Sunday, February 27, 2011

What's in my bag?

Yup, I'm doing one of these posts. Why not? I love to read them. I actually can't believe I haven't done it before.

I did do one about my desk last year. Nothing like a peek into someone else's business. :) Enjoy.


My favorite bag is a purse I bought in New York a few years ago at a Filene's basement. I love how it is greyish-purple; it seems like it goes well enough with everything. At least that's what I tell myself so I don't have to switch purses. When I switch purses I lose things. I think I'm doing okay, and then I take an old purse out of my closet and there's a sack lunch in it that's from the Jurassic era. Okay, I'm kidding. It was a bag of Skittles and it had dead ants in it and it was stuck to a pacifier. What?

This bag is big enough that I can fill it with movie snacks, a water bottle, my lunch, or papers I need to grade. It's a like a diaper bag for grownups. People frequently say to me (when I can't find something at the bottom of the mess) "why don't you carry a smaller purse?" and I have no answer.

But when I carry a small purse I feel like a cartoon. Like a big guy with a little umbrella. Awkward.


I couldn't just show you the pretty display of all my stuff--most of the time I'm carrying around a bag full of junk. I have no organizational scheme, unless you count "junk pile" as a scheme. This was what it looked like inside the bag, too.

But I figured it would be easier to make it look neat. Here we go.

  1. Pretty bag from my Aunt Anne. No idea where she bought it, but it holds my feminine necessities so I can walk to the bathroom or lend things to others in need without alerting the period police.
  2. Makeup bags. I don't own a bag large enough to fit everything, so I try to keep one in my bag with things like powder, eyebrow pencil, mascara (read: necessities) and the other is for when I need to do my full makeup and I will throw it in. I believe I put my face on in the car at work several times this week, which is why I have both in there now.
  3. Kid purse/pants' pocket purse. This serves two purposes. Right now it's holding my kids' Christmas gift cards so I don't spend them (accidentally or otherwise). When they earn or receive money from family it goes in here for the same reason. That way I have it when we're out so they can spend it but I won't forget where I put it. I also hate carrying a purse if I can help it so I keep this handy for times when I need to stick my drivers' license and ATM card into something and carry it in my pocket.
  4. Garbage I've been carrying around, including a free ice skating coupon from the night we saw White Christmas. Oopsies.
  5. Coach wallet. It used to be a really bright, pretty shade of white. That was until I dumped a 32-ouncer of iced tea on it at Subway. That goes into the category of "this is why we don't have nice things." I can't even take care of a nice wallet that someone else gave me. Scheez. So now it's tea-dyed. At least it looks kinda uniform.
  6. Flip camera, since I've been video-taping myself doing the dances for the ladies in Staff GQ so they can practice. No, you can't see the video.
  7. Earbuds. You never know when you might need to get down with your bad self. Or tune someone out. Or play Plants vs. Zombies surreptitiously. Or run. Or NOT listen to your son's Weird Al songs.
  8. Thank you notes I need to put in the mail.
  9. My zippered pouches for grocery and household expense cash. I am a fan of the cash for the month thing. It has SO greatly reduced our monthly spending on everything but it makes me weirdly less nervous about how much money I'm spending. Being able to see the money I have left makes me feel better.
  10. Eyeglass cleaner cloth that I ganked from Addie. My glasses are ALWAYS dirty and I am not a fan.
  11. iPhone case that is almost never on my phone. I am forever taking it off to charge it or dock it.
  12. Christmas card envelope with a broken necklace inside. It has been there since Christmas day. I took it out so I'd remember to get it fixed.
  13. (almost not pictured) a good pen and a Chapstick. Obsessed, on both counts.
  14. ID tag from Christmas. I put it in my bag to remind myself to find somewhere to put it when I run. Since I already have a RoadID from Kelly, I haven't found a home for it yet. Maybe someday.
  15. CD from my TA (aww...) entitled "I'm Lizzing." (30 Rock reference) Does this kid get me or what? I haven't listened to the entire thing yet, but I believe it is filled with Mumford and Sons, Cage the Elephant (is that a thing?) and The Lonely Island.
  16. Checkbook. For that ONE time I need to write a check every month and I never have a checkbook. I carry it around so I won't need it. The second I take it out of my bag, I need it. Go figure.
  17. Misc: A watch I just had repaired, a hairband, the ubiquitous bobby pins I leave in my wake, a nail file, a ring, watch links I had taken out of a new watch, powder, prescription eyedrops from that one time my eye was all nasty.

So? What's in your bag?




Saturday, February 26, 2011

Anyway.

Enough with the full-time seriousness.  A little update on running.

Click to enlarge
I've been doing okay.  My goal was to run three days a week, walk 1 or 2.  Plus two days of dancing.  The first two weeks of the month were great, and then I got tired and life happened.  I decided to up the schedule a little bit, so today I planned to run 5.  Unfortunately the trail I was on ended up being flooded and once I turned around I was running straight into an icy wind.  I cut it short and only did 3.3, but my legs and hip felt fine.  In the last two weeks I only ran two times (which is lamesauce) but I don't feel like I'm going to quit or anything.  I still have enough momentum to move me ahead.

My biggest challenge right now is the schedule.  I don't do well when I have to run AFTER I do something else: teach choreography, coach Girls on the Run, work extra long, whatever.  I think I have a good plan:

Monday--run
Tuesday--dance
Wednesday--dance/ coach GOTR
Thursday--run
Friday--rest
Saturday--run long
Sunday--walk

I still feel a bit hindered by the doctor's warning that I shouldn't run on consecutive days.  I think I need to email or go see her to figure out if that's still the case.  There have been days where I felt like I could run, but I didn't want to do two in a row and run the risk of messing up my hip.  I've been so ridiculously careful with my physical therapy and hip since I have started back to running.  I just want to be smart.

So there you go.  Even though my long run wasn't so long today, I'm glad I went.  It was freezing and kind of miserable on the way home but I don't have to run anymore this weekend.

E and I are going to try to do something fun tonight to remind ourselves that we like each other.  And why we like each other.  Things are looking up.

On trust

This morning I've been reading my notes from our Retrouvaille weekend.  It's helpful to me to read things that I was thinking two years ago, but also the things I was hearing at that weekend.  So much of it was profound and it changed how I think about marriage.  

I'm still in a tough spot.  I feel like I need to be actively working on our relationship but I'm unsure what that should look like on my end.  This particular excerpt from my notebook* (from February 2009) spoke to me today so I thought I would post it.  Trust is something I'm thinking about a lot.

Trust Again

Fear = emotion

Trust is a decision I can make in spite of my fears.

The #1 enemy of trust is fear.  Rawr.

H-honesty
O-openness
W-willingness to change

}regaining trust
}rebuilding trust

not at the same time.  slow process

Honesty
-key to trustworthy behavior
-focus on decision to be honest
-long time to gain, only a moment to crush
-you control your own trustworthiness
-honesty includes reliability and integrity

Openness
-a spouse sees you taking a risk, begins to believe in commitment
-share feelings in a dialogue
-share needs, expectations
-positive versus negative attributes

Willingness to change
-decide what changes you need to make
-risk being vulnerable
-daily actions--something gently, little surprises
-positive versus negative self-talk
-affirmation: confirm to spouse they are loved and valued--affection, thoughts, words, deeds
-unselfish love
-take time to make changes

We need other humans to affirm us.
--communication

Our attitude toward each other conveys honor or dishonor
--conditional acceptance

In what way am I willing to change to help build trust in our relationship? How do I feel about my answer?


-----------------------------
*my personal notes on the presentation at Retrouvaille



Thursday, February 24, 2011

Structure

Last Friday at school I got to be a part of a special program for the kids. You know the kind--you've seen it on TV--a bunch of students are put in a gym together and they play games until they feel comfortable. Then things get serious. It's not as 1985-after-school-special-y as it sounds. It was like the scene in the gym in Mean Girls, but without the complisults. If that's not a mixed analogy for ya, I don't know what is.

My point is that the day was a little hokey. A little predictable. A LOT structured. But it worked and kids made connections that they would not have made otherwise. I'm a fan.

The presenter said something after it was over about how kids want to share their stories, they just need a structured environment that feels safe. They want to talk and have someone listen without the fear of judgement or rejection. I did too, honestly. It was nice. They did a version of "cross the line" (you've probably seen it in Freedom Writers) which was very powerful even though I've done it before. We were all asked to participate and I found myself very affected by the activity, both by being one who crossed the line "if ____" and by observing my brave students who stood (some, almost alone) on the other side of the line when elements of their life experiences were called.

The day ended with students and staff being asked to write positive comments on stickies and place them on the person they were addressing, a visual reminder of positivity offered from people that most of us had just met that day. Very powerful.

I bring up structure because E and I had to make an effort to return to structure this week in our relationship. For a long while I've been quiet about our marriage. It hasn't been out of hiding anything--first it was just out of not having anything negative to write about. Lately it has been that I haven't been able to quantify some of the more difficult patterns that have resurfaced. Sometimes I don't know how to say what I'm feeling. Right now things are not the best. In fact, they're not good.

Look, the world didn't implode when I admitted that.

I am not going to get into the specifics, but it suffices to say that our patterns are very deep. Our "loop" is a well-worn loop and we find ourselves most easily in the same track we've cut since we were sixteen years old. And while I've always been honest with myself that our marriage is (and always will be) one that takes work, I don't know that I have been honest with myself about what might happen if one (or both) of us were to stop doing that work. And how that might be a conscious or an unconscious thing to do.

Marriage is complicated. People are complicated. H and E? Probably too complicated for our own good.

This week has been a week where something had to change. Again. And for now that something is that we're returning to structure. As I said before, I'm a firm believer in counseling. That's part of what we're doing. And tonight we made a choice to use the dialogue structure at home which we first learned in Retrouvaille. Dialogue is a delicate and careful way to communicate. Basically both people write in response to a prompt on their own and then they come together to have a really structured, guided conversation about their feelings. There are all kinds of rules about how it is done. It's not just a conversation.

I sort of love it and hate it. The writer in me goes "oh, goody!" when I get to write something to E or read a note from him. But the teacher and snob in me goes "Jesus, this again? This is so dumb" when it comes to the VERY strict guidelines about how it can be done. You can say "I feel" but not "I feel that." Don't even think about writing "you" or "you make me feel..." You get it. It's hard. It sounds easy but it isn't at all. And there's the silly factor. I feel like a kid in junior high when I have to stick to something like that. The part of me that wants to be 31 and just "get" how to talk to other grown ups is frustrated that I need that structure.

But it has worked for us in the past. And in this time when things are challenging, again, I find myself feeling an old familiar feeling: helplessness. When things are bad or hard, the first place my mind goes is "how am I ever going to get out of this?" and a lot of times I honestly just don't know. I don't know if this is the right way to fix what's happened, but it feels like something. I think what people want in a marriage is to talk and feel heard, too, without judgement or blame.

We were able to have a dialogue tonight and see something--a very small thing--with more perspective. We were able to offer each other a morsel of kindness through our written affirmations (a part of the exercise) and also by really listening to each other. We haven't been able to listen for a while now. I'm hoping that the structure we have available to us allows us to heal from some things that are painful.

Structure feels like doing something. For now that's enough. It is movement forward.

The Roman Arch.
Proof positive that structure can keep things in place, even when it doesn't seem like it's enough.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Did you hear that?

It was the sound of me hitting "submit" on my fifth online application. Yay! I'm not officially finished until I pop a few things in the mail (transcripts, etc). But the boxes are checked and the submit buttons have been pressed. Everything is written that needs to be written. Everything is on its way. Feels good.

The five schools I applied to:


1) UC Riverside (Riverside, CA)

Residency Location: Palm Desert, CA, Riviera Resort and Spa

Why it's cool: cheapest tuition, 2 year program, UC = close, familiar, residency is at a resort in SoCal


2) Chatham University (Pittsburgh, PA)

Residency Location: Pittsburgh, PA

Why it's cool: 2 year program, summer residencies only, travel writing specialization, option to travel in lieu of a residency


3) Pacific Lutheran University (Tacoma, WA)
Residency Location: Tacoma, WA

Why it's cool: summer residencies only, Tacoma looks neat (?)


4) Vermont College of Fine Arts (Montpelier, VT)

Residencies: Montpelier, VT (or Slovenia! ha.)

Why it's cool: Highest-ranked school out of the five, 2 year program, it's very Vermonty


5) Seattle Pacific University (Seattle, WA)

Residencies: Whidbey Island, WA or Santa Fe, NM

Why it's cool: 2 year program, residency locations look amazing

All five of the programs are Low-residency, which means I will live and work right HERE but I will go a few times a year to an intensive residency. Right now I"m too tired to write any more. But I'm excited.

This is a major life experience. :)


Monday, February 21, 2011

A quick one.

No blogging for two days... I've been compiling the grad school stuff and sorting everything into the appropriate school file. It amazes me how different the applications are from each other when they are all basically versions of the same program. Oh well. I hope to get all this off my desk and out of my head tomorrow. Wouldn't that be a lovely way to start the week? Having applied to graduate school, having put my faith in God and Academia to decide what the next two-ish years of my life will look like?

One can hope.

Today I've been grading, too. Grading the papers that piled up over the last two weeks as I let my creative juices flow into my 25 page 5700-ish 5900 word piece of fiction. Did you know, Internet, that's the longest thing I've ever written? Second place goes to my Concord Essay on John Brown's Raid for 11th grade AP US History (at 5000 words) and third place goes to my paper on Job and Yahweh (at a paltry 2500 words) for my beloved (seriously) Old Testament as Literature class in college. Ah, writing.

I'm not finished grading, which is exactly why I am engaging in avoidance behavior to the tune of one 6:00 blog post. I have about 30 essays left, and worrying that they are laden with the same errors I saw in the first 35 or so is making me a bit loth to grade the rest. Who knows, maybe I will be surprised. Maybe there's hope for de yutes of America. Maybe I'd like to keep my job so I will abstain from commenting further.

Did I mention how awesome my job is? Because it is. Hopefully later this week I will get the chance to write about something wonderful and heart-warming I did at work on Friday. (All this talk of teachers getting fired and unions getting un-unioned gives me the pit sweats.)

Ahem.

Speaking of sweat... This afternoon I took Addie Roo for a run around the block. One mother-daughter mile. She did really well. I figure since she has today off from Girls on the Run it did her some good. Plus I got to talk to her A LOT to distract her and keep her movin'. After we did our mile together I did two more miles on my own. Just me and Neelix the Garmin. I wore my heart rate monitor today and tried to watch it carefully. It's really helping me to learn a lot more about how I run. I managed not to wear myself out too early and of course I had all kinds of fun data when I got home. CHARTS FTW! I made Roo stretch with me once I got back. Being responsible is so hard. Maybe if I pretend like it's important for her to do it I will do it too. I NEED to do it.

So that's about it. It's my faux-Sunday so I'm going to (hopefully) get the week all sorted out so I can be chipper and cheerful tomorrow (is that redundant?) as I start my week.

Right after I grade these essays.



Friday, February 18, 2011

THE cookies

You will recall that I've been on a mission to recreate a batch of chocolate chip cookies that came out deliciously plump and chewy, thick and moist. As I said before, I consider chocolate chip cookies to be my magnum opus, but I believe I have now ascended to a new level of awesomeness.

Since I posted that goal, I've made approximately 2 batches a week. Each time I got a little bit closer to the accidental batch, but I have now repeatedly hit the mark with the same recipe. It's no rocket science; it's honestly just a few tweaks of the Nestle Toll House recipe, but they are reliably delicious and just how we like them around here. My biggest secret? NEVER LEAVE THE KITCHEN when they're baking.

Okay, as promised, here is the recipe:

Chocolate Chip Cookies

14 tbsp unsalted organic butter (1 stick + 6 tbsp)
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/4 cups bread flour
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Microwave the cold butter for 10 seconds.
2. Cream butter alone in mixer. Add brown and white sugars, then eggs.
3. Mix in salt, baking soda, vanilla. Add flour gradually.
4. Mix in chocolate chips.
5. Drop by round, uniform spoonfuls onto cookie sheet.
6. Bake for ten minutes, check cookies. Bake for 1-3 more minutes or until edges just start to brown.
7. Cool on a wire rack.

Notes:
  • If it's right, the dough will look kind of thick and dry.
  • I believe the organic butter is important. If I could only ever buy 1 thing organic for the rest of my life, it would be dairy. I just think it doesn't have an aftertaste or any "extra" flavor the way that some non-organic dairy products can. I've had the best luck (out of all the butters, shortenings and margarines I tried) with Henry's market generic (Sun Harvest) brand, which is also not so expensive. Bonus.
  • Unsalted butter makes a difference, too. Salted butter made the cookies taste too salty, not sweet enough.
  • I love my Pampered Chef cookie scoop and spatula.
  • Do not use a (dark) nonstick pan. Unless you like burned cookies.
  • I have better luck when I keep the butter cold and soften it up by creaming it in the mixer, but I have a strong mixer (a Kitchen Aid). You might need to soften it a bit more.
  • I like King Arthur bread flour.
  • When we have them, I use non-dairy chocolate chips because I like the flavor. Otherwise, good ol' Nestle Toll House chips.
Bet you never thought anyone would obsess over chocolate chip cookies, huh? WELL YOU SHOULDN'T HAVE PUT IT PAST ME.




Friends

E: Henry, I'm going to make you your own room.

Henry: Cool.

Addie: Finally!

(furniture moving, grunting, E realizing he is not 18 anymore)

Henry: Yayayayayayayayay!

Addie: Yay, finally!

E: Goodnight, Henry. Goodnight Roo.

(two minutes later)

Henry: I can't sleep.

E: What do you need?

Henry: A drink. (drinks)

E: (Takes Henry back to bed, checks on Ad) Roo? I just wanted to see if you were awake too.

Addie: Why, is Henry up?

E: He's already been out of bed once. Do you want to go sleep in his room with him?

Addie: Why, did he say something?

E: Let me go see. (Goes back to Henry.) Henry, do you want your big sister to come sleep with you?

Henry: (pause). Yes.

(Ad Jumps out of bed, runs in Henry's new room.)

Both kids are now sleeping in the new room together. I love my kids. Buddies.



Thursday, February 17, 2011

You might be Liz Lemon if...

after a full day of work, you find a squished, long-dead (and dried) earwig stuck to the outside of your bra.

I'll spare you a picture.

Lemon, out.



Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Sky


I wish I could write this night sky, she thought, swirling her feet in the hot tub. I'd want to write it like Wayne Thiebaud would paint it, though: with orange underneath, and purple peeking through, and a milky white glaze I'd wipe thin with a hole-ridden rag. No sense in taking a picture; it would read black. It's bright as day beneath this hazy dome; the backdrop to the trees is the glow of a nuclear citrus. Plum, charcoal, cantaloupe and cream make strata beneath inky trees. It's delicious.

Images found here, here, here, here, here, here.



Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Alright stop.

But don't collaborate and listen.

How does one collaborate while listening, anyway? Vanilla Ice, I'd like a word with you.

Observations from my desk, February 15th:

1.  I'll be glad when ratty, greasy hair extensions go out of style for high school girls.  Not a fan.  Homecoming was a few weeks ago, so everybody is sporting fake nails, fake tans, and poorly maintained manes.  Yucky.  It's like I have a class full of baby Lohans.  Allegedly.

2.  The noise of an electronic pencil sharpener undermines the very peace in my soul.  It is not unlike its cousin, fan noise.

3.  I wish my home life was as organized as my school life.

4.  Don't get me started on how ludicrous the process is for requesting transcripts from San Francisco State University.  Don't EEEEVEN get me started.

5.  My love for Post-its knows no bounds.

6.  The weather decided to stop being all May and return to February.  Blarf.

7.  "All glory comes from daring to begin." (Okay, I borrowed that one from Shakespeare.)

The coffee in question is in fact, in question.

8.  My chocolate hazelnut coffee smells like coconut.  Figure that one out.

9.  Even though I took several days off from blogging last week, I did not finish my writing sample.  I wrote nine more pages, so I am feeling better about myself than Spongebob with a new spatula, but I didn't finish.  Hopefully tonight?  FINGERS CROSSED, INTERNET.

10.  My eight year old daughter has been on the treadmill more often than I have this week.  I better get on it.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Recipe: Braised Brisket

aka, Love in a Pot
aka, "I dare you not to gnaw your arm off while it's cooking" Brisket
aka, Why I Can Never Be a Vegetarian

At K's encouragement, a few weeks ago I started to give a serious look to Dutch ovens. I've been coveting PW's for a couple of years, but I knew that anything starting with "Le" and ending with "Creuset" was out of my price range. (I've already cracked a small stoneware crock and a handle of a Calphalon pan making my fancy bread, so it was time to for me graduate to the big leagues.)

Anyhoo, K discovered last weekend that Macy's had Martha Stewart's cast iron enameled pots marked down about 50%, and on Saturday she texted me a picture of a bright red one she was buying. I was happy that she also did some research and found out that ol' Martha's pot scored pretty decent marks in the affordable-but-well-made category. I promptly made her take me back to Macy's the next day so I could buy one (a butter-yellow beauty) of my own. It has been sitting on my stovetop since Super Bowl Sunday.

I knew I needed the inaugural meal to be something special. Beef? A must. A good sauce? Fer sure.

I consulted The Bible America's Test Kitchen (Do you have one yet? Do you like food? GET IT.) and decided on either Braised Brisket or Braised Beef Short Ribs, depending upon what the market had for sale. Enter one piece beautiful grass-fed beef brisket into my life. It was decided.

Listen, I'm a fan of the crock pot. I'm not switching teams. I just wanted to be able to brown and sear and cook in the same pot. I wanted a few more options beyond crock pottedness. I'm not throwing my crock pot in the garbage anytime soon, but I have to admit that there was a depth of flavor to this meal that was above and beyond anything I've made in my crock pot thus far. I'm a fan.

I also didn't get any pictures of the end result because by the time we all sat around smelling the brisket cooking for three hours, we had turned into a bunch of ravenous, hunch-backed animals. I practically licked the bowl and I almost stole Henry's portion when he was eating too slow. No time for pictures.

Braised Brisket
Adapted from America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook

1 (4-5 lb) beef brisket
salt and pepper*
2 tbsp olive oil
2-3 onions, halved and sliced**
2 tbsp brown sugar
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp tomato paste
1/4 cup flour
2 cups beef broth
1/2 cup red wine
4 bay leaves
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 tbsp cider vinegar

*I used Montreal Steak Seasoning because I'm obsessed
**you could use more onions--the recipe calls for 6, I only had 2
1. Adjust the oven rack to the lower-middle position, and preheat oven to 300 degrees. Dry the brisket with paper towels, then season with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium high heat until simmering. Brown the beef on both sides, about 10 minutes, then transfer to a plate.
(Really brown it so it gets kind of brown and crusty. All those brown flecks in the bottom of the pan = flavor.)

2. Add the onions, brown sugar, and 1/4 tsp salt to the fat in the pot. Return to medium heat. Cook until the onions are well browned, about 10 minutes.

3. Stir in the garlic and tomato paste. Cook about 30 seconds. Stir in the flour, cook for 1 minute. Stir in the broth, wine, thyme, and bay leaves, scraping the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the brisket. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook in the oven for 2 1/2 - 3 hours, or until a fork slides easily in and out of the center of the brisket.
(I dare you to resist the smell of this thing cooking. It was torture. So good it's going to physically hurt you to smell it and not eat it yet.)

4. Transfer the brisket to a plate, tent with foil and let it rest for 15 minutes. Let the liquid in the pot settle for 5 minutes, then skim fat from the surface. Discard the bay leaves, stir in the vinegar, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

5. Slice the brisket thin across the grain, top with sauce. Serve over rice, if desired.

Notes: If you wanted to adapt this for a crock pot, you could follow steps 1-3 in a large pot and then transfer the entire thing to a crock pot to cook. I'm sure it would still taste great. I also think this would be great with mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, broccoli, mushrooms, or brussels sprouts. But I am not lying when I tell you that the sheer power of the cooking brisket rendered me helpless to cook anything else but rice. It was good with just rice and I won't tell anyone we skipped the side veggies if you don't. Onions are a veggie, right?

I am feeling very brave and adventuresome, now. I would still like to try those braised short ribs, plus I've got Coq au Vin, Boef Bourguignon and braised chicken thighs on my to-make list.

Bon Appetit!



Thursday, February 10, 2011

Lame


I need to work on my graduate school apps this weekend.

I've been putting off my writing sample (for the most part) for a few weeks because I've been blogging almost every day.

For the last 2 days I haven't blogged, and I've gotten a lot done on my short story... but I still have more to finish. I think I only have so much writing in me a day.

I won't be back for a few days. Talk amongst yourselves.

Feel free to creep my archives.



Monday, February 07, 2011

Roo on the Run

About to go run (me), Just back from practice (Roo)

This afternoon was Addie's first time at Girls on the Run.  It went great!  Henry and I dropped her off (I'm helping to coach on Wednesdays) and played on the playground while she got to know the girls on her team.  I love this organization--all about positivity, confidence, and being active.  I'm glad that Ad is enjoying herself.




Today they mostly got to know each other and they played some active games.  They ended with a lap around the track.  I'm not sure how big it is, but it looks like it's about a half mile.  My little Roodle Noodle was running her skinny little legs off.  Henry and I watched from the school and we were so proud.

She was all fitted in her new gear--Daddy thought she should have a tech tee and a little jacket to go with her new running shoes.  The whole thing is too adorable for words.

I'm inspired.  Time to go hit the road, myself.



Sunday, February 06, 2011

Fun!


1. I named my Garmin Neelix.  If that doesn't make me the world's biggest nerd, I don't know what does.

2.  My first run/walk with Neelix was great.  I love being able to customize an interval workout.

3.  I got one of these today:

4.  I am kind of excited about it.  I can make my fancy bread in it.  I'm gonna try some new things this week, too.

5.  Instead of the super bowl, I saw The King's Speech.  Everybody's a winner.

6.  I spent all night playing on Garmin Connect once I realized that the software updates online, too.  Then I customized my data screens, ifyouknowwhatI'msayin'.

7.  Awesomesauce.

8.  I'm glad HBO and Showtime are still running Big Love and Californication tonight.  I heart Sunday night TV.

9.  Hurley Dog looks like an old man when he falls asleep in his rocking chair.

10.  Unrelated: This week's 30 Rock totally sealed it.   I am Liz Lemon.

Lemon, out.



Saturday, February 05, 2011

She's real fine, my 405.

*Happy Dance*

I just got a Garmin. Garmin, Garmin, Garmin... 
I FINALLY GOT A GARMIN, a lovely little GARMIN.


I need to give it a name.

Also, I need to stop wearing it with my PJs.  But I can't help myself, I'm so excited I could run 10 miles.

I'm not going to do that yet; stop freaking out on me.  
But I AM excited to do my intervals outdoors today.

I feel like a real runner, like I earned my Garmin.  (Bee Tee Dubs, I wonder how I have been running for nearly two years without one of these.  PURE BEAST MODE, that's how.)

Good times, Internet.  Good times.  I'm off to get my fitness on.

TTYL

Friday, February 04, 2011

Random facts (from my old jobs) that are still taking up precious brain cells:

  • Flavored coffees are not flavored at all. In fact, they're perfumed. The "flavor" is actually a trick of the nose that convinces our mouths that they're "tasting." Actually, too much of the flavoring can lead to a bitter taste in the coffee.
  • You should buy coffee often and treat it like it goes bad. Buy it about as often as your bread.
  • Coffee will absorb the flavors of anything around it. That's why it's so easy to "flavor." Keep it sealed in tupperware or another airtight container. Be careful not to expose your unflavored beans to anything you don't want to taste in your next cup of coffee.
  • Keep your beans whole as long as you can. Grind right before you use, that way you don't lose flavor.
  • There are coffee tasting classes just like wine tasting classes. Coffee tasting classes are called Cupping classes.
  • For a layered latte, add the espresso last after milk and a little bit of foam. The coffee will sit between milk and foam. A talented barista can use foam and espresso to create beautiful shapes in the surface.
  • Perfectly steamed milk makes a particular sound in the metal pitcher under the steam wand.
  • The light brown froth at the top of an espresso shot is called the crema.
  • A long pull is a shot of espresso with more water and tastes bitter, a short pull (ristretto) is the opposite.
  • An Americano is an acceptable, always-fresh alternative to brewed coffee and offers about the same strength with a slightly roasted flavor. It's just espresso plus hot water.
  • Chevy's sells three types of beans (pinto, house, black), but only their black beans are vegetarian.
  • Chevy's salsa owes its flavor to fire-roasting the tomatoes before it's made.
  • Chevy's salsa chicken is shredded chicken, while fajita chicken is grilled chicken breast.
  • Cheese will cost you extra with those fajitas, and yes, your server is trying to "up-sell" this to you to increase his or her tips.
  • Good tequila is 100% agave. There is no particular brand that corners the market on being the best; tequilas vary as much as wines (and coffees) in flavor.
  • 100% agave tequilas can be either Blanco--white, 100% agave, Reposado--100% agave, rested for under a year, or Anejo--100% agave, rested for over a year. Anejos have the deepest, smokiest flavors, while Blancos are pure.
  • Most people drink really crappy (read: cheap) tequila, which is (IMHO) why tequila gets such a bad rap.
  • Banana peels will always turn black when you freeze a banana with its peel on.
  • You can't juice a banana, but you can throw it in the blender with other fruit juice if you want to mix it in there.
  • Wheatgrass is actually the juiced grass of wheatberries. It's best to serve it with an orange to bite into immediately to cut the fresh-mowed-lawn taste.
  • Wheatgrass isn't really that bad.
  • Most smoothies are just glorified milkshakes with frozen fruit tossed in.
  • Tapping the side of a Vitamix will make the smoothie pour out perfectly into a smoothie cup. If the consistency of the smoothie is right, it will pour easily.
  • Walk-in freezers are really miserable places.

What useless information from your old jobs is stuck in your brain?



Thursday, February 03, 2011

Tonight

I ran errands.
I got fingerprinted so I can be an assistant coach for Girls on the Run.
I bought new coffee. Irish cream flavored, my favorite since forever.

I opened the back of the house, flooding the playroom with winter sun.

I caved in the marital standoff we've been having about the dishes (because I'm weak and I always cave).
I was frustrated with myself for being weak.
I didn't have any solutions that didn't involve dish-washing.

I found my kitchen countertop, then the sink.

I cooked the most perfect tri tip roast and grilled zucchini.
I let the BBQ smoke waft over me so I could pretend it was summer.
I walked in my bare feet even though the February cement stung their soles.

I flipped through baby pictures with E.
I wondered if a backup hard drive is enough assurance.

I stuffed myself with Oreos and Kettle chips after dinner.
I steeped in a hot bath.
I caught Hurley on my bed for the umpteenth time this week.



I watched four episodes of Dr. Quinn. No, five.

I got in bed at 7:26 with no plans to get back out.
I got back out because I remembered I still had to do my physical therapy.

I was thankful E had something to do because I had no choice but to laze it up. No need to be fabulous or entertaining when he has other company.
I fell asleep, letting my mind wander around through my weekend plans.

At least, I plan to.



Wednesday, February 02, 2011

BlogLovin' People

I'm still figuring it out (I'm a Google Reader girl) but if you use it, you can click here to follow my blog with bloglovin.



Is it only Wednesday?

Yeeks, this is a long week already. But fret not, dear Internet. I will survive. Oh, as long as I know how to love, I know I'm still alive.

WAIT A MINUTE.

So, yeah. Here I am. Day 3 of Operation Rehab my Thutt Operation Oh Gawd, This Again? Operation Don't Get Comfy on the Couch is a success. By "success" I mean that I got out of bed and got on my treadmill this morning. I might not have pushed it real good or real fast, but I got on the thing and I slogged it out in intervals of running and walking for 30 minutes (tra-la-la, complaining all the way), so at least I don't have to start over again tomorrow. Some days that slow, lame workout is still a victory and today was that day.

Victory is mine, victory is mine. Great day in the morning, people, victory is mine...I drink from the keg of glory, Donna. Bring me the finest muffins and bagels in all the land.

You know how much I love me some lists and charts, right? For similar reasons I also love grocery shopping, filing our taxes, and beating video games. I love the feeling of crossing off a word, checking a box, completing a form, rescuing a princess. I know, my nerd is showing. But in this same spirit, I've been using a new (to me) website called HabitForge. The sole purpose of this website is to track whether or not you've been successful at doing something the day before. Each morning you get an email asking "did you _________ yesterday?" and you click yes or no. It builds on the idea that it takes 21 days to establish a habit, so what you're going for is a 21 day streak. If you click no, it starts you over again. Here's a list of the habits I'm tracking:

Exercise: did I exercise for at least 30 minutes the day before (run, walk, do my physical therapy, stretch, etc)? On my rest days I'm just trying to do what I've heard called "active rest." Stretch, walk the dog/kids to the park, etc. Because it never hurts me to move. (PS I'm going to up this to one hour as soon as I can start lengthening my runs.)

Vitamins: did I take mine? Because Dr. Oz thinks I should. (For the record: a multivitamin (actually, leftover prenatals 'cuz I don't want to waste 'em), fish oil, Vitamin D, and a Claritin (which is not a vitamin, but it makes my day a whole lot more enjoyable).

Sleep: did I get in my bed by 9:00? I can't promise myself an awesome night of sleep every night, but when I get in bed by 9:00 I get consistently more than if I don't. Even if I'm not sleeping, I feel better if I told myself to cool my jets and be in my flannel cocoon a little early.

Writing: did I blog? Because I'm trying to do it at least once a day.

So you can bet your sweet bippy I'm hard at work thinking of things to track and "win" and "beat" in this little program. I might start setting the bar low and just make goals like "wake up" and "put on pants." Fun, right?



Tuesday, February 01, 2011

This.



This one isn't mine, she's April's. I was just borrowing.

Not that I was foolin' anybody with my well-rested eyes and my well-fed belly that's clearly a result of eating whenever I feel hungry.

I babysat for all of a half hour today. It was so nice--just the two of us. I got in my smells (see above) and we watched Oprah together. She didn't make a sound the entire time; she just smiled breathy baby smiles out of pink cupcake cheeks. Over and over she turned the remote control in her delicate fingers.

She studied my face, and I hers.

In addition to baby scent, I'm fond of the plump area just outside the eye, the soft temple. Hers is smooth as granite, tender as a ripe tomato. I love the soft round of the base of the cheek as well; I know it is unique to this age. The inside of her fist is warm, but her little finger pads cool the skin at my arm. She is a cornucopia of happy images.

Shifting her from hip to lap always feels natural and familiar, but today it was a walking dream. I was dancing choreography from an old show. It's hard to think that when I held my own daughter I couldn't appreciate the brevity of the cupcake-cheek. But you can't know its power until you miss it. I could breathe it in back then as often as I thought of it, but looking back I feel like the constant fatigue and insecurity of new motherhood dulled my ability to absorb.

E and I are done. Permanently. So now each time I hold a baby is a little let-go of a time I loved. True, it's also a release of the responsibility of so many sleepless nights and the time in my life when I had to--had to--put someone else before myself 24 hours a day. I've made my peace with our decision, but holding her sharpens the point a bit.