Ketchup, Get It?

Dear long lost friends. Sorry I've been a long lost blogger. Life happens though, which is a good thing, a great thing actually - so I'm not too sorry, only a little. 

A lot has happened since my Hawaiian adventure to start off the new year. I'm giving new meaning to new year, new me. Well, more so than I ever have before. Here's a top ten to get you up to speed, cliff notes style. Well, as close to cliff notes as the writer in me is capable of. So plan on still reading for a while. (Sorry, I can't help it. I at least kept it to a "top 10".)

1. This one's a given, but here it is anyways. I went to Hawaii!!! It was an amazing, once in a life time experience. I had a magical two week vacation with my bestest friend who has been working out there on a cruise ship. But, magic comes with a price....
2. The price being that my life changed rather drastically right before I left the mainland (see 3) and I ended up missing 2 weeks of ... dun dun duh nunnn : school. Yup. I traded the working life to be a poor college kid again, full time. Which partially explains my overall absence from society these days - I have been a studying crazed hermit crab all winter. Starting the semester off 2 weeks behind didn't help, but it was a price I was more than willing to pay to be able to have a taste of paradise. That's not something that happens every day. Back in the real world - adjusting to being a student again has been a challenge, but if I've learned anything in the last few years, it's that I can more than handle a challenge.
3. Oh yeah, by the way, I quit my job. It wasn't a throw your computer out the window on your way out kind of "I quit". But more, I need to be more fulfilled, kind of quit. Anytime you make the choice to improve upon yourself, I see it as a good thing. While I loved what I was doing, some other factors of the environment started to take their toll on me. Don't worry, I have a pretty legit reason for bailing (see 4) and I don't in a million years regret the experience I gained or the people I met along the way. Don't, worry, I'll be back soon enough (well, kinda - see 5).
4. Why 2 and 3? Well, because I have finally decided what I want to be when I grow up. Possibly. Maybe. While it is not a hairdresser, nor an official commercial maker lady, like I previously thought when I was in kindergarden, it's not far off from my history as a worker bee drone so far. Instead of a 180, I'd call it more of a slight right. I have decided to pursue masters programs in nutrition so I can sit for the RD (registered dietitian) exam. I figured, if I'm already breathing and sleeping all things "food", why not focus it into an area where I might be able to help people at the same time, yano? Plus, I've always wanted to get a masters degree. I was just too scared to spend the money. But now, the gloves are off!
5. Still, it's going to be a loooong haul. Programs are typically 3-3.5 years. I don't apply for programs until January (2014), for admission in the fall. And up until my (fingers crossed) admission to a program somewhere somehow, I have a full schedule of science prerequisites to take - math and bio and loads of chemistry, oh my! My brain has been crammed with the stages of cell division and the periodic table as of late. Luckily, this week was my spring break so I have been doing an excellent job of turning my brain to mushy mush by catching up on all of the tv watching I have missed the last few months. 
6. Speaking of tv - since I recently moved back in with the 'rents, can I just say that "on demand" is the best thing since sliced bread? It has completely enabled me to become a complete couch potato to make up for the past few months of almost forgetting what a tv was. Ok so maybe that's not a gold star kind of thing, but can you blame me for wanting to watch creativity unfold? That's the beauty of entertainment, right? Plus, I finally quit being a shutout granny and figured out what this "Girls" hype was all about. And renewed my Carrie Brownstein obsession (see link 10d) at that.
7. No longer a city girl, but still fortunate enough to have my parents put me up for a undefined while as I try my "sciencey" hand at community college - this means I had to reapply for my Cottage Food business application. I had already been approved by the city (Cook County) - "yay!" But since I will now be using my parents super swanky soapstone counter-topped oasis in the suburbs as my kitchen, I had to reapply to DuPage County. Three months later and the "verdict is still out", which is uber frustrating as (1) I already applied and got approved in a neighboring county and (2) most of the market application deadlines are either now closed or will be in the very near future. How was I to know it would be a multi-month process to approve my business? Tick.Tock. Hopefully I can still eek into a market or two for at least a few weeks out of the summer. I want to share all of the baked good-ness I have learned with the world! So sue me! Anyways, keep your fingers crossed for me! (Pwease?!) Hold on hope!
8. Long story short, you should also know that I'm going vegan. (It's got that "look ma, no hands kind of effect, doesn't it?) My mom recently read the China Study. Which lead to us watching the documentary "Forks Over Knives." (It's on Netflix, if you have access, I would definitely recommend giving it a watch.) This lead to the whole family committing to going "plant strong." In college I wrote a research paper on a very similar subject matter - how changes to one's diet can drastically reduce, if not eliminate symptoms of common ailments and even sometimes symptoms of certain diseases. Last weekend I made vegan donuts after a TJMaxx donut pan guilty splurge and I swear to you - donuts have never tasted so good. Trust me, not eating meat or dairy is nowhere near the end of the world. I thought it would be a lot harder than it is. The biggest challenge has been eating out. But, baby steps. 
9. The blog page got a facelift. Did you notice? What do you think? I also updated the facebook pace a bit - if you haven't already, please take a minute to "like me". Wait, that came out wrong. That made it sound like I'm singing Carly Simon's "You're so vain" to myself right now as I ask this of you. It's just always nice to know that someone else besides me is engaged. It's how we connect in this here technological age after all, isn't it?
10. And now I leave you with some food for thought. (Ba dum ching.) A random smattering of links that caught my eye as of late. Let me know what you think!

(a) What does 2,000 calories look like?
(b) Thank goodness gracious coffee is vegan. Tattly gets it.
(c) Our favoritest vegan recipe to make around the house these days (although it's frequency might fade a bit in the coming, hopefully warmer months) - is vegetarian chili. One of my fellow bloggers, who I am lucky enough to call my friend, has the blue star recipe in this household (shout out to Amanda, onna the coolest chickadees I know!). Make it. Now. (Click here for the recipe.) 

(d) Click this link to watch a video clip of Portlandia's take on communal dining. Have you dined communally at a restaurant? What was your experience? Hopefully and most likely not quite as painful as this. ;)

(e) Mark your calendars, Fete Market debut's next month (April 4th). And one of the Fete founders (Heather Sperling of Tasting Table) will be at the Hideout's Interview Show next week (April 5th) to tell you all about it!

(f) Finally, I leave you with one of my new favorite cookie recipes, brought to you by my obsession with the Lucky Peach tumblr. Watch and learn. Making life sweeter is quite the workout!

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