firm was awesome and allowed me to work an 80% schedule instead of full time. What I didn’t let you know what that even that wasn’t enough. Practicing law in the private sector is hard, y’all, and when you add an infant into the mix the billable hour, marketing, and publication expectations become downright overwhelming. In the end, though, it was the stress and another big life event that made me reevaluate the kind of life I wanted to lead. As it turns out as much as I loved practicing law (and I really did), I didn’t love working 50+ hours a week (yes, even at 80%), still not having time to complete all my work, and having no time to spend with my family or with myself.

So, in February I started looking for a new job. A job outside of the legal field. Coincidentally, at about the same time I started job searching, I got a call from the HR director my alma mater. She was letting me know that there was an opening as an investigator in their Equal Opportunity Office and wanted to see if I might be interested.  My legal practice was focused mainly on employment and higher education law so investigating claims of employment discrimination in an higher education institution was kind of perfect. Long story short, I was interested, I interviewed, I got the job, and for the last 7 months or so that’s what I’ve been very happily doing.

I love not being in the private sector. I took a pay cut to move, but I have tons of free time, lots of vacation days (I’m on Fall Break right now!), and great benefits. So, why was I up all night thinking about my career? Because I’m having a career upheaval again. Two positions that I’m VERY interested in have opened up at the university where I work. I’ve applied for both, interviewed for one and will probably be selected to interview for the other. Here’s the problem: I’m not sure which one I really want. The positions represent different future career paths and I’m having a really hard time deciding which path I want to follow.

I know that I’m the only one who can decide which way to go. I just needed to get things down on paper (or rather, on screen) to help myself think things through. Either way, or neither way, 2014 is shaping up to be a year of HUGE change for me.

Who interrupts my slumber?

Confession time: when Stella was born I never really had a period of sleep deprivation. I mean, for the first three weeks of her life the days and nights ran together with really no separation at all, but I slept whenever she did. So, while I may not have known whether it was 5pm or 5am, I wasn’t actually that sleepy, just confused.

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Once she got her days and nights sorted out, it was smooth sailing. Sure, she woke up at night, but she went back to sleep quickly and I just napped with her during the day to make up for lost sleep. Then, miraculously, when she was about 6 weeks old, she started sleeping through the night. There have been a few hiccups since then. She doesn’t like sleeping unswaddled and now prefers sleeping with us to sleeping alone. Generally, though, Stella loves sleeping as much as we do.

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Fast forward to today. Stella is six months old and I think I’m finally getting a taste of that infamous newborn sleep deprivation. Today is morning two of me waking up after only getting three hours of sleep a night. I know, I know it’s only two nights. But, seriously. This sucks.

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I’m too tired to think of a clever ending or even just a conclusory sentence, so I’ll just end with a question. Anyone have any idea why my formerly sleep loving baby has suddenly decided sleep is the devil and can only happen in hour long increments during the night?

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Chai Tea Lattes

In the fall and winter, I like spicy teas. And by spicy I mean like cinnamon and nutmeg not like jalapenos. Anyway, during this time of the year my go to afternoon/late morning Starbucks drink is a Chai Tea Latte. One day last week, I received some very disturbing news.

Apparently, the Chai Tea Latte doesn’t actually have chai tea in it.

That’s right. There’s no chai tea in the chai tea latte. I’ll let that sink in.

I discovered this when I asked a pretty confused looking barista (baristo? what’s the masculine version?) if I could have my latte without sweetner. He responded that I couldn’t because they use chai flavored syrup to make the chai tea latte. I was speechless. And confused.

Anyway. After some discussion with my local baristas (what’s the plural? why is this word so hard?), I figured out that the way to order a chai tea latte that is actually made of chai tea is to request a brewed tea misto. It’s hard, needlessly confusing, and apparently a secret, so I thought I’d share.

Good luck and enjoy your “real” chai tea latte.

A weekend in Asheville

I spent last weekend in Asheville, North Carolina. It was my first time there, but it won’t be my last.

Before I left a co-worker said “Oh you’ll love Asheville. It’s full of hippies.” And she was right. Asheville is full of my people.

That has absolutely nothing to do with why I was in Asheville. It’s just an interesting aside that Asheville is full of hippies. My experience living in the Appalachians involved a distinct lack of hippies. Hm.

Anyway.

I went to Asheville with a cousin (really with 5 cousins), my mom, my sister, and my niece and nephew to go to a Fiber Festival (for those less into “fiber” it was a yarn festival). Apparently this one is kinda a big deal; it even has it’s own website.  Despite the fact that this thing was essentially an arena full of yarn, it was pretty awesome. The kids (all 4 of them) loved the animals and I was too overwhelmed by the all the yarn to buy anything.

The youngest festival attendant thought the sheep were hilarious

Baby Alpacas are sooo cute

The big attraction, though, was not the fiber festival. It was the Biltmore.

If I had walked to the top of the hill before the sun started setting, this  would be a better picture. 

I had so much fun there! Even with 4 kids who were sleepy, the Biltmore was awesome. I can’t wait until I can go back and spend the entire day there.

I’ll leave you with the other big attraction of the weekend.

The Mountains.

Ah. The mountains in fall. 

Cold Brew Coffee

A few weeks ago a friend of mine told me about cold brew coffee. She told me about how easy it is and how awesome it tastes. I was intrigued, so while I was on my vacation a couple of weeks ago, I gave it a try.

It was ahh-mazing.

I used the New York Times recipe. It takes some time (I let it sit overnight) but it is worth it. Basically, you just put coffee grounds into water and let it sit for a while…

I used mason jars.

In a few hours (or overnight) you’ve got coffee concentrate. To make it drinkable, you filter it, dilute it with equal parts water, and warm it up.

The filtering process

I wish I had a pic of me enjoying the finished product to show you… but I was too bust enjoying the finished product to take a picture!

So take my word for it, this coffee is great. Give it a try.

Pumpkin Spice Latte

I’ve made no secret of my love for Starbucks, but I generally don’t like the syrupy sweet specialty drinks. I make an exception every fall, or as I like to call it Pumpkin Spice Latte season. Of course, I make it my own by ordering a pumpkin spice flavored cafe au lait. In starbucks parlance, what is a pretty simple drink (coffee, milk, and pumpkin spice syrup), becomes a 10 step ordering process which makes me feel kinda like a giant douche bag. And no one likes to feel like that.

So you can imagine how excited I was to find a tweet from Greenderlla with a link to a homemade pumpkin spice latte. I tried it out yesterday morning and I have to say, it’s pretty freaking delicious!

Click through the link for the full recipe, but there are only like 5 ingredients in this recipe:

Milk (any kind will do–I used vanilla soy)

Pumpkin puree

Pumpkin pie spice

Agave nectar (you could use honey too)

Vanilla extract (I omitted because of the vanilla soymilk).

It was super easy to make. All you do is combine all the ingredients and whip them together. I used the whisk attachment for my stick blender (for the first time!) and was surprised to learn that it makes some pretty awesome froth.

The best thing about this recipe, other than it’s complete deliciousness, is how cheap it was. I had all the ingredients other than pumpkin puree, so basically I only spent like 88 cents more than I would have for my regular homemade coffee.

Have a delicious Sunday!

Earth Week: Happy Earth Day!

It’s finally here. Earth Day! Yay!

I’ve always been a fan of Earth Day. When I was a kid, it was the day/week when our school projects focused on conservation, recycling, and community clean-up. I mean actual community clean up. This was the time of year when we made it a point to clean up all the trash that had collected around the community throughout the year. As I got older, it became less about learning about saving the environment and a bit more commercial. It wasn’t until college that I started volunteering for community clean up projects again. I’m not entirely sure why I enjoy picking up litter so much, but it just makes me feel really awesome.

Lately, while I still love Earth Day and the focus it puts on the environment, it seems a little commercial. There’s all the Earth Day deals, like free coffee at Starbucks. Disillusionment with Earth Day has been all over my twitter feed (follow me!) and one of my favorite blogs, The Green Phone Booth, also posted about this topic.

So all this made me think: Is Earth Day overrated? Does it still serve it’s purpose of drawing attention to our environmental issues? And, most importantly, do I sound like Carrie Bradshaw right now? Cause I’m not really okay with that.