Thursday, May 31, 2012

Getting Back in the Kitchen: The Healthy Project

Sirloin with reduced balsamic
vinegar and roasted brussels
sprouts
During my visit to Indiana, I got to view Anne and Amanda's healthy habits. And it inspired me. Again. I feel like I need constant inspiration to do the healthy thing, but I also don't feel like I'm that unusual. Or maybe my mom ruined me. She gave me constant feedback--good and bad (but mostly good)-- and I got used to it. I love being acknowledged for even small things--if only in my head giving myself a gold star. I love gold stars. Even ones I give myself. It's that lethal combination of need for approval and competitiveness.

So after seeing and tasting delicious homemade food, I realized that I've been lazy and scared. I have been scared to get in the kitchen and attempt to cook and learn because Chef is clearly an expert (it's a little intimidating). And lazy because cooking takes time and effort and planning. All things that I've been neglecting for the last several weeks.

I hit some websites and used Pinterest to house a bunch of healthy recipes. I planned out the week, prepped my breakfasts and lunches, and visited the farmer's market, Whole Foods and the grocery store. After day one, I feel pretty good.

If I were to make the meal again, I'd:

  • cook the sprouts lower and slower (our oven is gas and therefore weird).
  • would use a little more olive oil on the sprouts (and a little less salt).
  • reduce the balsamic more.
  • Use the four cloves of garlic the recipe calls for instead of just two because I was chicken. However, the rosemary taste outweighed the garlic because of it.
Overall, I'd make the lemon raspberry muffins and the sirloin again.

The lemon raspberry muffins that I made for breakfast this week and  froze for the weeks to come. Be warned: they are delicious, but not sweet at all.
http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/lemon_raspberry_muffins.html

Chef cooked the steak because I didn't want to mess up something that expensive, but  that's all he did hands on. He was patiently helping me and giving me advice from the sidelines though.
http://www.1001recipe.com/recipes/food/sirloin_steak_with_rosemary_and_balsamic_reduction_sauce/

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

It's Tough To Own a Bookstore

I snapped this pic just moments after
my visit to Kramerbooks in Dupont
Circle in DC.
Or at least I imagine it has to be tough to own a bookstore. I like to frequent small local bookstores. They always have more character and books piled in weird ways that mean I see more than just bestsellers. One of my favorites is Book Soup in LA. I've been in Washington DC lately and always tend to stay near DuPont Circle so I've hit the Kramerbooks & Afterwords Cafe a few times. I went in recently to grab one book before my flight so that I had something to read during take off and landing. I'm not really a social flyer so I like to go ahead and kill the hopes and dreams of any seatmates that might want to chat me up. I'm sure they're mightily disappointed, but my type of celebrity is one that leaves me anonymous and sitting in coach, so really it works out for all involved.

I was in the store looking over my options and saw a bunch of books that I wanted. Or at least wanted to add to my reading list. I only had carry-on space for one book, so it was Sophie's Choice all the way. I had to make the tough decisions. Of course, one of the great things about independent bookstores is that they aren't beholden to a corporate mandate on which books get shelved where. So you're more likely to find weird stuff and stuff that staff recommends rather than just what a publisher pays to put on a higher shelf at eye-level, etc. That being said I was finding all kind of books that I wanted to read, so I did what came naturally. I whipped out my iPhone and took a picture of the barcode to add to my GoodReads list.

"I'm sorry but you can't do that in here," said a male clerk about my age or a little younger.

Me: Excuse me? Can't do what in here?

Clerk: Take pictures of the books.

Me: I can't take a picture of this book's barcode to put on my reading list? (Clerk nods) Can I have my cellphone out and type it into my reading list?

Clerk gives me a star and I wonder off because I'm a little ticked and also totally understand. Amazon has made bookstores run for their money because people can go in, find a book they want and in two clicks have bought it--for less money and delivered wirelessly in a minute to their Kindle. It's gotta be hard to sell books. But I'm a book lover and a lover of independent bookstores, so I was still a little sore about this. Then the guy came up to me and said:

Clerk: What reading list are you talking about?

Me: Good reads. It's a website that helps people connect over books, track what they've read and want to read. It's got an app that helps me add books to my reading list.

Clerk: Can you show me? I don't have one of those smartphone thingies. (I chuckled at this because I wasn't expecting that answer from a 30-something male. A 60-something female? maybe).

After I took the time to show him, I ended up buying a book (Anthropology of an American Girl) and the clerk was trying to make me feel better so he through a free t-shirt into my bag. It only made it on my carry-on because it was squishy. So, hey. free workout t-shirt.


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Playing Catch Up (Part Two)

I got too frustrated placing the pictures so I needed a second post. Besides, I don't think one picture of cheese and one of my girls in one of my favorite places on earth (the IU campus) are enough to tell of my trip back to Indiana.

Anne and Amanda and our campus visit. I love visiting Bloomington. It's a beautiful place that whet my appetite for places that encompassed different cultures of people--including the ever-annoying hipster. I got to remember what humidity feels like (as it melted off my make-up) and what it feels like to have friendships that are relevant and loving no matter how much time passes between our visits.
I was lucky enough to go to the Capitol and work with a group to brief Congress on the issue of workplace flexibility. I got to listen to how Blackberrys are making us more flexible and more accountable (to our detriment) while obsessively checking my Blackberry for emails. Oh the irony!

I got back in town late Wednesday, but it wasn't until Friday when I was able to go walking around Beverly Hills with Chef that I remembered how beautiful LA is and how great it is to be warm without sweat. I missed my husband and kitties desperately, but was glad that even after spending time in beautiful cities, I still love this beautiful city.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Playing Catch Up

I've been lazy lately. Well, lazy with a side of busy, which makes for a bad blogger. So in an effort not to feel this overwhelming nag that I hadn't updated in a while combined with the dread of having so much to update, I've decided to tell the story in pictures (and skim a lot of it).

I went to Chicago for business meetings. This was my view from the gym's treadmill. I love big cities.

Chicago on the morning of my meetings. It was a perfect day and despite about 24 hours in the city, I was reminded how beautiful it is. Now if it had been January, the love might have been a little less enthusiastic. This picture was taken a few moments before I saw a group of NATO protesters. I was able to scoot out of town before the mobs hit.

I couldn't be that close to Indiana without having a visit. I went to Indianapolis and Bloomington to see friends that I hadn't seen in 20 months. That's way to long to go without my girls. I had to chuckle when I went to Kroger (not Ralph's) with Amanda and saw these gallon jugs of nacho cheese on sale for $6. Who needs this much fake cheese?



Monday, May 14, 2012

I Love Tacky: Lawn Flamingos

Irresistible
When does a lawn flamingo seem crazy? Maybe the better question is when doesn't it seem crazy. Perhaps they seem impractical when you don't have an actual lawn. But I wasn't going to let a little thing like not having a lawn deter me from these bad boys.

This weekend I passed these old school flamingos and fell in love. It was reminiscent of the moment I saw my purple purse and knew we were meant to have fun times together. The logical side of me was debating whether I really needed lawn flamingos when I had no lawn nor really a good place to put them. Then I realized that Chef has three small fruit trees so it seemed like a silly thing like land ownership wasn't something that stopped our family from things we want.

I took them up to get a price check and found out they were $12.99. A mere pittance for not one BUT TWO plastic pink flamingos. It was about this time when I saw this on the side of the box and it sealed the deal.
All I need for happiness and fun are pink flamingos? Yeah, that seems about right.

In an homage to Three's Company, I've decided to name them Jack Tripper and Chrissy Snow (no one really liked Janet anyway). If you can persuade me otherwise, I might dub them something else (I've already dubbed them Unforgiven).
Jack and Chrissy and Genghis

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Snapdragons for Moms

From yesterday's trip to Home Depot
Yesterday Chef and I were at several garden centers (as has been our Saturday ritual for the last couple of weeks). We were looking at some colorful plants and I was continually drawn to pink gerbera daisies. There's just something about them that makes me think HAPPY. Maybe it's because I always wanted one of those dancing daisies that would sway to music. Remember those? They were so fun as a kid and were the true trailblazers for Big Mouth Billy Bass. I'm fairly certain that time will tell those dancing daisies were the jumping off point for artificial intelligence.

Anyway, amid the beautiful plants were snapdragons. My mom used to plant them in just about every garden we had because my brother picked them out as a kid and that just stuck with her. And then when it was just the two of us, mom and I used to pull the blooms off and make chains of them and decorate our necks and wrists with them. I used to pretend that I was Hawaiian and I would hand them out to my little friends as leis.

The snapdragons were just a little thing that reminded me of my mom. There are literally tons of them every year; little things that remind me of my mom. One of my twitter friends told me it was her first Mother's Day without her mom. "Does it get any easier?"  she tweeted. My reply was that it does. Mother's Day, her birthday, major holidays all get easier. You prepare for them and have a moment when things are sad, but generally you're able to move on.

What doesn't get easier and is always lovely and horrifyingly sad are those snapdragon moments. Random Tuesdays when you'll see any episode of "The Big C" that makes you bawl or smell her perfume on a stranger and realize you may be following that person around Lowe's on a way that's bordering on stalking.

Here's to mothers, here and gone, and those snapdragon moments and memories.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Why am I Fat when I Don't Eat that Much?

I eat homemade lettuce
wraps with rice for dinner and
lost nothing. Others eat three
chocolate bars and are down
three pounds. How does this
happen?
I realize that I'm not "that fat" as someone not related to me was oh so kind enough to point out as I was complaining out loud, but that's of little help. And I didn't invite you to my pity party, sir, so kindly exit to the left.

I realize that we all are made differently and men have an easier time losing weight and some people just have great metabolisms, but really believing that line of shit is about as easy as believing that a fat person is big boned or has a thyroid problem. There are few exceptions and chances are that its really the rule.

What's killing me about this lately? I'm glad you asked. I use the app My Fitness Pal. I'd highly recommend it to others as it actually helps me track my calories in a way that's a little more helpful than the paper and calculator method I used to use (seriously I totally used a calculator and a sheet of paper that was tracker for the day. I habitually checked Calorie King for counts. I was so OCD that I used to three-hole punch my trackers and put them in a binder so I could remember that really great meal I had a few weeks back that was only 457 calories.) Anyway, the app is great and I've been reaching out lately to find people who are on the same path and might help motivate me.

When I'm in the weight loss zone, I buy into every little nugget of information or stat that I hear.

I hear"You lose twice as much weight with friends--even online ones." So I get involved in the message boards.

I hear "Faith Hill drinks 96 oz of water every day for clear skin" So I guzzle 6 liters for good measure (and then take at least 6 trips to the bathroom every morning).

I realize the last one was about skin, but if I can clear two issues of self esteem in one foul swoop, I'm gonna do it. That's just good sense.

These people on My Fitness Pal are making their food diaries public and I am curious as hell so I take a peek. And I see a person having a daily calorie threshold 300 above mine and eating chocolate at least twice a day and losing 2 pounds a week. And she's just the average example.

But that person might have a lot more weight to lose so it comes off easier, you argue. Um, no. Bitch weighs 5 pounds more than I do and I've not --nor have I ever in a healthy manner-lost more than 2 pounds of actual weight in a week. And that was when I was morbidly obese.

What the fuck. Rationally I am doing the "we're all different" arguments in my head, but underneath that, I'm thinking "is she cutting off parts of her body to make this weight loss happen? What am I doing wrong?" I want to lose weight, but I also don't want to curl up in a ball crying if someone puts olive oil or butter on my food because "I don't have the calories left for that."

This debate was swimming around my head this morning when Chef yelled from the bathroom scale "Man, I've lost so much weight and I haven't even been trying." And that's when I left to keep myself from stabbing him. I'm still debating whether he can take a good stabbing in his sleep as I'm feeling stabby still. But then again, I tweeted it and now I'm blogging it so if my husband turns up stabbed in the next few months, I'm obviously going to be the first suspect. Oh, marriage.

Monday, May 07, 2012

A Thin Line Between Normal and Serial Killer

If I took Attila to the movies,
chance are he would just crawl
up next to me and sleep.
 Just sayin'
Yesterday, Chef and I went to see The Avengers, because we're American. And apparently all of America went to see it this weekend. Even in our beloved sinner showing, there was a fairly full house--and we chose to see it without 3D. Partly because I think that 3D is just a way for movie executives to test how stupid moviegoers will be to see a movie. I think the fact that they've made five versions of The Fast and The Furious should be enough of a case study, but I guess they want to fuck with us more because those glasses keep getting more and more hideous.

Hideous glasses aside, I also fear that 3D will end up corrupting versions of the movie and we'll look back in 20 years and laugh at what we thought was so advanced. Don't believe me? Catch Jaws 3 next time its on TV and see how stupid that shark looks coming at you. And how short shorts could be and still be considered acceptable. Dennis Quaid, I'm talking to you.

So we're sitting there in a relatively packed theater and a family comes to sit down after the previews have started. I actually like seeing the previews, but since Youtube means that I can watch the ones I'm interested in at home, I get a little less pissed off about people talking during them. What does piss me off, though, was the little shit behind me that felt the need to kick my chair for 20 minutes.

I know a lot of you have kids where I have cats, but I have no sympathy for a parent who is so engaged in a movie that you don't seem to notice the toddler (who shouldn't have been in that movie at all -completely inappropriate for that young of a kid) that was standing --not sitting in their seat--and kicking the back of a chair in front of them. An area that just happens to be my HEAD. At first I tried to pretend it was like a massage chair when I get my pedicures that had some how gone on the fritz, but it didn't work for long. I gave a few pointed looks to the mother behind me, but it didn't work. She never did do anything to control her child. I wondered why the kicking stopped but when I went to the bathroom I saw that the kid had fallen asleep in his chair. Mystery solved.


Sunday, May 06, 2012

Warning: Video of Ferocious Cat Killing a Horse

Chef took this video of Genghis playing with the stuffed horse I got last year for opening an account at Wells Fargo. I think it's adorable, and almost as good as "The Avengers" plus it's way shorter. Happy Sunday!


Thursday, May 03, 2012

Why don't I have that pretty kind of fat?

These never make me feel fat--
because I'm a single digit size in them.
Do you know those women who can gain five or ten pounds and it ALL goes to their boobs giving them a perfect hourglass figure? Me neither. But I did start looking at where people carry their extra weight a few years ago and oddly enough it sparked some jealousy in me. I don't have the pretty kind of fat.

Before you start arguing that no fat is pretty, let me stop you. No fat on the inside of your body is pretty. That shit will kill you. But the extra junk in the trunk of some ladies is nice. And there is a HUGE difference in how much extra weight a person can carry just by their height and body type: two areas that I was not blessed with in the weight carrying department.

I'm short. 5'2" barefoot which is why I wear heels most every day. I like to pretend that I'm 5'5". But between the shortness and the body type, I'm screwed. I'm not exactly sure which fruit my body type is (girls, you know what i'm talking about), but it's the type that gives me big boobs, broad shoulders, a big stomach and a flat ass. I would keep it all if I had a pretty fat. And by pretty fat, I mean the type of fat that doesn't pucker. That fat that on other women looks almost like if you'd touch it, it'd be hard. It's smooth and doesn't gather at embarrassing places like around your bra straps or "dun-laping" over your belt. (For the record, I also hate the phrase "muffin top" because it instantly makes me think of the Seinfeld episode where Elaine is trying to convince the baker to only make muffin tops and he names the store "Top of the Muffin to You!". I relate because I too only like muffin tops, but not those fake muffin tops that were never attached to a stump. I also hate the use of excessive exclamation points. Nobody is that enthusiastic about everything.)

If I'm gonna have fat, and the odds have been ever in my favor on that to this point in my life, I wish I had the pretty kind of fat. Instead, I have the kind of fat the slaps other parts of my body when I'm working out no matter what type of restrictive clothing I wear to prevent it. Perhaps some day I'll have worked out enough to eliminate my lumpy fat. Until then, I'll have to make due.


Wednesday, May 02, 2012

"How did I get here?": Nursery Edition

A cactus we got this weekend
Despite the title of this blog post, it has nothing to do with explaining the birds and the bees to kids or really anything infant-related. Instead its about nurseries of the plant variety and how I've come to find myself willingly going to them in the middle of the Saturday afternoon sun.

The answer is simple: Chef asked me to. The reason is more complicated. Kind of.

Until we moved to LA, we were lacking a few things: 1) a patio or any outdoor space that was at least semi-private 2) beautiful weather, year-round. Those two things are crucial to being able to grow much of anything on your own. At least I've been told. I can kill anything green just by looking at it. I think it senses my apprehension to plant items since I spent much of my twenties avoiding eating them.

When we have a little patio and some steady sun, Chef decided he'd like to utilize them to grow things. He'd been asking for houseplants for a while, but I was skeptical. Mostly because of my aforementioned brown thumb and us having kitties that can easily use their extra toes to scoop dirt out of a plant and on to the floor. I was being practical, really. But then we saw an episode of "My cat From Hell" where they planted some indoor cat grass for the cats to have "salad." I thought it was a good idea and Chef jumped on it, so we headed to Lowe's to get some supplies. And then we headed back for more supplies when the cats loved the cat grass. It was on this second trip that Chef decided that growing some succulents would be fun and got some.

Here's one of the many reasons I love Chef: he has passion. When he has passion for something, he leaves no stone unturned for finding the best way to do something. I firmly believe that passion is a big draw for most women. We see a man has passion for something and know that if he has passion for something, he can have passion for us, too. Which is why I believe that so many women go for sports fans and then get pissy when the guy still likes sports after they're together. Passion isn't transferable. You don't lose passion for something because you gain passion for something else. But I digress.

Chef's succulents then grew to include herbs. hydrangeas (which I picked out for me but he keeps thriving), orchids (which I picked out for me because I heard they were hearty and needed little attention), various other trimmings from his other plants and two small dwarf fruit trees.

Chef's passion not equals time in the sun around plants for me, but also a crop of lemons and limes some time in the future. Not too shabby. Too bad my writing passion doesn't provide anything for him. . .yet.

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