TAD- Day #3

Creative inspiration sent to me and shared with me: I’m so appreciative of all the socially, professionally, politically, intellectually plugged in individuals in my off-line and on-line life. On any given day, I can open my Twitter or email and find myself face-to-face with scintillating new facts, thoughts, and debates, shared by engaged individuals. These individuals and the content they generate encourage me to think creatively and stay up-to-date on current events. Today, for example, my tennis partner said me this interesting article, which is especially relevant in light of my Dear Starbucks post.

My stepdad: Having both parents live out of the country can sometimes lead to a feeling of parental deficiency. Words cannot express how appreciative I am to have my stepdad, who lives locally, in my life. He’s been there for me during financial hardships, emotional turmoil, birthday dinners, and ski trips. But what never ceases to amaze me is that he has literally no obligation to do any of this. This Brad Paisley song brings me to tears with the words “Lookin’ back all I can say, About all the things he did for me, Is I hope I’m at least half the dad, That he didn’t have to be.” Those lyrics really ring true for me. That song will definitely be played during my wedding during our father-daughter dance.

Babysitting: Nothing beats spending a day with kids to see life in a whole different- and usually simplified- way. Every Wednesday, I get to step out of the office and babysit two adorable blonde children. Seeing the smile on the girl’s face when she sees me behind the wheel, combined with the cheers of “Miss Cristina! Miss Cristina” is enough to make anyone feel special. And once the boy gets over the disappointment (and sometimes tears) of seeing me instead of his mom, he has fun too 🙂 It’s such a fun time to get back in touch with my child-like sense of wonder (haha not that it’s ever far away!). We eat ice cream, walk at the lake, feed the ducks, play with toys at Marbles, and watch Scooby Doo. And I’m constantly blown away by how perceptive kids are!


TAD- Day #2

  • Hair: as I was blow-drying and straightening my hair this morning (which I never do anymore!), I realize how much I take having hair, let alone healthy hair that I love, for granted. I wrote awhile back about two girls who shaved their heads for St. Baldrick’s, so I wanted to unearth that post in light of my awareness of things I take for granted.
  • Music: I said awhile back that I had never considered myself a music person, but now I realize how ever-present it is in my life. In fact, a quick search of my blog showed plenty of results including the word “music.” Nevertheless, it’s always nice to appreciate everyday music, from Baby Got Back, which makes 7am weight lifting slightly more bearable,  to a mid-afternoon playing of Doin’ Alright by Collective Efforts to put some pep into the end of the day.
  • The absolutely stunningly beautiful tree directly outside my living room and kitchen windows. It really perks up my morning to peek out the window as I make my peppermint mocha coffee! The picture below does not do it justice; I’m planning to take my Canon out and snap some photos before all the leaves fall.

TAD- Day #1

It’s day #1 of my week-long challenge. I definitely did not ride my bike in the freezing, rainy this morning! Hopefully the challenge gods will grant me better weather on Wednesday and Thursday.

In light of that, here’s my {non-exhaustive and in no particular order} TAD list:

  • Having a vehicle- something I definitely take for granted since moving back to NC!
  • Having access to a blogosphere of fun, interesting, and friendly female bloggers. I sent an email to the group today and everyone sent back the sweetest emails thanking me for organizing and saying how they can’t wait to meet each other 🙂 I feel like a proud mama.
  • Being able to laugh at the little things, like Maddie being goofy or the ridiculous Pilates class that my sister and I attended, where we had to crawl around the room like panthers…We had to work SO hard to stifle our laughter but Sara left the class with mascara smudges from laughing until she cried. I take for granted that humor is imbued in every part of my life, from being alone (oh yeah, I make myself crack up all the time! I just laughed writing this) to being with my sister and friends to being in the office.

goal check-in + tad + this day last year

Whew, that’s a lot to cover in one blog post, huh? Here we go!

My goals for the week were:

  • At least one yoga or Pilates class– Didn’t manage this (too busy playing tennis!)
  • Two weight-lifting sessions– Did one at-home session
  • Continuing working on a certain someone’s birthday present (can’t use the actual verb because I don’t want to give it away- could be make, order, buy, rent…)– Woot woot
  • Set up an official referral program for The Raleigh Forum– In progress
  • Bring one more person into the bloggers’ group– More like five or six! So many people have sent me names of awesome local female bloggers!
  • Make one new soup recipe– I tried two! I made roasted pepper potato soup and a spiced tomato potato soup
If you’ve been following my blog since, say, October 12, 2010, you might recall Three A Day (TAD). This was my easy-to-remember phrase for writing down three things each day that I was thankful for. I thought it was a good idea to bring it back given my challenge for next week!

Yesterday’s TAD:
  • Having a dog whisperer for a sister! I was frustrated about Maddie’s behavior, but my sister showed me the benefits of a gentle leader (a miracle worker), as well as some easy tricks for making her tune into me and respond to my commands.
  • Having a nice, spacious apartment. I was overwhelmed by the amount of dishes and cleaning I had to do, but then I reminded myself that not everyone has a kitchen to clean (sorry for being so cheesy).
  • Having the support of an incredible organization like the Downtown Raleigh Alliance, who hosted an event at The Raleigh Forum yesterday. We have over 50 individuals attend, and I would say that it was a stellar success!
This Day Last Year: I was in the midst of the fall of my senior year and actively listing TADs each day! In my post, I recapped the day before, which included a date with one of my (still) best friends, a day of babysitting the baby that I still love and miss, and a lovely note from a GW Bites customer. That was an exciting fall because I had just begun GW Bites!

keepin’ it accountable

Yesterday I ate lunch at Sitti with a coworker from The Raleigh Forum and one of our Raleigh friends. The food was delicious (albeit more than I normally pay for lunch) and we had fantastic service. I tweeted the restaurant as we were crossing the street and by the time we had sat down, the manager came over and mentioned that he saw my tweet and recognized my face. He then brought us some extra little treats (Feta Cheese Dip and an interesting marinated hard cheese thing, which I couldn’t find on the menu!). I will definitely go back as soon as possible. Follow them on Twitter to help them reach their goal of 1000 followers!

Anyway, my lunchmates and I got to talking about some of our personal flaws and bad habits and ended up deciding to give each other week-long self-improvement challenges. $10 is on the line, and we’re adhering to the Honor System.

Me: Write up 3 things every day that I’m grateful for (Though I love and appreciate my life, I have a tendency to take things for granted sometimes). I also have to ride my bike to work at least 2 times during the week (it currently sits in the bike rack at my apartment. I want to ride it more often for health and environmental reasons, not to mention as a way to save money on gas!)

Friend #1: He’s the reason we started this challenge. He mentioned in passing that he doesn’t wear his seat belt, which prompted shocked looks and a barrage of questions from me and Friend #2. For the whole week, he has to wear his seat belt every time that he’s in a moving car.

Friend #2: He finds himself eating out most days of the week, so his challenge is to bring his lunch to work all week. I offered to help by setting up a menu plan and sending him recipes! We also decided to have a mini-pot luck one day next week!

Wish me luck!

4 Days of TAD

Whew, amazing how quickly the days got away! It’s been few days since I’ve done my TAD, so I thought I’d just combine the highlights of the last few days. SO much wonderful things have been happening.

  • Our #SocEntChat at work went well
  • Met the family I’ll be working for next week- adorable 3-month-old girl
  • Had a mid-week dinner with a friend- which never happens anymore because our schedules conflict
  • Got a high grade on an exam I thought I didn’t do well on
  • Met an inspiring speaker at a Compass event
  • Submitted the first part of my application for a fellowship in India
  • Went out for the first time in a few weeks and had a BLAST- met new interesting people & talked about real things (not just superficial bar conversations)
  • Met some fun neighbors
  • Met a guy who does international development consulting; he offered to help me in any way he can
  • Applied for a blogging scholarship- here’s hoping!

And the BEST part of the past few days: I finally announced GW Bites (home-cooked meals for students, as well as “Meals in a Jar”). As of right now, I’ve had 882 hits on the website today alone- I am thrilled and shocked by the level of interest. In addition, I had an exciting meeting with a friend, who offered to host a launch party for me at her apartment. AND three people contacted me about becoming part of the GW Bites cooking/baking team. I was a giddy mess all day because I’m SOO excited about the potential for GW Bites.

And I have a fun day-date planned with one of my best friends who I never see anymore. Yay!

TAD & Destress Dinner & Frugality


  • Making delicious pumpkin pancakes
  • Studying in Illy with friends…then bumping into other people I knew…then bumping into even more people I knew! It seems to be the reunion spot for people interested in social enterprise.
  • Getting dinner at Mei Wah (delicious!) with friends, then trekking to Dupont Circle for fro-yo. We made dinner a Destress Dinner, in typical Sunday night fashion. More below!

Frugal food discovery: My friends and I are obsessed with the “special sauce” at Mei-Wah. It’s served over tofu and costs $10.95. We asked our waitress if we could buy a large container of sauce, and she said it would be $2.50. A container of tofu is about $2 from the grocery store, bringing the grand total of home-made tofu with special sauce to $5.50, or about $2.25 a serving. Total saved: $5.45! Sweet.

Fun Sunday tradition: A friend and I began “Destress Dinners” our sophomore year. We would order in Mei Wah or make tofu stir fry, sit in a circle on the floor, and chat. That alone made it destressing, but we added an extra component- every person shares one thing they’re stressed about for the week and then one (or more! thing(s) they’re excited about for the week. It’s a great ritual with close friends because it allows you to vent but then go into the week with a positive attitude.

A lesson learned: This is best done in a small group of friends that you are very comfortable with. Sometimes your stressors are very personal, and you might not want to open up to people you aren’t close to. Also, a large group gets easily distracted, people get impatient, etc.


Yesterday’s TAD & October goals

Yesterday was CHAOTIC- up at 6:45 for a run, work, studying, GW Social Enterprise Forum documentary viewing (The New Recruits), Compass module in Georgetown with Julie Kantor (my mentor) of NFTE, cupcake making & studying with friends. Whew, busy but rewarding day!


  • Catching up with Julie. We [tentatively] planned a dinner get-together at her place!
  • Great early morning run + sitting on the roof with breakfast before work
  • Excellent strategic planning meeting with the VP of the Forum

I have decided to do a monthly goal check- in (credit goes to Kimberly Wilson for this idea). I’m comfortable sharing most (I’m a very open person!), but some I’m keeping alllllll to myself (or sharing with close friends).

  • Reach 400 Forum members
  • Finish Army 10 Miler
  • Run 3x a week
  • Building strong relationships with my Compass mentees
  • Eat dinner at home 4.5x a week (yes, that’s 4.5)
  • Go on at least one hike
  • Apply to fellowship in India
  • Sell 75 DaretoAsk books (you can help me by going to the link and purchasing a book- it’s an amazing handbook that provides women with the skills and confidence to negotiate in various settings)
  • Do 4 things from the Washington Post Going Out Guide
  • Begin a babysitting job
  • Bake 4 times
  • Buy new fall clothing
  • Meditate 5 mins a day
  • Check Facebook only once a day
  • Check two things off the 100 Things List
  • Host a Goals Night with friends
  • Go out to bars and don’t drink anything
  • Have a spa night (alone or with friends)
  • Finish decorating my apartment
  • Begin beta testing my business concept
  • Enter Pitch George elevator pitch competition
  • Try 6 new recipes
  • Read the newspaper 2x a week
  • Build my inspiration board
  • Host a wine tasting
  • Keep a budget
  • Reach 250 Twitter followers (silly I know!)
  • Reach 45 follows on WomenDaretoAsk Twitter

I’m excited to continue tackling these goals! What are your October goals?

TAD- Three A Day

TAD is my new acronym for “Three A Day” aka three positive things that happened to me each day. It’s important to me to stay positive, even if I’m stressed, so focusing on my daily highlights helps!


  • Financial loan came through (woohoo- finally!)
  • Two individuals expressed interest in my current research (the prevalence of illegitimate unpaid internships on college campuses) and asked for a copy of the final report to use in their offices
  • The Twitter account I’m managing (@DaretoAskBook) has more followers!

All around, it was a great day (except for a less-than-perfect marketing exam), and it’s not even over yet 🙂

Yesterday’s highlights:

  • Finally stopped feeling crabby 🙂
  • Ate an amazing meal- red pepper tomato soup with pepper jack grilled cheese on a balcony in perfect weather with friends
  • Moved forward on the upcoming #SocEntChat I’m coordinating