Monday, January 16, 2012

Nearing the Finish Line

My mom has always been sentimental….as in she points out that it is “my last Tuesday as an 18 year old,” but last Monday was a day she had valid reason to be sentimental about.  It was my last first day of school which is truly something crazy to think about.
My dad made sure I took my last "first day of school picture"
I thought you might like to travel back in time to my very first days of school……
First Day of Preschool
First Day of Kindergarten
I cannot even begin to fathom the amount of time I have spent at school or school related activities over the past 22 years of my life.  Now it is quickly coming to an end as I finish my education with my final classes: Entrepreneurial Finance, Writing for Media Markets, Marketing Analysis, Strategic Management, and Aerobics.  I have been blessed with an amazing education, but very soon it will be time for me to start applying it, and I am excited to see what this next phase of life brings.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Happy New Year!

New Years Eve is the Cummings family specialty.  Preparation starts weeks in advance for this night filled with family and friends.  Kai Cummings and his girlfriend Katie are some of my very best friends from high school so I could not think of a better way to start off the New Year.
One of the requirements for the night is that everyone makes a CD of twelve songs that fit the descriptions below.  They then make playlists from everyone’s songs and it is so fun to guess what everyone put for each category.
  1. This song sums up how the year 2011 went for me…memories of ______.
  2. Love songs are great, nobody can deny that. Whether they’re about finding true love, messy break-ups, or bemoaning love unrequited, love songs probably make up over 90% of the songs we hear on the radio. But there’s a lot of great song material out there that explores other, less conventional topics. For example: pinball wizardry. This song is absolutely, 100%, NOT about love. Period.
  3. You’re on the couch rocking out and this song comes on… and you just have to play air guitar to it.
  4. Hollywood just contacted you. They want to make an autobiography about your life with famous actor/actress ________ starring you in a Grammy award-winning role. This film is going to have the crowd bawling, laughing and cheering in their seats. All they need from you is the Coup de grâce: a song to play while the ending credits role.
  5. We’ve done the ocean song, now it’s time to choose your rain song, whether that be a dramatic thunderstorm, a spring shower, a forest mist, or raindrops on your window as you sip hot tea and read a good book.
  6. NASA is putting together a cultural capsule to shoot off into space in the hopes of making contact with intelligent alien life forms. They want to include something that represents that oh-so-important and unique aspect of humanity: music. And believe it or not, you get the honors of choosing which song to send!
  7. Everybody has hometown pride for the place they grew-up, thinking that no other town in the country could possibly beat such-and-such, USA. Whenever you hear somebody boasting, you can’t help but mention that your hometown gave rise to that famous musical sensation _______, and if they have any doubts about your city’s superiority, you play this song to convince them. (If you don’t like a band from your local hometown, pick a group from one of your favorite cities where you’ve either visited or lived in the past.)
  8. Some songs you like for the vocals and some songs you like for the instrumentals, but more often than not you have no idea what the lyrics are actually saying. It’s all about the feeling and the groove right? That being said, this song is an exception. This song is all about the lyrics, poetry set to music.
  9. Your friends finally convinced you. The American Idol auditions are coming to your home city and this year you’ll be waiting in line to try out with the rest of them. Luckily you chose an audition song that’s really going to set you apart. Even Simon might have something good to say. Here’s what you’ll sing.
  10. You’re walking through a beautiful park on a sunny day and you pass someone sitting on a park bench. They are completely oblivious, wearing headphones and lost in their music, singing out loud to themselves. As you get closer, you realize with surprise that they’re singing one of your favorite songs! It's one that sums up all your little personality quirks and you thought you were the only one in the world who appreciated it. They must be your musical soul mate!
  11. You see me bopping down the street, swaying and nodding my head. Then you watch as I walk straight into a telephone pole. This was likely the song I was listening to.
  12. Time to go real old school. This is without a doubt the best disco song of all time.
While the descriptions change from year to year, there is always one that involves singing….this means you get the honor of showcasing your lip syncing or actual singing abilities with the wooden spoon.
video
The rest of the night is filled with games, great Japanese food and of course a giant count down.
 Such a cute couple.
Typical
 We are all Kappas!! - Me, Katie, her sister Stephanie
 The Cummings
 Taylor's first New Years Eve
The Kids
Thanks for another great New Years celebration Cummings family.  Hopefully 2012 will be just as blessed as 2011 was.

City Adventures

New Years Eve morning my dad and I decided to take an adventure in San Francisco.  The plan was to take the cable car to Fisherman’s Warf, but the line was so long we opted for the trolley car. 
 Even though it was only 10am, my dad still thought it was a good idea to get clam chowder.
Next we hiked up the hill to the famous Lombard Street and wound our way down to North Beach Here we grabbed a coffee at our favorite coffee shop, Café Trieste.  It is the local hangout for the artists, musicians, hipsters, and everyone in between.  
 North Beach
We were not done with our hill climbing for the day though. Hiking up to Coit Tower was another calf killer.  My dad complained that we were climbing at a sprinting pace, but his legs are twice as long as mine, so there is no way that could be the case.
This is an example of why you let other people take pictures of you.
We made our way back down to the water front along the Filbert Steps which is a jungle inside the city.  Even wild parrots live in the trees here.  At the bottom of the steps is a unique water structure with stepping stones in Levi Plaza.  As we were crossing the stones, we joked about the time my brother Kevin fell in the water.  Up ahead was a tree and my dad was so focused on ducking to not hit the tree that he forgot about the stepping stones.  Next thing you know he is splashing in the water and received quite the bruise on his leg.  He gracefully limped, squeaked, and sloshed along the rest of the day.
Filber Steps
 Wipe out!
We finished up with a quick walk through of the farmers’ market at the Ferry Building.  It is by far the largest market I have ever been to with every type of food imaginable.  Minus the water fall, I would say our adventure was a success.

Third Annual Bruschetta Party

Our friends, the Blackwells, always host a Bruschetta party after Christmas.  Everyone makes their own bruschetta and then employees of local restaurants judge them.  There is a popular vote as well.
 The Benvenutos are all about the creative presentation.
Friends Reunited: Katie, Me, Brenna, Kristina
This year I made a Garden Bruschetta which probably technically didn’t  count but it tasted good.  You bake a croissant roll in a round 9” pan and once it cools add a cream cheese spread on top and cover it with chopped vegetables.  Pear Bruschetta was another popular entry this year as well.
 Katie's Cousins
 Winners!
 Katie's little cousin always wins the popular vote with her expert sales skills...she grabs your hand, takes you to try her entry, then kindly asks for your vote. - How could your resist?
 Note Mr. Blackwell's leg lamp tie inspired by the movie, The Christmas Story.
They also proudly display the lamp in their front window.
While I did not win this year like last year, we all enjoyed ourselves and hopefully I will win at the 4th Annual Blackwell Bruschetta Party next year!