Archive for June, 2009

Life as a Millennial

millennialPicture courtesy of TIME and Joel Stein

 

I love the power of the internet. I can send an email to London with a question and hear back from them within 24 hours. I can apply to a University overseas and open a British bank account just by filling out an online application and sending in some supporting information (that I, of course, have scanned in for future reference.) It is 2009 afterall, and I am a millennial, mosaic, a prime example of Generation Y. I just had a conversation earlier about how our society has become such an information-driven society: we want information and we want it now. Five minutes isn’t soon enough. Get on your Blackberry, bring up the internet and Google what you’re looking for; if you’re fairly text adept, you can probably acquire any bit of information in 2 minutes flat. If that. After all, after Michael Jackson’s passing, anyone with the internet and a facebook or Twitter account found out within 30 minutes. It’s news and we all want to know — no waiting for the morning newspaper (how 1980’s), no waiting for the nightly news or a special report on television (how 1990’s); send us a text, shoot us an email, post a microblog on your twitter account or change your facebook status. We’re all watching you, after all; waiting for your juicy newsfeed.

Technology has given us the benefit of being supreme multi-taskers; we are a new generation of people. We can drive to a business appointment, while coordinating another appointment over the phone (using our handy bluetooth), while simultaneously updating our facebook status through our iPhone or Blackberry apps. If you’re not doing at least three things at once, you’re likely wasting precious time that will be take away from social networking later in the day. Being a product of society, I quite enjoy being able to multitask; I’m a firm believer in productivity: work smarter, not harder. If I can get five hours of work crammed into one hour, why not? That leaves me extra valuable time to hit the gym, make dinner, go grocery shopping, and so on. On the flip side, I think that this transformation has made us an incredibly impatient people; we expect everyone else to be multi-tasking to the same degree that we are, and if they’re not, we get frustrated. I think it’s natural. I find myself doing it, too, when I see people paying bills by check versus paying over the internet or handling what should be super quick matters in old-fashioned (more time-consuming) ways. Additionally, I think we have lost a huge human element in our world. Instead of calling someone to talk, we shoot them an email or a message over facebook or MySpace; who has time to talk anymore? Instead of normal, face-to-face interactions, we rely on the efficiency of conference calling, Skype or internet conversation. It is undoubtedly the faster way to do things, but we don’t seem to have the same regard for people as we used to; definitely the downside to being a millenial. Our generation (Generation Y) has been described as the mosaic generation. Why? Well, because we don’t really have one attribute that defines us as a cohort; we are a complex generation that proves to be a mishmash of many different ideologies. We don’t all believe in the same things because we don’t have to. We’re ‘post-modern’ and don’t think linearly. Of course that helps add to the brilliance, I’m sure, but how can we think linearly? We haven’t been taught that way. We are the ultimate multi-taskers. We have been taught that productivity is key, and if we have paid attention to society at all, we recognize that our society has made being productive so much easier. I run into 8-year-olds who can download music while talking on their Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle cell phones… I mean, really? What 8-year-old needs a cell phone? Apparently kids in our society, because let’s be honest, we have to get them started early. They’ll learn the ways of the world soon enough after all. Plus, let’s face it, they need to call their parents to make sure they can coordinate their calendars for back-to-school night. Even 8-year-olds have to notify their Outlook.

Signature Stamp - Shannon

Please note: As I am writing this, I’m drinking a cup of freshly brewed coffee, warming up dinner and putting my laundry away. Case in point.

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Mmmmm — It’s a Winner!

Manicotti

So, I have been trying to come up with new ways to make delightfully delicious vegetarian dishes; something that not only I will like, but something that my carnivorous boyfriend would also enjoy. Well, I just finished whipping up the most delicious manicotti dish ever! We’re not huge pasta fans, but I like the fact that with manicotti, the pasta is just being used as a shell to house the real stuff! Vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike will love this!

Shannon’s Veggie & Tofu Manicotti

10 – 12 manicotti shells
10 oz. package frozen spinach
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 medium onion, diced (I limit onion because I’m not a huge fan!)
8 oz. package of mushrooms, sliced
14 oz. box extra firm tofu (I use Azumaya)
2 eggs
3 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/4 c. chopped basil
2 Tbsp. chopped garlic
2 c. alfredo sauce
2 – 3 c. prepared spaghetti sauce
Parmesan
salt and pepper, to taste
pine nuts, to garnish

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta shells according to the package directions (9 or so minutes.) Meanwhile, put frozen spinach in a microwave-safe bowl, cover and microwave on high about 5 minutes (rotating once); let it cool (be careful, some parts will be super hot!) In a non-stick skillet with a lid, heat olive oil on medium heat. Saute onion for 3-5 minutes, until brown on edges. Reduce heat to low and stir in garlic and mushrooms. Cover and let simmer for 10 minutes. While the mushroom-onion mix is simmering, place tofu in a mixing bowl and sprinkle lemon juice over tofu and mash with a fork (or your hands!), crumbling tofu into small curds so that they resemble ricotta cheese. In a separate bowl, mix up eggs; mix them into the tofu mixture. While the tofu settles, squeeze all the excess water out of the spinach, if you haven’t done so already. Once mushrooms have finished sauteing for 10 minutes, add in the tofu, spinach, olives, chopped basil, salt and pepper. Add in 1/2 c. to 1 c. of Alfredo sauce to taste. Simmer over low heat another 10 minutes. (Note: Snag a taste of the filling at this point and add salt or sauce to taste — if the flavor is lacking, the dish won’t be nearly as good!) Preheat oven to 375. Spread thin layer of spaghetti sauce in the bottom of a 12×8″ baking dish. Spoon vegetable-tofu filling into the shells VERY GENTLY — the shells have a tendency to break, so be careful (if they do break, don’t fret; you can easily camouflage them and your guests won’t know the difference). Arrange in tight rows on top of the sauce and cover with spaghetti sauce and thin layer of Alfredo. Sprinkle with Parmesan, to your liking. Cover and bake for 15 minutes on the middle rack. Remove cover and bake for an additional 5 minutes. Sprinkle shells with pine nuts and broil for 3 – 5 minutes. Serve warm.

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The filling makes a load! I had a lot left over, but it is so good, I could eat it on it’s own! My boyfriend couldn’t even tell it was tofu and not ricotta. Like I mentioned, I’m not a huge pasta fan, but this gets me really pumped for the Italian leg of my journey in the coming year! If you’re digging the vegetarian Italian dishes, check out this website for other delicious veg recipes from other folks around the world!

Enjoy!
Signature Stamp - Shannon

The Kite Runner

The Kite Runner

Hey everyone!

I’m sitting at my kitchen table, ravenously reading Khaled Hosseini’s novel, The Kite Runner (which I will have to follow up with A Thousand Splendid Suns). I managed to snag my copy at a thrift store in Pacific Grove for $1.50 which makes the experience of reading it that much better. I am so ridiculously enthralled with this novel, it’s almost haunting. As I sat down to begin reading it today, I remembered that there was a movie adaptation that was done recently (in the last couple of years perhaps). I Googled it, and the website for the movie looks pretty good, but I don’t want to watch the movie if it doesn’t manage to do the book justice. I’ve seen too many an adaptation that didn’t really stay true to the soul of the novel and sort of ruined the whole experience for me.

Has anyone seenThe Kite Runner movie?  Skip it or see it?

Signature Stamp - Shannon

Beijing & Shanghai for $799!

China

I had to seriously double-take on this one, guys! I am even more stoked than usual because my mom has a minor obsession with Asia and has always wanted to visit. If you, too, are looking for an inexpensive way to visit China, this is it!

Beijing & Shanghai 8-Night Package WITH AIR for $799 from San Francisco! 

Typically, the airfare alone costs this much, so this is a serious steal. You can spend 10 days and 8 nights exploring two of China’s premier cities. Here’s what you get:

* R/T nonstop air from SF to Beijing
*Intra-China flights and ground transportation
* Airline fuel surcharges
* Eight nights first-class accommodation in centrally located hotels (5 nights at the Marriott Courtyard Hotel in Beijing; 3 nights at the Holiday Inn Vista in Shanghai)
* Full buffet American breakfast daily
* Services of an English-speaking tour guide

This package is available November through April with the $799 departure dates on December 4th and January 8th. Even if you can’t go on those dates, you can book other dates for $100 – $200 more. Such a great deal. Click here for more details! 
Book by July 21st.

Happy Travels!

Signature Stamp - Shannon

 

Salon & Spa Steal

Hoss Lee Academy

Fellow students and others on a budget, listen up!

I found the most amazing place to check out if you don’t want to discontinue your hair and skin care, but don’t have the budget to allow for fancy extras. For my sister’s birthday, I took her in for a celebratory brow wax and facial. I found a local Salon & Spa Academy where students perform the services under a professional’s supervision. I have looked into these places before, but had never actually taken the plunge and visited. However, after looking at the disparity in pricing between the academy and a normal salon, there was a major savings! Depending on the service, you can easily save 40-50% (or more if you get packages) on your services! Tiffany and I visited Hoss Lee Academy in the greater Sacramento area and she snagged a brow wax for $10 (not a huge deal, but still) and a clay facial for $45! The basic facials run at $25 per session, the upscale European facials are $35 (total steal!) and the specialty facials (clay, anti-aging, etc.) are $45. She was pampered for a good hour and a half by a knowledgeable student and raved about her experience afterwards. In addition to the skin care, they have hair care services (cuts, color, highlights, styling, etc.), make-up services and body services (body scrubs, wraps, sunless tanning, and hot stone therapies).  On top of that, the salon is absolutely gorgeous (the picture above is an actual snapshot from our visit) and the staff is great, which added to my confidence in having services done at a school.

On top of that, after perusing their list of services, I found that they have a peel package — 6 glycolic peels + a complimentary Euro facial for $250! To put that into perspective, I paid $85 for ONE glycolic peel and it’s not unreasonable to pay up to $150 per. Getting six of them plus a facial for $250… beyond a steal! With having to save like a mad woman for the upcoming year abroad, I had written off professional skin care until 2010, but now I can afford to indulge once in a while. Check out Hoss Lee (also, click here to get a $50 gift certificate for $25!) or find another reputable academy in your area to save on fun stuff. Just because we would rather spend money on travel doesn’t mean we don’t appreciate an inexpensive facial once in a while, right?

Check out Hoss Lee’s Salon & Spa Menu if you’re local — they can save you a bundle if you’re looking for occasional pampering <3.

Signature Stamp - Shannon

Sunday in Carmel, CA

Day Two of Tiff’s Birthday Weekend.

So, after our kidnapping Tiff for her birthday and having a blast all day Saturday, Sunday morning we woke up and enjoyed the ‘breakfast’ part of the B&B at The Gosby House! Breakfast was served between 8A and 10A and was delish — definitely the benefit of staying at a B&B over a standard hotel. We had our morning coffee and juice to get us ready for a fun-filled day in Carmel, plus they had oatmeal, a vegetarian egg dish, bagels, muffins, fruit, English muffins and cereal!

Breakfast!
Breakfast!

Nana at Breakfast!
Nana at Breakfast!

After an early breakfast, we headed to Carmel-by-the-Sea to spend the day. Tiff had never been, so it was super fun for everyone! We arrived around 10A, so we were just in time to hit up a few of our favorite stores (Anthropologie and J.Crew) and spent a good hour in Sur La Table shopping for kitchen gadgets! If you’ve never been to Sur La Table — it’s like a Williams-Sonoma, but a little cooler <3.

We also hit up a number of art galleries to check out some really awesome art work: paintings, glass work, sculptures… amazing stuff. Plus, who can forget the amazing apothecaries, perfumeries and jewelers! We ended our shopping with a stop at Lush to check out the always-great handmade cosmetics. Tiff grabbed a lip balm and I got a  citrus-scented massage bar (basically a solid, portable lotion). All around great shopping day. We finished off our afternoon in Carmel by stopping in at The Grill on Ocean Avenue for a quick bite to eat (click here for the menu). In honor of Father’s Day, we made a mini toast to the best dad ever. We weren’t super hungry so Tiff and I opted to split the vegetarian sandwich (which was absolutely delicious!) and accompanying salad and the portions were huge! Mom and dad also split their turkey sandwich and added a bowl of chicken soup. We would have had major to-go food if we hadn’t split the entrees — half a sandwich and salad easily filled us up! Again, awesome service and a cute stop with a  little fireplace inside.

After our jaunt in Carmel, we decided to begin our journey back home. My mom, however, has an obsession with artichokes and had been begging to stop in Castroville (aka Artichokeland) for some artichokes on the way back! She had also been dying for a DQ soft serve, so we grabbed a few cones while passing through Capitola.

In front of the GIANT artichoke -- the epicenter, no doubt.
In front of the GIANT artichoke — the epicenter, no doubt.
Funnies thing ever.
Funniest thing ever.

Tiff and I were dying when we saw this sign… all she could say was, “Yeah… they don’t use illegal immigrants… Hah!” I have never seen so many artichokes in my life! The whole town is dedicated to artichokes — growing them, selling them and eating them!

DQ!
DQ!

DQ Mom 2

Mom wanted to stop at DQ, so we made it our last stop on the way back and grabbed a few cones from the DQ on Bay Avenue. Mom asked to make her large as large as possible and it ended up being as big as her head. Surprisingly (or not) she inhaled it and finished about the same time that my grandma and I finished our small cones!

Aside from the somewhat chilly weekend (60s in Carmel), the weekend was great. We all had an amazing time and it was super fun bonding. We’re planning our next trip now — deciding between Disneyland (maybe too packed for summer?), San Diego (wanna hit up the beach and the zoo!), or Las Vegas!

What do you guys think? What’s a good spot for a semi-inexpensive weekend family getaway?

Signature Stamp - Shannon

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Facebookers: To see the entire album from Tiff’s birthday on Facebook, click here!

Capitola to Carmel!

Saturday’s Adventure.

Saturday was a total blast! After kidnapping Tiffany on Saturday morning, we landed in Capitola at around 10A after a pretty short drive! Capitola Beachwas absolutely darling! I visited another neighboring beach last year when I went with Hilary, but Capitola Beach is much livelier and there are loads of nearby restaurants, coffee shops and stores! We parked right on the town streets and took a two minute stroll down to the beach!

Hanging out on the beach (pre-sun!)

Hanging out on the beach (pre-sun!)

Tiff & Dad waiting for the sunshine <3.

Tiff & Dad waiting for the sunshine <3.

By 11A, the sun had come out and we were able to spend a few hours hanging out on the beach, soaking up the sun!
Afterwards, we strolled around Capitola for about an hour before deciding to move on to Pacific Grove to check in to our B&B. It was a short 40 minute drive from Capitola to Pacific Grove and we we were able to check it at around 2:30P at the Gosby House Inn. Our rooms were darling; large enough, cozy and a great value for the otherwise pricey area.

The Gosby House Inn

The Gosby House Inn

Our Room, Room #9!

Our Room, Room #9!

We loved our stay at the Inn (sans the treacherous staircase that scared my grandmother)! The service was great and we even had wine and hors d’oeuvres, which were complimentary for guests between 430P and 630P. It gave us some time to relax before heading down to Carmel for dinner.

My sister chose to check out The Forge in the Forest for dinner (check out the menu here) after perusing four restaurants that we had picked out. The atmosphere was awesome and the food was delish! Outside seating (if it’s not too chilly) is absolutely gorgeous. My sister and I each had a bowl of portabello mushroom soup and split a salad. Mmm! Plus, the atmosphere was such that we were able to get all prettied up and not feel out of place while there were other patrons totally dressed down dropping in for a bite to eat.

Tiff at the Forge!

Tiff at the Forge!

You can see how cute the outside area is in the background :)

Sisters at Dinner

Tiff & I at dinner!

After dinner, we went back to the hotel to enjoy the Baby Cakes that I had ordered from a little bakery in Monterey called Layers; we got two red velvet, two lemon love, and two strawberry cream. They even wrote “Happy Birthday” on one of the baby cakes:

Our Baby Cakes -- Mmm!

Our Baby Cakes -- Mmm!

We had such a blast all around on Saturday — after playing a few rounds of blackjack, we ended up passing out around 930P (such partyers, I know) to get ready for our fun-filled day in Carmel on Sunday. More about that tomorrow — stay tuned!

Signature Stamp - Shannon

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Facebookers: Check out the entire album from Tiff’s birthday weekend here!