Thursday, August 27, 2009

Sometime Last Week's Challenge

Sometime Last Week's Challenge(a.k.a. "Time flies when you're unemployed"):
Creating a Meaningful Birthday Present:

My dear, dear friend Gavin had a birthday on monday. Happy birthday Gavalanche! Ordinarily I would just buy some weed for Gavin and we'd all be happy in that situation, but this year I decided to do something a little more *touching* if you will.. I got a little sentimental, and was going through pictures when I came across a file of photographs I thought were long gone! These pictures were of a cat Gavin had a few years ago when we were both living in Santa Barbara. This was no ordinary cat, this cat changed Gavin's life in a total disney meets lifetime movie of the week way.

Gavin was back home when he saw a cat get hit (?) or nearly hit and then it ran under a car and hid. Gavin, being the stand-up dude that he is, got out of his car and coaxed the cat out and took it to the vet. The vet basically said, "Congratulations! You have a cat!" and Gav, was Not a cat guy, never have been, never will be. But we all know where this is going.. Gavin took this seriously gross looking cat home and nursed it back to health. The cat's eye was dead, and I remember at first we thought that eye was totally missing. Oh! and one time! it was so gross, but Gavin made me go to his house and put drops in this cat's gaping, oozing eye-hole..and yet another time Gavin asked me to cat-sit and I totally forgot and Gavin told me the cat died. Such a bastard. Anyway, this cat turned out to be gorgeous and sweet and Gavin fell head over heels in love with her..and then he took her to get groomed and got her the "lion" cut and that's when we found out, she was a he.

Sadly, "Hemi" ran away at some point and did not come back. Luckily I had taken a few pictures of Hemi that I promised to send to Gavin and I never did. I thought they were lost forever! So, I had prints made of the Hemi pictures and a couple other bff pictures of us and put them in an album. But albums are ugly, so I decided to decoupage a plain old photo album..the problem was that I had made a recycling run and had ABSOLUTELY ZERO magazines in the house. Until I remembered my dad and I had cleaned out a cupboard and found old nudie mags belonging to my oldest brother. Lovely! And perfect for a manly photo album.

I really enjoyed the juxtaposition of doing something dainty like decoupage, but cutting out massive penises and tons of breasts. I made a whole birthday package out of different things, bible memory cards, coffee card that said "drink me," ...something that said "smoke me," and I had one photo of us blown up and framed. I love this picture so much! It really sums up the years we spent together in his apartment, probably stoned, me listening to him playing guitar, and happy just to be hanging out together. I love you Gav, you're my platonic husband for life.

Ongoing Challenge

Ongoing Challenge: Avoiding Jail!

When I lived in Santa Barbara I worked my first salon job and got royally screwed! It was a wonderful job and I loved it very much. However, the big drawback was the salon was owned by someone who had never been involved in the industry and didn't know how to properly pay/tax us. I was paid with a 1099 insinuating I was an independent contractor. I was also 18 and completely naive, so I just went along with this. Speaking of 18 and naive I actually believed some really terrible advice my friend and fellow stylist told me. That we made too little money for the IRS to even care about. That totally sounds like the IRS, right?

So fast forward 5 years: after being employed at another salon who had their fiscal shit together and paid me with a 1040, ensuring that all the proper taxes were taken out the IRS was like "Hold up! Where have you been since 2003?" And I was like...ehhhhhh I've been expecting you. Let's settle this already so I can sleep at night. (Which means I procrastinated another 2 months before actually calling them and seeking out an accountant.)

I saw a lovely financial wizard of a woman who saved me tons of money, and even discovered that the state of CA owes me $909..which should be oodles of fun trying to get back!

So my taxes are all done now. I filed every year I was missing (4 total) and the damage was less than half of what I had anticipated owing. Gotta love write offs..I even got to write off my dog, Jacques. My accountant told me I definitely have a case against my former employer because he most likely didn't want to pay employment taxes on us..but I really love that dude and am confident it was an honest mistake.

So lesson learned. Don't fuck with the IRS, but if you do find yourself in the position where you have to speak with them, I am delighted to report that they are much nicer and friendlier than you would think.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Friday's Challenge

Friday's Challenge: Get Organized!

I hattttttttttttteeeee paper. I don't even like paper money. If you know me chances are you have heard me say, "I hate cash!!" True story. I only use my card and rarely use paper money unless I'm tipping gals at the Spearmint Rhino or buying weed. Just kidding, most clubs take cards.

So anyway, where was I? Oh yes, Paper. I loathe it. I loathe it because I am usually drowning in it. I throw away statements, receipts, everything important you are supposed to hold onto..yeah, I toss it. So recently, after paying CHASE $25 to look at my own god damn bank statements, I had this novel thought: What if I actually put important papers into one of the 3 filing folder thingys (I don't even know what the hell those are called!) that I have collecting dust?! And so I did, I filed. And it felt good. I almost stopped after shoving all my documents into said file-thingy but then thought, "No, let's get crazy. Let's take a big step to grown-updom and LABEL each section." Oh yeah, I labeled.

So that's it. Seems pretty simple, but you have to remember that I don't do 'responsible adult' very well. I'm enjoying the lack of papers in various hiding spaces all over my room and I am even hunting for more papers to file.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Monday's Challenge

Monday's Challenge: Feed yourself!

Yeah, yeah, yeah..I can "cook." But for me cooking means either: take-out, cereal, or heating anything in a bag or box from Trader Joe's frozen aisle. This was how I "cooked" in LA for the last 2.5 years, and surprise, surprise I gained a bunch of weight. So I'm trying to eat fresher food and eat more consistently throughout the day (this is a whole other post.)

I avoid cooking because I hate raw meat. I was vegetarian for many years, and I blame the vegetarianism for my complete inability to cook meat. I cooked salmon once while I lived on my own in Montecito. Once. I lived there for 3 years. The other part of hating raw meat is my anxiety!! Raw meat= e coli= imminent painful death. See? In my head cooking meat means you will die shortly thereafter...come on in, the crazy's just fine!

I found an amazing recipe blog: Use Real Butter. This lady's blog is full of delicious recipes, and even better, said recipes are accompanied by beautiful pictures and seem to be idiot proof..I mean..I did ok I'm guessing anyone who has been in a kitchen before can rock these out no prob. Today I chose to make the spicy chinese cucumber salad and a stir fry that very loosely followed the stir-fried chicken and asparagus recipe.

The cucumber salad was quite easy to make, and EXTREMELY delicious! I added extra chili paste because for some reason the last few months I have wanted everything HOT! If it's slightly painful to eat then I am happy..sweaty and happy. Oh yeah, I also added sesame seeds because I LOOOOOOOVE sesame seeds. Yum.

The stir fry was a success in my opinion!! It had the added bonus of forcing me to touch raw chicken! (Here we enter the incessant hand-washing portion of the cooking experiment) Not only did I touch the chicken, I de-boned the breast, cut off all skin and fat, and sliced it very thinly. I did not get pictures of this part because even with the hand washing, had I picked up my camera I would have had to throw it away..because you know..e-coli, death, etc.

See that chicken? I totally prepared that chicken.
Instead of asparagus I used water chestnuts, broccoli, carrots, snow peas, and green onions. I also intended to add mung beans but got a little overwhelmed and completely forgot to add them. See, apparently while stir-frying you don't throw everything in at the same time. I cooked the chicken until it was almost done, then removed it to a waiting bowl while I cooked the vegetables until they were almost done and then added everything back in the pan and cooked until the chicken was done. It was like an intricate dance..which coincidentally, I am also not good at.

In the end I think I may have over cooked it just a teensy bit guessed it..I was worried the chicken wasn't cooked thoroughly. But I'm still calling this one a success! I turned off the burner and said out loud, "Holy shit. I just made food." To which my Pops said, "Yes! And Easily!" He's so sweet and encouraging. Most encouraging was the feeling of accomplishment and tasting the end results. Seriously delicious. I'm excited to try another recipe.

Ironically this picture doesn't look super appetizing..but it was amazing!