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The New & Improved…LIST

An Amended List

Remember the LIST?  The reason this blog exists.  It’s that time again to take stock and review…

The list is growing, the list is adjusting, and the list is shaping itself to the present and future.  My list, the list I started a couple of years ago, is being slowly chipped away.  Like an archeologist clearing the way of artifacts from a never known civilization, being ever so careful to keep everything intact.  There are a handful of times throughout the year that I take a serious stock of the list and make adjustments accordingly; the start of the New Year being one of those times.  I’ll revisit the list as needed but will take a deeper look close to the New Year holiday & my birthday (which also happen to land within winter), the spring equinox, the summer solstice, and autumn.  Ultimately it’s a quarterly review and in my world it makes sense for those quarters to fall within the seasons.

I think a quarterly review is wise for me; keeps me honest and realistic about what I’ve outlined for myself and my family.  I urge everyone to make a list.  It puts your ideas in motion…once they are on paper the ideas become real. I am excited, anxious, nervous, challenged, and amped as the New Year opens its doors.  Some bullets are new, some are updated, and some haven’t been touched yet…as I go through the list I am already finding myself re-energized and re-focused.  We’ve had a challenging year, this year of 2011.  We’ve said goodbye to an old friend, overcome financial hurdles and physical health challenges yet we’ve made it out pretty damn good considering.  Despite the hurdles this has been a productive year and I credit my list for the motivation to stay productive!

  • Project 365 – starting 1/1/12 I will begin a daily documentation project.  Something of a ‘life reflection’ project for me to take stock of, at day 365, how I truly spend my time, whether planned or spontaneous.  I may only post 1 picture or many.  It will be a daily account, forcing me to carry my camera & notepad with me everywhere!
  • Attend Cooking for Solutions @ The Monterey Bay Aquarium – I am always looking to expand my network of people and knowledge.  I support the aquarium and their efforts to educate and repair our oceans, bays, and general waters.  I will work to attend at least 1 day of this 3 day educational culinary experience. http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/vi/vi_events/cooking/
  • Loose 120lbs and Keep it Off! – Since having my son (22 months ago) I’ve lost a total of 80 pounds.  20 of those pounds came off within the first four weeks of having my son.  The remaining pounds took a little longer.  I was swollen for almost 2 months after his birth.  My husband was working night shifts and our whole family (2 dogs & an infant) was packing and preparing to move homes.  When I wasn’t making 2 hour driving trips to handle moving related items in our new town, I would go for long walks with my son.  The walking helped to gradually get me back to a healthy cardio status.  Once we settled into our new home I was able to finally experience a ‘routine’ for myself and my infant.  I MADE time in the morning to exercise before he woke for the day.  We are on an extremely fixed budget so a gym membership is out – instead I used my old Tae Bo workout videos, I invested in a very CHEAP used copy of P90X to go along with the various free weights I have, I made use of our elliptical, and of course I’d take my son and dog on long walks.  Since moving here I’ve lost close to 50 pounds, most of that coming off this year (2011).  I have another 40 pounds to remove, at least, to get back to a natural healthy weight for myself.  I’m sure that if I was more focused on my eating habits I would be closer to my weight loss goals.  I see it this way…I’m not doing anything extreme or drastic, which I believe will make me more successful in the end.  I’m not dieting; I’ve just adjusted what I eat and how active I am.  I exercise daily and eat whole foods and have reduced or removed processed foods from our diets all together.  My downfall is sugar and alcohol.  I love to bake sweets and I love to have a great drink.  I don’t deprive myself of much but I keep everything within reason.  I have noticed that since not eating highly processed foods and making most my food from scratch has enabled me to keep the weight off easier. I’m looking forward to getting the rest of this weight off and keeping it off… for my health, to be an example for my son, and most of all, to keep up with my son and be there for him as he grows!
  • Attend Pigs & Pinot – 8/18/12 1:00p – 5:00p http://events.sfgate.com/healdsburg-ca/events/show/231220084-pigs-pinot-at-windsor-vineyards
  • Read at Least 1 Book a Month – Since posting this list I’ve read 7 books, which is close to the 1 book a month goal I’ve set for myself.  The following is the original blog post and how I missed reading To Read a Book…or Many.  I feel like my vocabulary is stronger and my thought process is sharper and faster.  I hope to get in 2 books a month but for now I’ll be happy keeping up the 1 book a month pace.  I’ve added a few more books to the list and will continue to add throughout the year.  

Books to read:

    1. Fraud – David Rakoff
    2. Hells Angels – HST (*DONE)
    3. Nasty Bits – Anthony Bourdain (*DONE)
    4. Kitchen Confidential – Anthony Bourdain (*DONE)
    5. Don’t Get too Comfortable – David Rakoff (*DONE)
    6. Half Empty – David Rakoff
    7. The Gonzo Papers – HST
    8. The Curse of Lono – HST
    9. Fear & Loathing on the Campaign Trail 1972 – HST
    10. The Kitchen and the Cook – Nicolas Freeling
    11. Down and Out in Paris and London – George Orwill
    12. Fast Food Nation – Eric Schlosser
    13. A Cooks Tour – Anthony Bourdain
    14. Stanley Park – Timothy Taylor
    15. Mother on Fire: A True Motherf%#$@ Story About
      Parenting – Sandra Tsing Loh (*DONE)
    16. The Happiness Project – Gretchen Rubin
    17. Medium Raw – Anthony Bourdain (*DONE)
    18. Blood, Bones, & Butter – Gabrielle
      Hamilton
    19. Waiting – Debra Ginsberg (*DONE)
    20. The Emperor Wears No Clothes – Jack Herer (*Next)
    21. Chariots of the Gods – Erich von Danikan (*In process)
    22. The Orion Mystery – Robert Bauva
    23. Raising ElijahSandra Steingraber
    24. Fast Food Nation – Eric Schlosser
    25. Griftopia – Matt Taibbi
    26. Food Rules – Michael Pollan
    27. In Defense of Food – Michael Pollan
    28. The Omnivore’s DilemmaMichael Pollan
    29. Second NatureMichael Pollan
  • Get More Ink – it’s been a little over a year and a half since my last tattoo, which is a Polynesian design with my son’s footprint in the middle by Orly @ Humble Beginnings.  I have a beautiful piece on my left side that runs from my armpit down to mid-thigh by Paco @ Graven Image.  I’ve got a lot of work to go with Paco’s piece… but I’m not looking forward to the ribcage or armpit work so I think I’ll postpone this for now.  I’d like to get a piece on my right arm in honor of my late grandfather.  I miss my grandfather dearly.  It will be 15 years ago next month that my grandfather will have been gone; but he’s always on my mind.  A few days before his passing we celebrated my mother’s and my birthday at the hospital with him.  He was in a daze and could barely communicate.  The diabetes and cancer had finally got the best of a once strong man.  The family was gathered in his room around his bed when he lifted his arm and began shaking his finger at my aunt.  He muttered “go back to school”.  That communication was not meant for my aunt, but for me.  Everyone at once said, “Dad, you’re talking to Michelle…Ang is over there…”  From as far back as I can remember my grandfather would tell me on a daily, go to school, get a degree, get into computers, help people…become something; this from a man who was once a field worker, marine, lineman, and family man.  That day in the hospital I listened to grandpa and went back to school.  I soon received my better-late-than-never high school diploma and went forward to get my bachelors in business management.  Here I am today in process of starting my business, establishing a strong supportive network in my community, while raising my son and taking care of my family.  I’m hopeful that my grandfather would be proud and that I didn’t let him down.  I would like to have a Día de Muertos design on my right arm that honors my grandfather, his heritage, his memory, and his influence on me & my future.  I’ll be looking to Tobias @ Humble Beginnings to help develop this piece.  After I get my piece from Tobias I’ll be heading back to Paco to get to work on my side… my side piece will be a blog in itself, it’s big, beautiful, and outrageous…just like me!
  • Attend Drop-In Yoga Classes Where Available – I took up practicing yoga breathing & stretching (yoga is a lifestyle and many of us only practice a small part of it, which are the practice of Asanas aka stretches and breathing) back in 1999.  My teacher was Ben Thomas and he instructed out of Foothill College.  I attended a 2 night a week session that was held in college’s offsite campus gym.   I can’t put into words the experience I received attending his classes.  The gym was huge as were his classes, yet it was as if I was the only student at times.  His voice was quiet and he reached us all.  Each session was 90 minutes long and he made sure you used every minute.  Over time I saw the benefits of practicing the stretches and breathing.  I had better cardio when I worked out, I rarely got sick, and no matter my consumption I was able to maintain a healthy weight.  This goal slightly ties into my weight loss goal in the sense that it is an activity and I need activities to help keep the weight off.  It had been more than 10 years since I’ve faithfully practiced the yoga asanas.  Right before I became pregnant with my son I found my yoga teacher on Facebook.  We exchanged emails and he directed me to our old class manual.  Well, it was a new book that included much of what we had learned and practiced in class.  My brother surprised me with the book for my birthday.  Unfortunately it sat for almost 2 years before I picked it up again.  It wasn’t until mid 2011 that I finally picked the book up and began to incorporate the asanas into my workout regimen.  Today I perform a 90 minute session three times a week (Tues, Thurs, Sat).  I’ve noticed increase flexibility in my cardio and strength routines, I’ve recovered from colds a bit quicker than normal or fought them off completely, and overall I’m more aware of how my body reacts to its environment.  I will continue to perform sessions 3 x a week.  I think a goal that can develop from this is to…
  • Attend a Yoga Retreat in Costa Rica –  http://www.iyengar-yoga.com/General_Yoga_Sites/Yoga_Holidays/An_Intimate_Yoga_Retreat_and_Spa_in_Costa_Rica_awaits_you_L929/
  • Keep a Daily Journal – like every journal I’ve ever started in my life…it sits there at my desk with only a couple of entries, scattered, with no direction or purpose.  I’d like to tie this goal into my 365 day project.  Along with the daily photography, journaling I’ll be incorporating verbiage and this I think can account for a ‘journal entry’.  I’ve looked back on past journal entries and it’s given me a surprising perspective on the past and how I’m handling the future.  I’d like a clearer picture, one that I’ve finally completed and so I continue on with my goal of daily journaling…
  • Visit with Friends/Family at Least Once a Week – I’ve made more of an attempt this year (2011) than the past 3 or 4 years to really focus on making time with others in my life.  I noticed that after I had my son, if I didn’t reach out to people directly, I stopped hearing from them all together.  Was it because of my past behavior…was I always too busy for others?  Or did my life and lifestyle change?  Either way, I don’t want to lose touch with those important to me.  I want to keep, repair, and maintain relationships – they are few but important.  When the time comes where we have the living space to accommodate we’ll be opening our space to those we miss & love…until then I’ll work to make my way to them.
  • Create a Personal Savings – because everyone, no matter your ‘status’ should have financial security outside of your daily/weekly/monthly pay…
  • Write a Book – “you should write a book” – says my husband… I’ve always thought everyone should write a book; write about their story.  Everyone has lived some crazy, weird, and interesting life and they should talk about.  I think a lot of physiological issues could be resolved if people were able to tell their story.  I started writing various chapters back in early 2000.  This goal will take some time but I hope to carry out writing towards it every month, even if it’s only a sentence…the story needs to be told.
  • Participate in 2 Charity Run/Walks a Year – I use to take part annually in the March of Dimes, MS Foundation, and SGK Foundation walks…I’d like to get back to participating and finding new foundations to work with. http://www.squidoo.com/charitywalkrunbike
  • Volunteer Twice a Year – only through work had I ever volunteered for anything.  I’ve helped with Habitat for Humanity and different bay area youth programs.  Now that I am no longer tied to a corporation I want to seek out new volunteering opportunities.  When my son is old enough he’ll join me at these events.  I have recently reached out to the Community Food Bank of San Benito County and hope to start a volunteer program with them this year.
  • Attend the Sundance Film Festival – because I love indie movies http://www.sundance.org/festival/
  • Maintain at Least 1 Blog Post a Week for The Sustainable Sweet & Savory Gourmet Blog Page – since I started my blog in April 2011 I’ve maintained at least a couple posts a month, sometimes more.  The subject still remains the same… a Mom Testing the Recipes of Life…Living Sweet, Savory, and SUSTAINABLE!  I’ve created a small following and want to keep the momentum going and expanding.  Outside of the 365 day posts, I will include a weekly in-depth post on photo diaries of local organic sustainable farms, sustainable restaurants, farmers markets, recipe blogs, homemade specialty products, basic cooking techniques, book reviews, parent projects, and much more exciting adventures to write about in 2012.
  • Host a Monthly ‘rogue’ Farm Dinner to Showcase Local Organic Seasonal Foods – I am in the planning stages of these dinners.  After I got pregnant with my son, we completely overhauled our eating habits, which have caused us to NOT take part in eating out much at all anymore…why…because there are MINIMAL TO NO restaurants in our local area that serve only local, organic, pasture raised foods.  I’m baffled at the thought that we’re surrounded by the very best local organic produce, pasture raised meats & poultry, and raw dairy yet not one restaurant I’ve found in the area uses all things.  Maybe a little of one thing or the other but nothing 100% local, seasonal, organic…so here, we will start with dinners and my first dinner is tentatively scheduled for Spring 2012…which also ties into the next goal…
  • Own/Operate a Fully Sustainable Organic Farm that Supplies a Small Café & Specialty Store – I am developing the business plan as we speak and hope to have everything in writing and ready to present to a respective group of interested parties by Spring of 2012.  This goal ties into the next goal, which is to…
  • Start a Local CSA for San Benito County and Surrounding Cities – A CSA is a Community Supported Agriculture program that allows people within the community to purchase a weekly, bi-weekly, or month share of local organic produce, poultry, eggs, meat, dairy, and specialty products like Goats Milk Lotion, Soaps, Jams, Breads, Cookies, Pasta, and more.  I am developing the business plan as we speak and hope to have everything in writing and ready to present to a respective group of interested parties by Spring of 2012.
  • Start a Monthly Hiking Group – this ties into a couple of the goals such as losing weight but also keeping contact with family/friends.  It’s a chance to get together with friends/family once a month and explore the beautiful outdoors, while getting fresh air, exercise, and meeting new people.  The group will meet once a month at a specified hiking location and time.  The goal will be for everyone to bring someone new to the group each month and to lead a hike.  The goal is for the first hike to take place by the end of January 2012 and to take place once a month from that point forward.
  • Attend Pebble Beach Food & Wine Festival – another yummy opportunity to expand my knowledge & network… 4/12 – 4/15/2012 http://www.pebblebeachfoodandwine.com/
  • Attend The French Laundry – Thomas Keller is a giant talent and one of many I look to for inspiration when creating meals from the very basic yet best ingredients.  The only way you can get better is to explore and experience…  http://www.frenchlaundry.com/
  • Attend The Artichoke Festival in Castroville – 5/19 – 5/20/2012 http://www.artichoke-festival.org/
  • Do a Weekly Fun Activity with My Son – For half of 2010 and most of 2011 I took our son to a wonderful place called The Little Gym.  The offered weekly classes on age specific tumbling activities.  Unfortunately both their price and activity schedule changed for the New Year so we’re unable to afford it but we’ve got plenty of alternatives that are FREE or low-cost.  Once a week a local moms’ group meets at our neighborhood park.  All of the children are within my son’s age range, which enables him to learn socialization, sharing, and coordination through physical activity.  We’ve discovered a FREE weekly reading/music program for toddlers at our local library, which we will attend once a week.  I will also incorporate a once a week trip to a local hiking spot, beach, or farm where we can learn through exploration!  This goal is ongoing and growing since we’ve gone from once a week to 3-4x a week special activities!
  • Baby Books (birth to 1yr, 1yr to 2yr, 2yr+) – My mom saved so many of my childhood items but unfortunately didn’t track ‘exciting moments’ with notes, pictures, or anything…so I wanted to give this to my son…a way to track memories.  I am mid way into his birth to 1 year book.  I realize I’ve got a lot of catching up to do but I’m on my way.  I’m creating a book with photos and captions.  I’ll include cards, small momentous items, and such…
  • Project Cookbook, A Gathering of Family Recipes for My Son – I’m in process of gathering recipes from our joint families.  Here is the original blog post I wrote on the project https://thesustainablesweetandsavorygourmet.wordpress.com/2011/05/19/project-cookbook/ – this will be an ongoing project/goal since our recipe arsenal is growing daily.  I would like to have versions and so this year I’ll have version 1 completed and printed.  I’ll edit and print a new version every year.
  • Write a Screenplay –this ties into the writing a book goal but I have a specific chapter of that book that I’d like to turn into a screenplay…
  • Attend SXSW Music Festival – because I love music
  • Create a Photography Portfolio – I recently started a flickr account to begin storage of my favorite photos… this has encouraged me to focus when taking pictures…now all I have to do is get an even more awesome camera!
  • Attend Café Beaujolais – I’ve wanted to attend ever since reading Evening Food http://www.cafebeaujolais.com/
  • Attend Sonoma Valley Film Festival – because I love indie movies http://www.sonomafilmfest.org/
  • Learn to Make Fresh Breads, Pastas, and Tortillas to Save $$ on the Grocery Bill – I had practiced making sour dough bread because it is my family’s favorite bread to consume.  Unfortunately I killed the starter…mainly because I didn’t have proper storage conditions.  Once I figure out the storage challenge, I’ll be back to making our favorite bread…until then I’ve moved my focus to pasta.  I’ve made basic egg, garlic, lemon, and saffron pasta to date.  The goal of this practice is to stop buying these products from the grocery store.
  • Take Defensive Driving Courses – because I love to drive…fast…
  • Join a Working Mom Group  – because I want to expand my knowledge & network
  • Stay Active in the EA/HR Communities –I hope to not have to go back to ‘grind’ of it, but I’ll never stray far, it’s in my blood.  I’ll always be available to friends and colleagues.  I’ve updated my LinkedIn profile and will review the account monthly to touch base as needed.
  • Read the Professional Chef as its Intended Purpose, A Classroom Textbook – I had always wanted to go to culinary school but it didn’t work itself out in the cards.  I took the more realistic route, for myself, and went to business school instead.  Here I am in my mid thirties and I’m wishing I went the other route.  Since I realize that cooking school is not a realistic goal for my family I am reading and practicing as many techniques as I can through the power of networking, the web, and books such as this one.  My goal is to finish the book by end of 2012.
  • Schedule 2 Photo Shoots Before my 36th Birthday –I love photography.  I love being both behind and in front of the camera.  I’ve always been one to make odd faces, pose, or do something ‘funny’ anytime a camera was in range.  For a few years in my twenties I took up photography…in front of the camera…and I LOVED it!  I’m turning 35 soon and although I don’t feel like I’m 35, I’d like to mark this year with something fun.  Birth, 1, 5, 10, 13, 16, 18, 21, 25, and 30 are all big milestone years… 35 is the next on the list and the goal is to have the shoots booked and published by end of 2012 or before my 36th birthday.
  • Write a Cookbook – I love cookbooks.  My bookshelf is filled with them.  I’ve heard people say they don’t need a cookbook that they have the internet.  True, but there is something I get from a book that I don’t get from the web.  My book would have a lot of pictures.  I’m always disappointed when getting a cookbook that has hardly any pictures.  I need to see the process, step by step, and the outcome.  This is where I’d like my book to differ.  This is a long-term goal since I’m still building my recipe arsenal and testing them accordingly.
  • Attend the Santa Cruz Fungus Fair – 1/13 – 1/15/2012 http://scfungusfair.org/ because fungus is cool!
  • Participate in a ForageSF Wild Food Walk – because we should be able to eat what we want, where we want, when we want… http://foragesf.com/wild-food-walks/
  • Plan Home Garden Outline – we are not going to be able to do all the things we want (i.e. grow our own produce, chickens, rabbits, goats, raw dairy) if we don’t have sufficient space and safety measures in place.  Unfortunately our ‘nice on the surface’ neighborhood has exposed itself in the worse ways.  Our stuff would not be safe from theft and contamination so we’re on the hunt for new digs and in the mean time we’re putting together a plan of attack for when we do find the new space.
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