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…)

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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.

The Pros and Cons of Working From Home

So, as you guys know, my new job has altered my life quite a bit. Not in any kind of bad way, kind of the opposite — for once in my life, I absolutely LOVE my job! (Though I don’t scream it from the rooftop toooooo much, since I don’t want a mob of angry government contractors chasing after me with pitchforks for being immodest, haha.)

But even though I seriously love it, it has come with a LOT of changes to my lifestyle. For one thing, I’m busier now than I have EVER been. Which means, as you already know, blogging has had to take a backseat, and progress on my sequel to Terra has been much, much slower than I anticipated. Probably the biggest way that things have changed, however, is that I’m now working from home, which is simultaneously the best and worst thing to have happened.

I’m sure that those of you who have never worked from home probably think I’m crazy for even thinking the word “worst” right now, but just hear me out. There are a lot of pros to not having to go into an office every day, absolutely. But there are quite a few cons as well. Let me ‘splain:

Pro: No alarm clock.

Well, no alarm clock other than the fluffy white schnauzer who wakes me up around 9:30 every morning, that is. But still, it is REALLY nice not having to schedule my morning around how long it’s going to take me to battle DC traffic into the city.

Con: No bedtime.

Of course, the other side of this is that I also don’t have any reason to force myself into bed at night. Which means oftentimes, I’m working late and staying up even later. A 2 AM or later bedtime is not uncommon ’round these parts nowadays.

Pro: I set my own schedule.

Need to go the grocery store? Have a doctor’s appointment? Want to go meet some friends for happy hour? Want to take the schnauzies to the dog park? I can do ALL of that! Which is honestly probably the best part of this whole kit ‘n’ caboodle. I don’t have to schedule PTO if I need to run an errand or take care of something, I can just go do it. I set my own schedule, and as long as I’m getting crap done on a weekly basis, it’s all good in the hood. Now, if only I could actually force myself to make working out part of this schedule o’ mine. I really have NO excuse anymore, other than that this new job hasn’t made me magically hate exercising any less, hahahaha. But hey, at least I’m walking the dogs a lot more!

Con: I am working pretty much non-stop.

So here’s the thing: When I’m not running errands or going to get my car’s safety inspection done or taking the dogs for a walk, I am probably working. I still have NOT figured out a way to shut my brain off from working, even when I really should be “done” for the day. I see a work email notification ping up on my iPhone and I simply MUST CHECK IT.

Nights? Weekends? Fageddaboutit. I have constant, unfettered access to my work email at all times, and I have events and festivals to either attend or work most a lot of the time. Ergo, it really does seem like I am ALWAYS working. It is not uncommon for me to pull my laptop onto my lap first thing in the morning, while still in bed, and not really close it until late at night. I check my phone to make sure there aren’t any new emails right before I go to bed a lot of the time. And it’s not that I do these things because I have to, I know logically that the email will still be there in the morning, that people will be okay if I don’t take care of something OMGRIGHTNOW. But I just can’t help it. It’s a bit of a sickness, really.

One of the tips I got when I was in San Francisco last week for training is to initiate a “laptops down” rule, which I think I definitely need to do. I know this is something I actively need to work on, especially since there are other things happening in my life that I want — and NEED — to devote time to… sigh.

Pro: No more dress code!

Okay, let’s end this on a high note, since I really don’t want anyone to think that this isn’t an awesome situation for me. As mentioned, I sincerely love this job, it’s perfect for me, and I am also still new to working from home, so I’m sure that I’ll get a better handle on things the longer I do it. Plus, there’s still at least one more pretty awesome pro left for me to discuss!

While this is also sort of a con, since my dress code is now pretty much just “pajamas,” I won’t lie, I really, really like not having to think about what I’m going to wear from a business or business casual perspective. Plus, I can do stuff like this now:

And really, having purple and pink hair is a pro that kinda outweighs everything else. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Do you work from home? What are your tips/tricks for establishing a regular schedule and not working ALL THE TIME?

Iron Chef Gretchen

Hey, hey, hey! I hope everyone had a great weekend! I most certainly did, thanks to a myriad of reasons, really, but a big part of that was attending Taste of Georgetown on Saturday!

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I love “Taste of” events because they really appeal to that part of me that is never satisfied only being able to order one thing off a menu. I’m too indecisive! I’d always rather get a bunch of things to share (or at least steal food from my friends’ plates, hehe) because I am greedy like to sample lots of different things.

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In addition to getting to nom on great foods from some of Georgetown’s hottest restaurants, I also participated in a chef showdown challenge at the festival with the Yelp DC Community Manager, Kimberly, and her fiance, Rob!

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It was crazy fun, albeit it SUPER hot (just check out how red my face is in the pics above, hahaha), and I got Sean to come along and play photographer. Each team was paired with a local chef — ours was Chef Bryan from Paolo’s restaurant — and came up with a master chef meal that included our secret ingredient…

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Rhubarb!

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I’d never even eaten rhubarb in anything but a pie before, so it definitely proved challenging to incorporate into a savory meal. Under Chef Bryan’s tutelage, however, we came up with a surf-and-turf plate that my mama would’ve been proud of.

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Drumroll please….

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Ta-da! Not too bad for a butane burner meal, eh?

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We made a red snapper with a raw rhubarb and asparagus slaw on top, and a filet atop a corn and asparagus succotash with red wine rhubarb compote on top. The filet was AWESOME, and the fish turned out great, although I was a little iffy about the use of raw rhubarb in the slaw. It’s just got a very naturally sour/tart flavor, and is really fibrous, so I don’t know if I’m such a fan of it raw. Cooked, though, it’s delicious, and I have so many ideas for incorporating it into savory meals now!

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Unfortunately, I guess the judges agreed with my assessment because we came in second (though the judges said it was super close!) but I still think Team Yelp were all winners that day. It definitely makes me want to start showing off my knife skills (I really am quite proud of my quick-chop prowess!) on a more regular basis. I think between this and watching marathons of Food Network Star, I’ve been bitten by the bug…

If you had a cooking show, what kind of show would it be? Or, as they say on Food Network Star, what would you “Culinary POV” be? I like to think I’d be able to have some sort of Whasian-related hook, but the truth is I actually know how to cook very little Chinese food! Hahaha. Guess I’d actually stick with my healthified comfort food thing.

Extra! Extra! Read All About It!

So remember when I was going through my list of all the crrrrrazy changes that have been going on in my life? You know, stuff like my beautiful niece being born, my super cool big bro getting married, and everything in between? Well, I kinda left one thing out, and it’s actually one of the biggest changes of them all (at least, with regard to affecting me specifically).

See, about a month ago, I started a new job.

And while I’m hesitant to actually say (type?) the words “perfect job” for fear of the karmic retribution for my humblebraggery… that’s kind of what it is. Perfect for me, at any rate. And I think if you just take what you know about me, and lay that against the main functions of this job, you’ll probably agree with me.

Taken straight from the job description:

About you

  • Lives to write; writes to live. You know who you are… pencils down!
  • Has a fire in the belly. Walks through walls. Takes no prisoners. In a word: driven. Even when no one is watching. Especially then.
  • Social connector. You are the hub of your social world. You know everyone. Everyone knows you. The fun one. Diplomatic, too.
  • You reside in Northern Virginia and consider yourself a local expert.

About the job

  • Writing. Write locally compelling newsletters weekly and inspiring reviews daily, as well as persuasive pitches to venue owners and marketing partners.
  • Event planning. Conceptualize, negotiate, plan and execute cool, fun and buzz-worthy (big wow factor!) events/parties.
  • Marketing outreach. Connect with the right local organizations, barter weekly newsletter sponsorships for promotion.
  • Socializing and adventuring. Meet up with folks. Attend civic events. See and be seen. In the scene. Always on.
  • Communication. Be accountable with stellar communication to your peers and those who support you at HQ.

See?!? I mean, granted, some of these points might be bordering on the “toot your own horn” category (I’m pretty sure not everyone knows me), but you see where I’m coming from, right? Let’s line up the pieces:

  • Writing: Even if this blog weren’t enough proof (and in case I hadn’t mentioned it for the 86,000th time), did you know I wrote a book?
  • Event planning: Cue my last two themed birthday parties.
  • Social connections: What, you don’t follow my inane blatherings about food and the Vampire Diaries on Twitter yet?
  • And the cherry on top of this epic life sundae, Northern Virginia: If you guys should learn anything about me, it’s that I am weirdly obsessed with Northern VA. As in, people really do think I’m weird for loving it so much. My own family included.

So what is this magical, splendiforous new company I work for, you ask? Well, here’s a hint:

Adorable schnauzer faces too distracting? Let’s see that from another angle:

You are talking to the brand spankin’ new Northern VA Community Manager for Yelp.com!

Excuse me while I squee a little over that… again. ๐Ÿ™‚

So! That’s the big announcement, one which I have literally been BURSTING at the seams to tell you all about! It’s also the reason why blogging has come to a sad slowdown over the past few weeks, since I have been seriously wrapped up in this new job, and couldn’t even tell you guys about it! Well, the cat’s officially out of the bag now, and I couldn’t be more thrilled!

I am officially the person spearheading everything hot, fresh, and local in Northern VA! It’s a work from home position (wheeee!) that allows me to traverse all across the 703/571, spreading Yelpy cheer far and wide! I get to throw awesome events for local yelpers and the Northern VA Yelp Elite Squad, write the Weekly Yelp newsletter, man the @YelpNoVA Twitter and Yelp NoVA Facebook pages, and, best of all, continue doing what I love best: Write about (and take pictures of) my life… especially all the epic food in it!

So what does this mean for you, my lovely readers? Well, I promise you that I will remain my good old schnauzer-obsessed, Harry Potter-lovin’, ukulele-crooning self. Only, now that it’s officially announced and whatnot, I can finally start blogging about the things I do in relation to my new position (without being sketchy about it, like my ubervague post about the South Moon Under event I attended, hahaha).

In terms of the blog, this means you’ll start seeing a lot more of the usual stuff again — restaurant recaps, recipes, life stories, sad attempts at fitness, even sadder attempts at fashion, and photo smorgasbords — as well as lots of new content, too! I think it’ll prove especially interesting as I (attempt to) navigate through what this new position will have on the whole semi-healthy living blogger thing I’ve got going. It’ll definitely be a challenge having food on the brain 24/7 (as opposed to how it was before, with me only thinking about it, like, 19 hours a day), and it poses some interesting questions.

Like, how will this job affect my healthy living efforts? (DUM DUM DUM!) Will it undo everything I’ve worked for over the past few years? (Ha, probably.) Will it provide me with new ways to balance out my life now that I’m not chained to a 9-5 anymore? (Hopefully!) Your guess is as good as mine! One thing’s for sure: I will definitely be reporting on the trials, tribulations, and good times that come out of this new adventure. This is as new and uncharted for me as it is for you, and personally, I can’t WAIT to see what happens.

Thanks for sticking around to watch things unfold! You can bet your sweet bippy that I’ll be expecting a friend request if you’re on Yelp, and while you’re over there, feel free to check out the official announcement of my Community Manager-ness!

Wellps, guess there’s nothing to do but play myself off now… See you on Yelp!

PS: If this sort of thing sounds like it might be right up your alley too, Yelp is still hiring Community Managers across the country — and the globe! See if there’s an opening in your area here!