Monday, December 31, 2007

And Winning the 2007 Yuck Category...

Upon arriving home after the honeymoon, I noticed, or rather could not ignore, a pimple looking thing on my leg. It was surrounded by about two or three inches of inflamed red, warm, swollen skin. After a couple of Google searches, I was pretty sure it was ring worm. A couple more of these then popped up on my leg. After having mom look at it, she was pretty sure it was a staph infection. That evening during yoga, I noticed three more coming out on my inner elbow. I said Namaste and got myself to Urgent Care. The doctor looked at it, said it didn't look good and sent me home with two different antibiotics to take for 10 days.

Twelve days later and I thought everything was fine, until last Thursday morning when after my shower, I noticed, uh, oh another spot. I went to my regular doctor on Friday who seemed a little more concerned about the whole thing. He took a culture, took some blood and sent me home with yet another oral antibiotic and some antibiotic ointment. Today, the call came that this seemingly innocent little spot is actually MRSA. As far as I can tell, in spite of the dire stories in the media about this superbug, if you are a healthy adult then it's not that big of a deal. It's just scary to know I have a bacteria which can't be treated by most antibiotics. Luckily, my second Doctor was erring on the side of caution and prescribed me those drugs which do work for this. In a couple of years, however, these drugs might also lose their potency which will be really really scary, as MRSA in it's worse forms can be life-threatening.

In the meantime, I'm getting lots of rest (I've been super tired and feverish this whole month of December, but I have chalked that up to the holidays) and trying to eat right. Everything is getting washed on the sanitize cycle of the washing machine and my hands are getting washed every time I see a sink.

And happy new year to me...

Sunday, December 30, 2007

A New Card

The other day while (finally) cleaning and organizing the guest bedroom, I found a ribbon keepsake board. It's one of those boards with ribbon crossed in a diamond pattern for sticking pictures and mementos in. I had pictures from college and the years immediately following. Pictures showing lots of smiling faces and trips I had taken. I also had some tickets to sporting and other events stuck in with the pictures. And among all the memories was a card that made me pause.

A few years back, my Mom included in my stocking a little deck of cards entitled Gifts of the Goddess. The cards are meant for meditation cues or just as empowering thoughts and affirmations. It was one of these cards that was stuck in my memory board. The card read "I have everything I need to get what I want." Looking back, this was an important card for me to single out for the those years. The early twenties were a time of figuring out what I did want and then finding ways to make those things happen. It was comforting to know that whatever it was that I wanted, I had the tools to get them. Also, as a twenty-something girl it was good to know that I was allowed to want more than what I had. I could want and would be able to find a solid relationship. I could want and would be able to find a job that didn't leave me exhausted and my bank account empty. I could want and would be able to hold on to friends who are positive influences on my life.

So, now that I am a whole lot closer to having those things I want in my life, I think I need to pick out a new card to take me into the next years of my life. The next card going up is "I believe in myself, now, always, and in all ways."

Yeah, the thirties are going to be good.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Another Christmas Gone

The tinsel is put away, the figgie pudding never quite got made, the bows and brightly colored wrapping paper are out on the curb with the trash and another Christmas has been here and gone. I love Christmas - the glad tidings, the general goodwill and the opportunity to not think twice about eating cookies for breakfast. I also love the family traditions. Going to church and hearing the same readings just about every year. The squid stew (yes, the squid stew - it's a tradition at our house). Playing games until late into the early morning and then getting up a few hours later to play more games. This was the second year Chris spent with my family for Christmas. I think he enjoys it, although he did refer to it as a 36 hour holiday marathon. And, yes, by 8 p.m. on Christmas evening I was ready to agree. I just couldn't muster one more game of poker, one more story of Christmases past or one more cookie made with lots of actual butter. I was Christmased out. But the sad thing is here on December 26, I miss Christmas already. However, I was reminded that Christmas day is really just the beginning - we have Holy Family Day, Epiphany and my birthday, aka New Year's Day! So, let the good times roll - but please let me take a nap first.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Christmas Cheer

If I knew where they were and could feel the cockles of my heart, I do believe they would be emitting a nice golden glow. For I have here, on this week before Christmas felt the beginning of Christmas cheer.

It all began, with embers of flame, or maybe it was the heat from the oven as I baked three different batches of cookies on Sunday. Baking is truly enjoyable with all my fun new baking toys, uh tools. The KitchenAid mixer mixes with ease and the silicone mats make for perfect cookie bottoms each tray. The cookies are now beautifully bagged waiting to be delivered to the neighbors' homes.

The cheer grew last night when I met friends for a holiday toast and shopping. It might have been the red apple martinis which made my cheeks rosy, but I prefer to think it was the warmth of friendship and the rush of buying gifts for others.

And today, sipping my $4 non-fat gingerbread latte and listening to this classic Christmas carol, I felt my Grinch-like heart grow three sizes. Also feeling like I was trapped in that insurance commercial where good deeds go full circle, I was so impressed by the clerks at Kroger that I waited online to refer them for a red rose. Unfortunately, they stopped the red rose program two years ago. I, instead, donated some money to the Salvation Army.

What makes you feel in the holiday spirit?

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Library

I have recently rediscovered the library. In an ongoing effort to save money and not bring any additional items into this already packed to the rafters house, the library has been a good friend. Actually, the library has always been a good friend and I should have expected it to be there when I need it. I have fond memories of story time and Amelia Badelia at the Bexley library. I always knew important things happened there because when you entered the grand marble foyer, there was a general hush. In my pre-teen years, I must have read just about every book in the Dublin's young adult section. Unfortunately, the library and I lost touch in my twenties. We just weren't connecting. I still read, but I was either buying books or borrowing from friends.

In addition to the books being free and me getting to return them, what I like about the library is that I read things I wouldn't otherwise. I recently picked up Survival of the Sickest by Dr. Sharon Moalem. This book is fascinating! It explains why some disease might have stuck itself in our genetic code as coping mechanisms for past events such as plagues or radical temperature changes. Basically, it examines disease through an evolutionary view. It is a really interesting read and something that makes you go, huh, I never thought about that.

So thanks, CML!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Running into 30

My birthday happens to be the first day of the year. When I was small, I used to think the parade on television and the party my parents threw each year was all for me. I found it a little suspicious that we only had birthday cake during the halftime of the Rose Bowl, but otherwise the set-up was great. Even now that I realize football was maybe a big part of the reason for my party, there is still a sense of everyone is partying with me.

This upcoming birthday is a big one for me. I'll be leaving my twenties and joining the thirty-something ranks. While some of my friends have met this milestone with regret and depression, I am choosing to think of it as a celebration. I have great things to look forward to ahead and I'm excited to use my life experience to make better decisions and lead a well-rounded life. The lyrics of that Tim McGraw song keep running through my head - I really do hope to do it better in the next 30 years.

To start out my next decade, I've decided to not meet in with a hangover from New Year's Eve. Instead, I'll be participating in this 5k. Chris has to go also (he married me and my crazy ideas). No one else has agreed on account of the aforementioned hangover and oh yeah, the cold. However, I think this will be a great way to greet 30 head on and I am looking forward to the challenge.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Ice Cream in Winter

Is it me or does ice cream hold more of an allure when it is outside? I love curling up on the couch with a bowl of the creamy cold stuff under a blanket. Popsicles are great for warm summer days, but I mainly reserve my ice cream for cold winter nights. I also like the special flavors that come out this time year - pumpkin pie, ginger bread, peppermint stick. Today at the store I picked up a pint of a new limited edition flavor from Haagen-Dazs: Caramelized Pear & Toasted Pecan. Goodness is this good stuff - smooth and creamy with an assertive pear flavor which tastes real and not sweet. If you click over to the web site, you'll see this was a winner in the flavor search contest. Much more imaginative than I would have been.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Unhealthy in Columbus

Paging through my latest issue of Self, I was saddened to read that Columbus is one of the top five unhealthy cities in the United States for women to live. San Francisco ranked as the healthiest and Gary, Indiana ranked as the most unhealthy. Unfortunately, my hometown is a lot closer to the hell hole that is Gary rather than the west coast bay area ideal.

The ranking system for the cities took into account such things as access to ob / gyn health care, the environment, average time spent being active, number and range of food options, crime rates, levels of depression, number of STDs and smoking rates. So the data collected seems to be pretty thorough. In fact, what they did was come up with 52 factors in a woman's life which would have the largest impact on health, collected census and other data on that criteria and then weighted each to come up with a formula.

An online bonus, lists the positives and negatives of each city. Columbus ranked positive for the low numbers of automobile deaths and allergies. It ranked poorly on the number of rapes and obesity levels. The rape reporting number has been something of a local hubbub. It seems that with the OSU campus here, rape is reported differently than in other cities. This is probably why Columbus sank 10 spots from last year's report to fall into the top five unhealthy cities this year.

Not being able to argue (too much) with the data, I'm left to look around the city and wonder what else makes us unhealthy. I know a great number of women and I would say most of them are pretty healthy. Part of this is the people I know, others like me who are well educated and have at least some disposable income for things such as gym memberships and organic food. However, my friends, co-workers and I seem to be in the minority. Columbus is in the top 10 of highest obesity rates.

I mistakenly thought we had kicked that whole fattest city problem. The Mayor renamed Broad Street to be Commit to be Fit Blvd. and then the problem was solved, right? Evidently not.

Being pretty riled up about this, I created another blog to publicize healthy living in Columbus. Check it out here. There are a lot of good things happening in Columbus, health and otherwise, and I don't like my hometown keeping company with Gary, Indiana.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Snow

Usually whenever it snows, I like to pretend I'm snowed in. Sorry, can't get to work, it's just too bad out there. Yes, I know it is only about two inches, but I drive a VW Beetle and we don't do the snow drive. Today, after looking out the window immediately upon getting out of bed, a sudden intake of breath awoke my sleeping husband(!). I couldn't believe the snow crazy Jym said we could get was actually there. However, no snowed in days for me as it was my first day back at the office and I knew from a peek at my work e-mail that no fewer than 180 e-mails were awaiting me. Instead I dragged my butt to the shower, where I mournfully looked at my beautifully tanned skin. What's the use of an after-vacation glow if it is going to be covered by a snowsuit? After fighting with my hair (slowly coming around to the monstrous layers) and finding some clothes to wear, off I went back into reality. Just my VW and me on the snowy city streets.

Upon returning home this evening, I decided to foster a different relationship with snow. So I sent Chris to the store for beef stew makings and red wine while I braved the elements for a walk. I'm trying to get back into walking each day, I really enjoy it when I do. I feel better and I look better, but sadly my walks are one of the first things I skip when I get busy. But tonight, walk I did. Bundled up, holding my abs in tight to keep from slipping, and gazing at the neighbors' houses who are more on the ball than we are with holiday decorations actually made for an enjoyable stroll.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Bye Bye Wedding Hair

Bells should have gone off. Sirens should have wailed. And I should have said maybe not when the platinum blond stylist suggested long layers and nice framing around the face. It's not like I haven't been in that chair before buying into the myth that layers are universally flattering and easy to maintain. But I didn't protest loud enough and I watched with growing panic as she hacked into my hair. She knew I was upset and said to come back if I still didn't like it in a week. I ran my fingers through it and thought there's not much else she can do. I tried to avoid looking at the floor where my much sought after long hair was now residing. The shortest of the "long layers" is a good 6 inches from where the hair ends. I'm not the kind of girl who can work magic with a blow dryer and round brush and I'm afraid the layers will look very choppy and rather shelf like. I cried all the way home and I'm still bawling. I know it's just hair, but I had really come to like it and I want it back. I only went in to get the ends cleaned up - 2 inches off the bottom max and maybe something fun with the bangs. I'm not sure how I ended up with this layered fucking mess on my head. And I can't stop crying.

The Honeymoon is Over

Well, we did finally get home last night. As we were pulling up to the house at midnight, I was quite happy that I decided to take today off work. There is nothing quite like coming home to a house exactly the way you left it - that is totally disorganized and chaotic. Somehow I thought Prada would have cleaned the place up while we were gone. Instead she set to some serious grooming and has managed to give herself a large bald spot on her back above the tail. The feline acne is only marginally better and her collagen lip is back as well. I'm still hoping all these symptoms are stress related, but she has a date with the vet on Saturday just in case.


It's taking some getting used to to not be on the island. The resort we stayed at, was very nice and each hour the beach attendants would walk around with cooling devices. First would be the sprayer. This was eucalyptus scented water in what looked like a power washer. On a low setting he would spray you with the delicious water. Next, would come the platter of wash clothes. Each would be stacked on a tray. These were cooled to 36 degrees and again scented with a nice blend of eucalyptus. After the wash clothes, came platters of frozen squares of fruit. Clearly with the wintery weather we have here now, cooling devices are not needed, but it was still nice.

Chris and I learned an important marriage lesson (one of many, I'm sure) - we don't really have the same beach vacation personalities. If we were to take a Cosmo quiz on the subject, I would be something like the Literary Lizard as I find there is little better in this world than to be reading in the sun. Chris would be the Party Pirate as he needs a little more action. Luckily for us, our resort also offered a wide variety of complimentary water sports - wind surfs, kayaks and catamarans. I was able to read, while he would drift so far on the wind surfer that the rescue boat has to drag him back to shore. A great time was had by all!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Delayed





This morning we got a couple's massage to cap off a great honeymoon. We figured the massage in the beautiful and peaceful spa setting would seal in that relaxed vacation feeling. It lasted until the screaming babies on the plane from Providencialias to Atlanta really let loose. It is now completely gone as our flight is delayed for two hours and I have the sneaking suspicion the captain who is supposedly on his way from New York is not going to make it. At this point in the trip, I just want to be home. So to cheer myself up, I'll share some honeymoon pics with you all.

Turks and Caicos - we were on Providencialas - was simply stunning. The setting was very beautiful, relaxing and romantic. I would highly recommend it to anyone just looking for relaxation and good quality time together. If you are looking for a crazy nightlife, or really any nightlife, you might want to skip this island, but we loved it. It was a perfect honeymoon destination. However, the photos aren't so much wanting to upload right now. This Boingo connection sucks. I'll update when I finally get home.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thankful

When I think give thanks, I can't help but to run the prayer we sometimes say before dinner through my head..."Blessed O Lord and these thy gifts which we are about to receive through your bounty and Christ the Lord. Amen." Or something like that, the words always get garbled for me in the middle. I like this prayer because it's short and to the point, but sincere.

Since we are getting married just two short days after Thanksgiving, thanks has been on my mind a lot lately. This year for me it's not about the turkey and the pumpkin pie (although yum). I'm so thankful for Chris and for my family. I'm thankful for the wedding we are about to have. One of my brothers called it the family event of a lifetime. And it is - I'm the only girl and we've all been looking forward to this day for a long time.

Gifts come in all shapes and sizes. I'm thankful for each Crate & Barrel box which finds it way to our house, but I'm even more thankful for the good wishes that come in the shape of that piece of stemware or each flatware place setting. The smiles on the faces of everyone who have wished us well have each meant so much to us. I was unprepared for how nice everyone has been to me just for getting married. Co-workers and friends of the family have gone out of their way to go above and beyond and I'm thankful to each one of them.

I love that each year we'll be celebrating our anniversary right around Thanksgiving. It will serve as a simple reminder of the core things we have to be thankful for: each other and our families.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Not Reading

I think I may be making up for a good portion of the American population who, according to a new study out today, aren't reading for pleasure. Evidently, reading for pleasure peaks at the age of 10 or otherwise known as the 4th grade (not coincidentally the age where I remember reading wasn't an everyday part of school and parents stop reading to / with kids). That's sad. I was always encouraged to read and I can't imagine not having it as a weekly (we aim for daily around here, but being honest) part of my life. Learning new things, hearing differing opinions and simply being entertained are all part of why I am drawn to reading. These reasons are important eye-openers and are also why I am so concerned about this study's findings. If people don't read, how are they are learning about people who are different than them? And why should they care?

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Giving Stress Away

My mom has said I sometimes give my stress away. This means I act like such a brat that any person I interact with then feels my stress. At least, I think this is what it means. I have reached a whole new level of this giving stress away. It is now being spread across species. Prada has broken out in what I have determined (through Web searches) is feline acne. Yep, even my cat is breaking out for the wedding. Seems stress can be a major cause of feline acne, that and plastic food bowls. Prada eats out of a ceramic bowl, but just in case Chris is out getting her a new stainless steel one which is lower to the ground. It is more likely stress. Chris said Prada threw up two times while I was in DC and she's rather bothered that she (nor us) can walk in our living room due to the wedding presents. She knows something is up and evidently it has caused her to breakout.

I, on the other hand, will have radiant skin due to the facial I'm getting tomorrow. I'm actually holding up pretty well, trying to get lots of sleep and drink plenty of water. We're now less than a week out, so that is very exciting!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

A Ray of Light

Yoga class was really fun tonight. I left work not wanting to go teach, I'm busy, I'm stressed and it is cold and rainy out. A recipe for staying on the couch if I have ever heard one (which I did later with a big plate of pasta and a glass of wine). However, my class - all five of them - were depending on me to show up and teach them yoga. My own practice has been rather non-existent lately. I'm not proud of it, but it is true. So today faced with a yoga class to teach and a stiff body in which to do it, I was little worried.

I only had my iPod with me, rather than my usual meditative yoga music. Choosing to just go with it, I played Madonna's Ray of Light album and just cut loose. I love practicing to this collection of music at home, but I hadn't yet taught to it. I found it made my class way more playful and upbeat. It also made the class a little more challenging for the students. I had them going a tad faster through sun salutations and I encouraged them to just move with the music. We held poses longer and twisted a little deeper. I felt so uplifted after the class. And they did, too. I don't think this style of class would fit our group every week, but I love showing them yoga can fit your mood, or can take you to another place, and doesn't need to always be the same each week.

I'll be missing the next two weeks and I promised them a gentler class upon my return, but I hope they enjoyed today's journey. I did.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Home Sweet Home

One (more) good thing about traveling, if even for only a few days, is returning home. Chris and I grabbed Vaquero's for margaritas and Mexican before settling in with the cat to watch last night's episode of the Biggest Loser (always fun to do when you're totally stuffed).

I did end up warming to DC. I met a good friend from high school for a drink and it was so nice to catch up. She and her husband have had some interesting adventures in the past couple of years. I also spent a little time exploring the DuPont Circle area. It was interesting to see how many people were so physically active in the city. Everywhere I looked there was a jogger or cyclist...even in the middle of the day. Columbus has a long way to go in that department. Then after listening to a long speech from the Secretary of the air force, I flew home.

And like, I said, I like to explore through travel, but I always love coming home even more.

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Nation's Capitol

Here I am, 12 days before my wedding. Rather than accomplishing the daunting to do list, I am in an overpriced hotel room in DC. Overpriced because this property is in serious need of renovation in spite of me paying $185 per night. DC because that is where the conference is I'm attending. In my hotel room because I don't feel like making an effort at the ice breaker - the conference isn't for me or my career so I just can't get too excited about it. So, here I am contemplating where to go eat alone (wish I still had that Eggplant book!) and wishing I were home because Chris and I are getting married in 12 days. 12 days....

I'm also feeling just a tad guilty because I'm in DC and I'm not seeing anything that makes DC amazing. And it's Veteran's Day and I'm not even going to get into a cab to see the Wall or the new WWII monument which Tom Hanks so eloquently campaigned for. I have to admit, I did have that Capra-esque sense of wonder as I came in from the airport. Passing the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial does inspire a sense of awe in me. But still, here I sit in my hotel room.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

New Breakfast Spot

Goodbye Bob Evans...hello, Tasi's Cafe. This little community bakery / diner / hangout has recently opened in the Short North. Chris and I met our travel agent there this morning. I'm not sure why the travel agent always wants to meet with us rather than just mailing us the needed information, but whatever. Tasi's Cafe turned out to be a good spot for this little meeting - which was really more of handing over the e-tickets and itinerary (Turks & Caicos here we come).

Chris and I had big mugs of hot coffee. The coffee wasn't really exceptional, but it was good. Next time I'll try a cappuccino or espresso because the Tasi gang uses Illy coffee. Mmm, real good stuff in cute little mugs. Chris had the Greek scrambled eggs which were very well done. They had lots of interesting things in them, feta (of course), tomatoes, zucchini and some type of spice I couldn't identify but kept me eating off of his plate. The eggs were accompanied by big hunks of toasted Eleni Christina buttered bread. Later in the afternoon, some cheese and wine and this bread and I would be happy. (Tasi's Cafe is part of the Rigsby's / Eleni Christina family).

I had Greek yogurt served just the way I like it - with honey! The granola it was on was really good, not tasting too oily and using big hunks of whole grain goodness. It also had sliced bananas on top. We both split an almond croissant. More dense than most croissants, this also tasted more bread like and heartier. Butter was still a large presence which was very tasty. The almonds on top could have done with a light toasting, but overall this was a hit at our table.

They also have lunch (can't wait to try the lobster mac & cheese) and have a wide variety of baked goods and various sundries (different imported olive oils, sea salts and pastas. I can see this being a good place to go to make gift baskets for those hard to buy for people, which seems to be everyone in my family. So I might have to visit again. For gift giving purposes, of course.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Flats for a Short Girl

I'm short. I'm somewhere between 5 feet and 5 feet 2 inches. Where in this range I fall, I'm not really sure. Sometimes I even say I'm five feet three inches, but I'm pretty sure this is just wishful thinking. I often find myself looking up to talk to people and asking for help in reaching the top shelf. The point is I'm below the average height for a woman, which is evidently 5 feet 3.8 inches or 63.8 centimeters (the metric conversion is for my Canadian readers). I've never really been bothered with being short. I had the advantage of dating whomever I wanted and not having to worry about how we would look dancing. I also love being able to rest my head solidly onto Chris' chest. What do tall girls do when they just want a good hug? Anyway, over the years, I've come to even better terms with being vertically challenged (as I was called last week at a bar). In fact, I've come so far that I don't always wear heels anymore. I used to love me some spikes for a night on the town, I had many pairs of ridiculously tall shoes. From time to time, I still enjoy putting these on and strutting around (there is no other way to walk in strappy heels). But, I have to admit these shoes just aren't as comfortable as they were when I was 25. For this reason, I was excited when these darling little flats arrived on my front porch yesterday. Yes, all 5 feet 2 inches (or something like that) of me has decided the time has come to embrace flats. Thank you, Steve Madden for helping to make this day possible.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

And the UPS Man Delivers

We have been getting so many wedding gifts delivered to our house each day. It's been really fun. Even Prada likes to see what's in the box...

Monday, November 5, 2007

A Pesto Emergency Declared a Success

Last Sunday, yes a week ago, the weather people called for our first hard frost. And indeed, I did find myself scraping my windows on Monday morning. Sunday night around 10 p.m., however, had us scurrying around the backyard harvesting the rest of our garden. I sawed down the only remaining fennel plants (Earlier this fall, I had mistakenly thought they had done everything they were going to do, so I pulled out most of the fennel plants. Good thing I got sidetracked half way through the project and left a couple of plants.) We also picked our basil. All week the basil sat in our kitchen in a vase omitting the fragrance only slowly decomposing basil can (somewhere between that smells good and did the cat pee on the floor).

I finally got around to making pesto out of the basil this morning. During this process, I thought for sure it was headed for disaster. I was too lazy to get out the new food processor, so I made it in the blender. This was touch and go for a little bit and I think I ended up adding more olive oil than when I have it made in the food processor (the blender needs liquid to get things moving). Also, the pine nuts seemed suspiciously freezer burned, however about 10 minutes in a pot over low heat took care of that. Also, according to this place (really, who knew Gahanna, Ohio is the herb capital of the world!) you should always blanch your basil leaves before turning into pesto so to maintain their green color. I might have blanched about 35 seconds too long. Worst of all, the only garlic we had in the house was a little past its prime (horror) and I could only salvage one clove. On the plus side, I had real parmigiana reggiano on hand and some really good olive oil. We had pasta with pesto on it tonight and even had some leftover to freeze. Pesto is one of those things I think you have to just make, following a recipe just won't work. Once you know what is in it - fresh basil, good olive oil, cheese (which is optional), pine nuts (or walnuts if you want the Omega 3s and want the dish to be budget friendly), garlic - you can make a batch and bring back the taste of summer throughout the winter because it really does freeze beautifully.
* This whole heroic pesto scene took place on Saturday, but is just being posted now.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

It is November 4...

...the end of Daylight Savings and I just picked my first raspberries of the season. How you like them apples, uh berries? Sure, global warming is just a facade. I just hope it holds out another 19 days.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

21 days out

Not to worry, the social security situation worked it self out. Turns out the 2005 tax from my employer at the time had my social security number on it, and was an acceptable form of identification. So the marriage license has been procured without me having to resort to showing the clerk each photo album I have ever arranged. We also had our last meeting with the priest. Our compatibility "test" came back "positive" so he is going to marry us. That is actually quite a relief, the ceremony is a huge part of the day!

So otherwise we are continuing to enjoy these last weeks before the wedding. We're busy, but we're also really excited. For me, at some points over the summer, I just wasn't wanting to deal with wedding minutiae and wondering why we didn't just elope. Now that it's right the corner, I'm so happy we're having this more traditional type of wedding. I feel so blessed that so many of our family and friends will be there when we say our vows.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The year the cat got involved in Halloween


This year Prada decided to "help" us carve the annual Halloween pumpkin. By help I mean give us the idea and then weave around our ankles whilst we had sharp items in our hands. To be fair, she also posed with her new pumpkin friend. Chris thinks the whole the time I was taking these pictures, Prada was thinking "my people are f***ing nuts to be carving cats into large orange fruit and then making me sit here." Evidently our cat has quite the potty mouth.





Monday, October 29, 2007

Panic

Our household is in a little bit of a panic tonight (okay, a lot bit). Not so much because we're getting married in 25 days, but because in order to get married we need our social security cards. I haven't seen my soc card since (the first) Clinton was in the White House. In searching for said card, I've gone through boxes of stuff and I've found articles I wrote in high school, a list of quotes we collected sophomore year in college, pictures from childhood, collages of photos I made in college, 2005 tax return info and many old birthday cards and notes. It just struck me that all that collected "junk" is who I am, not a string of nine numbers on a blue and white card. I wonder if I show up with my Tupperware bins of memories if they would grant me the marriage license? It's really me.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Costumes

I've always been a big fan of Halloween. Who doesn't like dressing up and getting candy? Growing up, Halloween was a big event. We went trick or treating for hours. In our neighborhood, the Dads took the kids. We got candy, they got beer. Being the youngest, I was also the slowest and I must have walked (or been carried) my little feet off because we had quite the trick or treating route.

I was never the traditional little girl costumes. No princesses or fairies for me. The year I broke my femur, I was a mummy since I already had the body cast. I was Wonder Woman one year and got to wear my rain boots as save the world boots. In the the second grade, I wore the suit of a little person who had died (long story of how we got the suit). It was quite cute actually. One year my Mom made an intricate parrot mask out of felt. That was fun. Some where along the way, I stumbled into being a cat and would use that as the fall back costume for many years, including this one. All you have to do is wear black once you have the ears and tail. This year, I was the cat and Chris was the hat.


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Tea Time

While I was growing up, I thought there were only two types of tea. One was the kind at my Grandmother's house. She would drink it hot. We would make sun tea out of it in big pickel jars in the backyard on sunny days. The brand was Red Rose and the fun of this was each box had a little animal figurine in it. We drank a lot of tea and consequently all had whole collections of animals living on our windowsills. This summer I bought a box of this tea purely for the nostalgia. They're now on the Noah series. Still just animals though.

The other type of tea was reserved for night time or if I was sick (with some honey in it). Sleepytime tea, I was convinced at the time, was capable of knocking someone out and was not safe for daytime drinking. I still like this tea, in fact, I'm sipping a mug of it right now. This tea gets me because the box features a bear in a nightgown with a cat on it's lap sitting in front of the fire. What could be cozier than the bear, nightgown, cat, fire combination? Plus there are fun motivational quotes on the box. Enlightenment and a cup of tea, what could be better?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Congestion

Remember when I was waxing philosophic about the autumnal equinox and my love of fall? Yes, well, in between the candy corn, brightly colored leaves and finding the Great Pumpkin, I forgot about some of the not-so-great things about fall. Namely the change from the hotness of summer to the cooling days of fall leaving me congested. My poor sinuses don't know what to make of the up and then down temperatures. My drying skin is scratchy and itchy and my lips are chapped. Even my poor tummy, is, uh, well congested. So I took the day off work to give my sinuses, skin and stomach a break from office life.


During my day off, I found a practice in last month's issue of Yoga Journal to help with some of these symptoms (evidently it's not just me who feels all out of sorts when the leaves fall). I drank lots of fluids. I ate a healthy and balanced diet. I slept in. It has been so nice and let me tell you, my pee hasn't been this clear in weeks!


All of this makes me think there might be something to living a Ayuverdic lifestyle. However, I just can't get past the one tenant I read about most often: getting up with the sunrise to let the rhythms mimic your own. I'll instead be a cafeteria believer in Ayuverdic principles. Pass the green tea and neti pot, please.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Welcome to the World

One of my good friends gave birth to her daughter, Allison Grace, this evening. I'm so excited for Sara and her family. The little girl looks healthy and happy and is already cute as a button. This is one of - okay - the only child who will be at our wedding next month and I can't wait to meet her. Sara is one of my bridesmaids and I think it will be special to have Allie with us as we get ready that morning. I was Sara's maid of honor when she got married a few years back, so I guess it is full circle.

So welcome to the world Allie, can't wait to meet you in person! You're going to have a great family to grow up with and lots of friends who already love you.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Don't Listen Too Closely

Teaching yoga also teaches humility. I've mentioned I've become a better communicater (at least on the mat), but this week I've also noticed how helping others find their response to yoga is also quite humbling. Of course, there are still times my class laughs at me when I start teaching a new pose. They'll work with me for the most part, but some things just leave some students sitting on their mats saying no way, forget it. I thought this would bother me, but it doesn't really. I wish they would try, but I'm not the one to judge to that. Instead I just say, if it isn't work for you today, just sitting quietly on your mat and breathing. But they still laugh, and that really works to keep my humble.


I'm also saying things in class that just sound wacky. I've caught myself saying "swaying in tree and accepting that because all trees sway" and "coming into a fetal position, a place we've all been and where we feel safe." I can't say some of these things with straight face, but I say them as filler. I only hope my students don't listen too closely. If they do, they must be thinking I'm at total nut job.

My class must not think me totally ready for the asylum, because they are looking to extend my classes. I was only scheduled to volunteer for the month of October, but we're going to discuss payment for me teaching once a week through the end of the year. How exciting - I really have enjoyed teaching and look forward to continuing.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Eureka!

So the reason I don't ever seem to lose the 10 (or 20) pounds I have sticking around? I'm pretty sure I am obsessed with food. Living with a naturally very skinny guy hasn't improved this obsession. For example the last several books I've read, (Omnivore's Dilemma: Eat, Pray, Love; Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant, and the upcoming Animal, Vegetable, Mineral) all have food has a central theme. After dinner tonight I started making soup, partly because we had chicken I thought would be good as noodle soup and partly because I just like making soup when it is raining. It's probably not normal to finish eating a meal and then begin to make the next meal.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Time Alone

My current book from the library is Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant. This charming collection of short stories and essays recounts experiences of cooking for one or dining alone. It's fitting this is my book right now, because Chris is out of town whooping it up at his white water rafting bachelor party.

The book is interesting to me because it has so many different voices. Everyone reacts to being alone differently, some cherish alone time as a nice change of pace, some crave going solo, some have aloneness thrust upon them, some avoid being alone at all costs. I'm of the first camp, I like alone time, but I wouldn't want it for always. I get more done when I'm alone, I notice more things when I am by myself. This morning I was cleaning up the kitchen and washing my vase. The sunlight came through the window just in the right way to reflect a prism of shadow polka dots on my counter. It made me happy and I'm not sure I would have noticed it if Chris were with me - I also probably wouldn't have been cleaning the vase.

So what have I eaten in my alone time? Last night was leftover veggie soup and a pumpkin beer. Nothing special there. But this morning, started with my favorite almond vanilla tea (naturally served in a polka dot mug), and a piece of semolina toast smeared with just the right amount of blueberry preserves. I'm going down to make a large smoothie next. Cheers to being okay with being alone (for one weekend).

*Note: if you have a few minutes, go to the tea link above. If you click on Get Your Fortune, there is a cute little interactive tea leaves reading session. I was told I would be more successful if I had a plan rather than living moment to moment. I'll have to think about.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Stay Away from the Collagen

I'm sitting here with a ball of very sad kitty on my lap. Last week we noticed Prada's lower lip was really swollen. This happened last year about this time also, something to do with allergies to new bugs. Okay, I'm not really sure what it had to do with, but she went to the vet, she got a shot and the lip was fine. Until about last week. It looked like my sweet little cat had gone all Playboy bunny on us and sneaked out for collagen injections. Chris wrestled her into the kitty carrier and took her into the vet yesterday. Now the problem might be allergies, but is more likely an out of whack feline immune system. She got a higher dose of the shot than last year (it evidently wore off) and we are to keep an eye on her lip. If it doesn't go down in the next 5 days, she has to go back to the vet for a biopsy. Turns out the lip isn't really swollen, but has some type of crazy cell growth.

Poor little kitty seemed fine last night, but she is just sad pathetic cat right now. I'm not sure if the medicine is making her out of sorts, but I hope she's feeling okay. We're going to go take a nap now.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Light

That light is back, you know the one I mentioned when I said I feel a certain illumination coming from me when I'm teaching yoga. I know it sounds hokey, but I am really enjoying this experience.

It is making me a better communicator. I've been practicing for so long, I'm really tempted to just get into a pose and say you "just do this". But, most people can't "just do this" or that or even Triangle. So finding ways to communicate what Triangle is, how it feels and how to make it work for different individuals is all really just communicating. And I'm learning how to do that better.

A student came up to me after class today and asked if next time we could do alligator again, it's helping her build upper body strength and even though she struggles with it, she wants to keep trying. I said yes with a smile. Of course she meant crocodile, but I'm so glad the students I'm working with are finding their own favorite poses and their own personal nemesis poses.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Touring

Today I went on a guided tour of Columbus. I've lived here my whole life, so I didn't really need a guided tour of Columbus, but hey, it took up a couple of hours of the morning and we stopped at Cup O' Joe, so no complaints here. It's actually really helpful to me to know random facts about Columbus so I can parrot them to visitors and clients. Someone once told me the signs used in baseball for signaling base runs, etc, were developed in the 1800s at the Columbus School for the Deaf. Now, the park of that school has a replica of a Seurat painting made entirely of topiaries. Really.

Anyway, as I was sitting in the back of the van touring the city, I realized if I were to give the tour, my tour would be completely different than that of the tour guide. Instead of the proposed Scioto Mile plan, I saw the bike path where I rode past the Santa Maria with my aunt and her friends during a 27 mile bike ride. Rather than the once tallest building in the US, I thought of it as the building where Chris and I reconnected. I greedily remembered all the pages I explored at the Book Loft and how I used to fear getting lost in the maze of rooms and how I now welcome it. I grinned as we passed Helen Winnemore's, where my mom and I would explore the jewelry drawers. School field trips were brought to mind as the tour guide pointed out the Greek revival architecture of the Statehouse and modernistic Cosi. Near the Main Library, I noticed not this building made for learning, but the back of Egan Ryan funeral home where we have said goodbye to loved ones. And across the street, I didn't notice the insurance building, but rather pictured it as housing the huge nativity display it would house in a few months and has every year since I can remember.

All cities are made of history and buildings and legends, but each resident has their own story to tell within those city streets. That is what makes a simple city a hometown.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

A Practicing Teacher

I now have three yoga classes which I have taught under my belt, or mat so to speak. Considering how long it took me to get to the teaching step after taking the training course last year at this time, I am pleased with how things have gone. I've taken many yoga classes over the years, but I don't think I have ever given enough respect to the instructors. Teaching yoga is challenging. It's all trying to motivate the class, keeping them safe and properly getting them in and out of poses and reminding them to breathe is a lot harder than it seems. Not to mention keeping the left and right straight in your head. There are a lot of verbal cues I want to be giving the classes, but I don't have time. It only takes so long to stand up and I could say a whole paragraph about how exactly to stand. It's also hard to remind people to keep their heads down when your head is up because you are trying to see what the heck that guy is the back row is trying to do.

However, I am really enjoying the challenge. I feel like a better person when I'm helping others find the right posture. There are so many things I really love about yoga and I like sharing those. Not to be all corny and new age-like, but when I'm teaching I feel a light coming out of me and that warmth touching my students. I love that my students have come back three times now and my class is even growing!

There are a lot of things I need to work on, but this experience has so far been a good one. I also really like that I'm working with employees of a non-profit. If anyone needs the free stress relief I'm providing, it's these folks.

Monday, October 8, 2007

My Colors Could be Blush and Bashful

Who remembers the opening scenes of Steel Magnolias when Julia Roberts has a blood sugar problem and Sally Fields says "No wonder with all this running around and wedding nonsense" or something to that effect? Let me just say, it is a good thing I'm not diabetic, because I've been doing a lot of running around and wedding nonsense. This weekend we had the last of the showers, which was so lovely. It was hosted by my mom's friends who did a superb job of getting things together. Here's a wedding shower tip which they did and I adored: buy the bride her everyday glasses and use them as vases around the dining tables with unique flowers. The arrangements were great and I kept looking at the glasses saying, how cute, not totally realizing they were mine. Adorable!

Saturday night we gathered a group of girls and my brother to do a little bachelorette party. I've got to be honest here, I didn't really want one of these parties. My idea of perfect bachelorette party was gather a few girls, get pedicures and open several bottles of wine. That proved too difficult to pull off and didn't exactly appeal to everyone else. So my brother, who is my man of honor, hosted a great cocktail party then we hit a club. It was fun, and happily rather tame.

Best of all, the invitations are at the post office! We had a couple of late nights this past week getting those bad boys stuffed and Mom had to spend several hours doing them while we were at work, but they are finally done. I told Chris I felt like we were sending our happy good wishes out to people via the USPS and the cheery polka dots that grace the invitations.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Oprah Disclaimer

One benefit of getting DVR earlier this year is I now get to watch Oprah other than when I am home sick. Chris isn't a huge fan of hers, but say what you will, I like her and she has gotten plenty of people not only talking, but reading. On the backlog of my DVR, I finally got to watch her interview with Jeffrey Eugenides of Pulitzer Prize fame. Remember, what I had to say about Middlesex? Well, I think Oprah could have cut out a few commercials and gone into more depth in the interview.

I was a little dismayed upon the end of the show, to hear her new book club book is Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. I've been waiting to read this book, ever since I read this article and I only picked it up from the library last week (the waiting list was more than 100 people long - I should have known!). Even though I now sound like I am jumping on the bandwagon, I loved this book from the first sentence! Liz Gilbert has written lines in that book which I just want to savor (much like she did with the fantastic Neapolitan pizza). She had me at pasta and yoga, throw in soul-searching and a love story, and I could be the book's biggest fan.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Like Herding Cats

I've never been one of those people who love to run. Running, to me, is torture and more than a little boring. I like to take long walks, but for years I've struggled with taking that walk up to a jog, let alone a run. This morning, though, I ran more of a 5k than I ever have before. Earlier this month a group of friends and I did a 5k, which I finished - walking the whole time - in 49 minutes. Today, I jogged through a good part of the course and finished in 38 minutes. While it isn't a rock star time, I am proud of myself for doing it and shaving a whole ten minutes off my previous time.

Today's walk was the Cat Caper for a local cat welfare organization. We all joked we running for cats on welfare, but it was a really fun race with strangely enough a lot of dogs participating. We also got samples of cat food and kitty toys to bring home to Prada.

Keeping in the spirit of the race, like, Bob Barker, I'm reminding you all to spay and neuter your pets.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Little Holes are Good

I was reminded today that Swiss cheese isn't only a tasty addition to a Reuben or a cheese tray, it is also helpful in problem solving and ultimately in stress management. In grad school, preparing for my thesis, I was introduced to the Swiss Cheese method of project management by a professor. We were told all about this method the first day of grad school and while I kind of used it to complete my graduate work, I haven't really much thought about it since.


The gist of the Swiss Cheese method is that when faced with a large project, to nibble off small sections and soon the whole assignment is complete. They somehow connected this to the holes in the Swiss cheese, but I have to admit the reason escapes me right now.


Anyway, since getting the invitations out to the guests of our upcoming wedding was beginning to overtake us all; I devised a plan with specific tasks and due dates which makes it seem manageable. When the goal was get the invitations out by next week, we all flipped out. Now, today's goal is to finalize the guest list, tomorrow's goal is to finish inputting addresses, this weekend's goal is buy stamps, etc until the happy day of October 5 when they are in the capable hands of the USPS.


Grad school actually was good for something! If only one of the lessons would have included ordering more wedding invitations than you really think you'll need.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Tastes Like Home

Sausage gets a bad rap these days. What with the high sodium and fat content, not to mention the nitrates, sausage has found its way off many of an American diet. I do try to watch what I eat, but sausage is a regular staple of our menu. Before you turn your nose up, it's not quite what you think. No Hilshire Farms here. My Dad makes his own secret recipe from scratch. I can list all the ingredients (in abbrevriated form - he would break your fingers if you knew more) - pork and spices. It has a surprisingly low amount of fat, but a lot of spice. I'm not going to say it can be classified as health food, but it is good stuff and it is one of the many tastes of home to me. I still remember when my Dad used to make his recipe in the basement of our old house; throwing scraps of pork to our cats and teaching us to put the casing on the machine to make links. So to me, this Italian sausage recipe is a true reminder of home.



Almost every Sunday, Chris and I head to my parent's house for dinner. We talk, play boccee, drink wine and eat. It's a ritual we all enjoy. This past week, Dad had made a fresh batch of sausage so he grilled up a few links. Along with home-roasted red peppers, a hard roll and shredded mozzarella, this is a meal not be missed. We, as we are almost every Sunday, were sent home with leftovers and this week were also sent home with a couple of links of fresh sausage.

Last night I used the sausage to make an outstanding dish for Chris and I - building our own memories of home. Recipe is as follows (this would have been so much better if the fennel planted in the backyard would have matured as planned!)

Pasta with Italian Sausage, Fennel and Tomatoes


Pasta for however many people you want to feed - I used about 2.5 servings of Angel Hair

3 sausage links (use fresh from a deli if you can - or if you know my Dad, his is the best)

Fennel bulb, roughly chopped

2 large garden tomatoes, peeled and seeded, roughly chopped

One garlic clove

Olive Oil

Salt


Saute sausage (taken out of the links and crumbled) until almost opaque, in a small amount of olive oil and chopped garlic. Take sausage off stove and transfer to paper towel covered plate. Add more olive oil to pan, scrape sausage bits off bottom. Add chopped fennel to pan, cook about 5 minutes. Salt and pepper (not much seasoning is needed if you have strong enough sausage). If needed for more deglazing, add a splash of whatever wine you are drinking. Add tomatoes. Stir. Let cook for 3 more minutes. Add sausage back to pan; finish cooking. Serve over pasta with bread, and a strong red wine. Enjoy the memories.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Just Breathe

I really envy people who aren't inexplicably drawn to food when a perfect storm of stressful incidents happen in their lives. I'm not one of those people who eat a pint of ice cream after a bad day, but I am one who lunges for a baguette, sea salt and olive oil. Maybe there aren't others like me, but I feel it is rather helpful to eat bread, oil, cheese and wine for dinner on less than stellar days.

Why this veritable feast today you might ask? For one, my office is moving buildings. I'm not a huge fan of change (mainly because of the packing), so this is throwing me for a loop. Plus Starbucks is further away and we won't be near the farmer's market any longer. There is also an office placement issue that pisses me off. It all sounds petty and probably is, but I'm having a tough time keeping a sunny perspective on this one.

Further on my just take a deep breath list: our wedding is 59 freaking days away! How did that happen! So excited, but so much to do. Beginning with getting the invitations out by the end of next week. And by getting the invitations out, I really mean: finalizing the guest list, gathering addresses, deciding how to get the addresses on the envelopes and then getting the envelopes stuffed and into the hands out the trusty USPS. Makes me tired thinking about.

Oh yeah, and then I have to figure out how to convince 12 people next week at this time that I really do know how to teach yoga. Now I'm going to work on that with a nice long practice which I hope makes me have a better attitude about the move, come to some epiphany about addressing the invitations and make me forget the yummy baguette I just bought at the store.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Equinox

Without looking at the calendar and noticing September 23 was the Autumnal Equinox, I knew as soon as I woke up that it was close (and clearly it is about this time each year). Strange dreams of giant cucumbers and faceless people haunted my night. Chris said I kept up a steady stream of jabbering as I slept. Usually not a person who remembers dreams, I was surprised to wake up picturing these images. I am always a little out of sorts during this equinox. And if you look around you, you'll notice others are having a tough time too. People have seemed to have a short fuse all this week, and the squirrels around our house are scurrying every which way.

Although, the vernal equinox seems to get all the attention, I always seem to be much more effected by the fall edition of equal day and nights. Yesterday I was drawn to drag out a sketchbook and pastels, I've been feeling the need to bake and I simply want to be. I have heard the autumnal equinox is time for personal harvest, which I like the idea of, I just have trouble shaking the uneasiness that comes along with all this energy.

"We now enter the all-important time of inner growth. During summer, there was little time for the juices of contemplative creativity to bubble up from deep within us. Now is the time to prepare for this to occur most fruitfully. Only when we surrender to our inner nature can we begin to hear the still small voice within, and we must set our outer affairs in order now to be ready when it calls."

From The Essene Book of Days by Danaan Parry

Friday, September 21, 2007

Practice Makes Better

Last year at this time, I took a training class to be certified in teaching yoga. Deepening my practice means, to me, sharing all the beneficial aspects I love about yoga with others. I figured through instructing, I could impact a community, further develop my own practice and also make some extra money. I still plan on doing these things, but my procrastinating habit and a sizable amount of fear have stymied me. As I mentioned once before, in order to finish this certification all trainees must first do eight hours of community service. The organization which is giving me the certification thinks this is a great plan because it not only exposes people to yoga who otherwise might not have the opportunity, it also provides practice for new instructors. I agree with this and for 12 months have really meant to complete these hours and be on my way. I just haven't...

One of the women who teaches a yoga class I often take was recently able to push me into finishing the certification and even helped me find a place to do the eight hours of service. She basically said to me what I've been thinking for 12 months: it's something I just need to do, it is never going to get easier, there is not ever going to be a perfect time to do this, I owe it to myself to take this next step. I guess I just needed to hear it from someone else because for an hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays throughout October, I'll be leading the employees of Goodwill (not more than 12 per class) in basic yoga.

I'm really excited to be doing this, but I need to practice more before I'm ready to face a class of 12 and walk them through 60 minutes of postures. It's surprisingly difficult to explain some of the postures while maintaining good form. So far my only audience has been Prada, who seems to enjoy watching and listening to me practice. She'll even roll around a bit as if trying to imitate some of the postures I am doing. Even without opposable thumbs, she's got a pretty good happy baby! I guess if teaching humans doesn't work out for me, I could start a practice devoted to felines.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Think First

A lesson I learned today: when asked by a client for a favor, don't answer yes until you get more details. Otherwise you might end up driving her 45 miles away to pick up a rental car. Uh, we live in the 15th largest city in the US, people needn't drive to Newark, OH to get a car. But, whatever. I get to take the drive on Monday, which while not exactly how I want to spend a busy Monday in the office, will at least be different and might provide me some time to think.

My thinking lately has revolved around the extravaganza which is wedding planning. A co-worker of mine recently compared the wedding industry to the funeral industry. And while jaded and cynical he surely is, he's not far off. Both make their money by up selling details. Sometimes, high pressure sales tactics are geared toward making happy brides / grieving families feel they need the chair covers (or the velvet casket lining as it may be) or the whole event / afterlife will be ruined.


We're having what is really shaping up to be a lovely wedding, and I'm so thankful for that as I'm sure many memories will be made come November 24. But, where do you draw the line? Surely we can do without the ice sculpture, right? I think yes.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Favorite Flavors

Regardless of what the calendar might say, it is officially autumn (or at least very Indian Summer). I know this because today at work I was snacking on a truly autumnal treat - candy corn mixed with Spanish peanuts. This striking combination of textures and tastes is so very fall to me. Normally, I wouldn't eat these two things separately but in tandem I can't resist. It's a yin and yang of pure bliss.

Another salty sweet treat I enjoy is the Salty Caramel ice cream at Jeni's. Some have said this is too salty, or too sweet or too rich. But, boo hiss, I respond to those naysayers as I find this concoction of butter, milk, and liberal amounts of salt and sugar to be an out of this world ice cream flavor. I had a big scoop of this after downing multiple 6 ounce tastings at the annual Microbrew Festival this past Saturday. It was a little crowded, and I really think this should be an outdoor event, but otherwise, a good time was had by all. And a great chance to sample local beers without committing to a whole pint, because let's face it, sometimes microbrews can be a little hoppy and you are really better off tasting it first. No such taste test is needed with salty / sweet treats detailed above, just dive head in.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Slightly Not Average

Looks like we are in the minority, according to this story in the Columbus Dispatch saying Columbus has a higher than national average of 20-something singles who are waiting until their 30s to tie the knot. Granted, when I do get married this November, I'll be less than two months shy of the big 3-0. Chris, on the other hand, just turned 28. Either way you slice it, we waited until our later 20s to get married.

I'm sure there are those out there who bemoan this trend of getting married later in life, but I think it is a good thing. When I think back to my early 20s, I know I was not ready to make a life-long decision. I was good at making happy hour decisions, but I wasn't ready for a marriage. I changed a good deal between 20 and 26 and while it may be possible to go through those changes with a partner, it has to be rough and unfortunately, that sometimes take a toll ending in divorce. I also think many people (women especially) need this early 20s time to be on their own: to explore who they are and who they want to be. Having to do things on your own makes you a stronger person. I like to think strong people make better partners and thus better marriages.

Clearly everyone does what is right for themselves, when it is right to do it. I'm just glad to see as a city, we're not rushing into anything too fast. Maybe Columbus just has a whole bunch of commitment-phobics. In fact, I'm pretty sure I dated a number of them.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Losing It

My friend Sara and I were commiserating today about our sudden lack of memory skills. I'm planning a wedding and dealing with everyday life stuff and she is an 8-month-pregnant mother of an 18 month old. We decided, at almost 30, it wasn't quite time for dementia to set in, but at times we don't seem far away. Preparing for life changing events tends to make remembering where you put your keys a task that is hard to do - at least for us. Sara is messing up appointment times and I can't keep straight what thank you notes I have sent to whom.

Lists have become my friends, I have one here by the computer for online to dos. Several lists live on my desk at work - one for work related tasks and one for wedding related jobs. There is also a list downstairs somewhere reminding me to take the dry cleaning and buy curtains so the creepy neighbor stops looking in our kitchen.

I fondly (and somewhat hazily) remember the days when no lists were required. When things just got accomplished because they did, with little effort involved. Those days are not in recent memory.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Birthday Cupcakes

Today is Chris' birthday. I bought him cupcakes for breakfast (I haven't quite gotten around to baking this cake). I thought cupcakes for breakfast sounded like a great idea - fun, different and decadent - perfect for a birthday celebration. He thought cupcakes for breakfast sounded nutritionally lacking and would upset his stomach. Clearly, we have different takes on food. When we first started dating, we had a tough time working out each other's eating habits. I was always cooking too little, he was wanting to eat earlier than I was ready, he wanted meat while I was happy with pasta. It has somewhat worked itself out, but we still have these issues arise every once in awhile. Men and women just react differently food. It would probably be better if I took on more of his eating ideals, but I really can't imagine not having for cupcakes breakfast on special occasions.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

My Name is Amy and I'm a...

MESSIE. If you know me, this probably isn't a shock. My house, previously apartment or dorm room, or bedroom has never been what one would describe as tidy. Rather, I'm the leave out as I go along type person which at some point results in a huge mess. That's pretty much where I'm at now. The thing is, I never truly unpacked all my things when I moved in with Chris last October. To compound the problem, Chris never really unpacked all his things when he moved in last July. Triplicating the problem is that we are now being given wedding presents and have nowhere to put them. To really quadarate the issue, our house is 1350 square feet. There is stuff absolutely everywhere. Perhaps more annoyingly to me (I have a high threshold for messy), we also haven't at all decorated the second floor of the house. I told Chris we are living like Monks. He pointed out the 33 pairs of shoes and suggested we weren't quite monk-like.

So, as they say, admitting you have a problem is the first step. And here I am phoning into Houston. Steps are being taken to correct this situation. I have checked out books on the topic of organizing and housecleaning. They are by Sandra Felton and while she feels the need to compulsively throw in Bible verses throughout her text (I don't think God cares what my house looks like), she has some really good key points. For example, she says keeping your house neat and tidy is not only inviting to guests but also a privilege and shows respect to your home. I like that.

Also helping is that my boss is having a yard sale this weekend. He has offered to try and sell anything I want to haul to him. This is so great: the benefit of selling my nice(r) junk without actually doing the work of a yard sale. Plus, it's been so freeing to go through things and single out items for sale. Please keep your fingers crossed that none of it comes back!

Monday, September 3, 2007

Do You Want to Sign My Petion?

I'm thinking about starting a petition for the summer to last a little longer. I haven't had quite enough yet. While running to the store to pick up limes, avocado, rum and chips (I'm not giving up yet on mojitos and guacamole in the backyard), I noticed caramel apples and acorn squash. Don't get me wrong, I really enjoy these two items, but I'm not quite ready for them yet. There are still pool days to be had and I can't yet bring myself to be roasting squash (or anything else) in the oven.

Only problem is, who do I send the signed petition to?

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Reading

Just finished The Road by Cormac McCarthy. Whoa. Mom warned me this book was weird and I have to say it wasn't cheery, but I really liked it. Haunting is a adjective for this book because I keep thinking about the unnamed man and his son making their way through this nuclear winter type environment. The book was startlingly to me (other than just with the vivid imagery and bleakness of their world) because there was no explanation of how the pair ended up traveling the road. What was the event which sent their world into darkness? How long had they been traveling? At one point did they have other companions? How old is the boy? The novel was very specific in it's scope and wasn't answering these questions, but I would really like to know. I didn't see the Oprah when she interviewed the author and I wonder if he addressed any of these things.

If you have any interest in this book, I would recommend it, but just don't be expecting a light road-trip memoir.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

O-H-I-O

Today was the season opener for the Buckeyes. It's pretty sacred around these parts. Even though this season isn't looking like a championship team and the early games are not much of a challenge, there is something about football season in Columbus that is unexplainable to those on the outside. I've found it is hard to explain, even to people who live here now, but either didn't go to OSU or didn't grow up in the area. They just don't get what the big deal is about and it's hard for the rest of us to put into words.

I have to admit, I'm not much of a football fan, but I am a Buckeye fan. I have had twangs of guilt and longing all day because I wasn't on campus. Alas, there were weeds to be pulled and living rooms to organize. In the not so distant past, each Saturday during football season was spent either on campus or at a sports bar watching each game. My life is different now, but how much fun those days were! Arriving early for prime tailgating spots and staying late after the game was over, making new friends, and running into old friends were all part of those days.

I think, for me, the game watching is as much about the game as it is the community spirit accompanying it. The collective roar of the crowd, the hugs and high-fives at a good play or win are the best moments in college football. And the sudden intake of breath, the blinked back tears, and the silence that goes along with a bungled pass or tough loss is something you learn to live with: it's all part of the game. It takes a born and bred Buckeye to understand.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

More Details

Since that delicious and relaxed I-just-got-back-from-vacation feeling is beginning to wear off, I thought I had better finish this post before the fun details flitt from my head. So, as promised, details under the correct headings:

Vancouver's Stanley Park / Aquarium
I loved that this park is a HUGE area right outside of the city. It was within walking distance of our hotel and we had a good time exploring it. Something we noticed about Vancouver was that "touristy" areas were also local areas. Yes, there were plenty of tourists in the park, but it looked like several locals as well - there were areas to bike, run, play cricket, picnic and beach. We also were impressed with the Aquarium which had a really interesting section devoted to the sea life of British Columbia. It was interesting to me because I had never associated the frigid waters of BC with colorful sea life. It was so beautiful to see the anemones, star fish and other species which live in this part of the world.
Not being a huge fan of heights or walking on shaky items, I wasn't really sure I would like this tourist attraction in North Vancouver. However, I found the whole park to be really well done. There were a variety of wooded areas with huge old trees. The signage telling about the variety trees and the environment were tasteful and educational. Actually, the suspension bridge was really just an interesting way to get to the rest of the park. There was nothing scary about walking across it, although I was definitely unsteady on my feet.
The difference between a Bloody Mary and a Caesar
Okay, I guess I should have known this from my Canadian cousins, but I didn't realize that Bloody Mary's are not common in Canada. What do you people do for morning drinking occasions? Evidently, what they do is whip up a couple of Ceasars. This drink is made of clamato rather than from V8 or tomato juice. When this was explained to us at brunch one morning, I immediately passed. I remember reading somewhere that clamato has large amounts of MSG it and already being dehydrated from consuming large amounts of coffee and beer, but no water, I wasn't about to mess with a MSG incident on vacation. No such bells went off for Chris, but they should have because clamato is made of tomatoes and clam juice and the poor boy is allergic to shellfish. I failed to mention this before he ordered one, but I watched him closely and he was fine. So either, he isn't all that allergic or there isn't enough clam for him react to in clamato. One takeaway, we have from the drink is the yummy rim of celery salt and pepper. Yummy idea for the next tailgating Saturday.

Meltdown on a Moped
Let me take this opportunity to explain, for those of you who don't know me, I am not mechanically inclined. I seem to have trouble communicating with machines. So that's the preface of this little incident.

We took a ferry from near Bellingham, WA to Friday Harbour, a cute little touristy sea town. (Side note here: don't you love how all coastal areas seem to take on the same feeling of nostalgia and odd characters around each bin? I do, in fact, my dream for several years was to chuck it all and move to Key West.) As we were exploring the little town, Chris mentioned wanting to rent mopeds and cruise around. I wasn't too into this idea, but thought what the heck, I'll try it. He pointed out that 14 year-old boys regularly ride these things and they're no big deal. Uh huh. So up the hill we trek, fill out paperwork releasing the company of all responsibility and are fitted for helmets. I couldn't really see out of my helmet, but whatever, on the moped I hop where I learn the route we will be taking includes 45 mph roads and the bikes only go 35 mph. Getting a little nervous now. The instructions are barked rather quickly, clutch here, throttle here, front brakes left, back brakes right, don't use the front alone, don't use the back with the throttle (or something like that). Getting a little more nervous now. Next we learned how to kick start the engines, which consisted of me gently stepping on a lever or hitting it too hard. I couldn't find a happy medium. Getting frustrated and nervous now. Okay, bike started, now practice going through the parking lot. Couldn't so much do that without taking off like a bullet and then not remembering how to brake. Now getting nervous, frustrated and pissed. Instructor now just getting nervous. Try the whole throttling thing again, no such luck. Now almost in tears. Shout to Chris, "I'm not doing this" and I run off. I think they were pretty glad to see me go.

Lummi Facial
We stayed at an Indian casino in Bellingham run by the Lummi Nation. The spa at this little place was great and after the whole moped thing I really needed some chill time. For my money, a facial is the best spa value. You get a fair amount of massage along with great skin, who can beat that?

Why it is probably a good idea to go ahead and spring the extra $30 for the GPS in the rental car
I'm not going to explain this one too much, just take my word for it.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

We're Back

Our trip to Vancouver / Bellingham, WA was such a great getaway. It was nice, not only to spend quality time together uninterrupted by work and wedding plans, but it was also special to be able to experience someplace new together.

I'll try to post pictures in the next several days and also write more complete entries about these high (or low) points:
  • Vancouver's Sydney Park / Aquarium
  • Capliano suspension bridge
  • The difference between a Bloody Mary and a Cesar
  • Border Crossings and maybe not what to say while there
  • Meltdown on a Moped
  • Lummi Facial
  • Why it is probably a good idea to go ahead and spring the extra $30 for the GPS in the rental car

Friday, August 24, 2007

Northwest Adventue

Do you remember this, wherein Chris and I decided to try the new Skybus airline and take a short trip to Vancouver? Well, that time is finally here. We leave tomorrow for 4 days of relaxation. I think I am already in vacation mode, as I am sitting here with a beer rather than doing laundry and packing.

I'm excited to try the airline (a full report will be forthcoming), see Vancouver and Washington state (I'll try to post pictures) and just chill out (I might book a massage at one of the hotels we are staying at).

Usually my vacations are somewhat manically planned, but I've been so busy lately, that this one is just going to have to unfold. I know I have a place to sleep while I'm there (I made the hotel reservations last month); and Chris has Google Mapped directions from the airport to the hotel and rented a car, but otherwise we're winging it. That's actually kind of freeing - to just do what we want, when we want without worrying about an itinerary or getting everything in.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Requiem for a Green Skirt

A few weekends back I noticed a ragged hole in one of my favorite skirts. My green peasant skirt has been with me for a few years and quickly earned a favorite place in the weekend summer wardrobe. The skirt originally came with a matching top which I never wore together, because it was a little TOO green as an ensemble. I was actually wearing the top with jeans the night Chris and I reconnected, but since then the top has become a little too little, so to speak. Still this post is about the demise of the skirt, not of the top.

Somewhere in the back of my head I know people shouldn't really mourn articles of clothing, but ,oh, how I adored this skirt. Being a peasant skirt, it had an elastic waist and was full and flowy and easy to wear. In it I felt put together, yet whimsical. I had it on the first (and only) time I was brave enough to attend a festival on my own. Later that day the skirt and I had drinks on my patio with an ill-advised romantic interest (skirt lasted much longer than he did!). In fact, the skirt has gone along on many dates, because this green skirt was a natural paired with a little white tee or a lacy tank and could go from dinner to drinks to a walk in the park without missing a beat. The skirt is also more well-traveled than many people I know, having been to dinner with a good friend in Florida, honky-tonkying in Tennessee and exploring the strip in Nevada. It didn't take up much room in a suitcase and wrinkles either fell right out or added to the allure.

The skirt was never really stylish - I bought the outfit at one of my very few trips to Burlington Coat Factory. However, I really liked that it wasn't trendy or "in" because it was something better: it was me, it felt good and I liked wearing it.

Let's all have a moment of reflection, if not for my green skirt, then for a piece of clothing you have formed an emotional attachment to. RIP, green skirt, RIP.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Dog Days

Did you know the term dog days of summer has nothing to do with dogs so hot they stick their tongues out and pant? I always assumed dog days meant the dogs were uncomfortable, because clearly they are. However, the term evidently actually comes from the Native Americans who noticed Sirius, the dog star, comes out this time of year.

Regardless of what the term means, it is clear we're in that time period - or at least I am. I've been MIA from the blog, because I have just been tired. Work, house renovations and wedding planning are kicking my butt. The heat, humidity and rain aren't helping my mood or energy level any. I'm trying to get back in the groove by falling the Weight Watchers program again. All those fruits, veggies and whole grains not only helped keep my weight in check, but also kept me from feeling like a slug. I'm also getting into walking or yoga each night (except tonight, oops). And I've checked invitations and bridesmaid shoes off the wedding to do list.

So that's progress for these dog days.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Weekend

After a damn hot week, made more miserable by the lack of functioning air condition at work, 5 p.m. Friday finally arrived. I headed straight to my local Asian nail place for a much needed pedicure. I managed to talk my friend Julie into joining me. This was no small feat (no pun intended), since she isn't really a girly girl, but she came along (compromising by picking out brown nail polish). It was so much fun! Being a wordy, part of the fun of pedicures for me is the names of the OPI colors - I'm currently wearing Kennebunk-Port (it's a deep red color).

After toes were dry and we were sufficiently relaxed, we headed to the patio of Vaquero's for pitchers of margaritas and tacos. Yum! Chris met us there and we had a great time. So good, in fact, that the waiters kept trying to get us to leave the table.

Chris and I then headed to Kohls where I found an adorable shirt to the wear to the family reunion / shower this weekend. It is a Love is shirt and while I did find it in the juniors section, I think it is beyond perfect for a wedding shower.

This morning, we headed to the Farmer's market for the ritual iced coffee and fresh produce. I was able to meet local favorite blogger Lisa, who gave me the idea of marinating watermelon in balsamic vinegar. Chris and I then carried a watermelon home. Later today we take off for Wooster where family, fun and blueberries await.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Cukes not Nukes

Don't worry, while this post will deal primarily with cucumbers, I will not be discussing nuclear proliferation. It's hot and I don't want to think, so easy rhyming is winning out over witty titles.

I planted about 5 cucumber plants. Turns out this was a big mistake because cucumber plants are very hardy and like to spread out. Our cute little 5 plants have morphed into huge flowing viney monsters. I keep having to rescue parts of the tomato plants from the twisty vines of the cucumbers. Today I picked 4 rather large cucumbers. Earlier in the season, I tried to get the cukes off the vine before they got large. Now I'm lucky if the little suckers get picked at all because they are hiding under massive leaves.

Also earlier in the season there was a sense of excitement in picking cucumbers (I grew this!). Now I think who can I pawn this off on? My parents got the earliest batch. My grandmother got a few two weekends ago. Chris and I have both taken loads of cucumbers to unsuspecting co-workers. Since the news keeps telling me to check in on elderly neighbors in this heat, I just walked a couple across to the street to our neighbor Betty. And for all my aunties and cousins out there: expect a large cuke / onion salad at the reunion this weekend.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

It Is a Dilemma

I recently started going back to the library, so I've been reading books I've been interested in for a couple of years, but never wanted to actually buy. This is ironic because the first book I checked out, I do now want to own. It's the Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan. The basic premise of the book is what are you going to have for dinner and do you know where it comes from? Pollan takes four meals and traces them through the food chain. It's really very interesting and Chris (who is also reading the book - whenever I'm not) and I have had several interesting conversations about this.

Primarily, these conversations revolve around HFCS (high fructose corn syrup). I've been on a crusade against this stuff for several years - it is in everything (go look in your pantry) and it's not very good for you. I've recruited Chris to be on the lookout for HFCS and you should see us trying to buy bread at the store, it would be rather comical if it wasn't so frustrating. Anyway, the book goes into detail about why / how there is so much corn in the modern American diet. It is really scary, not because corn is inherently bad, but because of how the corn is processed and then snuck into foods you wouldn't think it to be in (really, go look).

What makes something organic is also something the book covers. Geesh, I was off here. I had the idea that organic chickens were frolicking through fields, turns out according to Pollan, they are in a feedlot with "access" (a small door) to the outside for the last two weeks of their lives. Now, I'm not so sure organic is the gold standard it is made out to be for chickens or for anything else.

We've also talked about the American diet in general. Pollan points out that Americans are suffering from one large collective eating disorder - first all carbs, then no carbs, then high protein, then good carbs - no one knows what to eat anymore. I think this is one problem, but I think the broader problem is that low income people don't have access to good quality food. It's a whole lot cheaper for a mom to go to the store and buy chips, soda and Spaghetti O's rather than milk, fruit, veggies and high quality protein. It's sad really.

For something so important to our daily lives - food - we don't know much about where it comes from or how it is affecting our bodies or our environment. I would really recommend this book. It's been a really eye-opening book for me and has challenged some ideas I just took for granted. So in response to all this confusion on what to eat for dinner, I ate a bag of sour gummies.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

It's August. You might have known that, but can you tell me how that happened? Gah. August. It has never been one of my favorite months. It's hot. It is also sad because it signals the end of summer. No more pools. No more getting away with a ponytail and flip flops as high couture. No more fresh produce. No more hypnotic click of the ceiling fan. Fewer mojitos.

Oh, well, at least it is the beginning of August and we have 31 days to enjoy it. I'm doing my part by typing in a bikini and sipping cucumber and mint infused water. Yum. I heart August.

For a day brightener, try indulging in these - all of which have official August days. Ice Cream Sandwich (August 2), S'mores (August 10), Creamsicle (August 14), Waffle (August 24).

Monday, July 30, 2007

Shopper

I don't come from a family of gung-ho shoppers, but I somehow ended up a shopper. I like the acting of getting new things and this usually means buying them. I don't like malls and I'm not one for all day shopping trips, but a trip around a store that interests me (Whole Foods, Barnes & Nobles, Macys, even Lowes) makes me a pretty happy girl. Not that I spend without restraints; I am usually very budget conscious and like to look for a bargain, but things do add up. Every couple of months, I decide my credit cards could use a cooling off period and I declare the month a no-shopping time. In the past, it has sometimes been hard to stay away from frivolous spending for an entire 30 or 31 days (I have a nasty of habit of sometimes buying new clothes rather than ironing a piece of clothing I already own). However, I feel these month-long experiments keep me grounded and keep me from going broke. During these months, I cut out new clothing and shoe purchases and try to cut back on other silly spending such as trips to Starbucks or happy hour. I would never go as far as this woman did, who spent one year without buying anything (I haven't read the book, so I'm not really sure how this worked). But still, my little spending hiatuses are good not only for the checkbook, but also for the soul.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Wedding Planning Update...take 2

So I haven't given you all a wedding planning update lately (yeah, I still don't check theknot.com because that list is way out of control). Eek - we're 120 days out and there is so much to do. I'm back in wedding planning mode because my wedding gown came in and I tried it on last night. This isn't the sample, it was made for me to wear when I get married. And I adore it. It is such a pretty gown. Better yet it accentuates my waist and chest while downplaying the bubble butt. I can't wait to wear it on November 24. I also had the boutique owner make me a veil - it's a long cascade style. Very simple, no beading, but quite striking. I will positively float down that 90 ft aisle.



In other news, um, well, we're behind in the whole planning thing. But we're working on it. Still need to:


  • decide on and order cake (mmm cake)

  • talk to florist, order flowers

  • go to menu tasting, pick menu

  • order invitations

  • decide who the heck to invite to this thing

  • orchestrate the flow of the wedding day

  • pick honeymoon destination

  • get marriage license (this is the most important)

  • pick church music

  • have final meeting with the priest

  • pick and order tux for groom and rest of men in the wedding

  • pick out and buy wedding rings (woo hoo, more bling!)

  • bask in happily ever after

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Harry Let Down

I think I've been going through Harry withdrawal for the past couple of days. I handed my copy of the book over to my Mom on Sunday night. Being the woman who originally got me into the series (she read the Sorcerer's Stone to her 4th grade class), I'm rather disappointed that she is only on page 300-something.

Meantime, I'm trying to come to grips that I won't be visiting Hogwarts again. I know I have the two movies to look forward to, but I've always been a bigger fan of the books. On top of my withdrawal symptoms (I just saw a lone sock down in the basement and I looked around for a house elf), I'm thinking more about the ending of the book and now I'm just a tad confused. In the emotion and heat of the moment reading it, I completely bought the rightful owner of the wand thing, but now, I'm wondering if Rowling didn't throw us one big convenient convoluted loophole with which to end things. Huh. Maybe I'll just go back to enjoying it and not think too much into it.