Oh a lobstering I’ll go – 2010 Mini Lobster Season!

10 Aug

There’s nothing like coming back from a business trip in Colorado where I averaged about 4 hours of sleep a night and celebrating my hard work by taking a day off during the week to go scuba diving. Mini Lobster Season 2010 was simply amazing. As a group, we caught 51 lobster in three dives. You have to see it to believe it. Watch the video>>

Doesn’t this video make you feel as if you were on the boat!? I love Flip Cams and Animoto.

I have yet to make all of the lobster tails, but did experiment with one. The white wine garlic butter sauce I made was ultra rich and oh so divine.

Scuba diving is one of my FAVORITE things to do when I have the time (Check out my underwater photos from my Thailand live aboard trip in 2008!).

When you have a free afternoon or day off, what do you love to do?

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Rainy Days in South Florida – Recycled Art Style

9 Aug

The rainy weather must have sparked something in the right side of my brain this weekend because I was in a full-force creative mood. I completed a few art projects and even helped a fellow South Tower resident with a social media plan for one of her passion projects (all I can say is “Hellllllo Mr. Ivy League Alumni of South Florida, my name is Samantha!).

Vintage Frame - Before

Since I’m in the market for a new desk, I’ve been actively searching Craigslist for a great find. Not only do I want a deal, I also want to find the a desk that goes well with my random style. The good news is that I think I found the perfect French-style vintage desk…the bad news is that I drive a Mini Cooper. So I had to say, I’ll think about it until I find someone down here with a truck – a task that takes one phone call in Breese and about 13 in South Florida.

But in the mean time, the kind man let me rummage through his storage unit (realll safe I tell ya! I thought about texting someone the address, just in case, but decided I was a big girl and could handle the situation) and I came across this amazing vintage photo frame. The guy thought I was crazy as I told him this big plan I had for turning into a jewelry frame, but he was excited to sell it to me. It was a steal – $10!

Vintage Jewelry Frame/Wall Art - After

Now, for those of you that know me well, know that I sometimes come up with ideas that aren’t fully executeable..especially when it comes to art projects. I’m just not that good at this whole art thing – attention to detail is sometimes hard for me. Just to prove my point – when I interned at Martha Stewart, the projects that required cutting were taken away from me because they were not acceptable for Martha’s eyes. Sheesh.

Anyways, I purchased the frame, I went to Joann Fabrics, gathered all the materials and then went home to complete the project. I’m not going to lie, my Vintage Jewelry Frame/Wall Art could have turned out better – but it was a good first attempt. All I can say is that I’m glad I was going for the vintage, shabby chic look because up close it’s not perfect. Check out my inspiration.

Wine Cork Wall Mural

Keeping the momentum, I remembered I had a 100 or so wine corks that I’ve been collecting over the years and have yet to do anything with them. Soo, the right brain kicked in again and I was off to pick up the supplies. I have to thank Martha Stewart for my inspiration this time – it was her birthday this week, so it’s only natural that I used one of her ideas.

It may have taken me 2 movies, a long Skype session with a distant friend,  a half of bottle of wine and a numerous burnt fingers, but I’m extremely proud of my new wine cork wall pieces. I even spray painted the frames brown to match my apartment, this was a serious project. (Note to self – must Google ‘how to get paint off of concrete.)

I’m so excited that I purchased more wine corks on ebay today – there are endless possibilities when it comes to these projects. One would think I’d just drink more wine, but it took me awhile to get to this point and I have a few gifts I’d like to make for people. Besides, the recipients wouldn’t value the meaning behind all of the corks I personally saved. Even though I may not remember each and every instance – each one represents a nice dinner, a long chat with a friend, or a relaxing evening on the pool deck. They’re special to me and I’m excited to have them hanging on the wall.

My favorite frame - I love all the deep red wine stains!

Next step – hanging my new, recycled wall art. The problem is that I’m afraid to commit to hanging it in on the wall in my apartment. I’m seriously reluctant to put the holes in the wall….it seems like such a serious commitment. What if I mess it up? I think it all goes back to the attention to detail – I’m not a fan of measuring out the spacing and balance. Which is odd because I’m always telling Mat at the office that I think the website doesn’t look balanced – I seriously think I live two lives. I need a man to do this for me. Must talk to Stefan (my roommate’s man) when he comes over this week.

Anyways, what do you guys think of my new wall art? I’m so excited about these projects…I needed something to keep my crazy brain occupied this weekend. Who’s ready to place an order – I only have so much wall space – and my brain has been extremely overactive lately with silly, useless thoughts! : )

Stumped on a Sunday

15 Mar

A few of my friends and I had an impromptu slumber party last night (I swear they only like me for my ideally placed apartment) after a fun night on Clematis. Being able to walk home is one of the many benefits of living where I do.

After waking up this morning and walking into the living room, one of them casually asked me what to do you?.  Not even thinking about it, I responded I do marketing and social media for independent pharmacies. He quickly laughed and said no, really, what do you do!? At this point, I was confused and asked him to clarify as I didn’t know how to respond. He went on to explain that he golfs, fishes, and does triathlons.  This small conversation with Steve really got me thinking because I didn’t know how to answer his simple question. What do I do? Ya I have a few hobbies, but none of them are things I can do at the spur of the moment. Last time I checked, I can’t go on a two month world expedition, scuba dive, or skydive (check out my skydiving video) on a normal Sunday. I may work long hours as a marketer, but I can’t really let that define who I am. So, after everyone left, I sat down and really tried to think about what I enjoy doing when I’m not spending time with friends or working.

While I need to expand my list, I came to the conclusion that I really enjoy cooking and entertaining people. I absolutely love it when people come over and enjoy a meal at my place. There’s nothing better than preparing food, opening a bottle of wine, and having a good conversation together. I think that’s what I loved the most about living in St. Louis. I could cook for either my roommates at Maryville or pseudo roommates at WashU.

However, I get kinda nervous when people eat my food as I’m not sure if it’s good or not. I cook a lot for myself and I think it tastes good, but what if they don’t think so!? I rarely follow a recipe. I usually just look up cooking times and go from there. Here’s a sampling of my recent dishes. Some of them are with friends, while some are just things I made for myself. (I’m showing these photos in hopes of people wanting to come over for a meal more often!) 🙂

Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

Stuffed Feta Chicken and Roasted Asparagus

Homemade Almond Butter and Lemon Hummus with Organic Gala Apples
(I’ll never buy store bought again..unless I need large quantities)

Vietnamese Spring Rolls (okay, so I was invited to a roll party)

Roasted Lemon and Balsamic Asparagus and Tomatoes with an Egg

I’ve come to be obsessed with roasted veggies. I often look forward to coming home and making roasted asparagus, brussel sprouts, or broccoli for dinner. Is it sad I crave these dishes throughout the day? Who knew roasted veggies could be so tasty! I’ve also become very fond of eggs. Maybe it’s this whole vegetarian (LENTarian) thing, maybe it’s because their easy to make for one person, but I’ve learned to do some pretty cool things with eggs and veggies.

Anyways, realizing that I love to cook for others and that the weather was absolutely beautiful today, I decided I wanted to grill something. I’ve never really grilled anything and thought today was the best day to bite the bullet. Tonight, Morgan, a few of our friends, and and I made something so wonderful, so easy, so delicious. We made a variety of grilled pizzas. Yes, I said grilled. I recently saw on Facebook that one of my friends was making grilled pizza, so needless to say it’s been on my mind for awhile…and wow, were they fabulous. You may think I’m exaggerating and are being a little over the top (who knows what my friends said), but they were SO GOOD. I simply bought pizza dough from Publix’s bakery, some key ingredients and grilled the pizza! I think all of those years working at California Pizza Kitchen may have played a role in my topping decisions.

Here’s what was on tonight’s menu:

Pizza # 1 (guess I should work on my copywriting skills) – pesto, fresh mozzarella, roasted broccoli (gasp!), roma tomatoes, and a balsamic glaze (not pictured)

Pizza # 2 – Trader Joe’s Arrabiata Sauce (thanks Mom!), goat cheese, roasted red and yellow peppers, grilled onions, balsamic glaze (not pictured), and fresh basil

Aren’t those grill marks beautiful!? Grilling the dough made it soft and chewy with just enough crispness and smoky flavor. I cannot get over how easy it was to grill pizzas. It’s actually  faster than baking a pizza as it only took about 5 minutes for the dough to bake (about 2-3 minutes on each side). After the dough was grilled, all we had to do was top the pizzas and let them heat up.

Mat brought along some awesome sauces that allowed each of us to experiment with mini pizzas. Our personal pizzas ranged from teriyaki with grilled pineapple (try it – especially tasty with toasted coconut and vanilla ice cream) and fresh mozzarella to spicy bbq sauce with chicken, balsamic glaze, and grilled onions. We were quite the creative bunch tonight. I’m really looking forward to lunch tomorrow.

After grilling pizzas, I don’t know if I can ever go back to traditional pizza. It was that good.  But who am I kidding, we’ll end up at Pizza Luna on Thursday night. 🙂 At least I now have this recipe in my back pocket. It’s exicting really, my complex is one of the only buildings downtown that has a grill on the pool deck (my personal backyard since I’m on the 9th floor), so it’s very cool knowing that I can do this whenever I want.

Although I absolutely love cooking and I guess it can be considered something I “do”, I’ve decided I need to expand my horizons. I’m going to go ahead fulfill a few of my 2010 goals. I’m going to sign up for a legitimate yoga class and also sign up for one of the Palm Beach Adult and Community Education courses. It’s actually pretty cool – they offer extremely affordable night classes ranging from Mah Johng to cooking to language. I’m sure I’ll find something I’ll enjoy.

Well, I’ve had quite an insightful day and really look forward to better answering that question next time. Someone once told me you should have three passions. While I’m interested in a lot of different things, I need to expand my horizons and find a few tangible, realistic passions. However, don’t get me wrong. If someone asked me to go on an international trip tomorrow, I’d drop everything faster than a heart beat.

So I have to ask everyone, what do you “do”? I’d love to hear about your passions! I could use some ideas.

Here’s to making the most out of life!

Have a great week.

-Samantha

Enjoying the ‘slow life’ in West Palm Beach

9 Mar

So, I might be already re-addicted to my blog. I absolutely love the new re-design (however, it’s always a work in progress) and I’ve realized that it re-energizes me. Not only will this blog help me feel a bit more accomplished and make my mom happy (and Carla Litteken, too!), most importantly it will help improve my writing skills. I’ve realized my writing skills haven’t been as strong lately, so hopefully this will help.

I have to admit that this past week was the longest week I’ve had since moving down here. I mentioned yesterday that times flies in South Florida and it has been the hardest thing to get used to. I can’t believe I’ve already been down here for 9 months. Where does the time go? Anyways, this week was perfect for a slow week my cousin and college roommate, Kelly Droege came to visit!

I was able to take some time off from work so we could hang out, go shopping, get pedicures, and other relaxing things that I normally don’t get to do during the day. It was absolutely heavenly.

In addition to the declining of my health ( we went out A LOT), we also enjoyed going to a few local events. We kicked off the week by going to the Greek Festival and the beach on Sunday which was followed by dinner at my new favorite restaurant in West Palm beach, Cabana Nuevo Latino. We had the best pineapple mojitos and tasty Cuban dishes. The rest of the week was somewhat similar as we did a lot of shopping (I’m not much of a shopper, but I did SO WELL!), hit up a few other favorite restaurants and happy hours, and watched a few movies. It was just like old times, except in warm weather. I really missed Kelly, it was so good to see her.

Kelly also had the honor of attending Mat’s karaoke performance at Roxy’s Pub on Clematis. My co-workers, Janet and Carole, even joined us to see Mat perform. For the past few months, Roxy’s has been hosting a  live karaoke contest with a $25,000 prize. Now this isn’t your traditional karaoke contest, it was backed by a live bad and had judges! Mat did soooo well! He actually made it to the third round. Mat has such a stage presence..check out his last performance to see what I mean. =) Sadly he did not make it to the final round..the competition is rough out there! I’m going to miss going to Roxy’s every Thursday for karaoke.

I was sad to see Kelly leave as it was comforting to see her. However, I know she’ll be back as I think she had a great time.

On Friday I took the opportunity to recoup by staying home and watching movies. When I moved down here I told myself I did not want a TV because I wanted to read more. HA! Even though I’ve read a few good books and watch significantly less TV, I’ve become addicted to the wonders of Hulu, instant streaming on Netflix (thanks Mom and Dad for letting me hack into your account!), and tracking down online episodes of entire seasons. As some of you know, I’m not a fan of the main stream/traditional/expected/conventional things in this society, so I’ve really gotten into Independent and Foreign films. I enjoy them as they allow me to escape into a different reality and they often represent thought provoking, real life topics versus the make believe fairy tales that really mess with peoples’ views towards reality. My recent favs are Paris, Je T’aime (thanks Netflix recommendations!) and Tell No One (thanks, Jeff!). Both are French films with subtitles, so I wouldn’t suggest watching them when sleepy as it took me a week or so to watch each of them.

I’m sure glad I rested up on Friday as Saturday was crazy busy and crazy fun. I started off the day by attending a free yoga session at the West Palm Beach Library where they have an amazing free events calendar. After yoga, Kathryn Poe and Jeremy Thole came to visit downtown as Josh had a game up North somewhere. I have to admit, we had a pretty cute afternoon. We started off by going to the West Palm Beach GreenMarket where we sampled so many tasty treats, then we went to the new water front and sat by the intercoastal for awhile. We then ventured to a local art gallery where an awesome display of “recycled” art is displayed. I say “recycled” because the artist angrily discusses how we waste so much. While I agree with his message, I find his actions repulsive. Isn’t it odd how all of the shoes, rakes, shoelaces, wine corks, and other materials look the EXACT same and brand new? Talk about wasteful. It would have been really cool if he would have used a bunch of recycled materials. However, I really liked the exhibit and thought the art was fantastic. I really liked the wine cork tree. I’ve been saving my wine corks for awhile..I think it’s going to take me awhile until I have a tree for my apartment. We also had lunch at Rocco’s Tacos..a visitor’s favorite!

My friends Kirsten and Karyn celebrated their birthday downtown later in the evening, so needless to say, it was a late night. We started off the night at Roxy’s and then traveled to the roof top bar. Clematis was packed on Saturday, I guess it’s because the Spring Break season has started. We had a rather large group, so it was hard to keep track of everyone. All in all, it was an interesting night. End of story.

Sunday was spent relaxing. Mat and I had lunch at Panera (St. Louis Bread Co. to all you Midwesterners) and then went to see Shutter Island. It’s funny how Mat and I spend so much time together throughout the week in our cozy office and then go out together on the weekends…I think we’re up to about 1,000 hours per week. It’s nice to have a good friend like him down here.

Well, off to get $3 sushi at Kona Grill with Ms. Winehouse. I’ve had a craving for sushi all day…I think this vegetarian thing is starting to get to me. I crave protein. Guess it’s going to be a veggie roll for this ex-meat and potatoes girl…maybe we’ll throw in a sake bomb or glass of wine. That should curb the cravings, right? 🙂

Have a good night – make it a good one!

-Samantha

P.S. Does anyone have a good movie recommendations or tasty veggie-friendly recipes?

A peek inside the life of a transplanted South Floridian

8 Mar

Hello World. Yes, I know..I’ve completely fallen off the face of the blogging Earth, but will you let me come back? I’ve been loyal to your cousins Facebook and Twitter. The truth is, I’ve completely turned my life upside down and have started from scratch. It’s been a tremendous learning experience and I have so much to share. So here it goes..this post is a recap of the last 9 months of my ever-changing life.

If you didn’t know already, in June I packed up my brand new MINI Cooper S (isn’t it cute?!) and moved my belongings to South Florida. Dad and I packed up my car and  took an unforgettable road trip from Breese, IL to West Palm Beach, FL. There’s nothing like buying a new car the one day and driving it 1, 129 miles the next. Talk about a honeymoon. 🙂

I moved to Florida to accept a marketing position at Pharmacy Development Services, a marketing and management firm for Independent Pharmacies. (How ironic, right?) This is the last place I expected to end up after traveling and graduation, but I LOVE it! I’ve been exposed to so many different aspects of business. From sales to social media to direct mail to graphic design, I’ve been able to learn so much! Walk into Comprehensive Care Pharmacy and you’ll see a small portion of the things my company produces – insert shameless plugs for My Dose Alert and the CCRX Facebook page . No two days are the same for me and I rarely look at the clock and wonder when I can leave. In fact, I often ask for more hours in the day. I’m a firm believer that everyone gets the same amount of hours in the day..it just depends how you manage them. I’m working on this whole time management thing.

The best part of it has been the fact that I get to travel every now and then. I’m having a hard time grasping this whole 9-5, er, 8:30-7 five days a week thing, so the traveling part really helps. I’ve had the opportunity to travel to Orlando twice, Washington D.C. (and saw my parents and sisters!), California, and New Orleans. I can’t wait to find out where we’re going next. I know Colorado is definitely on the list.

My latest trip was to Orlando for the PDS Independent Pharmacy Business Growth Conference where we welcomed about 350 pharmacy owners and their teams to extensively learn about business, recommended products, and you guessed it, social media! My teammate, Mat, and I presented the concepts of social media to the crowd and they loved it. Dan, the owner of PDS, gave Mat and I such an nice intro and the crowd’s welcome was so unexpected. Check it out on YouTube. So sorry for the shakiness, can you tell I was anxious?!  Actually, I was kinda nervous, but the excitement of it all really helped. We had a few malfunctions (i.e. I deleted my portion of the presentation 2 hours before showtime and I received a 5 minute warning during my portion so I skipped over a lot), but in the end it was great. We had 90 individual pharmacies enroll in our Social Media Bootcamp, so now Mat and I both wear a webinar hat in addition to all of our other proverbial hats. I truly look forward to every Wednesday when we share new social media strategies and then see the pharmacies take action on their own Facebook and Twitter page.

Ok. enough about work. Even though I spend a lot of time working, I’ve been able to design a pretty nice life for myself down here. Long story short, I’ve moved a total of three times since moving to South Florida and have finally ended up in a really nice apartment complex. It’s like a resort. Dan asked me why I never leave West Palm Beach and it’s because I live in the middle of it all. I can walk to the grocery store, too many bars and restaurants, an outdoor mall, see the ocean, etc. Who would want to leave this paradise?

In my opinion, my roommate, Morgan, and I have the best apartment in the entire complex as we live across the hall from the pool (left) and club room (right). So, if you ever come over for dinner or to hang out please know we’ll have dinner in what I call, MY living room since I do not have a kitchen table or TV. I just go into the clubroom and do my thing. It’s amazing. The photo on the left is the view from my balcony. If you know me well, you know I’m a sucker for views. I love laying in bed at night and seeing all the lights from the buildings and waking up in the morning to see the vibrant colors from the sunrise. Did I mention I’m living the life down here?

In addition to my sweet apartment and job, I’ve also mad some amazing friends and have stumbled upon some pretty fun situations. What kind of situations you ask? Well, I’ve found out that I’m pretty good at kickball. Yes, I said kickball. I’ve played in two WAKA Kickball seasons and about to start my third. Let’s face it, when you join a league of a couple hundred grown adults that meet once a week to play in a competitive game with a red rubber ball, it gets pretty interesting. Not to mention, both of the leagues I’ve played in were sponsored by an Irish Pub. I lived here for three days and I was already in a league. To be honest, kickball is where I met my core group of friends. I’m VERY fortunate. This winter I also played in a softball league. It has been fun, but I prefer kickball.


I also randomly traveled to Key West one weekend with two friends. Nothing beats deciding on a Friday afternoon to go to Key West on Saturday and it ends up being Lobster Fest. Oh, we also camped instead of staying at a hotel and jammed to Jimmy Buffet the ENTIRE time. We are planning another trip soon, however I don’t think it will be as fun since it’s not spur of the moment.

Basically, I’ve tried putting myself in a lot of random situations. While I love my apartment, I’m not a fan of staying it all the time. I love to grab a drink with the girls, dance til 4am, go scuba diving when I can (I recently went lobster diving, that was interesting!), attend free yoga at the library and on the beach when possible, attend festivals and crazy street parties (Indian, Greek, Halloween), and go to the beach or sit on the pool deck when possible. Simply put, I’m living a very active life. I go, go, go until I crash and then I’m good to go.

I’ve also had the opportunity to go home (I miss
everyone so much), have visitors here, and meet up with some old friends. It’s quite odd seeing people from my old life and/or letting them see my new as I think I’ve changed. If you’re ever in the area (Cards Fans – Jupiter is just up the highway), let me know as I’d love to catch up.

Like I said before, I never expected to end up in South Florida. I truly thought I was going to go to Seattle or New York City. They would have been great, but I don’t think I would have been able to branch out and grow the way I have since moving down here. I’ve had so many professional and personal learning experiences that if I were to list all of the lessons learned we’d be here forever. I am fortunate for every single one of them as I’ve developed in ways I’ve never imagined. I’ve been in situations that I thought I’d never be in and seemed to survive or walk way saying, well I’ll know better next time. I believe I’ve learned the meaning of true friendship, not to take life to seriously, and to just live life as it comes…yikes, that last one is hard. Moving here was a blessing and I always look forward to what’s going to happen next.

Wow, well that pretty much sums up the past 9 months of my life. That’s a big one off of the to-do list. I know I glazed over a lot and I apologize. I tried keeping it relatively short. There were so many times where I wish I had kept up with my blog so I could tell everyone about the experience, but I knew I needed to get this big recap of out the way. Please stay tuned to the blog as I look forward to posting more often about a variety of topics. As always, I look forward to your comments and thoughts as it reminds me of home and also let’s me know that people are actually out there listening.  Thanks guys – I’m excited to be back!

-Sam

P.S. What do you think of the new design?

My special day with Dad!

27 Apr

Since coming home I’ve been on a mission to get back in touch with my small-town girl roots and, of course, spending more time with my family. For the past year I have been living the big-city and jetsetter lifestyle and now it is time to remember the great times I had growing up in Breese.

My dad recently asked me to go turkey hunting with him in Iuka, IL. At first I was timid about going since I’m not too keen on killing animals for sustainability reasons, but I decided to make the best of it and see my dad in his prime.

The day started off with a nice wake up call at 4:30am, I eagerly jumped out of bed and literally dressed myself to kill. Kate lent me her hunting clothes, so I wouldn’t be out of place in the timber- I wouldn’t want to be an embarrassment. Hunters often act so laid back, but I’ve found that they are just as picky about their clothes and accessories as a high-end fashionista.

Hopping into the truck, dad and I were off for the woods. But first, we had to stop by CC Food Mart for a Clinton County breakfast of doughnuts and coffee. I thought about getting the true CC breakfast (Ski and a doughnut), but I didn’t think my body would be able to handle the sugar overload as I’ve been gone way to long …that type of intake takes training, ya know!

We made it to the timber just after daybreak – the sunrise was beautiful! Pulling up I was quite nervous, I was afraid I would do the “uncool” thing and scare away all the wildlife. If you know me well, you know I can’t sit still very long and love to chat about anything.

Dad set us up in a pop-up tent in the middle of a grassy field where he believed the turkeys frequented. We sat, made turkey noises, discussed life, took naps, read books, but most of all enjoyed each others company. Although we , excuse me, he, did not shoot a turkey, we did see two deer, a hen (female turkey?), a turtle, and a few frogs. It was a lot of fun. We had to be incognito the whole time…it was so hard for me. I tried so hard, but could hold still. I hope I wasn’t the reason the turkeys didn’t come around.

After our hunting excursion, Dad and I had an honorary Earth and Arbor Day as we planted over 150 tree saplings around his 60 acres. We made such a team – I placed and he dug. Planting the trees was such a refreshing task, especially for a wannabe environmentalist like me.

Observing my dad hunting, walking and four-wheeling around the forest, and planting trees truly reminded me of what I’ve missed while traveling and working in NYC. I am so grateful my dad asked me to go with him, I look forward to more father/daughter excursions.

It’s been awhile, but I’m still here!

20 Apr

Hi everyone,

It has been awhile, but I have been super busy since coming back from Thailand and moving James to Seattle. I know many of you are looking for a closing to our trip and I definitely have it. I am working on a piece for the Breese Journal and plan to post it on here as well. I want to give our trip the justice it deserves!

You may have noticed that there have been a few changes to the blog as I have big plans for it. Be on the lookout for new and exciting posts about my eclectic life, which I know you are going to love.

See you again soon!

Sam