Of Mice and Pen

Aloha! Hope everyone is having a great week so far! Ours has been really busy, pretty stressful, but overall still good. Guess those good weekend vibes have kept going into the week, because I’ve been able to mostly maintain a sense of calmness despite the fact that this week is going by suuuper quickly, and I still have lots to get done. (And in spite of the fact that my car maintenance appointment ended up turning into a $700 brake pad replacement. Wheeeeee…)

It does help that I’ve gotten to spend lots of time with the most adorable people in my life, of course!

 

Tuesday was a crazy busy day — work, personal training, and therapy! — but my parents and my sister-in-law came over for dinner, so I got to cuddle up with baby Marnie which was a very nice way to end the day! She’s getting so big and alert! I mean, “big” being a relative term next to our giant toddler, of course, but it’s still really fun to see her growing up. Especially now that we know firsthand how fun she’s going to become!

I had a work event last night (Wednesday), so I had planned on taking the morning off to take Penny to Cox Farms for a mommy meetup at the Fall Festival, but, alas, she had other plans…

Lol. And since she doesn’t nap when she’s at daycare, I try my best to let her catch up when she’s at home. But I still wanted to take advantage of having her with me for the day, so after she woke up (and after a snack that she shared with Daxter, of course), we packed up and headed out!

Our first stop was to Caboose Commons, the new brewery/coffee house next to Mosaic where my friend works — it’s an awesome spot that I definitely can see myself working from often in the future!

 

They have a super cute little seating lounge with a kid’s rocking chair that Penny was super into. Notice how much happier she is sitting in the chair than sitting in her own mother’s lap. -_-

 

And after our stop there, we headed to our favorite play place, nook! They have an awesome little dress up nook set up now with various costumes, and I had a lot of fun dressing Penny up like a little mouse (and a raccoon, but she didn’t like that costume as much, lol.) She loved the slide this time too, and was going down all by herself (backwards, on her stomach)!

 

Our fun adventures totally wiped her out, too, she was snoring in the car within minutes of me strapping her in to go home. Unfortunately, I have not in any way mastered transferring her from her carseat to her crib without waking her up, so it was a short lived nap… which made me feel justified about her long morning nap, at least.

 

We came home, she played for a bit on her own while I got things ready for the evening, and I got to watch her DESTROY some spaghetti & meatballs before I had to skidaddle off to my event (leaving her daddy with bath duty, gahaha.)

 

Today she’s back at daycare and I’m off to work at my coworker’s big party in DC for most of the day. The sad news is that means I only got about 40 minutes with her in total today, since she’ll have long been in bed by the time I get home late tonight. The good news is, according to my daycare app, she’s actually taking a nap right now! So hopefully she should be in a really good mood for her daddy when he picks her up. And, of course, I feel extremely blessed that the days when I don’t get to see much of Penny are so few and far between.

Anyway, all that being said, it’s time to get cracking with the rest of my to-do list, since I’ll be heading into DC shortly. See you guys on the flipside!

Something Wicked This Way Comes

Last night I celebrated an early Halloween with my 2nd Halloween-themed Yelp event since I’ve been in this (totally rad, rocking, still-can’t-believe-it’s-real) job. Soooo many folks on my Elite Squad brought some serious costume game to the table — Shrek & Fiona! Flo from Progressive! Cleopatra and gypsies and pirates, oh my! — and it was a rockin’ good time.

Personally, I decided to design my costume around my latest hair color, and graced the event as none other than Elphaba, aka the wholly misunderstood Wicked Witch of the West! (Elphaba is her name in Wicked — the book and the musical — for those who don’t know. Fun fact: the name is a play off of the intials of L. Frank Baum, the original author of the Wizard of Oz!)

I think the costume was a big hit (be proud of me, guys, I only burst into song once throughout the whoooole party!), but I gotta admit, I really share Elphaba’s pain in wishing desperately for de-greenification. Even after my shower last night, I’m still finding residual green… everywhere. However, given that Halloween is right around the corner, and all things considered, this was a pretty easy costume to pull off, I did document the greenifying process in case anyone wants to try and replicate it for themselves!

I did a little research and found out that the actual makeup they use in the Broadway production of Wicked is from MAC! The product is MAC Chromacake in Landscape Green. Just a little bit of online shopping and — just like magic — I found it!

332A9851.jpg 332A9852.jpg
332A9903.jpg
The chromacake is the main component of this makeup/costume look, of course, but I did need a few other things as well. Luckily, I already owned everything else I needed to complete this look — primer, green eyeshadow, purple eyeshadow (for contouring), and red lipstick!

332A9853.jpg
Primer is the first step, which just happens to also be green. My primer is formulated to counteract redness (I have suuuuper red cheeks!), but doesn’t actually go on green, just to be clear, haha. Anyway, knowing that I was in for a full night of running around at the event, I wanted to make sure the green makeup was able to stay put as much as possible. Then it was just a matter of getting green!

332A9871.jpg 332A9873.jpg
332A9879.jpg 332A9886.jpg
In order to apply the chromacake, you just add a tiny bit of water and paint it on. It’s like watercolor! The more water you use, the less concentrated the color and consistency. I used a little too much water at first, so as you can see, it took several layers. Make sure to let the makeup dry in between each application!

332A9909.jpg
Once the final layer of green is dry on your face, you can apply additional makeup. I used a green eyeliner stick to line the inside rim of my lower eyelid, and a shimmery dark green shadow on top. I also did an exaggerated winged eye using black liquid eyeliner and add false eyelashes later (not pictured in these photos though.)

I also used purple eyeshadow to contour my cheeks — adding some to the hollows of my cheeks, and around my forehead and chin line to make my face shape a little more enhanced. When you paint your whole face green, is loses a lot of its natural dimension, so I highly recommend this step.

332A9911.jpg
Finally, I did a bright red lip to finish off the look. In the musical, Elphaba’s makeup is actually done with a dark green lipstick on the lips, but I didn’t want to A) buy another product I’d only use once and B) you KNOW I love a good red lip. 😉

332A9893.jpg
Once the face is done, it’s time to paint up the rest of you! Neck, ears, chest, hands, and arms. I didn’t do as many layers on my hands and arms since, well, it takes a loooong time to paint your whole body with a foundation brush. I’m just saying.

Once you’re all painted up (and down and all around), just toss on the rest of your ensemble! Again, this was using clothing items I already owned (except the hat). I wore a black dress, black tights, black booties (from Seychelles), and, of course, my witch’s hat! My one tip is to PUT YOUR TIGHTS BEFORE YOU PAINT YOUR HANDS GREEN. Just take my word on that one, k?

So there you go! Green Gretchen, for all the world to see. I think the general idea behind this makeup would also work for a Hulk or She-Hulk costume, Shrek or Fiona (as two of my Elites did last night!), Poison Ivy, a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, the Green Giant, or, of course, other green thing you can think of. Just be prepared to take multiple showers to get it all off.

Even though Elphaba may be gone for now, though, the witchiness of this week is not over quite yet! Tomorrow Sean and I head down to Orlando, FL for the trip of a lifetime! We’re meeting my sister, bro-in-law, and niece to visit Universal Studios and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Disney World, and then the two of us head out on a 3-day cruise out of Port Canaveral over the weekend to celebrate Sean’s big 3-0!

Stay tuned to my Instagram if you want to keep up with our Floridian adventures, otherwise I’ll be seeing you after a week of Butterbeers, Bernie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans, Minnie Mouse ears, endless eats, sunshine, and happiness. 🙂

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.

IMG_2461 IMG_2466

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!

IMG_2462

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.

IMG_2468

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

IMG_2470
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.

IMG_2477

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!

IMG_2482

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.

IMG_2490
IMG_2489IMG_2493

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.

IMG_2498
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.

IMG_2497

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!

IMG_2501
Lovebirds.

IMG_2537

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.

IMG_2511IMG_2512

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

IMG_2509

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.

IMG_2534 IMG_2535

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!

>IMG_2525

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!

IMG_2539IMG_2541
IMG_2540IMG_2542

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”.

IMG_2544

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.

IMG_2548IMG_2549

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. 🙂

I’m Back, Eh?

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

IMG_2478

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.

IMG_2495

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. 😉

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:

IMG_2502IMG_2503
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?

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? 🙂

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!