July 23, 2014

NOTD: Flip Flopped Inspiration

Guys - hey guys! I actually used my lightbox and fancy (it isn't really fancy) lamp to take pictures of my nails! I know - I was just as shocked as you!

I'm kind of obsessing over these nails - I love them so much! I've been bitten by the neon bug, what can I say?!

These nails were inspired by a photo I found on Instagram by @lifeisbetterpolished and her #bestietwinnails with @just1nail. I LOVED it at first sight! And I knew I needed to try it out. I even used some of the same nail polishes :)

Polishes Used: China Glaze Flip Flop Fantasy, OPI Don't Bossa Nova Me Around, Zoya Purity, and OPI My Favorite Ornament

Yes, I had to edit to color-correct, and yes, that made my skin a little orangey. Gross. BUT - these photos still don't quite capture how incredibly bright Flip Flop Fantasy is - but it's one of my favorite polishes! And it looks especially bright with my hands an iota tanner - I sat outside for half an hour at lunch on Monday (it was gloriously hot outside, so I got my much-needed vitamin D the sunny way), and tanned my hands right up!

Anyways, these are free-hand lines. I think that the inspiration nails were done using tape, but for whatever reason my brain thinks tape takes longer, and I'm never really all that successful with tape. So I free-handed. I usually do, anyway. They are not perfect, and I was a little sleepy, but I think they turned out pretty decent on the whole.

What do you think? Are you craving neons now that summer is finally here and getting hot? I know I am!

Thanks for reading!


July 22, 2014

NOTD: Inspired Bleached Neons

So Sunday I starting writing a post, but then it was just a bunch of hooey. Then Monday I attempted to color-correct these photos to write a post about nails. But then I got too distracted at work. Decided I should attempt to post these nails since I took the time to take and edit-ish them.

Couple of things first..

Bartending is rough on the nails and my hands in general. I'm trying to keep my nails short, but these idiot nails grow like weeds (I am thankful for this almost always). But my hands and cuticles are an absolute wreck right now. So - sorry in advance for less-than-perfect-looking nails!

Second, these bleached neons are impossible to photograph. Especially out in the sun. So they are edited beyond cropping. The goal is to make the polish as color-accurate as possible. This sometimes causes the color of my skin to look funky. Mostly because I either edit in the Picasa desktop application or upload my photos into my Photos drive in my Google account and edit them there.

Next up, these photos were taken while waiting for Luke's triathlon this past weekend, in Omaha. Don't worry - I was an attentive aunt! The 6 through 10 year olds went first, so I had some time to kill while we waited for the next group (Luke's group) to go.

Also, I decided I really should share after these nails somehow blew up my Instagram! I have no idea how or why they have been so popular - 149 likes and counting! - especially since the picture is kinda crappy, but it was pretty fun to see! I know 149+ is not that many likes, but my most so far is 76 (I just checked - I don't have that memorized!), so I'm almost double that right now. Kinda floored!

Finally, and probably most importantly, these nails were inspired by The Nailasaurus's Beautiful Bleached Mess, and I obviously did not succeed. However, I really ended up loving these nails! They were insanely bright (mercy, am I happy I found the Maybelline Bleached Neons before they were gone!), pretty easy to do, and really eye-catching!

The colors I used are: Zoya Purity as the base, Maybelline Lime Accent (green), Day Glow Teal (teal), Coral Heat, Lust for Lilac, then the accent nail is Maybelline Bleached in Peach with Precious Pearl glitter on top.

The last two pictures are probably the most color-accurate.

Anyways, I really loved these! I was on a bleached neon kick for a while, and these only inspired me to love them even more! Unfortunately, these did not last past the weekend, as I served a day and cleaned on Sunday.

Don't worry - I have more inspired neon nail art on my nails right now! And I even took real pictures of them! Exciting, right?!

Sneaky peek:

I know - I don't even remember the last time I got out my lightbox and lamp... I just need to take a picture of these beautiful nails in the low-light, then I'll post!

PS - I'm still incredibly happy with my big decision last week, and have definitely not changed my mind. Hooray for making huge decisions!

July 17, 2014

Hold My Own and Drive

Sometimes I feel the fear of uncertainty stinging clear
And I can't help but ask myself how much I'll let the fear take the wheel and steer
It's driven me before, it seems to have a vague
Haunting mass appeal
Lately I'm beginning to find that I should be the one behind the wheel

Words will never express how much Incubus has impacted my life and how much I love this band.

This song, "Drive," is such a beautiful song. Too bad some people think Incubus "sold out" or whatever because this song brought them into the mainstream, with the video showcasing Brandon Boyd's shirtless self and his artistry. But if you truly listen to the lyrics, it has quite the message.

It seemed fitting this morning for an Incubus song to come across the SiriusXM Alt Nation channel when I was on my way to work.

Yesterday, I made a big life decision. Knowing me, I will continue to question it for a while. I'll probably change my mind at least a few more times. But I think I really have my mind made up, with a lot of legitimate and reasonable justifications for my decision.

I have let a lot of not-good reasoning drive my decisions to do certain things this past year or so. I think it is finally time to accept myself and to do what I can to pursue my happiness. Even if pursuing said happiness takes me down some strange, unconventional, and not-the-safe-choice roads. I'm tired of playing it safe, making my decisions based on the simple fact that something is "safe" or "easy."

Can I do it? Is it worth it?

My mom swears by these two questions to help make determinations about changes. And I get it. I really do. But I sometimes don't think that either of those questions always has a simple answer. Maybe that's because I over-analyze everything.

Can I get my MBA? Sure.
Is it worth it? Yeah, probably.

But - can I? and is it?

For what I really want to do with my life, for where my passions lie, for the things I cannot fathom letting go of and forgetting about?

I've determined the answer is simply just no.

It has taken time and much soul-searching. Many conversations, rationalizations, reality checks. But I think I have finally determined that I will not be continuing the pursuit of a masters degree, in marketing or anything else. At least not right now.

I knew that after June 6, when my marketing class ended, that I would need to make a decision about continuing my education further. The program has a break from June 6 until August 25. I knew during that time, if I decided to continue, that I would need to take the GRE or GMAT.

Today is July 17, and I can promise you that, unless you count writing a post here with five GRE words, I have not studied for the GRE one iota. This has been weighing on me a great deal.

Another goal was to study for and take the Certified Beer Server exam in the month of June. That clearly did not happen, as I would have been shouting with joy from rooftops if I had taken the exam and passed. The fact that I have not prepared for or taken this exam honestly has weighed on me more than the same failings with the GRE.

That should be some sort of clue as to my true desires in life, but I'm a natural skeptic and not easily convinced.

In December of 2015, Derek will finish his MBA. Our goal has been that he will start looking for jobs nationally (okay - within a 12-hour drive of Nebraska because I can't be too far away from my parents) once he receives his MBA. As I was discussing this with Kyla the other day, it struck me that if I continue with my MBA goal as well, I will still be 21 credit hours away from completing my degree. That means we either cannot move yet, or that I don't finish my degree. Neither of which, in my opinion, are ideal options. I want so badly to move - or at least have a new job and new life opportunities. But I also don't want to quit my MBA if I had made it just over halfway through the program.

This realization was a big shock to my system.

Then yesterday, I was musing to Kyla again, and she asked about the program, classes, etc. When I looked it up online to show her, I made some more discoveries. See, starting this fall, the program is changing quite a bit. They restructured it, making the classes 8 weeks long (instead of 10), so students can easily take 15 hours a year. I knew this, and I was always uneasy about this fact. What I did not realize was that they were changing the degree requirements for the specific courses. And they were dropping a marketing class. So if I want to specialize in marketing, all I get is three additional classes (other than the intro class I already took). The degree program is 48 credit hours. That means only 1/4 of my degree would be focused on my specialization, and that 3/4 of the classes would be an enormous struggle for me, as they would focus on economics, accounting, finance, investments, and even agribusiness and international business.

That was a huge disappointment to me. None of those things interest me in the slightest. My brain is not so good with the numbers and concepts associated with those kinds of courses. I always knew I'd have to suffer through economics, accounting, and finance to complete the core requirements. I never knew I would have to take multiple courses in any of those subjects.

Those two realizations play a key role in my decision to no longer pursue my masters degree in business.

I also have been looking a lot lately back at the past year and a half, and contemplating how I got to where I am right now. I have realized that I have made a lot of decisions out of frustration, anger, with a shaken confidence, and perhaps with things other than my happiness in mind.

    I was upset about my UNL job not allowing me to flex my schedule to work in Zipline's taproom.

    I was bummed about not applying in time to the Zipline Taproom Manager position last year.

    I was in hate with my UNL job in general, ready to move on. But I was feeling like I was out of options due to my salary, job title, experience, and degree.

Those things lead me to decide to pursue a new degree. After a few curves that the universe threw my way, I ended up deciding to begin the same program as Derek, and jumping though a ton of hoops to actually start it. I've taken undergrad classes at UNL and Central Community College just to get here.

I think I was mostly just stubborn and frustrated. That lead me to be unhappy in a degree program.

    I was upset about not getting the Taproom Manager and Event Coordinator position at Zipline this year.

    I was frustrated about never hearing back about my application for Information Specialist for Ploughshare Brewing. And a little hurt, since I knew I had a previous good relationship with the owner, who knew I had applied.

    I was irritated that I didn't get a bartender or server position at Mellow Mushroom, even though they clearly needed help, and the manager I spoke with really elevated my hopes about the potential, only to not get back to me for about three weeks.

Those things lead me to apply for a bartender job at Longwell's (yeah, there's the name - though I think it is a surprise to no one at this point). Which lead me to hear, once again, that I didn't have the experience, and that I would need to serve first. Only this time I was actually hired. I played the waiting game, paid my serving dues, maybe begged a little, and now I am finally bartending.

Even though there are a lot of issues I have with Longwell's, I generally am enjoying bartending and working there. But due to my classes starting back up in August, and knowing how incredibly burnt out I was while working two jobs and taking a class, I've been contemplating my future with Longwell's. I had a heart-to-heart with Derek about it this past weekend. I decided I'd continue with my MBA, keep my job at Longwell's but change to only working two shifts a week, and continue looking for jobs at the university so I could continue to use my benefit of 15 credit hours of tuition for free each year to work on my MBA.

While I was happy to finally make a decision, my heart was still heavy.

Kyla really helped me yesterday to talk out my feelings, my complications, my concerns.

I realized I was attempting to get my degree for the wrong reasons. And that the degree pursuit is, in a few ways, holding me back. Holding me back from getting out of my full time job that I hate so much, that has changed me for the worse as a person, that gives me so much anxiety that it makes my physically ill. Holding me back from my passion of craft beer, working towards my Cicerone (even if it takes me a lifetime), and even from writing for American Craft Beer, which I miss terribly. Holding me back by potentially holding Derek back from his pursuit of an out-of-state job after he earns his MBA. Holding me back from much more.

Last night, I confessed this all to Derek. He understood and accepted my reasoning, realizing himself that I was right, and that this degree was probably not the best path for me. I am so grateful that Derek is so supportive of me - I am truly lucky for that!

Less than an hour after that discussion with Derek, an opportunity knocked on my door. One I so hope will work out. One that I cannot wait to tell you about, and hopefully with a smile on my face because it did work out. But I was sort of offered a job last night that I didn't even see coming at all. The time was not right for questions and answers, so I've emailed the guy, and I hope to get more information. I hope the response will contain good news. If not, then hopefully I can use this as a jumping off point for my new direction in life.

I feel the weight of a boulder off my shoulders today. Whether or not this other job opportunity works out, in this moment I am happy (from "I Wish You Were Here" by Incubus -- the song I heard this morning in the car on the way to work). I am happy I have finally made a decision about my life. My only hope is that I can make it work out. But I have some roadblocks out of my way, and that should help immensely.

I am finally going to be the one behind the wheel and not let my fear take the wheel and steer anymore.


July 16, 2014

Des Moines Triathlon in Photos

My brain is in approximately 100 million different places right. It feels both like a Monday and a Friday today; the longest and the shortest week of my life. Of course those are exaggerations, but I'm not quite sure by how much. I feel a word-vomit post coming on, but I'll save it for another day.

This past weekend, Derek and I headed up east to Des Moines, Iowa, for a triathlon. Since I've been so busy with the two jobs, I haven't made it to any triathlons yet this summer, plus Des Moines is starting to burst with awesome craft beer, so we decided to make a long weekend of it for a quick vacation. Well, I was obnoxiously calling it a "tribeercation" (like "try-beer-cation" - but "tri" because of triathlon.. get it?!), but vacation is probably easier.

Unfortunately, Luke woke up Friday morning with cold symptoms, and did not feel well all day Friday or Saturday. But he's pretty awesome, so he decided to compete anyway. While he didn't do as well as he had hoped, I couldn't be more proud of him for putting his game face on and going out there and competing! He did get 7th place out of the 11 year old boys, which is still incredible! I suppose it would be difficult from only getting 1st and 2nd places with everything so far this summer to getting a 7th place - but still! There were over 360 kids competing, and some of the best 11 year old boys in the country were at this event. I think 7th place is nothing to shake a stick at! Especially since he wasn't feeling well at all.

The triathlon took place at a gorgeous lake in West Des Moines, at the Raccoon River Park. There were some beautiful flowers on the edge of the lake, plus some train tracks - so I couldn't help myself! I had to take some photos. Besides, we had to park a 20 minute walk away from the event because we arrived after they had closed the parking lot and road to it, so it was nice to mosey back to the car after the event.

Included below are a few pictures from Luke's triathlon, along with a few pictures of the lakeside. Unedited, per normal. I had a great weekend - but no beer pictures today - just Luke and some flowers :)



July 9, 2014

Bartending, Take Two

Well - I survived. Barely.

Not to be too melodramatic or anything, but my goodness do I feel like an 80 year old today. These hips do not lie - I am in some major pain.

The sad part is, I'm in pain from cleaning. Lamest of all lames. At least I think that's why I'm in pain.

Last night was surprisingly much busier than I anticipated. I arrived and my co-bartender was way backed up. So I scrambled to clock in, didn't even get my drawer started, and began pouring beer after beer after beer for server tickets. I probably didn't finalize my drawer until after 6:30pm or close to 7:00pm. That's kind of crazy. I think the servers were really backed up with a lot of people sitting outside and wanting to drink a lot.

So not only was it my second day bartending, but my co-bartender was also training someone last night and it was that guy's first day. That means two newbies were there - bet my co-bartender was excited! Ha! Unfortunately for me, he had come in early to help with the World Cup game, so he was ready to leave as soon as our rush died down. That made me a little panicky. But he wrote down suggestions, filled our ice, and talked me through some things. And the trainee decided to stay on to help me for a couple more hours - something I will definitely be grateful for forever, because without him, I would not have made it through the night without breaking down.

The night stayed really pretty busy until right around 10:30pm, and I convinced our manager to close at 11:00pm, though he considered staying open longer. I poured a ton of beer, made a few mixed drinks, poured my first shots (Fireball!), made some red beers, and talked with a lot of people. Overall, it was a good night, even though it was busier than expected and I was anxious the whole time.

I don't know if I'll ever get used to kegs running out and spewing all over me. I shriek every time. It's a little embarrassing. Thankfully only two kegs popped on me last night. Major win compared to Saturday, when I think five kegs died on me. I was also smarter this time and wore my hair intentionally wavy with my bangs pulled back. I looked goofy, but it was much more appropriate!

We did have one casualty during the night, though. I don't know what I did, but my thumb nail started feeling funny when I was rushing around towards the beginning of my shift. I thought I chipped my polish, but when I checked, the polish was fully in tact. A few minutes later, it was still bugging me. Then I realized I had broken my thumb nail. My thumb nail! What you probably don't know is that my thumb nails are insanely strong and thick - I've accidentally stabbed myself with them and the cut it left looked like a cardboard cut (like a paper cut, but much, much thicker). I couldn't believe it!

RIP left thumb nail
I can't even begin to imagine how I'm going to fix this nail. My thumb nails are so thick they are virtually impossible to file - and I don't cut/trim my nails. Adios, square tip! Sad day.

(Oh wait - I said I wasn't trying to be too melodramatic... sorry about that..)

Other than my nail tragedy, the night was pretty good. It was fun to talk to the customers sitting at the bar - when I got the chance to actually focus on just them for a few precious moments. Even when we talked non-beer things, it was a blast! Of course, the beer things are my favorite things, and I did some beer chatting, too. Unfortunately, I had to do a lot of beer chatting in the form of informing people that our beer list is insanely inaccurate. I don't mind telling them what is different or describing our newer beers, but I will never not hate (this is a pet peeve when serving, too) having to tell people that we don't have what they want to drink, even though it is on our beer list. I'm hoping against all hope that our managers fix this list, and fast. There are probably 30 wrong beers on the list - that's insane.

Anyways, I digress.

We closed our doors at 11:00pm, much to my happiness but the dismay of our customers and people walking in after 11pm and wanting drinks. I started working my way through my cleaning check list, going by suggestions of my co-bartender from when I arrived and also the west bar bartender that night. I think (and sincerely hope!) that I got everything done -- but it took me 1.5 hours. Oof. I know this timing will improve once I get used to the closing procedures and figure out what can be done while we are still open but slowing down. And I'll figure out my best method of attack eventually, too. Alas, last night was not that night.

Guys - I mopped. And while mopping, I thought to myself sheesh - when's the last time you mopped, Sara?! and promptly realized that I'd never actually mopped a day in my life! No wonder I had poor form and am feeling it today!

Though mopping has nothing to do with my hips, and I can truly not pinpoint any cleaning duty that should impact my hips, but damn do my hips hurt today. #oldlady But seriously. Sitting here at my desk in my office is pretty much torture. Why?!

My legs are also killing me. I think that one thing I prefer about serving is that I am constantly moving, and moving a lot. Sure, you move a lot as a bartender, but a lot of the movement is upper-body and not a lot of walking around. I think bartending hurts my lower body more than serving does - not that it makes any kind of sense at all.

What else?

Hot Mess Express, Party of Me!

Oh, I didn't clock out until after 12:30am. That means I didn't walk into my house until around 12:50am. I was famished, but I was so, so incredibly exhausted. I didn't want to wake poor Derek up, so I crashed (almost literally) on the couch, without eating anything, and tried to go to sleep. I was so exhausted physically, but unfortunately, my brain was wide awake, and I didn't get to sleep until around 2am. Sure, that is a (sadly) almost normal time for me, but it's different to get four hours of sleep when the night before I sat on my ass at home doing nothing, versus bartending and cleaning for 6.7 hours after being at the day job for 8 hours, and then getting four hours of sleep. Not good.

Now I'm just being whiny.

Sara, you've been whining this whole post.

Yeah yeah.

I guess I'm just surprised by how horribly I hurt today. I didn't really expect it, ya know? I figured I'd be exhausted beyond reason, but my hips hurting? Nope, had no idea that would happen.

Anyways, I'm off to sulk a bit away from the blog so you don't all run away screaming from me forever. And I also have a lunch date soon with my favorite of all ladies (my mom, duh!), so I should get something done before I do that. I also need to try to file my stupid thumb nail down. I'm really good at prioritizing, aren't I?

Tonight, I get to see my former student worker and now friend, Levi! He's been working in Omaha this week, and it finally worked in our schedules to hang out, so Derek and I are leaving work an hour early to head to Omaha to see Levi. I can't wait!

Okay, but that's really all for now. Thanks for reading!