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If you follow me on Twitter (@kalynkinomoto) or are a friend of mine on Facebook or real life, you probably know how much I love the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Alaska & Washington! People ask me why I love it so much, and I honestly can’t give an answer other than 1) I love kids, 2) the mission is so simple and 3) they really impact kids’ lives.

The month of June will mark one year that I’ve volunteered for Make-A-Wish and I am SO glad I made this decision. It has changed my life in so many ways. I was honored to be the organization’s volunteer spotlight for the January e-newsletter (here).

Last night was a tremendous evening. I volunteered at the annual Wish Night auction and gala. It’s the “big event” for Make-A-Wish. It’s a time when former and present Wish Families, sponsors, volunteers, celebrities and community members come together for one huge night to raise money to grant wishes. I was the lead volunteer for the registration area and got to meet lots of people whom I’ve only met and interacted with online (before you jump to any conclusions, I mean via Twitter), as well as other volunteers whom I’ve heard about from other wishes and events.

I came *this close* (really, like practically standing next to) several of the Seattle Sounders FC players who came to support the cause. If I had my phone with me, I would’ve taken a picture with them! So cute, so generous and so cute. That is my only regret of the night … not taking a picture with Brad Evans or Roger Levesque. Sigh.

This year’s theme was “Mission Incredible” and incredible it was! My first volunteer event was helping out at Colby’s lair party for his wish, which happened this past summer. His wish was to be a secret agent and it was one of those wishes that was so imaginative and creative. Colby was at Wish Night and throughout the evening, so were his nemeses. Lots of fun the entire night (including, but not limited to circus school kids unicycling on the escalators, sneaky kids spying on the events of the night, interruptions in the main program from Rex Velvet, etc.).

The energy in the room was so awesome! So many people come super excited to give thousands of dollars to change kids’ lives. I stayed in the volunteer hangout room for most of the main event time and watched the live feed of the auction. There were so many generous givers.

At the end of the night, more than $1.25 million was raised! That’s incredible! So many wishes can come true with that money.

I’m thrilled to be part of such an incredible organization. If you have any inklings of volunteering for a great cause, please, contact Make-A-Wish! You will not regret it, I promise.

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As you can probably gather from the title of this post, I’m writing about some struggles that I’m going through. Not sure how to deal with all of them, but for now writing about them seems like a good idea (and hopefully I’ll able to look back on this post, laugh and realize how pity these things were).

Generally speaking, I’d like to consider myself a content person. I grew up in a great family but we weren’t kids who had everything and the things we did have, we usually had to work for. That, and my parents always taught us that we should be “content in all things,” which I’m sure has played a large role into who I am today.

But when does contentment become complacency? Where’s the shift from being OK where I am (because I don’t “need” more) become a downfall where I should’ve gone for more? Can I be both content and ambitious simultaneously? Do the two even mix … at all?

“My mistakes are running through my mind
And I’ll relive my days, in the middle of the night
When I wrestle with my pain, struggle with my pride
Sometimes I feel alone, and I cry” ~ Sanctus Real

Those are some of the thoughts that I’ve been thinking over the past few months. You know when people say “get your head on straight” or something of that nature? Yeah, honestly I feel sometimes that my head is on too straight. Is that possible?! When people say they’re “living the dream,” what does that really mean?!

I’m sure you’re wondering what I’m struggling to be content vs. complacent with. Well, glad you asked. Almost everything. Right now, I’m comfortable saying “I’m good” with where I am in life. But I also thought that five years ago, and today I look back and have some regrets about things I did and didn’t do, people I met or didn’t meet, places I went or didn’t go. A few specific examples … Work is great but am I on the path to reach my best potential? Life is great but if I stay the way I am, in 10 years will I just be the exact same “me” but only a 35-year-old version of myself? Friends are great, but am I just everyone else’s mutual friend?

I understand (maybe too well) that things don’t fall from the sky into my lap, money definitely does not grow on trees, opportunities don’t knock at the door, and relationships don’t suddenly begin; but if I don’t try harder on my own, will anything ever be different? Or better?

This year, I really am trying to reach for the bigger things, the better opportunities, my greater potential, etc. I guess I’m just trying to figure out how to balance it all.

This post probably sounds Eeyore-like post, which I don’t intend it to be, but these are real (honest) thoughts that have been plaguing my mind. I don’t even know where I’m really going with this, except to say here is one of many posts to come that are a bit more on the honest reality side of things.

Do you struggle with being content? How about becoming complacent? What do you do to balance the two?

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Here’s a great recipe that’s perfect for Valentine’s Day! I’ve seen these awesome push-up pop holders that remind me of the push-up pop ice cream treats (do they still make those?!) all over Pinterest and other blogs, so I was out to find them.

I had a 50% off coupon for Joann’s and I found a set of these holders made by Wilton (like this).  It cost roughly $7.50 for the set after the coupon and they’re dishwasher-safe so I thought it was worth it. 

I love red velvet cake and so do my Life Group friends, so I wanted to try it for our get together this past week. I love, love, love cooking without recipes for everything except baking. So because of that, I used Bakerella’s recipe for red velvet, except I used 1 (vs. 2) ounces of red coloring … I can’t imagine how “red” this would taste with that much color! Anyway, I baked it in a 9″ x 13″ baking pan for about 40 minutes. 

I did use my own cream cheese frosting (although I didn’t use a recipe, it’s probably very similar to any other one you can find). Here’s what I put in the frosting (really easy … just combine all together and mix on medium-high until it’s really light and fluffy): 

  • 12 oz. (1 1/2 blocks) of cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar 

I also saw Wilton makes “Mini Whoopie Pie” pan that they say is perfect for the molds, but what the heck, I didn’t see the point; I just used the mold itself to cut the cake (I cut the cake into two layers so each piece of cake in the push-up pop is about 1/2-1/4″ thick). 

These were a big hit and they were super easy! I can’t wait to use these molds again. I’m thinking cheesecakes, tea sandwiches, tiramisu, etc. The possibilities are pretty endless! 

Here are a few extra pictures from the process:

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Mixing the wet and dry ingredients.

 

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In the oven.

 

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The finished cake.

 

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Close shot of the red velvet push-up cake pops.

 

Here’s a list of some things I personally love and think you might will, too! I’m hoping to post from time-to-time in categories, whether it’s music, food, local spots, products, gadgets, etc.

Since I spend most of my day at the office (who doesn’t?!), today’s list is comprised of some of my favorite office and/or work-related items. What are your go-to favorites?

  1. Page-Up Document Holders: These things are awesome! They hold a piece or two of paper at just the right angle so you can read and type simultaneously, or do what I do and leave an important list propped up. It’s way better than getting piled under every other piece of paper.
  2. BackJoy: By no means am I a doctor, chiropractor or other medically intelligent person, but with my share of unsolved back problems, this little support works pretty well. I started having horrible back pain in high school and college, and unfortunately still do (and sitting for most of the day doesn’t help). I bought my BackJoy from Bed Bath & Beyond and use it semi-regularly.
  3. OXO Good Grips Pocket Stapler: Not sure if the inventor of the stapler ever won any awards, but I love this mini must-have. My desk gets cluttered with enough other things and I like having a stapler within reach. Only downside is due to its size, it doesn’t hold nearly as many staples as a traditional stapler.
  4. Energizer Premium USB Wall Charger: Let’s face it, anyone who owns an iPhone knows the battery won’t last through the day (OK, maybe if you don’t touch it at all while at work). I like this charger because its cord is a decent length and the actual unit can be used to charge any other USB device. Also, the cord wraps around the hub of this charger, making it quick and easy to transport or throw in a work bag.
  5. Royal Apothic Holland Park Hand Creme: I love hand creams, especially if they smell good and aren’t greasy. I found this one at Anthropologie and I hope it never gets discontinued! I love the scent and it keeps my hands moisturized without being too heavy or oily. It is a bit pricey but I figure it’s worth it if I use it multiple times every day.

I made this mug for my best friend from college, Molly. Her birthday is later this week and I wanted to do a DIY gift for her. She lives in Wisconsin and I’m in Seattle, so I thought this idea would be fun. I love how it turned out and hope she enjoys it, too!

Here’s a quick overview of the supply list and steps to make a mug like this:

  • White ceramic mug (I purchased mine from Fred Meyer)
  • Sharpie pens (I used the traditional fine print ones in black and red; I wanted to make the hearts pink but my pen was defective)
  • Image of whatever you want to put on your mug (I just used Google Maps on my iPhone)

Here’s how I did the project:

  1. Determine what you want on your mug. My friend lives in Wisconsin and I live in Washington, so I just needed to find the basic shapes for both states. I just searched on Google Maps! 
  2. Draw the shapes on the mug; I freehanded mine and (very) surprisingly, they turned out nicely. I definitely didn’t inherit the artist genes the rest of my family has, so I was pleased.
  3. Trace over the initial drawing until it’s the thickness you like. I wanted my state outlines to be pretty thick, so I went over it 3-4 times.
  4. Using a colored Sharpie, draw a heart nearby the city you and the recipient of the mug live.
  5. Draw little dashes from each heart to the other. Of course from Washington to Wisconsin there isn’t a funny squiggly mark, but I added it for a fun little touch.
  6. Place the mug in a cold oven in the middle of the rack. Turn the heat to 350 degrees and “bake” it for 30 minutes. Turn off the oven and let the mug cool for 15-20 minutes. Carefully remove (be especially careful not to smear the ink; since it’s warm it might be a bit wet) the mug and place on a potholder. Cool completely.

**The mug is ready to use, but be careful not to wash in the dishwasher and/or use a heavy-duty scrubber to wash as the ink might fade. 

Well, here it is, my first Living Andante blog post! It’s taken me long enough quite a bit of time to figure out what exactly I want to blog about. I word-craft every day as an assistant account executive at a local PR company, so sometimes I don’t feel like writing after a busy day at work, yet I enjoy it so much that a blog makes sense.

You might be wondering what types of things you’ll see here on the blog. As the title Living Andante implies, this is a blog about taking life in stride, one step at a time. With my background in classical music, I wanted to incorporate one of my favorite musical terms. Andante means “walking pace” or “moving along.” That said, I’ll be posting everything from life updates, crafts I create (with the time I don’t have), musical discoveries, things I love about Seattle, culinary concoctions and more. One thing you’ll quickly learn about me is that I’m a proud auntie to an amazing little toddler girl, so naturally I’ll post some of my favorite “Auntie Approved” kid-friendly products and places.

What are some things you’d like to see on here? I’d love to hear your ideas!

Until next time …

tHe fiCkLe piCkLe

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