Thursday, January 31, 2013

Volunteer Service.

I am so excited to finally begin my volunteer training for CERT, the Community Emergency Response Team, this Saturday. It seems like forever ago I signed up for classes, changed my major, and headed down a whole new path in life, but in reality it's only been a few months. Still, I can't believe that it's time!
"The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Program educates people about disaster preparedness for hazards that may impact their area and trains them in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations." Via: Citizen Corps

When I first began my college career I had decided to go into public health and education. My goal was to be able to travel around both the United States and the rest of the world teaching sexual education courses, and subsequently, HIV/AIDs awareness. Slowly, that started to change into an international relations major, aiming to work as a foreign aid officer in various embassies around the world. Eventually that petered out too, and I grabbed onto the idea of being a disaster relief manager, working with groups like FEMA, the American Red Cross and more.

After nearly any natural disaster, but especially after Sandy hit the US, I realized that I wanted to be involved. I wanted to be doing damage assessment to get people aid more quickly, I wanted to help people evacuate, and I wanted to be the one that was there on the ground floor, helping in any way that I could. I didn't want to be in an office, or in an embassy, but there, in the thick of things, side by side with my fellow man. I had embraced that idea fully, and immediately set out to see if working with an organization like FEMA was something I'd like to do. After a few months of research and a meeting with a disaster relief worker within the organization, I decided that it was.

Enter CERT! I signed up for a few classes with the intention of readying myself for basic training this fall, and signed up for classes held online through FEMA itself. While it will take time to become certified in various skills, and to finish training (and get my bachelors), it'll be completely worth it!

I'm honestly overjoyed. Hopefully, classes are all that I'm imagining them to be. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Book Club.

“Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book. And then there are books like An Imperial Affliction, which you can't tell people about, books so special and rare and yours that advertising your affection feels like betrayal”
I know that I said that I would be reading all of the classics that I'd collected, starting with Gone with the Wind, however I failed in sticking to it completely. At some point last week, I decided at random to grab The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green, and accidentally devoured it. I had bought the book when it came out last year, but after my roommate read it and said she didn't like it, I just put it up on the shelves and forgot about it.
I'm not sure if it was fate that led me to picking it up again, or what, but by doing so I had fallen in love with a new author, and by default, I also fell in love with a new book. There hasn't been something that just built me up, knocked me down, and redesigned how I looked at the world all around me in a very long time. I highly recommend anyone looking for a new book to pick up any number of John Green novels. I'd love to hear what you think about them!
Additionally, I've started a Goodreads account to keep track of all of the things that I'm reading, and to get recommendations for future books. My reading list is so long right now, but I'm always on the hunt for new things to read. If you're an avid reader, I encourage you to sign up and keep track and rate books you love (or hate), and allow me to follow along with you! If you're already a member of the site, feel free to add me on there and we'll keep track of the other's progress together.
Happy reading!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Iron Chef, Home Edition.

Last night I was able to attend an Iron Chef (house party-esque) cook-off with Ms. Ashley of Ending Up Here, and I had a blast! The event was hosted at a gorgeous home in Columbus by friends of Ashley, and when we arrived the place was overflowing with talented and eager chefs. There were six contestants in total, who were all slaving over dishes that included Doritos, the secret ingredient. I wasn't exactly sure what I was getting myself into when I agreed to go, so when I walked in to find a semi-serious competition with people who were actually skilled in cooking, I was delighted!

We were there to be part of the judging team (one that amassed a good 10+ people in all), and were fed good food and provided with good drinks all night long. The event (and it's hosts) were so thoughtful and entertaining that by the end I felt like we were all sitting down for a family meal.

Ashley and I both documented the affair (and all of the food!), and so you can view more images on her blog. I tried to get as many images as I could manage, since everything was so impressive that I felt like it all needed to be shared as much as possible. I was blown away by every one's creativity and presentation!

The contestants had 3.5 hours to cook, which included shopping for their ingredients. There were people frying their dishes, grilling their dishes (in the freezing rain!), and baking their dishes up until the last 5 minutes of the competition. Since I'm not really a person who can cook, I was mesmerized by all of the techniques and concoctions that people had come up with, especially those that used a food processor.

When all of the dishes were complete and all spoons and pans were down, everyone set their meals on the table and then stepped aside. The hosts attached labels and a score card next to each entry, and then all of us gathered round for a potluck annihilation of all of it. Our plates were so full! Here are the dishes provided, including a note on how the Doritos were used.


This was the second place winner, courtesy of Chef Dan (head chef of The Explorers Club). This was a pork tenderloin dish made with spicy Doritos, chile quiles, and fried eggs. It was DELICIOUS. And pretty spicy, too.

Another of Dan's (I believe), which was templu and tofu spicy Doritos nachos, with fire roasted salsa. This was also absolutely delicious, and full of a spicy kick.

This entry by Frank was a cool ranch Doritos tempura (clever!) green beans.

This entry won first place in the competition! Tony K of Mithridium made a maple bacon, Doritos, and Red Stag trail mix. A favorite among the judges!

This was one of my personal favorites, as I absolutely love soups (and because I've been sick all week), and I had a really hard time not eating all of it. This was the third place dish and was comprised of brown sugar and Doritos encrusted pork in a potato broccoli cheese soup. Divine. It was divine!

 These were apple and chicken meatballs, with a Doritos and cracker crust, placed over noodles. The girl who made this was so sweet and stylish!
This dish won Most Creative Use of Doritos, and rightfully so! Frank made Doritos bacon bark, and it was incredible. Way to go, Frank!

Another of Frank's dishes, this was a Doritos encrusted pork chop dish over rice.

Another soup, this one provided by Chef Dan. Unfortunately, I didn't get the details of this dish, but it was also delicious.

Another of my favorites! This was a Frank's Hot Sauce in Doritos and garlic mashed potatoes. So good!

The entire entry, complete with those delicious mashed potatoes!

And finally, a chicken and rice pilaf in which Doritos were used for the breading. Clever, clever!

My plate full of all of the delicious food. Not pictured, me drinking the soup out of the gigantic bowls.

^^^ The woman herself! Ashley, digging into her many plates of food.

Pre-food-coma judges.

^^^ And me, stuffing my face with those mashed potatoes. (I might have gone back for seconds... And thirds)

The prizes were spray painted utensils on cups and caulk. I like this group of people a lot.

The wonderful contestants of Iron Chef, Home Edition 2013!

Friday, January 25, 2013

A Playlist for a Cold Day.

It's an awfully cold day in Ohio right now with temperatures at just 18 degrees, and snow falling everywhere. While I'm stuck in the office working, soaking up my time with my space heater, I'm dreaming of warmer weather and the upcoming weekend. This teeny playlist is helping me stay bubbly, despite the awful, awful weather outside. I hope it helps you, too!

-  Little Green Cars- The John Wayne

- Eisley- The Valley

- Atmosphere- She's Enough

- Kimbra- Settle Down

- Young the Giant- My Body

- Janelle Monae- Tightrope

- Tilly and the Wall- All Kinds of Guns

- Astronautalis- The is Our Science

- Mutemath- Chaos

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Flu Season.

Almost everyone around me has the flu right now, including myself! I've been sick (for the second time this month) since Monday, and it was so bad on Tuesday night that I had to take yesterday off of work. The only thing that made my suffering manageable was being able to curl up in bed to watch five straight hours of Game of Thrones episodes. Really though, anything is better with GoT.

At some point yesterday morning I decided that I wanted to go to Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams to try their new Influenza Sorbet, hoping that it might make my sandpaper throat feel better. With cayenne pepper, Maker's Mark bourbon, ginger, honey, lemon and orange juice, it sounded like a hot-tottie remedy from heaven, and I was anxious to get a taste.

While the Maker's Mark flavor was a little too strong for me personally, I do think that it'd be a great sorbet for the sick (or any bourbon-ite). I can imagine it cleansing the sinuses fairly well, while cooling the throat at the same time. I'm not a fan of any alcohol flavor, so I ended up with a few scoops of cranberry sorbet, which soothed my throat just fine.

I strongly suggest you stop by for a taste or a pint of Influenza Sorbet, especially if you're feeling a bit under the weather.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Life Advice.

There's been a running joke within my personal group of friends that I should start an advice column. It's mostly due to the fact that I am somehow able to mess up every kind of relationship, situation, or reaction known to man, leading me to be a rather experienced individual. What makes me qualified to offer any advice isn't necessarily that I'm a perpetual screw-up, but more that I stop and think about all of the reasons as to why I screwed up. My intense introspection and self-awareness has led me to agree that I would in fact make an excellent advice giver.

Where do I submit my question? 

I have created a separate Tumblr account called, Dear Brianne, named as an ode to the wonderful and very missed Dear Abby columnist, Abigail von Buren. If you have a question that you'd like advice or insight into, you can submit that question through the Ask Me Anything link through Tumblr, anonymously or not, and I will answer it as quickly as I can. While there are no limits to the type of questions you might ask, I will ignore any hateful, negative, or inappropriate ones that are left for me to see.

I hope to hear from you soon.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Firefly Cosplay, Ohayocon 2013.

This year's Ohayocon for us went the Whedon route, as I was determined to put together a Firefly cosplay group. Initially we had everyone except for Zoe, and as the convention got closer and closer, more and more characters dropped from our lineup. By the time Saturday morning rolled around, all we had was Mal, Jayne, Inara, Simon, and Saffron. We had a blast though, and there was enough crowd popularity that we will definitely repeat the group for next year's convention in January.

Anyway, I chose to be YoSaffBridge (aka Saffron) for the convention, and my costume was from the episode, "Trash".

My top was handmade by a professional costumer and friend, Darkspectre, and was perfect, down to the last detail. I couldn't have been more impressed with the quality, the design, and the cinching waist! My skirt was the only real challenge, as finding a solid white inexpensive cotton skirt in the middle of winter (in my size!) was impossible. I finally found one though, and bought the closest looking white lace applique I could find to stitch into it. I thought my applique would be much larger, but in the end it didn't really matter. For next year, I think I'll commission an applique for the hip cut-out and the bottom detail to make the entire outfit more screen accurate. I bought her shell charm on Etsy (that my hair covers up in most images), and attached it to a small beaded choker that I found for $.65 at the thrift store. My sandals were $5 from the same thrift store. The entire costume from head to toe came out to around $110, which was worth it, since I had a custom commissioned top that was as close to the original as I could have ever hoped for.

Outside of looking the most like Saffron, I also chose to be her so that I could do a couple's cosplay with my boyfriend, Dan, who portrayed Captain Malcolm Reynolds. He and I had put together his costume from various thrift stores around Columbus, and were able to find everything expect for the correct suspenders (and holster). At the time, we had settled for tightish khaki pants that we modified with brown stripes up the sides, and buttons for the suspenders. Next year, we'll likely commission Dark Spectre to make the high waisted pants he wears throughout the show, as she has the pattern and craftsmanship to make it look screen accurate. With the extra time, we'll be able to track down the correct suspenders, too! For what we were able to find though, we were both happy, especially because his costume was so incredibly inexpensive!

Our Jayne had made his Vera himself, and the entire construction was incredible. He used a modified Nerf Recon CS-6 with a stock from a Raider CS-35 and custom flash suppressor, extended clip and custom paint job. He also had a friend knit a little hat for Vera to get around the Convention's weapon rules. You can see detailed images of Vera here.

We ran into one of the best Kaylee's I have ever seen at a convention and I nearly died. She was not part of our group, but I certainly wish that she was!

Our Inara was pretty popular with the crowd, and she was super cute to boot!

I'll leave you with one last image, inspired by the episode, Our Mrs. Reynolds, where everyone in our group (including an out of place River Song) gets knocked out after kissing Saffron. It's fun to be a fan.

I hope that you enjoyed our attempt at Firefly! We'll be revisiting this wonderful cosplay group next year!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Happy Friday!

While I have an incredibly busy weekend ahead of me with friends coming to visit, and Ohayocon taking place, I thought I'd leave you with a few lazy pictures of Tuesdsay. Everytime I look at these (or at him for that matter) I just want to curl up on the couch and snuggle forever.
Unfortuantely that's not really in the cards for me, but maybe a low-key, snuggling weekend is probable for you! No matter what hectic scale your weekend falls on, I hope that it is lovely, long, and peaceful!

^^^Note:  His overlicked paw is doing much better since these pictures were taken =]

Thursday, January 17, 2013

A Picnic by a Waterfall.

The weather this past weekend was incredible, and with it being 60 degrees in the middle of our Ohio winter, I couldn't help but be outside as much as possible. I patiently waited for all of the snow to melt before launching a trip to Hayden Falls for a breakfast picnic in front of a full waterfall. It was so magical! And cold. So very, very cold.

We cheated with getting Bob Evans instead of cooking (I had work right after this adventure), and I ended up getting a delicious breakfast biscuit bowl. It was so good! We were so hungry (and I forgot the tripod and everything was wet), so I didn't get any actual "picnic" pictures, but I did get pictures of pretty much everything else.  I'm using both my cell phone pictures and those from my point and shoot, as I was switching them back and forth for everything. I'm still getting the hand of my nicer camera, so you'll have to excuse the transition.  

The water that spilled out onto the Scioto river was foggy, and gorgeous and very eerie to look at. The comparisons between what it looked outside of the park, and what it looked like once you got into the valley was incredible. 

I can't wait to go back in the spring!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Food for Thought.

(Image source: Google)

Not everyone is going to like you. In fact, a lot of people probably already don't like you, and that's okay. It's okay if someone deletes you off of facebook, or stops returning your phone calls, or says that they just don't want to be friends, and all you want to do is cry from the rejection. It happens. It happens to me, it happens to my best friends, and it happens to people that I've never met, all the time.

You can't make everyone happy, and you can't make everyone like you. The only thing that you can do is learn from any mistakes that you've made and continue to try and be a good friend to those who DO stick around. Those are the people worth fussing over, those are the people worth fighting to keep.

So! If someone decides that you're not worth their time, cheer up! Hold your head high, and know that you're better than they might think you are... And then spend your time proving that to yourself- and not to them.

Friday, January 11, 2013

A Happiness List.

(Image found here)

A few weeks ago, a dear friend had asked me to write a list of 100 things that made me happy. It was part of a project we were working on for a film, and while I wasn't sure how it was necessary, I did it anyway. I had completely forgotten about it until a fellow friend and blogger mentioned that she was asked to do the same thing by the same person. Not only was I so excited to read Ashley's list, but I was over the moon to remember that I had one of my own!

I quickly went to find it, and when I was able to sit down and read it over I was flooded with happiness. There were so many small and delicate life moments that I love so much, and having them there in front of me, to remind me, was wonderful. So, I thought I'd share a few. After you've read mine, I encourage you to make your own lists and link them to the comments on this post so that I might go back and read them =] 

(Source: Unknown)
Happiness Is...

1. Finding a bird's nest in a hanging flower pot.
2. Climbing into a warm bed.
3. The smell of a loved one.
4. Watching someone do something that they love.
5. Going on lots of picnics!
6. Making bedsheet forts all around the house for no specific reason.
7. Waking up to the smell of breakfast being made inside of the house.
8. Complimenting or being complimented by a stranger.
9. Meeting up with girlfriends for dinner and gossip.
10. Playing cards on the porch while it rains.
11. Falling in love.
12. Finding notes written or left inside of books.
13. Throwing a themed dinner party and inviting all of your friends.
14. Exploring the outdoors, and wandering aimlessly through the woods and fields.
15. Reading a really uplifting story about someones achievements, big or small, and being their cheerleader.
16. Collapsing onto the couch and cuddling with all of my pets. 
17. Pulling over onto the side of the road to take pictures (or just marvel) at something beautiful that you happen to find.
18. Secretly sewing little thread hearts near buttons or holes that I've patched up for loved ones.
19. Having a clean house, car, and closet all at the same time.
20. Filling the house with flowers.
21. Going on a sporadic road trip.
22. Obsessing over something that you love, like a show, or a movie, or a band.
23. Tender, delicate moments with a partner.
24. Getting endless kisses and piggy back rides.
25. Embracing a story or an author so completely, that you fall in love.

Comfort Cat.

It's amazing how animals, particularly cats, always seem to know whenever you are upset. It doesn't matter if you're catatonic or if you're just a little blue, they will find you and they will snuggle you. I am forever grateful that this little face will burrow through mounds of covers, ignore treats or toys, and wake up from naps just to make sure that I am okay. It doesn't matter if it's in the middle of the night, or the middle of the day, I can always count on him.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

A Winter Fantasy.

I thought I would post some of my most recent modeling work with Laura Dark Photography and Mia VonMink clothing, which has been published in the most recent issue of Dark Beauty Magazine. It was such a joy to be a part of this concept, particularly because I really enjoy conceptual fashion shoots that use the same model for several (very different) looks. It's kind of crazy that I look so different in each of these sets!

Besides all of that, I was excited because Mia VonMink's lingerie is exceptional. Everything was so brilliantly made, and so fantastically detailed that I just kept staring at all of it, finding new lace and beading at every turn. And I appreciated the fact that we were sent everything from the designer, from the wigs and contact lenses, to the crowns and skirts to go with the lingerie.

(Credits: Laura Dark Photography. Makeup Vamp MUA. Mia VonMinx clothing)