Wednesday, May 26

One last thing on the big birthday...

A big thank you for all the facebook messages, text message, tweets and calls on the big day!

Also, Ben & co. produced some pretty fabulous gifts in honor of my birth & graduation:

 From Ben:
A kindle!!

As I might have won a prize in 4th grade for reading the most books (thanks Mrs. Z for making me stand out as the COOLEST kid in the class..urg)..I think this might be the perfect present!

I've already downloaded a bunch of free books from Amazon and am excited that I won't have to lug actual books around on the subway anymore!

(also.. thanks to google images for this neat generic photo of a kindle..)

Ben also bought me a necklace made by our friend from accessories by ash ! It's nice having talented friends..

And can't forget my fabulous presents from Ben's Mom & Dad:
My shiny red Le Creuset pan!!
I only have one picture of my holding the pan & grinning like an idiot..which I refuse to post online! So instead, here is (yet another) generic google image.

My pan is actually a little more oblong, and has a cute matching lid..but you get the idea. 

It's cherry red and sooo beautiful!

I told Ben that it's also a present for he will now be the recipient of delicious baked pasta dishes and the like. 

He was excited until  he remembered that we don't have a dishwasher...we have him! Poor thing!

Since it was also my graduation this week, Ben's parents also sent me a really pretty glass earrings/necklace set. Or maybe the jewelry was for my birthday and the pan was for graduating? 

Either way, this week  has been a good one for presents!

Birthday roundup..

Perhaps more introspective posts are still to come, but as of now, I'm feeling pretty happy about turning 25.

Some of it is that as I get older, the numbers themselves seem less scary.
When I was 14, 25 or 26 seemed really old.

I remember thinking that it was sad that my 8th grade Language Arts teacher was so desperate for a husband, especially since she was kind of old to still be single.

Of course, poor Ms. L.A.was probably only 27 or 28 at the time. Not exactly over the hill by any means.
And as I slowly inch closer to 27 or even 28, it just doesn't seem that old.

Also, it's pretty scary to think that at 14 I was convinced that all 20-something women were aggressively and anxiously searching for a man to marry.
While I think it was definitely true for Ms. L.A.--who by the way is now Mrs. L.A. courtesy of another teacher at the middle school--she could just have been searching for Ms. Right, or totally uninterested in a long-term relationship.

So now I've reached the quarter century mark, and I feel hopeful.
Still trying to figure out what to do about the job situation (more on that later), how to plan a wedding, and all sorts of other crazy things..but I'm pretty darn hopeful that everything will work out.

I also received some great birthday presents. So really, what's not to like about hitting the big 25?

Tuesday, May 25

Happy birthday to me...and my new toys!

25 years old today..

Although my mother likes to remind me that I wasn't actually born until 2 I guess I'm celebrating a few  hours early!

Pretty excited about my birthday/graduation party this weekend and some much-needed friend/family time.

Thursday, May 20

Job hunting etiquette?

I have come to a realization..I think I need a job-hunting guru. Or job fairy. Or something.

I think I'm doing a decent? decent-ish? good? job of staying positive and being proactive as I continue my hunt for a full-time position.

But sometimes I have questions or need advice, and I end up asking the same people over and over (sorry Ben!).

For example, is it bad form to apply for multiple positions at the same organization?
Does it make it better/worse if the applications are going to different divisions?

Do I seem unfocused if I do that?
Desperate for any job?
Or simply practical about my interest in a variety of opening?

I need a job guru!

You know you've been reading too many bad thrillers when...

...You see this job offer:

Chief Integration Officer
Millennium Promise
New York, New York 


Wednesday, May 19

Mini grapefruit & olive oil cupcakes with candied pistachios

A few months ago I made a olive oil and blood orange cake for Ben's birthday. 
It was super duper delicious and I've been meaning to make it again.

Unfortunately the blood orange growing season does not correspond with my wants and desires..and blood oranges are loooong gone in NYC!

So when a friend asked for some type of tasty citrus cake for her birthday, I decided to adapt the blood orange cake into some sort of grapefruit cupcake. 

The original recipe (here) turned into this:

For the cake
2 medium (red) grapefruits
½ cup whole milk
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 large eggs
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1½ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon sea salt

For the topping (optional)
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup raw pistachios

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease muffin tin with olive oil, or set out clean silicone cupcake holders (which is what I used).

Once all the preheating and greasing is done, grate the 2 grapefruits to get zest. Put aside in a little cup or bowl. Then supreme the grapefruit over a large bowl. I let the actual pieces fall into the bowl and reserved most of the juice for further squeezing into a measuring cup.  It was a little interesting (read: HARD) to supreme the grapefruits, but not impossible despite my relative inexperience. Once the fruit segments are in the bowl, measure the juice (you should have about 1/4 cup) and then add around a 1/2 cup of whole milk. Add the olive oil, eggs, and sugar to the juice/milk mixture and stir well to combine. 

In a separate bowl combine the dry ingredients, and then mix in the wet ingredients, zest and grapefruit segments. Stir until batter is smooth.

Fill the muffin tin or baking cups around 1/2-3/4 full and pop them in the oven for 16-18 minutes. I know that my oven cooks a little unevenly and dries food out quickly, so you might have to tweak cooking times. 

While the cupcakes are cooling, make the topping:
Put the sugar in a saucepan set over medium heat. Cook until the sugar is dissolved and has turned into a dark syrup. Make sure it doesn't burn or get too hot!

While  you're creating your syrup, you can throw the pistachios into the microwave for about 45 seconds to get them a little toasty. Once they're toasted, toss them into the sugar syrup and mix them around.

Working really quickly, spoon a few pistachios and the now caramel-like sugar onto the top of each grapefruit cupcake. It will harden into a brittle like substance almost at once. 

Once all of the cupcakes are covered, pop them into tupperware containers. If you let the cupcakes sit out for a bit (like overnight) the sugar will soften back into a syrup and will sink into the cupcakes keeping them nice and moist. 
I wish I had better pictures..but here is what they looked like:

Tuesday, May 18

Weekend round up: Al Di La Brunch, marathon babysitting, & 4 mile walk to the street fair

This weekend was packed!

Saturday morning I had a birthday lunch for a friend (happy belated birthday D) @ Al Di La.
I was really excited that D picked Al Di La to celebrate, because it’s been on my must-try list for ages.
Like since my second week in Brooklyn..!

It was worth the wait—although I do wish that I could have tried more things on the menu. Guess Ben and I will just have to save our pennies and come back for a full dinner. I had a (stop reading now mom & dad) delicious pork belly sandwich and a few bites of D’s pasta. Another friend, J, ordered some type of dandelion and white bean salad that also looked delicious. I didn’t get to try a bit though since he’s a vegetarian and I thought it would be bad form to eat some of his food and then have nothing to offer in return. A bottle of Prosecco shared between 7 people kept the lunch hopping along, and then a nice long walk to Blue Marble (cinnamon ice cream=amazing) finished off the rather decadent morning.

Then off to Park Slope to babysit for baby M. Luckily, Ben was able to join me at around 9 with offerings of Vietnamese food and The Wire. When baby M’s parents came home at around 1:30 Ben and I were so wired from staying up late that we ended up going back to our place for some reading.

I know, we’re so cool. We babysit together and then read late at night.

Sunday I made some tasty but kind of weird looking egg/chorizo/potato hash and then we walked over to 5th avenue in Brooklyn for a street fair. It was a really far walk..and a really far walk back!

See!? :

Ok, so it doesn't look that far on the little map. But it was super hot out and I was in sandals!
After several hours made it home with only a few blisters, and then engaged in what can only be described as a baking frenzy.
Details on the frenzy to come..

Saturday, May 15

Job Updates: Who Needs Just 1 Position Anyway?!

I guess being a little type A has perks?

Ended my 2nd internship last Wednesday, and will arrive on Tuesday as the new part-time hire at the same organization.

Still looking for something full-time, but in the interim I have a paying part-time position @ a great non-profit, a freelance gig @ another great non-profit, and a paying position as baby M's babysitter (friend of a friend gig).

Feeling a little 'eh' about being a babysitter again, but I think it's mostly because it makes me feel a bit like I'm stuck in a high school/college flashback. I feel much less 'eh,' however, about having some money coming in from the work. Plus, baby M has big cheeks and is snuggly.

I'm still seriously underemployed, but I'm really grateful that I've been able to cobble together a few different things into some semblance of a work schedule.

Tuesday, May 11

Roethlisberger: Brain Damaged or Simply a "Boor"

According to an article running on Sports Illustrated Online, Ben Roethlisberger-the quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers-may have brain damage.

While it seems pretty logical to conclude that a football player (lots of crashing to the ground) who was semi-recently involved in a serious motorcycle accident (more crashing to the ground) could indeed be suffering from brain damage, the article also posits that this actually provides a possible explanation for why Mr. Roethlisberger has been accused of rape twice in recent months.
Although not currently being treated for brain damage, a neuropsychologist at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke is quoted as saying that someone with frontal lobe damage “might not read the intentions of a woman at a bar very well.. they might succumb to more primitive urges instead of saying, 'I shouldn't do this because it affects my career.'"

While the potential neuro-biological explanation for Ben Roethlisberger’s behavior is much more complicated (and described in more detail in the article), I was really struck by the doctor’s comment.

If Ben Roethlisberger does have brain damage, then he might not be able to accurately assess a situation.
That makes sense to me—and might have serious implications for any woman unlucky enough to find themselves in the vicinity of a large, often inebriated man with potential brain damage.

But what do primitive urges, or thoughts of career problems have to do with rape?

Men do not rape because they give in to primitive urges.
And men do not stop themselves from raping someone because they worry about how it might affect their career.

Men rape women because they think it’s OK to ignore the wishes and desires of a potential partner, or because they wish to exert power and control over a hapless or helpless victim. Or sometimes, because they’ve been taught that their physical needs are more important than anyone else’s.

Men do not rape because it’s a primitive urge.
People have sex because it’s a primitive urge. Sex and rape are not the same thing.

Ultimately, Ben Roethlisberger may have engaged in some sort of non-consensual sex because he lacked both the capacity to understand that his partner was unwilling and the ability to understand that he was unable to determine their interest.

But I think it’s dangerous to call these acts the result of the inability to control “primitive urges.” It’s demeaning towards men and dangerous for women.


Monday, May 10

What not to write to an-almost graduate...

Or why I think it's really important to remember 2 things when sending emails to potentially over-caffeinated and definitely over-worked graduate students:

1. Do not give them additional things to worry about
2. Do not give them additional things to worry about

So, really it's just 1 simple rule.

If you need to email, call, or  otherwise contact a graduate student who is literally days away from graduating please be CLEAR and upbeat unless there is actually a problem. 

I received this email earlier:

Dear Saskia,

To oversee the MHS program and progress of each student, each term, the department reviews all MHS students transcripts. Please review your credentialing form which is attached. This is a great time to review your progress and meet with your adviser if there is any reason for concern. We encourage you to keep up the great work and come to us with any questions.

I  read this email and immediately began to worry. 
Why did I need to review my credentialing form with graduation just a few days away?
Was something wrong?
Were they withholding my diploma?

Seems that nothing is wrong.
Grades are in, essay approved..graduation here I come.

So I clearly panicked and read too much into this email.
Which brings me back to my  original point.

If you are sending out 14 emails, all of them addressed to seriously stressed students..would it kill you to write something upbeat? Something that clearly indicates that everything is on track, and that this just a final formality?

Is that too much to ask?!

Sunday, May 9

I'm going to be a smarty pig!

I don't blog about pf (personal finance) stuff here very often because I feel a little conflicted about sharing $ information in such a public forum.

Which is funny--since in person I'm more than happy to chat away about anything and everything to do with savings, loan, paychecks etc.

Maybe it's because I'm the product of 2 attorneys--but the idea of putting some things in writing just makes me uncomfortable. At least, if the writing can be traced back! 

Anyway, I'm breaking my own unwritten (punny!) rule because..well..I'm excited!

Although I don't keep a pf blog, I do follow a few written by  others.
One of the sites included a post very recently about Smarty Pig.

I thought it was a cute name, so I visited the site.
I now think both the name and icon are cute. 

I also think it's a great concept.

You create short-term saving goals and the site helps you determine how much you need to transfer each month into their (relatively) high yield savings plan to reach the total amount. You get to set the time limit and keep track of your progress.

You can also accept donations from friends/family/others using a variety of privacy setting (or just save on your own), and receive smarty pig cards as gifts. 

When you've reached your goal you can have the $ transferred directly back to you bank account, or receive the amount as a gift certificate. If  you choose the gift certificate option you get a bonus amount added too. 

If you use smarty pig you clearly have to be really comfortable with online banking, and the idea of providing personal/financial information to secondary site. 

Since I also use I'm not that concerned, and they (seem) to have good security protocols in place. 
I'm going to do a little more digging and then I'll probably set up an account.

Perhaps B and I could add Smarty Pig gift certificates to our registry..whenever we get around to making one of those!

Tuesday, May 4

Cutest cat picture(s) ever..

No idea why we thought this was a good thing to do...but Bibi didn't seem to mind:

Also, can we talk about the fact that Layla and Bibi like to cuddle? They are SO CUTE! AHH!

Monday, May 3

Strategy Update: Informational Interviews

A few weeks ago, a co-worker @ one of my internships reached out and offered to introduce me to some of their connections in the city.

I (very very gratefully) took this co-worker up on their offer and have thus far set up 2 informational interviews @ really interesting organizations that do advocacy work in the city.

I had my 1st informational interview last week and was able to learn a bit more about the NYC non-profit community. I also received some really helpful and concrete suggestions about cover letter writing and appealing to those who make hiring decisions. One of my goals for today is to use this new knowledge to improve the set of cover letters/resumes that I'll be sending out today.

I have my second informational interview on Friday and am hopeful for some more good advice.

I don't know if any of these meetings will actually help me find a job, but having some sort of strategy as I job hunt is making me feel a little more in control of the process.

I actually do think that these meetings will help--either directly through the networking or indirectly through the advice--but am really excited to have them even if they're just educational.