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Tuesday Inspiration: Unexpected Art

Weekly Inspiration: Muir

Often times when I find myself having nightmares about press releases and media lists, I have to remind myself that there is much more to this world than a glowing computer screen and the drone of the workday.

Today, I came across this quote on one of my favorite blogs, Tomboy Style. Muir reminds us that nature is timeless and money is trivial. So, this week, take a few moments each day to take a break from phone calls and emails, and appreciate nature’s small wonders.

Bridging the Gap from Portland to San Francisco

For the third time in a year, I stuffed all of my belongings into the good ol’ Honda CR-V and relocated my life. This time, the destination was San Francisco–and I could not be more excited about the opportunities that this city holds. So far, there are a few key lessons that I have learned about this city:

1. Just because it’s sunny out right now, doesn’t mean that you won’t be freezing your knickers off in an hour.

2. You can actually see–with your own eyes–the fog rolling into the city in the evening. It’s rather deatheater-like. (Harry Potter? Anyone?)

3. Don’t take public transportation on Outside Lands weekend. Especially when you’re going in the same direction as everyone who is going to Outside Lands. Rookie mistake.

4. Layers, layers, layers.

5. The fashion in this city far surpasses that of Portland. Sorry, Portlanders. Stop wearing Tevas.

6. On the other hand, I’ve yet to find local coffee quite like Coava or Water Avenue.

7. Prepare to spend 10% of your paycheck on eating lunch out–hardly anyone brown bags it to work.

8. I am not the tallest female in this city, and I am constantly reminded of it. Tall women of San Francisco, I applaud you. Keep on rockin’ those high heels.

9. San Franciscans avoid touristy Union Square–chic boutiques and up-and-coming designers are much more local-friendly.

10. At any point in the day, there is always a new adventure to be had and a friend to embark on it with you.

Until next time, Oregon!

Portland, I bid you adieu. Hello, San Francisco!

Hold the Butter and Flour, Please: Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

This morning I was wide awake at 7 AM. This never happens. Usually I hit the snooze button a good five times before emerging from my sleepy slumber. On the rare occasion that my body actually reacts to my first alarm, however, I do one of three things: clean, run, or create some mess in the kitchen. After a sweeping glance around the already clean apartment and one look outside only to see that it was pouring rain, I poked my head into the kitchen to see what I could come up with. I’ve been really interested in all of the flourless baking that has been recorded in the blogosphere lately, and so after consulting a few food blogs, I found a recipe that seemed quick and easy. The best part? It included peanut butter, which, as one of my coworkers pointed out to me, is “one of the top five butters.” (I don’t know that I’ve had five types of butter, but I’ll go with it.)

I should also note that my coworkers have adopted the nickname “Hi-Top” for me, so this particular brand of peanut butter seemed like it might be good luck.

Recipe courtesy of Divine Baking.

  • 1 cup crunchy peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and locate two ungreased cookie sheets.

Combine all ingredients, except chocolate chips, in a medium bowl. I used my handy dandy KitchenAid, but a hand mixer works just as well.

Yes, I Instagrammed this. It’s becomming a problem.

Mix until incorporated, but don’t overdo it! Next, dump your chocolate chips in and give the dough a few good stirs with a wooden spoon.

Drop the dough by rounded balls onto your cookie sheets. For this, I used my tablespoon measure and created balls about 1 1/2 T big. It helps if you moisten your hands a bit as well so that the dough sticks to itself and not to you!

Bake for 10 minutes and allow the cookies to rest on the baking sheets for about two minutes before removing them to the cooling rack. Don’t attempt to move them right when you take them out of the oven as they will still be soft and will fall apart into a disappointing mess. Trust me.

Last step: pile them onto a plate and enjoy! I brought these into the office this morning and they received positive reviews all around.

bon appetit!

Letter to My Occasional Readers

A new life calls for a new blog! After much deliberation, I have finally settled on a new cheesy name and a semi-aesthetically pleasing theme. You’re welcome.

Upon graduating, I found myself with a full-time paid internship position with the Portland Trailblazers

I don't see this getting old.

—which means that I have moved to Portland. Yes, against all odds, I have tricked someone into paying me to work in a basketball-crazed environment. I have also learned to stop pounding Pabsts like it’s my job and have begun to take on my role as a real live contributing member of society. Well, at least I’m moving in that general direction. The result is still to be seen.

I am still a bit unsure about the general direction that this blog may take. My interests, like my general persona, are a bit scattered and un-concentrated. I have a feeling this will turn into a platform where sports, lifestyle choices and terrible attempts at sarcasm all combine to make a giant mess, but we’ll see. Oh, and sprinkle some marketing/PR/communications thoughts in there as well—those will definitely come into play.

Anyway, if there are still any of you left, thank you for sticking with me through my feeble attempts to become a “blogger”. This time around, my posts will be coming twice a month. Now, notice I didn’t specify on what days said posts would appear—expect a lot of back-to-back posts when I get a sudden burst of energy. This is a rare occasion and therefore must be documented.

Now, because I feel that this post has had absolutely no useful content whatsoever, here is today’s topic: Portland’s weirdness. That whole “Keep Portland Weird” campaign has certainly done its job. Don’t get me wrong; I love this city so far. No wildfire scares (#SoCalgirlproblems), great coffee (Stumptown FTW), even better beer and tons of helpful people—my kind of place. Oh, and INCREDIBLE food carts. However, there are some oddities that I have yet to fall in line with.

First up: sustainable grocery bags. Now, I think that this is a WONDERFUL idea, and I have about 20 crammed into my linen closet. The trouble here is that when I happen to get off of work early and decide to pop into the grocery store to pick up a few items to prevent my hunger-induced crankiness, I of course do not have my bags. Now, in any other city I surely would be joined by at least 50% of the other customers in this forgetfulness. But oh no, not here in Portland! I’m pretty sure that I was the only shopper in the entire store that carried out a brown paper bag—and man did I feel the eyeballs on the back of my head. Lesson learned—three reusable bags are now in my trunk. My height makes me stick out enough; I certainly don’t need to be the neighborhood’s carbon footprint.

Second: the energy. If I look outside and the term “rain” seems to be an understatement, and the puddles on the streets resemble a small lake, call me lazy but the first thought that comes to mind is not “Perfect time for a jog!”. However, these people certainly do not let weather get in the way of their physical fitness. Good for all of you—this one is going to take me a while to adapt to. For now, I’ll stick with my 24 Hour Fitness membership.

That leads me to my third and final observation. As I mentioned, it rains a lot. People don’t seem to be too bothered by it when they’re jogging (feel free to pronounce that with a soft “j”). Or riding their bicycles. Or walking to lunch. Anyway—it rains a lot. However, it seems that all anybody talks about is the rain. Since I don’t have cable, I have about 12 working channels and each of them has a different morning news program. Every morning I flip through these programs to see that the main stories are about “excessive rain” and “big storm fronts”.  Perhaps I will understand this mentality more once I live here, but for now, I think it is safe to say that we live in a rainy part of the country. Commenting on it daily seems a bit unnecessary. Just an opinion.

Although, I will say that the recent “snowmageddon” was a foreign concept to me and I definitely jumped on that weather-obsessed train for a few days.

From my apartment window the night that snowmageddon hit the city. Yeah, I'm a wimp, but it certainly hit some areas like a mini blizzard.

I’m so happy to become a part of the weird Pacific Northwest, and cannot wait to see what these next six months have in store. I promise this is my last completely irrelevant rant-style post. It’s simply not a good look for me.

Cheers,

Nicole

The Graduation Bucket List

The other day I came across this bucket list and immediately felt small and insignificant. I have lived the first 22 years of my life and have done NONE of these things. (Scratch that, I’ve been to Hawaii–

The Bucket List

These guys know what's up; Courtesy of amazon.com

#19– but I spent most of the time in the gym scrambling for a spot with the California Storm). Anyway, reading that bucket list inspired me to create my own. Since I am a bit of a realist, it is a much shorter scaled-down version of what I hope my lifelong bucket list will look like, but it is a start. So, here it is—a bucket list of things to do before I graduate!

  1. I WILL go skiing. This must happen before I graduate—basketball always prevented me from getting out there and now I’ve been free from that excuse for three years, so it’s time to hit the powder.
  2. Travel to an away football game for the Ducks.
  3. Make it to Sam Bonds Garage and experience the Eugene music scene.
  4. Pack a picnic lunch and hit Sweet Cheeks Winery.
  5.  See Blake Griffin play at The Rose Garden (again)—David Stern, please negotiate and end this strike or you will have some unhappy people pounding on your door come November.
  6. Land a job in the sports industry or in event planning. If that doesn’t happen before I graduate, Mom and Dad will have an unwelcomed houseguest on their doorstep.
  7. Finish the Bend Ale Trail.
  8. Make it to Black Butte—whether I hike or ski I do not care but I hear it is an unforgettable place.
  9. Ride my bike to Saturday Market at least twice a month. There’s nothing like fresh cut flowers, happy hippies and juicy berries to start off the weekend.
  10.  Last but certainly not least, I want get shots up in Matthew Knight Arena. This may happen while a security guard is chasing me in circles, but I’ll take what I can get.

While my bucket list is not half as awesome as its inspiration, I figure it is a start. Hey, at least it gives me ten things to look forward to in this victory super senior lap!

Franchises and Communities: Connection over Creation

The other evening I attended a stimulating lecture by Angela Seits about creating and maintaining brand communities using social media. The take away for me was the idea that you do not create a community, you connect with one. That means connecting people with your brand, and watching them connect with one another as a result. This idea got me thinking: how do professional sports teams connect with their communities?

  1. Sign a superstar.Case in point: the Los Angeles Clippers. When was the last time this team was even relevant? When Elton Brand made the All Star squad in 2002? With the acquisition of Blake Griffin, the Clippers have once again found themselves surrounded with a community of loyal fans. How do they connect with them? Through Blake, of course. The superstar athlete promotes
    Blake Griffin AT&T

    Blake Griffin AT&T; courtesy of thesneakeraddict

    products from Subway sandwiches to AT&T phones, and graces the covers of popular sports magazines every other month. The question is, however, if His Highness decides to leave when his contract is terminated, will the Clippers community follow him? After all, many of us bandwagon Clipper fans are more a part of the Blake Griffin community than we are of Los Angeles’ second NBA team. (Yes, I am including myself in this bandwagon group. Not sorry about it.)

  2. Tweet, Tweet! With the popularity of Twitter surpassing other social networks, sports teams and their players have jumped on board and created “verified” accounts for themselves. This has proved to be a double-edged sword. In certain cases, it has shed light on the loud mouths of many of the players when their publicists are not monitoring them (check out my previous post about this issue). However, it also allows community members to connect during games, and to share opinions and thoughts about their favorite athletes. Twitter has also made the athletes seem more human to their fans, and many of them interact appropriately and chip in on conversations about their franchise. This also presents an opportunity for swift apologies
  3. Give back.This one is HUGE. The NBA practices this tactic through its global outreach program
    Kobe Bryant at NBA Day of Service

    Kobe Bryant at NBA Day of Service, courtesy of nba.com

    called NBA cares. This program sends players to areas in need, be it elementary schools or hospitals, the players are able to connect with their fans on a personal level, and give back to smaller communities. The NFL also practices giving back through charity work, and each team supports different initiatives in its community. NFL Giving aims to promote philanthropy through the act of giving back with both current and former NFL athletes. By giving back to the communities that support them, professional franchises establish a deeper connection that reaches below the idolized surface of superstar athletes and allows people to see that there is more to the team at hand.

To wrap it up, a franchise cannot create a community—it needs to connect with the one that supports it.