Saturday, December 27, 2014

Dipped Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti


Hi again! Miss Contra Costa County 2015. Now, if you're like me, you have been thinking, "what am I going to do with all of these leftover vanilla candy melts?!" I bought a huge bag at Hobby Lobby to make my Cherry Pistachio Bark (which was completely eaten up! check out the recipe here!) and I have a ton of melts leftover. Then I had a great idea...dipped biscotti! You can either make the biscotti yourself or buy some premade biscotti and spruce it up! Just melt, dip, sprinkle with some American Pistachio Growers brand pistachios, sprinkles, or other treats of your liking!

Dipped Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti
Ingredients:
¼ cup olive oil
¾ cup white sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup dried cranberries
1 cup pistachio nuts
leftover melts—I had 12 oz. left!
toppings

Directions:
1.      Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F
2.    In a large bowl, mix together oil and sugar until well blended. Mix in the extract, then beat in the eggs. Combine flour, salt, and baking powder in a separate bowl. Gradually stir powder mixture into the egg mixture. Mix in cranberries and nuts by hand.
3.    Divide dough in half. Form two 12”x2” logs on a lined cookie sheet. The dough may be sticky, so make sure you wet your hands with cool water to handle dough more easily.
4.    Bake for 35 minutes in the preheated oven, or until logs are light brown. Remove from oven, and set aside to cool for 10 minutes. Reduce oven heat to 275 degrees F.
5.    Cut logs on diagonal into ¾” thick slices. Lay on sides on a parchment covered cookie sheet. Bake approximately 8 to 10 minutes, or until dry; cool.

Here’s the fun part!
6.    After all biscotti is cool, melt vanilla candy melts in a microwave safe bowl for 30 seconds at a time, until melted.
Dip each biscotto into the melted mixture until ½ of the biscotto cookie is covered. Sprinkle topping of your choice. My favorite was crushed pistachios! 



Enjoy! If you like my pistachio recipes, try them out for yourself! Tag me in any pictures you take @misscontracostacounty!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Christmas Cherry Pistachio Bark




Hi everyone! Miss Contra Costa County 2015, Angela Laird here! With the holidays in full swing, I was searching for a way to fuse two of my favorite foods together: chocolate bark and pistachios! The Miss California Organization is lucky enough to be sponsored by American Pistachio Growers, which in my mind says, “unlimited pistachios”! While there are many other perks to becoming Miss California, I would take the job just for the pistachios alone! Who’s with me?! The sweetness of the chocolate mixed in with the saltiness of the pistachios and the sweet tang of the cherries is divine! Plus, the red, green, and white bark is the perfect addition to your Christmas tablescape. Enjoy!


Cherry Pistachio Bark
Ingredients:
1 ¼ cups dried cherries
2 tablespoons water
2 11 oz. packages of white chocolate chips

12 oz. of vanilla flavored candy coating

1 11 oz. package of dark chocolate chips

1-1 ¼ cups chopped pistachio nuts


Directions:
1. In a small glass bowl, microwave cherries with water on high for 1-2 minutes, drain if necessary, and set aside.

2. In a separate microwave-safe bowl, microwave the dark chocolate chips until melted and smooth, stirring occasionally. Line a 10x15” pan with wax paper and pour the melted dark chocolate into the pan. Sprinkle half of the cherries and pistachios onto the melted chocolate. Let this layer harden before continuing.


3. In another microwave-safe bowl, microwave the white chocolate chips and candy coating together the same way you did the dark chocolate chips. Pour the mixture over the existing ingredients in the pan. Sprinkle the remaining cherries and pistachios onto the white chocolate mixture. Chill for one hour, or until firm.

4. Cut into 1” squares or just break apart. Store unused portion in an air-tight container. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Here we go!

Hi everyone,

A lot has happened in the last two months! I've had many appearances alone and with my teen, Hannah...
















Almost every weekend has been filled with adventure! But, things have calmed down for while now that the holidays are approaching. I even graduated Sonoma State University just last week. Now it is time to focus on the future! I am overflowing with gratitude for everything that has occurred in the past year and all of the blessings I have received. I cannot wait to see what the future has in store for me. This is the time for some rest and relaxation before the new year starts off with a boom. I promise to blog more often! :) join me!

xoxo Miss Contra Costa County 2015


Friday, October 10, 2014

Miss Contra Costa County 2015 IS....

Angela Laird! Woo!

I did it! 
I am THRILLED to announce that I am Miss Contra Costa County 2015! I am the first titleholder in ten years and I can't believe I get to represent my home county for the entire year! Not only that, but I am competing at Miss California 2015 June! All of this, and it is only October. I grabbed the title and now I'm running with it! 

Before I competed on Saturday, I sat down with myself and figured out the real reason I wanted this title. What was my biggest reward? (besides the $950 scholarship I won!) Of course I wanted to compete at Miss California 2015, of course a shiny new crown and sash are nice...but ultimately, I wanted to represent my county. How exciting is it that I get to inspire young girls in my county to dream of becoming Miss Contra Costa County? I get to connect with small businesses, large businesses, the Rotarians, the Soroptimists, the educators, the civil servants, the wonderful people of Contra Costa County, over 1 million residents! I get to show them how wonderful our organization is and why they should love it to. I get to spend time building relationships with our residents for an entire year. I can't wait! I am 22 years old and I am graduating in December. I am wiser and more confident than my last time as a titleholder, and I hope to see that growth in the contestants of Miss Contra Costa County in years to come. 

One of the reasons why this specific organization is so important to me is because it has been gone for 10 years. Before Paula started the organization back up again, my mom and I spoke of starting it ourselves after I aged out of competition. If you know me, it is no secret that one day I hope to become an executive director of a local (or state!) Miss America pageant. Plus, I've had so many ideas over the last 8 months and I finally get to put them to good use! 

Along with the title of Miss Contra Costa County 2015, I was awarded Top Interview as well as Miss Congeniality. I am so humbled to be the recipient of such prestigious awards. My mother always taught me to be pretty on the outside, you have to be pretty on the inside. It is a motto I've taken to heart and am so proud to be voted Miss Congeniality by my peers, not only at Miss CCC but at Miss Solano 2013 as well! Being friendly and supportive to those around you is so important, especially when it is easier to shut people out and log onto our cell phones. I am looking forward to making friends wherever I go!

Congratulations to all of the contestants who competed this past weekend, you are all so beautiful, poised, and talented! Please come back and compete next year! A special congratulations to Hannah Rose, my Miss Contra Costa County's Outstanding Teen 2015! I am SO excited (& thrilled! & pumped! stoked!) to spend a year getting to know you and watching you grow! You are a phenomenal young woman and I can't wait to see what you will achieve this year! 

Photo Credit: Lily Dong Photography

Thank you to all of the volunteers who have helped me get to this point in life! I love you all!

Let's go Team Contra Costa County! :)


Monday, September 29, 2014

'Tis the Season!

Hi y'all!

It's PAGEANT SEASON!

Pageant season (in my opinion) starts officially on October 4th and ends once Miss California is crowned. You could argue that it ends when Miss America is crowned, or when you don't win a local title, but it's up to the individual.

I am competing in once of the first local competitions of the season THIS Saturday! (cue gasps and applause) I'm just so thrilled to be competing for the title of Miss Contra Costa County! The pageant is back after 10 years! The committee is also wonderful and I'm so excited to see how Miss Contra Costa County does this year at Miss California! I hope she comes back with a bang!

We have four Miss contestants, four Outstanding Teen contestants, and four princesses! It's going to be a great show with lots of entertainment courtesy of InMotion Dance Center in Martinez owned by the amazing Deena Dorsey Roming, a former Miss Contra Costa County! Our head shots were taken by the talented Jennifer Glover-Croghan, former Miss Contra Costa County and Miss California. I'm already loving the support from the past contestants and the volunteers! The pageant is run by Paula Gross and she is doing a phenomenal job! We also have help from Tara Dale Sanders in interview and walking, Nicole Cook and Deena helping with talent, along with Cristine, Khryste, and Carrie! All lifesavers!

The judges panel was announced yesterday and the days until the pageant are just flying by. Miss Contra Costa County is my dream title. With my experience as Miss Solano, I know I can make this another year for the record books! Wish me luck!

Until next time...

Friday, August 15, 2014

I Hate Feeling Stagnant

Does anyone else feel this way?

Today is basically my last weekday of summer vacation, maybe ever! I start my last semester of my undergraduate degree on Tuesday. Exciting, yes...but this feeling of urgency and anxiousness started last night. When I checked on my student loans. I knew I had student loans and I knew what they probably added up to and it never really bothered me because I'm not really in the position to make payments on my student loans. Luckily, I was a Community Services Advisor (like a Resident Advisor) for the past three years so my housing was paid provided through my work.

But here I am, graduating soon, debating what I am going to do next. My initial plan was to take some time off, study for the GMAT, better myself, maybe pick up a retail job to get a different perspective of work, and ultimately aim for getting a job in August. While many of those things are still on the list (let's be real- only studying for the GMAT is), I realize that I am in debt and cannot live so leisurely. I currently have around $24,000 taken out in loans, under my name, for my education. My loan has accumulated $3,000 in interest while I have been in school, and continues to grow. This may not seem like a big deal to some people, you may consider me "lucky" because my student loan is not as big as other student loans. But I pay off my credit card in full every month. If I have one thing going for me in life, it is good credit. I am determined to keep it that way.

So, this loan issue started a frenzy. I am a chronic planner. Thanks to Pinterest, I have a lot of things planned out already. I have been searching like crazy for jobs that I would enjoy, in places that would make an awful commute from home. But, let's be honest, I think my hometown was voted one of the "worst commutes in America" so I'm kinda doomed either way, right? Luckily for me, my current job is working in my school's career services center.

I am counting down the days until I can talk to my boss. She told me in the interview before I got hired, "business school straight out of college? I'll let you know why you should wait," and it's been stuck in my brain ever since.

The only productive thing I could think of while struggling with growing up was buying some checks. Yup, like the ones you put in a checkbook. Hey, they might be kinda on the outs but they're purple. And monogrammed.

Here's to a grand semester!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Getting in the Pageant Spirit

Hi everyone!

I am so excited to get the ball rolling on my pageant prep for Miss Contra Costa County in October. After spending a short vacation in Idaho, which was really exciting, I came home and almost immediately got sick! I pushed through, moved into my new apartment which will be my home for the next 4 months, and then came back home to continue relaxing. Well, that's over! I am no longer sick, so it's back to work I go. I picked up some really cute Lorna Jane tank tops to motivate my workouts. Lorna Jane was a Miss CA sponsor the year I competed at Miss CA and since then, I have been in love! I live in her tank tops. They can get pricey, but every once in a while they have a 2 for $50 deal. You'll get your money's worth!

Anyway, as much as I would love to write a whole post on tank tops, I really came here to share some exciting news. You might not be as excited as I am, but I have officially picked my talent song for Miss Contra Costa County! And now that I think about it, I may just have my entire wardrobe already. I'm super excited to start rehearsals and meet all of the other contestants and volunteers! I just really can't wait to be a local titleholder again. I have so many great ideas, and more skills and things to bring to the table than the last time I was a titleholder.

The countdown to Miss Contra Costa County is officially under 60 days! It's 8 weeks away!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

New Website and Angel Gowns

Hi all!

I am so thrilled to announce (as if you haven't already seen) that I have purchased my own domain name and this blog is now called angelalaird.com! I have also changed the layout, background, and color scheme. I hope it all adds purple pizazz to my page. In the future, I'd like to dive deeper into my HTML skill set and create my own template. For now, I'll just dabble with photoshop.

I also wanted to show you what I've been working on lately. After seeing a story on Yahoo! News a few months ago, I was called to join the cause that creates Angel Gowns. Angel Gowns are burial gowns handmade for stillborn and premature infants which are used as an alternative to burying the babies in hospital blankets and gowns. These Angel Gowns are made from wedding dresses and the end product is so beautiful and sweet. So far, I have made 6 unique gowns from one wedding dress. My heart breaks for these poor mothers and families who were robbed of time with their children. I know these gowns will be appreciated and I hope they bring comfort to the mourning families. I have included pictures of the wedding gown before, and the Angel Gowns after. The lighting is a little off, but these gowns are just so sweet.



This was my first set of six gowns. Within minutes of posting my efforts on Facebook, a beautiful wedding gown was donated to me so I can make more Angel Gowns. I am proud to say that many people have asked me for patterns, and are eager to either make the gowns, or donate dresses. I am so happy I could put my sewing skills to good service.

If you would like a copy of the patterns, please do not hesitate to leave a comment below. I would be happy to share.

Best,
Angela

Thursday, June 19, 2014

What Have You Been Up To?

Since the last time I posted, a few things have happened.

I finished my second last semester of my undergraduate degree. I walked in my commencement ceremony. I got a new job! I've gotten my butt kicked by my workout plan. I also fell off my workout plan and gained five pounds from eating Nutella and pretzels (worth it). But, I got back to getting my butt kicked. I've started reevaluating what I'm doing and what my goals are. And I've decided to compete for Miss Contra Costa County!

I received a really exciting opportunity today involving the Lyme disease community and I can't wait to act on it. I've also been completing my training of Adobe Photoshop and Dreamweaver, and hope to be finished by August. I've always been interested in coding, but my fear of Calculus has kept me out of the Computer Science department, so I'm hoping to learn on my own.

Lately, my days have consisted of exercising, laying out by the pool, watching state pageants, and practicing Photoshop. Let me tell you about my workout program...it is rough. If I could go back in time and laugh at myself and let that girl know two years ago to work harder, I would. People have no idea how hard you must work to truly live lifestyle and fitness. I push myself to my limits almost everyday, I eat a balanced diet (that includes bread) with tons of veggies and yummies, and I'm seeing results. It's really eye opening.

The days of wishing are over...if you want to look a certain way, or be able to speak in front of a crowd, or make a difference in your community, stop wishing, start praying, start doing!

"Don't grow a wishbone where your backbone ought to be."

Suck it up, girlfriend! :)

Go get 'em!
Angela

Monday, April 7, 2014

Coming to Terms with Rejection

Let me preface this blog post by saying how proud I am of every Miss California Class of 2014 contestants. A lot of you are my dear friends, some I've been competing with from the very start, rooting for you as you've competed. I am proud of the girls that tried so hard to make it into the class, whether you have competed at Miss California or not, just know that I am proud of you, and you should be proud of yourself, too. While it's hard to deal with your own emotions when you are faced with disappointment, we should truly be supporting our sisters who are working hard at their dreams. And if you can't say that now, hey, you've got a little time until June! Keep trying!!


This weekend, as many of those in pageantland already know, was the Miss California 2014 Orientation. As I reflected fondly on my memories last year at orientation, I couldn't ignore the deep feeling of sadness that I've had brewing down inside. I have related these last few weeks as riding huge waves (of emotion) in the ocean while desperately searching for a boat. Of course, I had my pig out week, which rolled into my lonely week, which also happened to become my hysterical crying "I forgot to do one small assignment" day (week). I had an incredible weekend, a pretty okay week, and then it was this weekend. I watched in anticipation as titleholders posted pictures at orientation, or their official headshots, or the adorable purple Class shirts that I will admit, am insanely jealous that I didn't get one. While it's hard to know I won't be at Miss California competing this year, I know that I would not be ready. Yes, I wish that I could listen in on Bob's current events sessions, or perform my talent piece in front of Donna and the gang, or do a walking workshop with Agnes again, or have Linda do my makeup. But I don't know if I would appreciate it as much as I will...when I get to go back.

I talked to God and I gave him a goal. He is doing me a huge favor. From rejection comes triumph. While I am disappointed I will not be there in June, I am preparing harder than I ever have before. When I think of someone who persevered and made their dreams come true, I think of Leah Cecil. She was 1st runner up her first time at Miss California, then came back and took the crown. There was and still is something special about Leah. God saw it, and he knew the right timing to let her achieve her dreams. You have to trust in God's timing.

I'm going to set a goal...to challenge myself every day. Whether it is physically (which trust me, I have been!), mentally, intellectually, or vocally. I want to challenge my creativity. Today as I was walking home from class, I told myself, "Angela, you want to do something big. You don't want to settle. How are you going to get there?" I am going to get there. Wherever "there" is...I just know it'll be brilliant.

Thanks for reading :)
Angela

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Push Yourself to Stay Motivated

Good evening :)

It is a fine Tuesday evening, I must say...although, I have been lacking motivation in some areas and exploding with motivation in others. After eating myself into a sweets coma, I am embracing healthy, balanced eating with full force. I've also adopted a new exercise plan...which I haven't started. My plan was to start today, but now I am starting tomorrow...

There's a few reasons for the delay.
1. I'm tired. My body is still trying to refuel itself from spring break's unhealthy binge.
2. I'm still in spring break sleeping mode...enough said.
3. I don't have my heart rate monitor yet! Haha can't start without it?
4. I am a little shy and self-conscious when it comes to exercising. I can go into a weight room and be fine. But ask me to do something foreign, like jumping around in a public gym, and I'm nervous. That's why tomorrow I will be going early so not a lot of people will be there. 5:30 AM here I come! ;)

If you would like updates on my fitness journey, follow my tumblr: http://fitforacrown.tumblr.com
I will eventually be posting updates on how my body is changing. I'm excited to see where this journey takes me!

Angela



Thursday, March 20, 2014

Miss California 2015

This past Sunday was the very last pageant to get to Miss California 2014. I can now say that I will never, ever be Miss California 2014.

How does it feel? I can't really say. I don't know how I feel yet. Is becoming Miss California a dream I still have? Yes. Did I think I was going to win Miss California 2014? Absolutely not. As happy as I am for all of my beautiful friends for making it into the Miss California Class of 2014, it is hard not to be included.

In my talent song, the lyrics say, "lead us to a place, guide us with your grace," which asks God to guide me throughout life, down whatever path He takes me. I trust Him. I am not meant to walk across the Miss California stage this year. Who knows what is in my plan...? Either way, although I walk away with disappointment, I am encouraged when I see that God must have something great in store.

Don't worry, I am still going to be blogging and working with my platform...service doesn't stop just because your head lacks a crown.

Sending lots of love and peace to you,
Angela

Friday, March 14, 2014

"Growing Up"

Yesterday I went to look at a potential apartment that I will be living in next semester. It will be my last semester, as I am graduating in December. I also turned in my graduation application this week! I was avoiding it until I absolutely HAD to turn it in. I have been a CSA (Community Services Advisor...think of a Resident Advisor/Assistant) for the past three years...meaning I have never lived off campus! My roommate and I found an apartment complex that has 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom apartments with short leases. Although I'm so excited, it is going to be EXPENSIVE! I am stressing over what job I will get next semester. I have never worked retail, or in a restaurant, or anything like that...I know it is only March, but I am stressing out!

And, Miss Gavilan Hills 2014 is this weekend. The last pageant of the season. I have so many emotions flowing through me. Excitement, anxiety, a lot of hope, a lot of nerves. I just pray that I do my best and accept the plan that God has made for me.

Have a great Friday everyone! It's Spring Break! Let's all try to relax!!!
Angela

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Long time no see :)

Hi all,

It's been a while! I have been crazy busy. Since my last post, I had a great time competing for Miss Tri-Valley and Miss Bay Counties, gave up my title as Miss Solano to a wonderful successor named Anysa, worked many, many hours on-call here at school, worked out kinks in my platform goals, took a few tests, went through struggles and times of sadness with my family, searched for apartments, applied for a new job for next year, had another great time competing in Miss North Valley Regional and Miss Central California Regional, made a ton of new friends, and placed 2nd runner-up! I am so happy with my placement, and I know my Grandpa Bud was watching over me and praying for me all night. I thank everyone for the love and support they have given me the last few weeks. It has been overwhelming. There aren't enough crown shaped thank you notes in the world for all of you :)

I have one last competition before the season is done! Isn't that unbelievable? Whatever the outcome, I know that I have tried my best. I find it a little ironic that the last pageant of the season is directed by Jenna Harvey-Woods, who was my first inspiration in starting a blog. Before I even competed, I found her blog and was so inspired and captivated by her blog posts, it made me even more excited to finally compete. This entire organization is filled with inspirational volunteers! I need a separate address book just to send my love to the volunteers. I'll go find one now and start collecting addresses... :)

Until next time,
"ordinary girl"
Angela

(how strange is it not to be a titleholder? after a year of it, I was in a little bit of a shock after crowning Anysa...but hopefully my time will come again! soon!)

Thursday, January 30, 2014

17 days.

I cannot believe that in 17 short days, I will be passing on the crown box (I get to keep everything else) to a new Miss Solano. Whoever she is, I hope that she enjoys this year as much as I did.

I hope that she will try on her crown before she goes to sleep every night from February 16th until it finally feels real.

I hope she gets a rush when her name finally appears on the contestant drawing for her spot in lineup.

I hope that she has butterflies in her tummy all the way to the Fresno Radisson.

I hope that she loves the smell of the Radisson and soaks up how it feels to FINALLY be there.

I hope she overpacks to Miss California, but feels prepared. I hope she accepts any mistakes she makes at state, and accepts any fate God gives her, whether it be competing in swimsuit in the top 15, or eating pie backstage.

I hope she is proud of her performances, proud of herself, proud of her strength and determination to get through some of the best and hardest 10 days of her life.

Just like I did.

Every minute of this year was worth it. It wasn't easy at times, but I would not change it for the world. I accomplished a dream or two or ten in the past year and for that I will always be grateful. Although I am still learning who my real friends are through this process, I know I have a huge support system and am so blessed to be given the opportunity to serve as Miss Solano. I am so blessed to be well enough to serve as a Lyme disease awareness advocate. I have the ability to get up out of bed, to walk, to run, to jump, unlike many others who are suffering from Lyme disease and other debilitating illnesses. Thank you, God for giving me the opportunity to fulfill my dreams and not letting me give up.

For 17 more days...
Angela Laird
Miss Solano 2013

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year! :)

Hi everyone! Happy New Year!

It's been a little while since I posted, huh? Since my last blog post, I sang the national anthem at the Solano Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving day...



It was very early...and pretty chilly! It was my first time singing the national anthem as a soloist so I was pretty nervous. The hour in between the time I arrived and the time I sang the national anthem was torture to my stomach. So many butterflies! I survived, and I enjoyed it a lot. And from what I was told, I sounded pretty good. ;)

In early December, we had the Miss Solano and Miss Napa County 2014 orientation. It was exciting to think that a year ago, I was in their shoes! I am so thankful for this year as Miss Solano. I don't want to pass on my title...but I'm so happy for Miss Solano 2014!

On Christmas Eve, I attended Mission Solano's annual toy drive. Mission Solano is a homeless shelter and rescue mission in Fairfield. They do such amazing work. Starting at 8 AM, families were allowed to come through and pick out toys for their children for Christmas. These gifts may be the only toys the children get all year. It was a really special event, and the children were so happy! They even had hot lunch and a bike raffle, where they raffled of at least 20 bikes to families that attended. I was so honored to be there.






Now that is 2014, I am putting some goals together for the year. Not so much resolutions, but I've had a lot to reflect upon this winter break and I want to start putting my dreams into reality. In less than three weeks, I will be competing in my first pageant of 2014, hoping to earn a spot in the Miss California Class of 2014. Keep me in your prayers, send good thoughts, and cross your fingers! :)

Until next time...
Miss Solano 2013
Angela