Sunday, December 20, 2009
Thursday, July 2, 2009
In a random conversation today at lunch with some co-workers we were recalling various music icons and heartthrobs of days gone by. Inevitably, Tom Jones entered the conversation. For many my age, Tom was the ‘hottie’ for our parents’ generation. He influenced many women to throw their bras and panties on stage (and probably off –stage) with wild abandon. Tom was briefly on my short list in the early ‘90s when he came out with this song. I was working in retail at the time and heartlessly made my employees play this tape over and over again. I even used it in a fashion show we put on that year. You’ll either fall in love again with him, or cite me for cruel and unusual punishment!
Sunday, June 28, 2009
After spending a good part of the evening trying to figure out how to open up and operate the car unsuccessfully...
...my little visitors took out their frustrations on a large, painted ceramic pig who used to sit on my porch. How they picked him up and broke him still leaves me curious and a little frightened all at the same time.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Judging by all the flora and fauna around my house, you would think I live way out in the country instead a long, leisurely walk from downtown Austin. I've got tons of birds, squirrels, possums and the inevitable raccoon. All that's missing is a deer or two, which are probably roaming somewhere in this neighborhood.
Now that the little guys have moved on, I don't hear any strange scratching noises at the door, or thumps in the late evening. Which sounds like a good thing, expect when I do hear noises it means some other part of the wild kingdom has come calling and in most cases nothing as cute as these guys.
Thursday, June 11, 2009
On one of the blogs I started reading:"My very worst date" (yes it has some really funny stories); they printed a story of a couple that has been struggling with the husband's leukemia. The short story mentions he is in desperate need of a bone marrow or stem cell transplant to save his life. It also mentions that from now to June 22, you can join the bone marrow registry for free (there is normally a charge). Their hope is to find 46,000 new donors and maybe one of them can help the husband in this story. It really is a numbers game, the more people, the more possibilities, the greater the likelihood of a match.
Now, I'm registered to donate my organs and my tissue if something were to ever happen to me. It took me years to register for both of these things, not because I wasn't willing but rather because I just didn't take the time. And, I try to donate blood regularly, although I do have a tendency to pass out during the process (it's quite entertaining for everyone involved). I do these things because I know that not everyone will for personal, medical or religious reasons. I'm healthy and happy and very fortunate for the life I have so it makes sense to try and help someone else in need.
I've toyed with registering to donate bone marrow for many years, but for some reason this process scares me more than the other ones. I know...donating organs seems a little rough, but if that happens it won't matter to me because I'll be dead, right? Marrow on the other hand, would not only require more of my time, but also would include some discomfort, pain and potentially a stay in the hospital. And, they would take the marrow out of my hips...which would make for an interesting transplant. I mean, would the recipient feel a need to shimmy after they recovered? And, truth be told although I can tolerate pain fairly well, I'm such a ninny about it.
So, I read the frequently asked questions and other information on the site. In all honesty this did nothing to ease my fears,and maybe increased them. You may or may not get called, you may or may not be tested multiple times, you may have minor complications or major ones, you may never know who the patient is...the list goes on and on. Very factual, very real and not very cheery.
But despite my misgivings, I signed up to get a testing kit which they send to your house (which contains swab for your mouth...not drawing blood at home). If I was ever called, I know I would not feel excited but rather terrified. So why do it, why put myself through the anxiety? It's simple, how could I continue to read stories about people who need a bone marrow transplant and sit idly by...knowing full well I could handle the pain, discomfort and fear? Those of us who are strong and healthy can take the minor bumps in the road. And I can overcome my fears and hope that my actions will help someone else!
Sunday, June 7, 2009
Sunday, May 31, 2009
Sunday, May 24, 2009
I met my sister and her two kids at the outlet mall in San Marcos for a little lunch and shopping yesterday. It's a tradition that's been going on for about 12 years. While eating, I was discussing the idea of my niece and nephew coming to visit me this summer. My niece had lots of ideas on what to do, and interestingly enough most of them involved me teaching her how to cook.
Now, both kids have a very strong aversion to veggies and fruits, so I was trying to let her know gently that if she comes to visit, and we plan on cooking, that there would be more produce in the meal than meat and starches. Anyone who knows my eating habits also knows that I am crazy, crazy about spinach and use it in obscene amounts almost daily. The conversation however didn't quite go as planned.
Me: Well, if we cook anything you know what I'm going to add to every meal, right?
Niece: Yep, wine.
Hmmmm, not sure if I'll be able to live that one down.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
It's a lot of weight and sometimes I think my trainer Timothy may be lying about the total pounds, but on the off hand chance he's not I'm thinking today that I would like a t-shirt. It should say "I can leg press two line backers" and I believe it should be pink, with some flowers and pretty curly-q's for decoration...and maybe the photo above just for good measure. Apropos right?
Monday, March 30, 2009
Okay, I've been in a bit of a funk lately. About my work, my dancing and all sorts of other things. Spring typically triggers this in me and I get this overwhelming desire to change/move/reinvent/create/organize/clean along with the desire to just sit and be still. It's a lot of restless energy to deal with, coupled with an over-active mind that seeks to find a context for it all. So who knows what will happen in the next few months...but I've been having some interesting conversations on the subject. I'll keep you all posted on that.
As a side note, although I know my house and the local HEB are very close to a fire station I did not realize the advantage until last weekend. On a random trip for groceries on a Saturday afternoon I was rewarded with a vision of hunky fire fighters shopping (yes...shopping), and meal planning (okay two were carrying baskets, one went for ice cream and the other one planned). Wow, great smiles, great shoulders, nice tushes and they can cook. Almost made we want to go home and ignite flammable materials just to see them in action. But I didn't...
Second side note, I signed up for a 31 day build a better blog challenge which starts on April 1. It could be a joke, but I won't know until later. So you'll either see much more activity out of me or a really sarcastic note. Possibly both if you're lucky.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
The mind is so tricky in how it works. If we tell ourselves something is difficult, it becomes so, if we tell ourselves it is impossible, it never occurs and if we think something will hurt, the pain just starts pouring in.
I’ve been seeing Timothy since last June on a weekly basis. And yes, I pay him for pain each and every time. We laugh, I sweat, (and swear) and each week I go back hoping it will be easier each time but it isn’t…and for good reason. This training program works on the concept that you come in once a week, and Timothy will do everything in his power to exhaust all of your muscles. You don’t do a lot of repetitions and rarely spend more than two minutes on each piece of equipment, and each week he either adds more weight or expects faster repetitions. You don’t get water breaks in between, he doesn’t let you off easy and he almost always make you do plank at the end.
I’ve now developed a love/hate relationship with plank. Often I hope Timothy will get distracted and forget about it. Sometimes he offers me a choice, which makes me feel extremely guilty if I opt out, but I usually think of plank in a non-fluffy/non-happy/non-joyful/non-loving way. I know it has to be done, I know it’s good for me, but don’t make me look forward to the experience! However, today felt different and I was looking forward to plank, in a hopeful, let’s get to know you over drinks kind of way. I was full of optimism, excitement and expectation for the best possible outcome.
Several weeks ago I had a revelation during plank when I was able to let go of the physical pain, quiet my mind and just focus on the task at hand. During the workout today, Timothy kept talking about mind over body…essentially his version of a ‘mushin’ or no-mind philosophy. His pep talk was so inspiring that when it came time to do plank I had that gleam of optimism, that glint of hope that today I could find the ‘sweet spot’ again. Instead of dreading the last few minutes I embraced them, flirted a bit, and even showed a little cleavage for good measure.
And, I blew it out of the water. A gloriously full two minutes in perfect position, with no wobbles, no shaking, just good solid form. And, after a brutal workout that left my arms numb I’m celebrating. Plank, if you were here right now, you’d be getting damn lucky!
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
I know you love your parks, especially on a pretty sunny day like today. I too was hoping for a brisk walk through my neighborhood park, followed by practicing my Tai Chi form. In fact, I hadn't decided which of my two locations would be the spot for my martial arts practice, and waited until I had taken one long loop through the park to make that decision. I did not however plan on sharing my space with so many people tonight. Some observations:
- For the three young guys at location #1 who appeared to be practicing Aikido, I would suggest a little more time in your Dojo or Dojang. You appeared very uneasy with your skills and not used to practicing in a public setting, you looked a little hot and sweaty in your gis and seemed very distracted by some redhead who appeared miffed that you were in her spot.
- For the three elderly folks who arrived at location #2 rght before me, and who appeared to practicing some form of Tai Chi or Chi Gong, I would suggest a little more action and less staring into the bushes. You appeared a little unfocused on your task, dawdled too much and were way too oblivious to the redhead who appeared puzzled that she had lost another spot in which to practice.
- For the father at my new location (now #3) who told his son that 'the lady is practicing Tai Chi', I appreciate the commentary and I'm glad you had a general feeling for what I was trying to accomplish. I would state for the record that tripping, stumbling, and losing composure are not trademarks of a good practice. Neither is stomping your feet in the dirt when you forget major sections of your form.
Monday, March 2, 2009
For me, March 2 is a much more personal celebration. It's my Mom's birthday, and if she were alive today we would be celebrating her 76th year. It's hard to believe but it's been eight years since she passed away all too suddenly, and although the anniversary of her death has become less emotional for me, the anniversary of her birth seems to become more poignant as each year passes. Perhaps it's because I can't show or tell her how much I love her, I can't plan on a surprise or a present, I can't call to wish her happy birthday. All I can do is miss her...terribly.
So, in the hopes that the Internet has truly reached all corners of our universe, I'm hoping Mom's following along, reading and watching, and today...she knows that I'm still wishing her happy birthday and she knows that I'll always love her even if I didn't say it often enough!
P.S. For those of you who still have your Mothers around...go call them...now. And, send them my love as well.
Saturday, February 28, 2009
Heading into March I hadn't really had time to think about which goal would move front and center for me...up until last week. When the Universe is sending you a message it's helpful if you pay attention. So, without further ado my goal this month is to return to my center, and focus on my martial arts practice. And to keep things simple, I plan on doing my form every day.
In Taiji, we practice a form called the Yang set, which has (I think...) 108 movements divided into three sections. If we practice it at a fairly moderate pace it takes about 15-20 minutes to complete. Every Saturday morning, it's part of class, and in each movement you can learn so much about where you are mentally, physically and even spiritually.
Some days when we do the form, I get lost watching the birds and squirrels and feeling the breeze on my face, or the sun shining down. Sometimes, I get lost in the movement and feel surprised when we're suddenly done despite the feeling that we just got started. It's in this form that I realized my balance was completely shot after dealing with the plantar fascitis in my feet, and learned that you work much harder when you forget to breathe along the way. I also learned that although you may learn the sequence of movements in a short time, it may take a lifetime to explore, experience and master them.
This past weekend my instructor suggested that I come to class and do the form, and nothing else...no push-ups, no other work, just the form. I almost cried at his suggestion, which says a lot. I didn't make it to class and of course, felt guilty until I remembered that he said he would support me regardless of my decision. He did make it clear, that what I needed the most was to return to my practice, return to my breath and return to my center. And, in a world that tells us to sit back and take it easy when we're not feeling well comes his message that we should get up and move, and sweat, and work.
It makes me realize how much I miss being immersed in this art form. I miss my old Dojo, my old Sensei, the kicking, the punching, the sweating and the grappling. I even miss the bruises I'd get on occasion! They were badges of honor, which represented my hard work and determination. Don't get me wrong, I love my classes, and I could spend a lifetime learning from my instructor, the problem is me...I have to find the time to do so.
In focusing on my form every day for this month, I hope to find the time to return to my center, and to find my focus and intention once again.
I spent the good part of 2008 trying to overcome a lifetime aversion to the color pink. It's a long sordid story, but I've had issues with that color my entire life. At forty-plus years of age I decided last year to make peace with my demons and although I may not embrace pink, I should learn to accept it.
It was a year of small, quiet triumphs, and deep soul-searching that culminated in a weekend of pure, pink, shock-therapy. I walked away feeling less hostile about the color, but not joyfully embracing it. Until this weekend.
My current purse died an untimely death. The autopsy will probably show too many items shoved into it's generous pockets, or perhaps an over-reliance on the rugged, yet elegant straps. It was the perfect blend of glam and bling, and I didn't want to let it go but I had to come to terms with needing a new purse and soon.
After a week of being house-bound I decided to venture out looking for a purse and on a secondary note a bag for my classes. My class bag has also been showing wear and tear, but I haven't allowed it to die for years. I decided that both bags must go and this was the weekend to lay them to rest. Here's one last photo; their flaws may not be evident on the surface, but I promise structurally they were headed for disaster.
After a fairly short shopping trip I found two bags, in two separate stores. I know, it looks like they were separated at birth...and they may have been. The purse (on the left) is actually larger than my last one, much deeper...but also more narrow. (You can't see her slim figure in this photo). For my class bag, I opted for a more subtle, simple option. The two ladies are making themselves at home this evening, and it seems perfectly natural that I now own a honking-huge electric pink purse. This is girlihood in all it's glory.
The universe has a progressive discipline policy in place. You know, similar to three strikes and you're out. First, you get birds singing, a breeze blowing and nature gently sending hints your direction. If you don't pick up on that level of subtlety, it progresses to level two. At this point, you're making notes, telling yourself it's time to pay attention...but maybe not this week, perhaps the next one. You openly acknowledge that the Universe may be sending you messages but you haven't really taken any direct action. Now to level three, the Universe chunks a hefty brick at your head, either knocking you unconscious or leaving you flat on your back. Last week, I got my brick.
Bronchitis...and one week of feeling pitiful in my bed. A week of phlegm, fever, a runny red nose, and a piles of Kleenex everywhere. I've been telling myself for a couple of months that I need to get my health back on track, that I've lost focus, stamina and determination. I've wanted to lose weight, meditate more, get back into running, and fighting (yes...I do mean the kicking and punching kind). I think back to a couple of years ago when I had completed my first triathlon and I felt invincible, charged, strong and ready to conquer the world.
Last week, I even lamented the fact that I don't seem to have as much energy as I used to...and that I needed to go see the acupuncturist, get my allergies back under control and become stronger. And, I put those on my list of things to do...in the near future...right along side the grocery list, the laundry and other petty items. In the process, I ticked off the Universe who decided it was time for a more overt discussion.
I sniffled on Monday, lay sick in bed on Tuesday, but came to work Wednesday morning. After I felt miserable and defeated, I decided to go home...with a side trip to the doctor. I thought it was allergies, which were part of the problem, but the heart of it was acute bronchitis...the contagious kind...the kind that leaves you whimpering on the coach for several days.
And so, on Thursday I went for an acupuncture appointment where I was told that I needed to get my health back on track (it's not too far off though), get more heat going (i.e. cardio) and pay attention to the messages my body and others are sending me. And, on Friday, when I called my martial arts instructor telling him I may not make class on Saturday he also told me to get back on track, find my balance, and return to my practice. Which I will, and quite soon.
Since we're talking about cooking...you may have noticed that my choices are not all low-calorie, health conscious, high-fiber, low-fat options. I'd love to work my way into cooking with those items in mind, but the things I can pull together quickly and efficiently are just not meant that way. I mean really, pot roast...it's a big old hunk of meat...and a yummy one at that.
I do need to lose weight this year, I gained quite a bit in 2008 and thankfully because I do work out it doesn't show as much...but I know it's there. The truth is that the idea of cooking often, and cooking uber-healthy is just overwhelming to me. And I don't need anything else to overwhelm me right now. I need simplicity, I need balance, and I need efficiency in my life.
So, I decided the first step was to get away from eating what is convenient and therefore packaged, processed and artificial in many cases to move towards real food. Yes, if we're counting I did make homemade macaroni and cheese and dammit, it was great. Not as good as a salad perhaps, but my version simply had cheese, a little milk, a little flour and butter and macaroni...nothing else. I made a big batch, split it into little ramekins, and froze half of them.
My philosophy is simple. I can control what goes into the food, and cut down on unnecessary items like sugar, salts and the dreaded high-fructose corn syrup that has snuck into so many of our foods. I also feel that my food supply is much more safe, sound and salmonella-proof, although I really would die for a peanut Clif Bar right about now ;-)
I don't know that anyone who knows me would really criticize me on this one, but just in case some random stranger decides to start following my blog and wants to lecture me...watch out, I've got a crock pot and I'm not afraid to use it!
It wouldn't be the end of the month without some type of progress report on my goals. I cooked, and more often than I did in January or any other month for that matter. Here's a brief list of my February accomplishments.
- Quiches (yes, multiple ones): I managed to make six this month, and they have served me well for breakfast, lunch and dinners. And, I currently have several pieces frozen just in case I go into withdrawal. I honestly don't know why I haven't made more at home before, they're way too easy. My favorite one? Arugula, corn and bacon...with a little blue cheese. The last one I cooked? Spinach, mushrooms and a bit of corn. Every bit as yummy as you can imagine.
- Pot roast: I even got out the slow cooker for this one, and included potatoes and carrots in the mix. I probably overcooked the veggies, but the meat was amazing. I don't say this lightly, but I could have eaten bowls of that meat for days on end...literally bowls of it. Major thumbs up, and I'm cooking it again tomorrow, and I don't want to get my hopes up too high but I'm breaking out the bowl!!!
- Turkey meatballs: One of my new favorite goodies. The first batch was the most faboo...and with a little marinara sauce, I was in heaven. I thankfully froze half of them (in convenient 4-count bags), which provided me with a slice of heaven on more than one day. The last batch I made included chopped up carrots which added to their wholesomeness.
- Potato risotto with sauteed Swiss chard and spinach. Didn't know you could do a risotto with potatoes? Think again. Didn't realize Swiss chard and spinach compliment each other quite nicely, lesson learned!
- Kale chips: A little time consuming, but tasty. I may have to give them another try soon (especially since my fridge is teeming with kale at this very moment).
- Mashed cauliflower: Yeah, odd concept but actually pretty good. I didn't have the consistency correct (it was a little too chunky), but I did manage to eat all of my cauliflower this month. And, in the process learned it was also a cruciferious veggie to boot...and I always thought you had to be green. Go figure!
- Slow roasted pork ribs with Chinese five-spice mix. Good concept, not too thrilled with the pork.
- Pork roast: Edible, decent flavor but made me decide I don't like pork as much as I thought.
- Braised short ribs: Great potential, but after only one bite I left them sitting on the stove overnight instead of in the fridge. I would consider trying them again, but for the number you buy you don't get much meat...I'll keep looking for more though.
- Turkey meatloaf: Turkey in any loaf form is not desirable. Smaller meatballs are however.
Rest in Peace:
- Turnips, kohlrabi and extra lettuce that I forgot about. Sorry guys, it just wasn't in the cards.
On the horizon (especially since I'm on a roll):
- Portuguese kale soup
- Pot roast!!!!!!!
- Baked won tons
- Homemade granola bars (Official note: Clif Bars is out of my Peanut Toffee Buzz until late April...now I'm forced to make my own creation)
- Edamame hummus
- Kale pesto (with a yummy recipe for a pizza....)
Friday, February 27, 2009
The entire month, a part of me has wished someone with a video camera would break into my house for the sole purpose of looking in my fridge. Their hope may have been some sleazy expose on how horribly people eat at home. Maybe there were other episodes showing the dark and moldy side of celebrity lives when you open that one door in the kitchen. I however would be gleeful, giddy and ready for the cameras when they came and opened up my fridge. And, I would just step back and tell them to behold the beauty!
So, I've spent this last month trying to cook more, and eat out less. Out of curiosity (and possibly boredom) I decided to see if I had maybe saved some money. I've actually used a tracking system set up at my bank called 'My Portfolio'. If you upload all of your accounts (credit cards, etc.) you can then track where you money goes. Pretty simple. So, I decided to compare how much money I spent in January on groceries and dining out versus February.
My hunch was that my dining out bills would have decreased some but my groceries may have gone up. I figured since I didn't stop on the way home to pick up food, and cooked instead the dining out would have decreased. And, since I was experimenting on home cooked goodness, the groceries would have increased.
The result? Dining was almost identical for each month (within $5), but groceries decreased $147 or a whopping 16.9 percent. Which was quite a surprise and a bit of a mystery that I haven't quite figured out...just yet.
And being the closet-Excel-geek that I am, I created bar charts. Pretty ones, in fact, to show the world this revelation. What I didn't factor in is the fact that I have no clue on how to upload charts into the blog. None at all, which makes me a very sad and pathetic spreadsheet addict with nothing to show for all my work. ***sigh***
Well it's almost the end of February, and my number of posts this month is dramatically lower than last month. One could argue that since my goal was to consistently blog in January, February was a month to relax and catch up on other things. This month has flown by, and even if we had 30 or 31 days to count, I think it would still feel like the shortest month of the year.
I've spent a large amount of this month in a very introspective mood, which may explain why I haven't been writing as much. There's a lot going on in my head, and in many cases things I'm not willing to put on paper just yet. I didn't forget my February goal however...I just didn't tell you about it. Kind of sneaky, huh???
So, any guesses on which goal won during the month of February???? Not to keep any of you in suspense, but it was #11 on the list, actually a semi-revised version. My goal was to simply cook more at home. Although I still like the idea of bringing my lunch more often, I started out with a very straight forward approach. Eat less pre-packaged, processed foods and just simply cook.
When I was growing up, my sisters and I learned to cook from an early age. In those days, packaged and boxed foods were more expensive and too much of a luxury for our family to afford. So, everything was made from scratch, from pizza sauce and pizza dough to desserts and dinner. As a result, I learned to cook most anything, and in a very improvisational style. For someone who loves to follow recipes, I would drive you crazy because I don't...and I think it's genetic because my entire family is that way.
You create food out of what you have on hand, and if you don't have everything on the list you make do...or make something different. I chose this goal for the month because of all the lovely veggies we've been getting at work through our farm to work program. The weekly supplies of greens and goodies has been a challenge for me to work through, and an opportunity to dust off my cooking skills, stock up on food in the fridge and freezer, do a little meditation in the kitchen...and perhaps channel my mom from time to time. It's been a good month in this regard, and I promise I'll write more on this even if it is a mad dash before the end of the month!
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
Every Tuesday I scurry off during my lunch hour for a little pain, sweat and occasional swearing. Timothy's been serving this up to me since last June and each week seems harder than the last. And yes, I do pay for this...each and every time.
There's something about working out that just does not inspire me. Heading out to a gym by myself never seemed to work, so I decided to go find a personal trainer. I had been given a recommendation for this place, and met Timothy, who's sweetness and charm belies the fact that he'll kill you each session and smile while he does so.
The sessions are short and sweet (less than 30 minutes) and the entire point is to completely fatigue your muscles in a short period of time with slow repetitions of very heavy weights. It's a crazy-tough, beat the crap out of you time, but it's also addictive. You even get used to feeling shaky the entire time you work out, but you do have to be careful when driving away!
He almost always finishes up with plank. In Timothy's world this means that you do plank while he lays a board across your back to check your form and then drops some weights on top of the board. When I first started he said if you're fit you should be able to do two minutes solid. My best time has never been past 70 seconds.
When I mentioned to him that I wanted to get those two minutes down he laughed. Why? Well, in his world, if you can do two minutes of plank at the end of the workout...it wasn't a tough workout. He finishes up with plank to squeeze every last ounce of energy out of your body. Two minutes only works, when you're feeling fresh.
I've done martial arts for a few years now, and they teach the principal of 'no mind' or 'mushin', where you are so present in the moment that you can overcome whatever physical distractions that pop up. Work has been a little stressful lately, and I wanted to just block everything out for a few more minutes during my workout. So, when I hit the plank pose today I dropped everything mentally, including my preconceived ideas of how long I could hold the pose.
And in that moment, I was able to slip into a different place and block everything out, the shakiness in my arms, legs and abs, Timothy counting down the time, and even the burn of the carpet under my elbows. I blew past the minute mark with no inkling of physical discomfort and hit 1:26 before I let go. I really think I could have gone much longer, not because I had energy to burn but because I was successful in telling my brain to let go and just be in the moment.
It felt good, actually great, but I don't plan on telling Timothy quite yet. Internet, let's keep this our little secret for now...
Friday, January 30, 2009
Well, my Clif Bars are being shipped directly from the manufacturer (too bad I couldn't do that with the spinach last time). According to UPS they are in Hodgkin's, IL. I could have paid to express ship them, but I didn't want to appear desperate.
Tomorrow is the end of January, and end of my first month of New Year's goals. I'm feeling faintly pressured to pick Miss February, but that is conflicting with my denial that the month of January will be over. I'm not normally that attached to any specific month, let alone January, but I'm not feeling the Feb-groove yet. Maybe tomorrow will be different.
And on a completely different note, I put together the ingredients for a pot roast tonight. The plan is to put it in the slow cooker tomorrow morning, come home from a hard day of dancing and playing and eat some hearty goodness. Since I don't usually use my slow cooker, and the last time I did a pot roast I was living at home (i.e. high school), it must mean that I'm either channeling Betty Crocker or my mother. Either one works for me.
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
I'm never quite sure how to describe Simone. Actual contact between the two of us is few and far between, yet she's lived under my roof for going on four years. Simone just happens to be Sampson's mom, and lived as a feral kitty outside my house. I watched her get knocked up (not literally) three times (Sampson was in the first litter), and with the help of my neighbor found homes for all 11 of her kittens. When I finally caught her, I had her fixed and she hasn't been outside since. And, from what I can tell she has no desire to roam further than the living room or kitchen. She gets along with the other cats, spends an inordinate amount of time snuggling with Sampson, eats my food and lounges on my furniture. The first time she actually allowed me to pet her was last summer. Three years, and all I got was a couple of scratches under the chin. So, although she resides here I have problems claiming her as a 'pet' since it's a word rarely used to describe our interaction.
Last night, I thought we were turning a corner. Normally she runs out of the room or hides when I'm around (the above picture was such a fluke and was taken during a rare moment last year...with the help of the tele-photo setting on my camera). However, I was sitting on the bed ready to go to sleep when I realized she was sitting a couple of feet away, attentively watching me. No fear, no running, just sitting there as if we could have a chat. So I did, chat...that is. And in the midst of talking to the cat that avoids me on every other occasion, I felt accomplished, enamored, excited and optimistic about the possible turn in our relationship.
That is until I realized there was a rather large bug that had been slowly working it's way across the carpet, up the dust ruffle, and along the edge comforter towards me. It wasn't affection at all, just the best entertainment she could find before closing time.
Thursday, January 22, 2009
At one point in time it was spinach, and now a peanut product recall. These FDA rulings sure do interfere with my eating habits. The spinach was a bad one, and I really do think I suffered withdrawal on that one. I was the crazy woman in restaurants (particularly Pei Wei) trying to get the staff to just serve me the spinach despite it being recalled. My argument? It wasn't the Texas spinach it was just specific bagged ones. But no luck.
Well apparently another favorite food has been taken away from me for an unknown time: Peanut Toffee Buzz Clif bars. I swear, I live off of these
from time to time daily and I'm kicking myself for not stocking up a couple of days ago. I learned this lesson when I stopped on the way home from work yesterday at Whole Foods with the specific purpose of picking up my regular allotment of Naked Juice and Clif Bars.
Do you know what I found????? You guessed it, lots of juice but nothing else! The Clif people issued a voluntary recall of some bars and Whole Foods took that to another level and removed everything remotely associated with peanuts. Normally I would praise a company for taking such a stand to protect consumer safety but in this case couldn't they have waited until I picked up a box or two????
Here's hoping the local HEB isn't on the ball and I can find my stash there.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
And, I had a list...but I can't find the list. I have a physical scheduled for tomorrow morning and in my geeky, over-enthusiastic manner I always prepare a list of questions and concerns to run through with my doctor. It's nothing pressing, but I figure since I only see him once every couple of years (I'm very low maintenance) I want to get the most out of my visit.
I got home late this evening, rushed to eat something quickly because I was told not to eat after 10:00 p.m. (I'm assuming pacific standard time perhaps???) and now instead of packing for tomorrow's Mirage show I've frustrated myself looking for my list. The list that had at least 7-8 items on it, which is a sharp increase in volume from the last time I saw him. Unfortunately tonight I can only think of one or two things. And no, 'problems with my memory' was not on the sheet.
Here's hoping it will all come to me in my sleep or I may have to just make some things up on the drive over...just so I feel it's worth the trip.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Well I spoke too soon...or rather blogged too soon last time. The coveted 'pillow' really is always occupied, and there are apparently complicated rules on when to occupy and not occupy it. Thankfully at night the game stops. I think they figured out it's closing time when the lights go off. Follow along closely...players change every few minutes.
Here's where Matilda points out that possession is nine-tenths of the law.
Monday, January 19, 2009
Yes, I'll admit it. I spent part of my time in the grocery store today feeling up the kale selection. I'm not prone to become too intimate with my produce but I found particular delight in being able to recognize and appreciate the various selection of greens they had. Now I've always considered myself to be vegetable and fruit savvy, but the last month has been quite an education. Our office began a farm to work program that basically delivers fresh produce to your office once a week. You get your own farmer, but the catch is you don't get to decide what you'll receive.
The first couple of deliveries were quite funny. I split an order with a co-worker and we usually take our bag of goodies up to a table by my desk and spread everything so we can play the 'name this vegetable game'. It's crazy, but even with a cheat sheet of the names listed on it (provided by our farmer), when you get into all the 'greens' it's darn tough. And, even if you can determine what they are, thinking about how to cook and use them within one week is such a challenge.
Luckily there are several of us in the same boat, and now we exchange recipes at work, chat in the hallways about what we ate the night before and pass new tips on, with the same hushed tones you would if you were disclosing matters of national security. I've learned that freezing is a good thing, and that turnips aren't...in any manner. My last attempt will be to try some type of potato/turnip mash, probably with a lots of cheese. If that fails, they'll be sacrificed for good.
The biggest surprise has been the kale. I've been stumped for a few weeks on it. (and yes I know you could do soup...but I haven't). But just when I was feeling defeated, thinking this was another debacle just like the turnips, like a beacon in the darkness, my friend D sent me this recipe. It's a potato and kale quiche that her family makes regularly. And yes, they are vegetarians which puts them at least one leg up on us, but with lots of good recipes to steal!
I made it this weekend with a few adjustments...which is normal for my cooking. Really, I can't remember the last time I did a recipe exactly the way it is written. For this one, I added spinach and corn and didn't quite have enough milk so I used heavy, unsweetened cream, and an extra egg just for grins. I used several small, unpeeled new potatoes and got tired of dicing them, so I didn't use as many...and my pie pan was not deep dish so I had to stop somewhere.
The verdict? Heaven on earth, absolutely wonderful, tasty and very filling. Which explains why I stopped to fondle the kale today. It's like we had that special connection over the weekend, and I just wanted to cuddle a little more. Wouldn't you?
Sunday, January 18, 2009
Wow, this month has been flying by and of course, my list of things to accomplish doesn't seem to get any smaller. I will note however, that this month's goal of focusing on consistent blogging does seem to be going well. I may not have done a post every day, but so far (not including this one...) I've posted 14 blogs on this account and another 7 on the Mirage page. Yeah!!!!
I think it helps to not think of this as such a task or chore but rather an opportunity to sit and write some things down. I also learned that writing more than one post at at time really helps. I just schedule them to post and it seems to buy me a few days at a time. My purpose behind setting up these goals was to help establish a habit, something that could be a consistent part of my day, week or month. And right, I'm feeling pretty good that this is one that I can keep up. If you run the numbers, I've already done 21 blogs in a 31 day month. With just a few more I'll be feeling triumphant, perhaps even vindicated, and certainly much more cocky. Internet, watch out!
Thursday, January 15, 2009
I had one of those days where you think things are going well...and then find out they really aren't. (sigh...) There were several notably humbling events, but I'm only willing to share one with you, my dear Internet. (The others? You'll have to wait until you can buy me dinner and pry me with booze.)
I came into work, and patiently waited for the elevator...and waited, and waited. Much to my despair (yes I was wearing heels), I realized the only expedient route was the stairs, all four flights of them...which is like 8 flights but so much worse because they are the stairs from hell. Very steep, cold, and they make you pant. Like a dog.
Now before I was dragging my legs up the last steps, gripping the rail the entire time and pulling my limp body on the floor of my office I thought I was in good shape. I'd like to blame it one the purse, work satchel or even the lovely burgundy pumps but I just couldn't. Now I'm thinking that I'll show those stairs who's the master (one day)...but maybe after I rest my sore tush.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
I'm not a girly girl of sorts, I carry my own bags, know how to operate a variety of power tools, can change a tire and I pump my own gas. I don't come across as the helpless female, and up until this year had major issues with wearing pink.* So imagine my surprise when I became the helpless female.
I was standing in IKEA trying to determine how to move a 100+ pound box onto my cart, when in frustration I stood back, looked around and I think...even sighed a little. Before I had time to blink a man appeared offering to help me. Really, it took mere seconds...and it was like the heavens opened up, a beacon appeared and the nearest man was compelled to answer the call of a woman in distress. He wasn't in the best of shape, he struggled with the box, his wife was standing near-by, but gosh darn it, he wasn't going to leave until the mission was accomplished.
God bless that in men...I'll try my best to use this power for good not evil, but I won't make any guarantees. I will however consider shopping next time in heels and with lots of cleavage showing, just out of curiosity ;-)
*maybe the issues are still there, but they are less glaring.
Sunday, January 11, 2009
I love it when after two years, you still have the opportunity to discover new features on your vehicle. I learned today that my 'special edition' Nissan can actually sense when it's time to clean out your purse.
Apparently a light comes on when your purse reaches the weight of a small child. And, for the safety your purse and others in the vehicle, the air bags are now disabled. Although the light didn't stay on for the entire ride it was on long enough for me to know. It's like the car was telling me, 'hey, I know you like your roomy, new purse...but dude, this is out of hand".
Saturday, January 10, 2009
The perfect bed, accessorized with the perfect pillows, everything neatly put in place. I see the photos in the magazines and think, who lives there? Even the shabby-chic, uber-casual photos still look way too perfect to be a real space. Where are shoes tossed by the side of the bed, the lingering pet hair that you can't get completely vacuumed up, the handful of kleenex or stack of books that just sit waiting on a side table? You probably couldn't get those things published in a magazine, but gosh darn-it...who has a perfectly organized, decorated bedroom all of the time?
I for one, would like to try...just for one month...to come close. My bedroom is fairly minimal in furnishings, not very roomy, and the biggest mess comes from my unmade bed. If you haven't been following along, I've been listing out the goals I have for this year. Nothing earth shattering, but simply some habits I'd like to create in my life. My plan is to focus on one thing each month, be consistent in following through, in the hopes it will become a habit for me.
I'm sure some things will stick and other will not...but making my bed each morning would be nice. That way, if someone broke into my house and wandered into the bedroom they may mistake it for a magazine set. Or, at a minimum if someone did break in, I could tell if they had slept in my bed. Those three bears knew immediately, because they were meticulous about making their beds...but not so great on the porridge.
Friday, January 9, 2009
My first martial arts Sensei posted this recently on his blog. I know he's probably been talking to students about making it a habit to come to class, to work out, or to work on anything you want in life. I think it is quite prophetic that he choose to start his new year using this poem (author unknown), when I'm off working on developing 12 good habits for the year. I must have picked up on his chi... and based upon the number of other bloggers who've used it this last week (yes, I went googling) or so...they did as well!
Understanding this is better than setting a New Year’s Resolution. January 5, 2009 by Truscott Tristan
I am your constant companion.
I am your greatest asset or heaviest burden.
I will push you up to success or down to disappointment.
I am at your command.
Half the things you do might just as well be turned over to me,for I can do them quickly, correctly, and profitably.
I am easily managed, just be firm with me.
Those who are great, I have made great.
Those who are failures, I have made failures.
I am not a machine, though I work with the precision of amachine and the intelligence of a person.
You can run me for profit, or you can run me for ruin.
Show me how you want it done.
And I will then … do it automatically.
I am your servant.
Who am I?
I am a habit.
Thursday, January 8, 2009
If I were wealthy, I would surely hire a maid, full-time...probably live in. Really, it would simplify so much for me. Either that or a cabana boy, which would be much more fun but I'm not sure he would do the laundry...or rather fold and put it up. I do the laundry, quite often, and quite consistently. What I do not do, is fold it and put it away. So, you've guessed it...that is why putting up laundry is #5 on my list of new year's goals.
It wouldn't be such a problem if I didn't have such a love of black clothing. You name it, I've got it, in black. From tops to skirts to pants to t-shirts, everything a to z, including panties and socks. Add to the mix, poor lighting, a lack of storage and sorting space and you've got my ever-constant, ever-elusive hunt for the one article of black clothing that I must have for the day.
No, not that pair of black yoga pants with the flared legs, but the other one with the little white logo. No, I can't use those black socks, I need the other pair and god forbid if I go out of the house with two that are mismatched, even though no-one (and I swear, no-one) would ever know. And as for panties, I have about three pairs of black panties that I love...no, adore! And yes, they get washed every week and you would think I could easily find them...but noooooo I can't. And as for tops, it's the black scoop necked tee, not the vee necked one that will work for today, and life will surely end if I can't wear that top with those pants, panties, socks and bra that I worked so hard for this morning.
Life would be easier if everything was sorted, and hopefully one day this year it will be.
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
Pella-inga that is. You see, she hasn't been doing her job correctly. The dishes just pile up in the sink until I have no choice but to don an apron (yes, I do have one), roll up my sleeves and go to work. It doesn't help that I have a large assortment of dishes so I can wait a few days before cleaning things up. So, I've added to my list of new year's goals the goal of doing my dishes, regularly. I know, it's not very sexy or esoteric or psychologically challenging but it is a practical, pro-active step that would simplify things in my house.
For the record, I'm not a slob about this...I just tend to procrastinate until I run out of counter space, which happens very quickly. And, since I am the sole dish-washer of the house, with no automation in site, there are no short cuts. I'm left with good old fashioned scrubbing, rinsing and drying, which is one of my least favorite tasks. So, I put it off as long as possible.
As for Pella-inga the missing maid? Well, according to my mother she is a figment of Swedish fables, a woman who sneaks into your home when you're out and cleans up after you. Every time I see a sink full of dishes, I think of how Pella-inga is falling down on the job...and that I, like my mother should just roll up my sleeves and do the work ourselves.
Monday, January 5, 2009
Is this not the way to start a new day, or new year...or at least a new closet? I'm hoping so. I try on a regular basis to reorganize, sort and purge my closet at least once a year. This last weekend was the event, in case you missed the telecast and here are the results of my endeavor. This happens to be the one and only decent closet in the house, and it looks much bigger in the photos than in reality. One side has all my tops, including a lot of t-shirts that I don't have folding room for in the bedroom. This closet oddly enough it is in the hallway next to the living room, down the hall from the bathroom which is off of the study and kitchen. Needless to say, getting dressed in my house involves a lot of wandering naked or semi-dressed when you include the fact that the panties, bras and sock are in another room altogether!
I had to move out all of my coats and heavy jackets, as well as some dressy dresses that I don't use all too frequently into the two-foot wide closet in my bedroom. It's all one big, intricate puzzle that takes as much time planning out as it does sorting.
Sunday, January 4, 2009
Maybe not, but I should be. And while we're on the subject I should be breathing more. More often, more deeply, more slowly and with more intent. One the greatest delights and pleasures of my martial arts training was learning how to meditate, and in my current practice I greatly miss doing so. At my old dojo, we stopped as a group to meditate before every class, and some classes were nothing but 30 minutes to an hour of meditation. And although my current instructor expects us to be quiet and mentally prepare for each class when we arrive, we don't actively practice this as a group. And, I miss that experience.
Nothing can replace that moment of quiet, stillness you experience. It really is one of the sweetest things I've known, and doing so at home just doesn't even come close. When I am here I think more about cleaning or chores, or just sitting and relaxing and even if I do sit and try to meditate I'm interrupted. By my thoughts, by noises and by the cats.
They either circle quite close, or try to climb into my lap or sit nearby trying to figure out just what I'm doing (i.e. heavy kitty breathing in the dark). I know that this is an opportunity to go deeper, to focus more, and let go of my surroundings but it doesn't happen. It doesn't happen simply because I do not practice at home. So, I need to make that focus, a goal, an accomplishment for the year. And, I will.
And the winner is...#2! She won me over with her talent portion of the competition, so yes indeedy...my January goal is blogging! And, so far, so good. I'll admit the bar is a little low right now, and it would be easy to just match or beat the number of posts from last year in one fell swoop. I spent so much time last year thinking about blogging, planning to blog and just not doing it.
One primary reason was that the intent of this blog was to talk exclusively about belly dancing in Austin, and focus on Mirage in general. I hesitated on many occasions to post because I wanted to talk about other things, other interests and other ideas. It didn't seem appropriate to use this blog as the vehicle for my thoughts and ideas even though I've been the sole source of information for the troupe. So, my solution? Two blogs.
Yes, let that sink in for a moment. Crazy you may say to the woman who has been unsuccessful with one blog...well, I laugh at that, and you...and myself. So, if you want to hear more about my other life, my other new year's goals and just general stuff, you'll have to join me here. Otherwise, you can stay with me here and I'll do my best to let you in on more belly dance secrets. Of course, you can read both if you really love me ;-)
By the way, if you're wondering why I don't have any belly dance items on my list of goals. That's simple...I don't need a list for the things I'm already doing. For example, I get to practice dance four days a week...for a minimum of 8 hours a week. I am so fortunate to have multiple performance opportunities, and opportunities for workshops and seminars. I also have a wonderful community of belly dance friends, performers, and students to keep me actively engaged, creatively inspired, and delightfully amused. So here's to a wonderful new year of dance and exploration!
Saturday, January 3, 2009
Here's what you may have missed so far:
- I have a list of goals for this year.
- One of the goals includes blogging (or perhaps regular blogging...or consistent blogging...)
- This blog is designed to help me in that process.
One could argue that blogs are just an extension of my own identity and the belly dancer in me and the non-belly dancer are still parts of me and should coexist in one blog. I'll argue that it's not so simple. My motivation behind the Mirage blog is quite different from a goal of telling stories about myself. One is aimed at promoting the troupe, increasing interest, telling stories and giving ourselves a different voice than other dancers. The other, this one, is completely and totally a shameless self-promotion. All of that, just in case you were curious.
I wouldn't be human this time of the year if I didn't sit down and reflect upon the past year and make resolutions for the new one. Personally I've never really liked resolutions, I prefer the term 'goals'. A resolution seems very definitive, with no room for alterations whereas a goal can be modified, changed, and updated. I actually started coming up a with a list of goals in December and had a wonderful pipe dream of posting my equivalent of the '12 days of Christmas' which included my 12 goals and focus for the new year. For those of you who've checked this blog, you'll notice that they never materialized in 2008.
However, here they are, in no particular order. The plan is to work on one thing each month with the hope that it will be a habit, an integral part of my life...or just something I can check off the list. I haven't made a final decision on which one will be the poster child for January, but I have some strong front-runners for that award. I'll keep you posted on which one I choose, along with my explanations for why I chose each of these items for this year. For now, just wish me luck or let me live in my happy oblivion for just a little while longer, that is until the work and chores get the best of me!
- Do the dishes (more consistently).
- Practice my martial arts.
- Put up the laundry.
- Make my bed.
- Take better care of my skin.
- Take better care of my feet.
- Clean my desk off regularly at work.
- Keep in touch with friends and family.
- Pack my lunch 1-2 times a week, and cook at home more often.
- Manage all my receipts.
Friday, January 2, 2009
On my last trip to Pei Wei, I went for the first two cookie attempts to find the fortune(s) that I was satisified with. They seemed to speak to each other:
- A lifetime of happiness lies ahead of you.
- You will get what your heart desires
Perfect for the start of the new year! However, I should have stopped after those two. My third one was less cheery and more puzzling:
Be careful! Straight trees often have crooked roots.Hmmm, I like both straight and crooked trees. One you admire for it's grace the other for it's character. And, I do believe they all have crooked roots somewhere, it's just nature. Well, maybe I should have either stopped at two cookies...or perhaps gone for four...
Thursday, January 1, 2009
Like so many others, I love reading fortune cookies. I do not however subscribe to the belief that there is only one fortune available per dining experience. That may help explain why I love eating at Pei Wei. Although I still deeply mourn the loss of their udon noodles with spinach, I can have as many fortunes (and cookies) as I wish. And in fact, I do.
I know you think that by now, I've forgotten you...moved on, and found another. Well, I'm here to say that you've always been on my mind even if I haven't shown that by my actions. It's been a busy year, and I admit that I have been busy 'doing' versus 'blogging' and that you've been left behind in the process.
On this first day of the new year, I suggest that we forget past indiscretions and focus on a more fulfilling relationship in 2009. I realize that you've been the victim here, just waiting with nothing else to do...but I promise to make it up to you, invite more people over, I even redecorated a little. So, can we give it another try...pretty please?