An Honest Swallow

The Chronicles of a Real Hot Mess

Life ain’t easy in the big city. Oh. wait. It is!

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Lately, I have been complaining about some of NYC’s shortcomings and I feel like I need to cut the Big Apple a slice of slack.

I get pretty hostile when I have to do things I consider unpleasant.

Any kind of chore or errand for instance. Stopping for gas. Ugh. I am the worst at this. I will take that gauge down to zero, until I am frantically looking for a gas station at the final hour. We bought a diesel car so now the fill-ups are maybe monthly, which is better, but I still make the husband do that. He would love if the car was filled up all the time. Ha. Not on my watch.

Groceries. I hate grocery shopping. The clanging of basket to basket from rude shoppers that refuse to move out of the way drives me nuts. It’s like being around road-ragers. They look at you like it’s your fault that they’re the jerk. I get claustrophobic and angry and the whole thing is just not fun for me.

Insert New York City.This lovely city has made it possible for me to sit home and have everything I need delivered to my door. (Well, the gas station attendant won’t actually come here, but we do have some full service stations, which of course, I frequent.) Other large cities have these conveniences as well, but we’re not here to talk about them.

Thank you, thank you for food delivery service.

I started using Peapod delivery service when I lived in Chicago. It was the best discovery I ever made. Turn on the computer, sit back, pour yourself a glass of wine and peruse the many selections of fruits, veggies, meats, seafood and dairy products and…relax. I can decide which brand of olive oil I want without waiting for some annoying person in the aisle to make their choice between Extra Virgin Olive Oil or regular old virgin oil (we all know an extra virgin is better, right?) and get out of the way. There’s no lost husband with a grocery list in his hand scratching his head looking for capers. He doesn’t know what the hell capers are. Instead, I can take another sip of wine and decide which brand of mayonnaise to buy that will gross my husband out the least (there are none) and which BBQ sauce I want to put on my scrambled eggs (yep, he finds that repulsive too.)

Another awesome feature is you always know what you are spending. You can price compare and add or delete an item. Your “cart” is always there to tell you what you are spending like any other purchases you make online. Just don’t take too many sips of wine; you don’t want to order something by mistake. A couple weeks ago, I thought I was ordering two pieces of ginger root and ended up with two packages of it. Since I don’t plan on making a batch of Ginger Beer or Ginger tea any time soon (or ever,) I’m going to have to chalk that up to a Sauvignon Blanc mishap and pitch it. And just yesterday, I ordered $12 worth of squash. I meant to get two squashes total. I suggest a two glass maximum  while ordering.

New York City has Fresh Direct  and it’s just as awesome. The food is fresh (it’s in the name after all) and well, they bring it to your door and then to your kitchen counter. The added cost for the convenience is minimal and it’s worth the $5-$10 tip for the delivery person. Not having to  lug groceries to your car and then up the stairs or elevator to your house is worth its weight in gold. Or artichokes. Yes, this is laziness at its best and I am not ashamed.

Other NYC conveniences I would like to give props to:

Booze, wine, beer. Whatever your little liver desires, you can have it delivered. Make sure you tip well. We don’t want this service to ever, ever go away.

Dr. McDreamy- you can now order up a Doctor to make house calls when you are too sick to leave the house. Maybe that’s a fantasy of yours to have a hot doc show up while you are dressed in your nurses outfit. I haven’t tried this service yet so I don’t know who might show up at the door- Doogie Howser, Patrick Dempsey or Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman.  I’d wear pajama jeans on that first trial if I were you.

Seamless- On nights when you don’t feel like cooking with all that food that was just delivered by Fresh Direct, no fear. Pop open your laptop again and go to Seamless.com. Put in your zip code and BAM! Hundreds (depending on where you live) of restaurants that deliver are at your fingertips. You order online and even tip online. Again, tip like a decent human being. These delivery guys are like postal workers- they ride their bikes everywhere in the city with food bags strapped to them in the rain, snow and heat. Be nice.

Uber- Have a fancy black town car from Uber come pick you up and take you to the airport in style. Unlike cabs, they don’t stink (except for some drivers and their excessive Axe body spray) are clean and some have leather interior. They have an app which stores your credit card info and the tip is included. It doesn’t get easier than that.

With the stresses of everyday life of working and being completely attentive to my husband, sometimes a princess in her second floor tower surrounded by graffiti just needs to sit home and have things brought to her.

 

 

Photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/qmnonic/

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December 13, 2014 Posted by | Rants and Thoughts | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Update to: NYC: Medicine Cabinets & Condiments, Where have you gone?

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Sooo…. It turns out I was correct. It’s rare, but sometimes it happens. The day after posting NYC: Medicine Cabinets & Condiments, Where have you gone?  my husband and I went to have brunch at a Cal-Mex restaurant we’ve been wanting to try in the neighborhood. The menu looked fabulous and we ordered right away.

I ordered brisket hash with two eggs and hash browns. He ordered Chilaquillas-one of his favorite Mexican dishes-and we were both pretty happy with our choices.

But. It’s eggs. I have to have salt on my eggs. And guess what? They had 6 different hot sauces on the table, but alas, no salt or pepper. Shocker.

So, I decided, it’s time to get some answers.

I asked a server (not ours, but he stopped by the table to see if we needed anything) for salt and pepper. I watched him go into the server station and reach down into some dark cabinet and bend and squirm to get access to the apparently never-asked-for condiments.

I looked at my husband in disbelief. Are they kidding me?? There are SIX different types of hot sauce on the table, but they have to DIG for salt and pepper??

I was sort of mad about it.

Our waitress came over a few minutes later to check on us and I decided, enough is enough.

Me: So, I have a weird question for you.

She looks perplexed as to what I could possibly be asking, but she leaned in, curious.

Her: Sure!

Me: Since moving to New York, we have noticed that most restaurants do not have salt and pepper on the tables. Yours does not either. What gives?

Her: Well, I’ve worked at about seven different restaurants (Ahhh, the life of a server!) and I can tell you, it’s mostly that the chefs feel like they have prepared the food as it should be and it’s sort of an insult to ask for salt.

DING! DING! DING!

Pretention wins. I was pretty sure that was it, but New York, you win at being uber snobby and annoying.

The waitress admitted that she also loves salt and puts it on her eggs as well. Clearly, she wanted to make sure we were still going to tip.

Here’s a question. If your coffee is so perfect, why do you provide cream? Why is butter whipped up for your heavenly bread? The same could be said for cilantro, basil, oregano, cumin, etc. These are all designed to enhance your meal. When did salt and pepper become the ugly stepchild of dining??

So, I guess I’m supposed to get over this. I will try. I’m pretty sure I will scan every table in every restaurant the minute I walk in, and feel a moment of disgust and roll my eyes. I will still force myself to eat incredible New York City meals, and they will condiment-shame me every time, but I will try to hold my head up high and ask for the salt, dammit.

But just in case you were looking for Christmas ideas for me: miniature, purse-sized salt and peppers shakers disguised as lipstick might be a good one.

 

Photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/clindh/

December 8, 2014 Posted by | Rants and Thoughts | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

NYC: Medicine Cabinets & Condiments, Where have you gone?

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Since moving to New York City, my husband and I have moved five times. In less than two years. There was the initial staying with a friend’s mom in her basement for a couple months, corporate housing for a week on the Upper West Side, the hellish month-long ordeal smack dab in Times Square, the heinous high-rise in Long Island City and now, the hippest place in America- Brooklyn.

I won’t go into all the details of all the moves and all the reasons, but I do want to address a few of the oddities of this city that have not gone unnoticed.

First of all, we prefer to choose apartments that are relatively new development. I want the fancy open floor plan kitchen/living room set-up, I need big closets and prefer floor to ceiling windows. I am a tad fussy and so is the husband. In New York City, these amenities are not rare; they are actually pretty standard in all new developments. So, what could be the problem, right?

Where do I begin? Besides having every neighbor above us stomp around like zebras being chased by Lions, we have the barking dogs, the weird dishwashers, the showers with half doors, inefficient heating and cooling (our first electric bill was $500!!) and the missing medicine cabinets.

Apparently the new thing in modern housing these days is the flat mirrors against the bathroom walls. Why yes, you may think, what a sleek design for a modern home! It’s clean, with straight lines, the type of bathroom look Brangelina would go for.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Where the hell am I supposed to put my night creams and my toothbrush and my contact solution? Where does my husband put his shaving creams and deodorant and cologne? Where does one put ANYTHING that requires standing up?

The answer: big vacuous spaces under the sink.

Huh.

So, now, we must buy all sorts of little square/rectangular organizing type of boxes to put underneath the sink. I must buy a long skinny one to put the toothpaste and anything long in. I need medium sizes for hair products. I need teeny-tiny ones for my contact cases and floss. Because, oh yeah, there are no drawers either.  I am sorry, but clearly men in the development world are not consulting with women before they design these bathrooms.

Look, I realize this is a first world problem, but it’s a big pain in the ass and I don’t understand why we must lose functionality when designing something pretty. This is not like wearing strappy sandals in the snow in the middle of Buffalo to look cute at a restaurant. A bathroom should not be a fashion victim.

Next up: Salt and Pepper shakers.

New York City is pretty confident in their high standing when it comes to dining. And for good reason.  The abundant choices and quality and unique experiences here is like no other place. You can enjoy any ethnic food your heart desires. I’m embarrassed to admit this, but I had never had Indian, Ethiopian or Turkish cuisine until I moved here. And I love all of it now.

But, the absence of the salt and pepper shaker on the tables is peculiar. Remember when restaurants starting making you ask for water? Or ice with your water? Well, New York seems to have taken it to a whole new level with this one.

I don’t know if it’s the chef’s way of saying, “My food is magnificent the way I have prepared it. For you to assume it will be better by pouring seasoning onto it, well, I will be offended. And then, I will spit in your food.”

I mean, that’s what I’m imagining it. Like every restaurant has a Gordon Ramsey in the kitchen, holding a tub of shakers behind his back, daring anyone to ask him for one.

Or, have food costs risen so high, that that’s where they are going to cut corners? Not on the truffle salt or the Caviar martinis?

Maybe the wait staff just doesn’t want to “marry” the condiments together anymore. They are sick and tired of their after-shift work of forcing half-full bottles of ketchup into half-empty ones, rolling silverware, scraping gum off the bottoms of tables and filling the salt and pepper shakers were just the straw that broke their tired little backs.

And, might I add, that when you do ask for the salt and pepper, you feel ashamed. Like you truly are insulting the chef and the whole establishment for insinuating that the food might be bland. I put my head down and almost whisper it. It’s condiment-shaming and it’s big here in New York.

I don’t know the reasons behind these nonsensical inconveniences, and while most will laugh at my absurd concerns, these issues are out there. I’m doing this more as a public service for anyone planning on moving to NYC or for the many, many tourists (you know who you are, Times Square) feverishly seeking out some pepper for their salad and wishing they had ice in their water.

 

 

Photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jurek_durczak/

 

December 5, 2014 Posted by | Rants and Thoughts | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

It’s Official! Or is it?

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Some people say, marriage is just a piece of paper. Well, I’ve been married 52 days and I still don’t have that piece of paper.

The Queen’s County City Clerk’s office has actually beaten out Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Verizon for the worst customer service possible.

Trying to get a human on the phone at this beleaguered establishment is like trying to get our cats to stop eating plastic. The automated service funnels you to an extension that does nothing but ring and ring. Around the fifth time I called, I actually let it ring for seven minutes. No one ever answered. On another day when I did reach a human using a different number, I was connected to a rude female minister who was in the middle of marrying a couple. Why would they connect me to her and why would she answer the phone if she was in the middle of a ceremony? The whole thing has been a nightmare and so I had to drive over there to deal with it in the rain on a Monday. I hate Mondays.

By a stroke of luck, I got my number-B409. They were on B407 already. I anticipated a short conversation with an apathetic worker itching for a smoke break to find my certificate and send me on my way.

B409 was called and I sat down face to face with a somewhat pleasant woman, who took my ID and starting searching in the “system” for my marriage certificate. Of course I could not read the screen, but I could read her face. Her eyes were searching, and the space between her eyebrows were starting to furrow. A large pit started to grow in my stomach.

“M’am, we never received the license from the judge who married you.”

My heart began to race and I could feel angry, frustration and sadness rushing to my eyeballs.

“No, no, no. He sent it to you. We called him last week because we still had not received our certificate. He mailed it on the 29th to this office, which was weeks ago.”

“Let me check a couple other places.”

She gets up and starts looking through file cabinets. I put my hands in my face and the meltdown begins. I immediately assume I am not married. That I am going to have to get remarried in this damn courthouse and have a completely different date on my certificate. That the ceremony we had in front of friends and family would be null and void. Panic has taken over and the tears start falling.

She comes back, empty handed.

“Yes, I’m sorry m’am. We never received the paperwork.”

I am starting to do the ugly cry. There are at least a hundred people in the room waiting to get married with their suits and dresses on, holding bouquets of flowers, and here I am sobbing over not having my proof of marriage. I’m sure I looked like a wreck.

Seeing that she was not going to be able to handle me, she goes and gets the Deputy Clerk, who I guess is the head honcho.

This lady is all New York. I could see that my crying was not going to earn many points with her.

“Now, there is no reason to cry. This is not a big deal, you’re just going to have to do some work to get this straightened out.”

I’M going to have to do some work?? What did I do? This was not my fault. This is clearly a case of an over-used system that can’t keep their paperwork straight.

First she suggested that we just get remarried there. Absolutely not, I told her.

“Fine, then this is what you need to do…”

I pretty much zoned out when she started rattling off instructions about faxing letters with letterhead and duplicate licenses and the judge filling out everything again and make sure he signs the bottom line and then have him fax the letter to me and blah, blah, blah. I couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that this fuck up was really happening.

When I finally realized this was happening, I straightened up and wiped my tears. She was pretty irritated when I had to ask her to repeat everything. She was growing weary of my victim act, telling me again that this was not a big deal. Has she ever had to deal with her own office screw-ups? I think she might change her tune if she was on hold for seven minutes with no hope in sight.

Then she and the worker had the nerve to blame the judge.

“Yeah, these judges do this kind of thing all the time. The paperwork sits at the bottom of a drawer and never gets filed. I’m sure he never sent the original.”

Look, yes, he is a hippie judge from Woodstock, but this was not his fault. He marries 450 couples a year and this has never happened. Do I trust this guy from a small town that’s been known for loosey-goosey behavior over a huge bureaucracy of mis-management? You bet your sweet water bong I do.

So, the “work” began immediately. I had to call the judge (who calmed me down and told me, “yes, you are married, don’t worry) and have him fax over a letter on letterhead stating that he married us on the day and the time I said. Then after the Deputy clerk filled out her portion, I had to PAY $25 for a duplicate license (the worker lady then had the audacity to say, “I hope the judge is going to reimburse you for this duplicate.” Is she serious right now????) Then the duplicate license had to be overnighted to the judge. He has to fill everything out again and overnight that to one of our witnesses at the ceremony, who will then overnight it back to me so that I can go back to that hell hole to finally get my marriage certificate.

Everyone says marriage is work. Compromise is key. Don’t take each other for granted. Don’t go to bed angry.

I didn’t expect I’d have to fight with the government to get my piece of paper. But the good news is, I’m already fighting for my marriage.

photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/gearys/276917907/”>The Geary’s</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

November 19, 2014 Posted by | Rants and Thoughts | , , , | Leave a comment

Run. Wine. Repeat.

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It is 8:15 in the morning and I am already a sweaty mess. My heart rate is lingering in the 150’s, but I know in just a few minutes it will hit 160. Yahoo weather claims the humidity is only 36% but this can’t be possible. I feel like I am breathing into a thick wet blanket.

I am at Mile One, at the corner of S. 4th and Kent Street and it’s just beginning. The sweet voice of Lou Rhodes streaming into my ear buds gives me little comfort as I round the corner. I was smarter today in leaving the house early. The sun mercifully hides behind buildings at this hour and I move forward in their shadows.

Looking down at my feet, I wonder, “Why is it that I am doing this again?”

This is a question I ask myself every time I go running.

So I can eat bad things like pizza and cheeseburgers. So I can look good in a bathing suit. So I don’t get a muffin top. I might even say to be healthy and keep my heart from shriveling up and stopping.

This time around, it’s training for our 2nd annual Napa to Sonoma Wine Country Half Marathon. We went last year and it was amazing. Let me start off with this tidbit: they give you shots of wine at mile nine. Because, you know of course, wine acts as an analgesic to help numb the pain you are feeling at mile nine. It has antioxidants; it’s heart healthy! And, well, it’s just AWESOME that they do this.

It doesn’t stop there. Once you cross that grueling 13.1 mile finish line, you are given a wine glass (it’s real, not plastic!) with the Napa to Sonoma race insignia on it and then…wait for it…free wine for two hours! Hundreds (not sure if it’s hundreds, but it seems like it) of winery’s have booths set up for you to get in line for tastings. FREE tastings. Who needs a banana and a bagel when there’s wine? Not to mention the nice heavy finisher medal they sling over your neck (I may have mentioned this before, but I only do races that give you medals) once you fall over the finish line.

So, there it is. I just admitted it. I am busting my ass (literally, my glutes are killing me) so I can run 13.1 miles to get some free wine. Some may say, hey, you can actually just go buy a bottle and sit on your couch and save yourself a lot of pain and agony.

There is that. But, oh, the run from Napa to Sonoma. It’s hard to describe, but let me try.  The weather is perfect. All the disgusting humid, hot running I do here pays off, because it is amazing there. It’s in the 70’s, never hot and you can  even catch a slight cool breeze to make your undercarriage happy.

You are surrounded by miles and miles of vineyards. Cabernets, Chardonnays, Zinfandels, Pinot Noirs all sit quietly beside you, growing into plump little beauties. The sun never gets hot. Foothills line the horizon.  Beautiful barns and houses are scattered about in the middle of this grape heaven. You are running through the fields of wine makers dreams.

Until you get to Mile Nine. That’s where the brick wall hits you and the pain smacks you in the knees. But you take your shots of wine, salt tabs, Gu energy gels and carry on. The crowds of people cheering you on and the minuscule buzz you just got pushes you to the end to wine country victory.

But, for now, I am suffering. The race is next weekend and I am probably not totally prepared, seeing how I just started training a couple weeks ago. But, whatever. Worst case scenario? I will walk amongst the twisty vines under a clear blue sky and make my way to sharing wine and memories with people I adore.

One mile at a time.

Photo by: millerpartyof5

July 10, 2014 Posted by | Fiction | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

We’re not in Kansas (or Queens) Anymore.

 

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Outside my window stands a four-story brick building. Its presence is unforgiving; tagged with graffiti, the indistinguishable scribbles of black spray paint spread across the framework.

Large glass panes outline the loft spaces inside and smokers can be seen standing at them, conversing and flicking ashes that float down to the street. The billboard to the right of me stands high above the freeway and big block letters colored red spell out, “Me Love Rambo.”

Bags of garbage line the curb and litter is scattered throughout the neighborhood. Two cats live in the parking lot and sun themselves and roll around in the dirt. Patches and Midnight is what we have named them. They like to sleep under our car.

We have moved to Brooklyn. And this is our view.

It is much different from our life in Queens, with rubbish-free streets and the cacophony of chatter from moms in yoga pants drinking soy lattes while pushing strollers occupied with their fertility-forced twins.

In the entire year we lived there, there was not ONE single homeless person in the neighborhood. Not one. That is weird. It’s not that I am dying to be pestered by a dirty old man shaking an empty cup at me (or anything else for that matter) but this just doesn’t seem very New York to me. Even my neighborhood in Chicago had the bearded homeless lady who threw tampons at people.

I’ve been in need of some grit. I need the grit to spark some creativity back into me.  And grit we will have here in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Besides the overall dirtiness of the streets, there are the entitled un-showered trust-fund kids in hoodies and flannels with those flesh-plug hole things in their ears.  These are the Williamsburg baristas that will be serving me my coffee. There are the uber-skinny boys wearing uber-skinny jeans with mismatched dye jobs and vintage Oleg Cassini jackets . They will be bringing me my breakfast bowl of quinoa, kale, almonds and halloumi cheese.

All with an attitude and all with tattoos. I have never seen so many people dipped in ink. Entire bodies covered up, leaving no traces of a previous life of plainness. We saw a guy on the subway yesterday that had just his entire left side tattooed. The Burrito said it reminded him of the Bon Jovi song “Livin’ on a Prayer,” because he was “halway there.” My bare arms and legs must look like a blank canvas that they would love to get their hands and crayons on.

The attitudes of the hipster waitstaff around here remind me of going on vacation and experiencing “Jamaican time.” They are never in a hurry to greet you or get you a drink or tell you about the specials with a smile on their face. It’s all about being cool and making sure you know that you are indeed, not cool. I might have a better chance of getting ice in my drink if I had a face filled with piercings. And poor Burrito. He actually had a guy take one look at him with his shirt and tie on and said, “There goes the neighborhood.”

Damn hipsters. It’s like we’ve gone back to High School again and instead of the jocks being miserable little pricks, it’s knit-hat-wearing, bone-marrow eating, inked up spoiled “starving” artists at the ready to bully anyone who’s not cool enough to ride a Fixie to the record store.

But, no worries. I am excited to be here. I have not been surrounded by this much creativity before. Yesterday on my run, I passed a girl who was working on a huge painting she had propped up against a building. She had cans of paint by her feet and she just worked on her piece alone in the blazing sun.  It was pretty awesome. I am taking in all the graffiti (and learning the different types) and the awful 80’s style that is forever prevalent and the garbage blowing down the streets and I am learning to embrace it.

This is the New York City experience I’ve been waiting for.  It’s Brooklyn, yo.

 

Photo by Carla Echevarria,  All rights reserved

 

July 8, 2014 Posted by | Rants and Thoughts | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

It’s Easter. Let’s Talk About Eggs.

Cracked egg

Did you know there are pages and pages on the Internet explaining how to boil an egg?

The Burrito & I are still maintaining our healthy lifestyle (see, Absence makes the liver…happier? ) and I wanted to make some hard-boiled eggs for snacking on and to make Avocado Toast, a recipe from Bob Harper’s new book, Skinny Meals, Everything you need to Lose Weight-Fast!

We cook together almost every night, so I am no stranger in the kitchen. But, it’s been a while since I’ve made hard-boiled eggs and I just couldn’t remember how long they were supposed to boil.

So, of course, I Googled it.

And I was kinda shocked at the result. Pages upon pages about how to cook hard-boiled eggs, how to cook them in the oven, how to peel them, how to cook them at a high altitude, how to make them in the microwave, and the overall top results: How To Make Perfect Hard Boiled eggs.

I mean, I had no idea that there was such a demand for perfect hard-boiled eggs. Unless you are Martha Stewart or Oprah’s chef, I didn’t know making flawless eggs was such a sizeable concern.

Needless to say, I guess a lot of people do care about this, so I figured, what the hell? Let’s make some perfect hard-boiled eggs.

What I remembered about making hard-boiled eggs was to boil them for about ten minutes,  submerge them in cold water and let them sit for a bit.

Apparently, things got fancy and I had no idea:

https://www.google.com/search?client=safari&rls=en&q=how+to+cook+a+hard+boiled+egg&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8

A lot, right? I mean, cooking eggs in water should be about as easy as just boiling water in my mind. But, again, I figured I must be missing something here, so I clicked on this link by Simply Recipes:

http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/how_to_make_perfect_hard_boiled_eggs/

Now, no offense to this site, but holy crap. A little too wordy for me. I felt like I was looking at a recipe for a fancy pants soufflé.

Not to mention, I just didn’t believe the recipe.

It says to put the eggs in the boiling water for one minute and then let them cool for 12 minutes. Going by what I knew of boiling eggs, I could not wrap my head around reversing the system of boiling longer and cooling less.

So, I didn’t.

I am learning new cooking methods and recipes by cooking with The Burrito all the time, so I am open to learning new techniques.

But, I went with my gut this time.

I decided to just go with tradition and boil for eight minutes, dunk them in cold water for two minutes and then let them cool for ten minutes.

They were perfect. Without any website telling me how to make them differently that I had before.

Fancy recipes and innovations aside, the moral of the story is it’s okay in life to go with your gut, stick with what you know, and strive only for your own model of perfection.

 

 

Photo by: The Craftsy Blog,© Arights reserved.

 

 

April 19, 2014 Posted by | Rants and Thoughts | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Circadian Rhythms

rainy window

 

The rain is making a soft pitter-patter against the window. Each drop clears a trail through the dusty pane and then falls to the ground. Birds are happily chirping as they dip their wings into puddles of water and let it roll off their backs.

Damp, cool air blows through the window and dances across the back of my neck bringing tiny goose bumps to the surface of my skin.

A lawn mower hums in the distance and children are laughing loudly in the park nearby.

But I don’t hear or feel any of this.

I am in dreamland. Tucked in between the sheets, my hibernating brain sees visions of the past and present intertwined in colors and shapes.

I breathe deeply as the breeze continues to float around me. I am lost in time and space and the lovely distractions outside do not stir me.

It’s raining. I’m sleeping. It’s dreamy.

 

 

Photo by:  https://www.flickr.com/photos/caitdphoto/3117111108/

April 17, 2014 Posted by | Rants and Thoughts | , , , , | Leave a comment

WordPress blog challenge: Set Three Goals

 

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I started blogging to put my writing out there and see what kind of feedback I got. I posted excerpts from my book and the response was great. Of course, most of the readers were friends of mine from Facebook and my stats started out low, but it didn’t matter. I felt validated and my confidence in my writing ability soared.

I worked on my book for about two years and intermittently would post personal essays on the blog as well.

I removed my book from the blog about 6 months ago since I would like to try to publish it offline in the future. I have posted on the blog, but not as much as I would like.

Like all writers, I would love to spend all my time cranking out witty, smart pieces that pay the bills.

This is a stretch goal, but it’s not impossible.

As part of  a writing challenge, Blogging 201: Branding and Growth, my assignment is to set three goals for my blog to help define its content and drive traffic.

I hope you will cheer me on as I take on this task.

  1. Post more often. Specifically, more than zero. Ideally, one to two times a week.

Writing is important to me and it’s what makes me happiest. It’s not easy though, coming up with ideas to write about and making it all work on paper. That, along with life getting in the way, can make sitting down to write daunting and the procrastination sets in. I want to be able to make writing a priority in my life and make time to do it.

  1. Gain followers, increase traffic and participate in the writing community.

Having a blog is not only a place to express your creativity, it’s a forum to see other writer’s work and bounce ideas off each other. It’s an unassuming community and the support system is fantastic.

Gaining followers and increasing traffic is what all writers want on their blog. We want to be seen and be heard.

  1. Define and expand my writing skills.

I’m still trying to figure out exactly what my blog is and what my style is. I want to take on writing challenges and continue to grow into what hopefully can become a profession for me. I would like to do copywriting work and finish my book.

Now, I could use your help as well.

  • Please, give me topic suggestions. As I stated, I am looking for new challenges and could use fresh ideas from you.
  •  I would love to start a conversation with you about whatever topic I post about, so feel free to tell me what you think in the Comments section of each post.
  • Make me accountable. Gentle nudging when I haven’t posted anything in a week or so is welcomed.

As always, thanks for reading!

 

April 16, 2014 Posted by | Rants and Thoughts | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Absence makes the waist smaller.

Barbie donut

Removing. Restricting. Eliminating. Withdrawing. These are not kind verbs in their own right and adding them to my nutritional vocabulary has been stinging.

You may have read my article, Absence makes the liver…sadder?   that chronicled the start of the process of me and the Burrito (aka, the fiance) eliminating alcohol, sugar and carbs for 30 days. It’s been over a month now and since we are still waist-deep in vegetables, coconut milk and pea protein, I thought I would provide an update.

As a reminder, Here were the major issues I needed to combat:

  • I kinda love my processed foods. Chips, cookies, aspartame, cheese in a jar (love you queso!) and any other bad idea in a box that crossed my path.
  • I love sugar. Chocolate, Skittles, Starburst, Hazelnut creamer, donuts. Sugar is my crack.
  • My love of wine and Gin. Too many empty calories and my wallet weeps for the money washed down each bottle.

Now, let me just say, I have never really had to work hard to lose weight before. I have been thin most of my life, have eaten fairly healthy and have been working out since I was sixteen years old. But, along with all the other joyful presents that age 41 brings, losing weight is now harder. It doesn’t help that I have snarfed my way through engagement bliss eating pizza, cheeseburgers, chips and pounds of chocolate. Living in NYC provides options beyond one’s imagination and I have taken well advantage of that.

The Burrito has stuck with me through this, being part sweet supporter, part ridiculous drill sargeant. Working together with someone is so much easier than doing it alone.

I have lost a solid 6 pounds. The Burrito has lost 14. Of course he has, because he is a man and they are annoying when it comes to their easy weight loss. Do I sound bitter?

Anyway, down to the nitty gritty. Here is what we did to eliminate these vices and how we got through it.

First off, let me show you what one week of groceries looks like for us now, every week. (This does not include the dairy or nuts or seaweed snacks that we eat as well.) As you can see, my cat thinks he wants vegetables, but he doesn’t (he confuses oregano for catnip.)

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We eat all of it, too. We juice using beets, kale, cucumbers, apples, fresh ginger and carrots. Every night for dinner, we prepare 2 to 3 sides of veggies. Produce does not go bad in this house.

This is how we start off every morning. Protein shakes consisting of Pea protein, vegetable protein, coconut milk, kale, honey, frozen dark cherries and a shot of espresso. And a zillion supplements that the Burrito got from a nutritionist at a Medical Spa- everything from probiotics to neutralize the bacteria in our guts to Choline to repair our drunken livers.

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Lunches and snacks consist mostly of salads, 2-3 ounces of turkey or chicken lunchmeat with string cheese and fruit, plain Greek yogurt with honey and cinnamon and 28 g of walnuts. Yes, we weigh everything as well. Calories are hidden in everything, and when you think you can just round something up or down, that’s where you get into trouble.  In lieu of bread, we use Boston Bibb lettuce as wraps and some lower carb tortillas.

IMG_5723

We experimented with cauliflower. Now, I am not a fan of this bland vegetable that reminds me of dirty gym socks (so does Saganaki cheese, so I have this thing about gym socks. Not sure why) but it was our only alternative to flour.

We made a cauliflower “crust” pizza. Yeah. I know what you’re thinking, and you would be correct. It wasn’t great. Pizza is one of my favorite foods, so it wasn’t the slice of pie I was looking for.

Now, we did make “fried” chicken with cauliflower as the base, and that was actually pretty good. I would welcome any suggestions for future recipes using cauliflower as a replacement for flour.

Roasted artichokes are a staple now. In case you didn’t know, it’s so easy to do, a monkey could make them. Therefore, so can I.

Simple directions: Cut the base off, open the leaves, drizzle olive oil and fresh lemon juice inside and out. Put either a clove of garlic in the middle or crushed garlic all around inside the leaves. Sprinkle with sea salt and double wrap in aluminum foil. Bake at 425° for 1 hour. Amazing.

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Who knew I could be this domestic?

We didn’t have any alcohol for 25 days. This was pretty tough. We truly believed that we would lose all our friends and never go out again. We were pleasantly surprised when, wait for it…we actually had fun while sober! I know, crazy, right? We went out with friends one night and they all just happened to not be drinking much either, so we spent an evening playing “Catch Phrase” and drinking hot tea. This may sound like old people kind of fun, but we laughed so hard and had a fantastic time. It’s shocking for all of us.
We went to a couple music shows and didn’t drink. That was a bit harder only because the crowds were kind of annoying and some gin may have made that more palatable.
There were definitely nights that I craved wine. I kind of believe now that it has to do with the sugar. Eliminating sugar has been the hardest for me, and that includes delicious glasses of Sauvignon Blanc.

These days we are only drinking one day during the week and two days on the weekend. And due to our lower tolerance now, we get tipsy off the first glass and have become cheap dates. See how I reunite with wine in my article: Fifty Shades of Red.

I really blew it with the sugar crack addiction on Day 26. We were in D.C. visiting friends and semi-officially off the diet for that weekend. We had drinks and then after dinner, dessert was brought out.

Très Leche cake. We are having this for our wedding cake and it is to die for. This is where it gets really ugly. After consuming far too much champagne and wine that night, my defenses were down and I wolfed down 3 PIECES of cake. THREE.

It gets better. The next morning, we were all hungover and brought out the remaining cake after breakfast and I proceeded to eat another piece and a half. SHAMEFUL.

I gained a pound just from that weekend.

Let this be a lesson. Sugar crack is wack.

A few words on how I feel about this whole experience. Despite having my favorite delights taken from me, it has been worth it. We sleep so much better. I have more energy. I used to get so tired by 9 pm and want to go to bed. The processed crap I was eating was making me crash and burn. Now I am staying up until almost midnight every night. I get a lot more done and I feel pretty good. I actually crave vegetables and fruit, which is amazing in itself.

We did not cheat for 25 days, but going on maintenance now and treating ourselves to what we “missed out on” during that time is a slippery slope. We both have some more to lose, but it’s more of a lifestyle choice now. I’m hoping we don’t turn into that annoying couple that talks about healthy living all the time, but if someone wants to hear about it, good news-we both love to talk.

I am going to allow myself to have a slice of pizza (maybe two) in a couple weeks once I am down a couple more pounds. And I can assure you- it’s not going to be made of cauliflower.

.IMG_5744

Barbie Donut photo by:  https://www.flickr.com/photos/lauralewis23/

 

April 7, 2014 Posted by | Rants and Thoughts | , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

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