That is SO not you

January 29, 2010

I was shopping online at work (um..during my lunch break of course….) and a coworker walked by and saw one of my purchases, commented that the shirt was “so not you” and remarked that I shouldn’t buy it.

Not me.

I’m not sure I have my own definition of what that is for myself, and the thought that someone else had one for me was jarring. I have my likes and dislikes certainly, especially when it comes to clothing, but I’m not sure I have ever looked at something and rejected it because it “wasn’t me”.

Who is this “me” she thinks exists? I’ve always thought most people perceived me simply as the “quiet girl in the corner who should be left alone until sufficiently caffeinated”. The label, albeit an eliminatory one, got me thinking. I’m ok with not having a clear definition of self, but am I ok with other people having a definition for me. I suppose you can only control how you are presented, not percieved.

Unless, of course, I’m wearing that shirt apparently.

What I’m Making v8

January 24, 2010

Sometimes you just need a little comfort food….when I stumbled across this baked mac & cheese recipe at Work It Mom, I hit the comfort food jackpot.  Make this. Make this RIGHT NOW.

INGREDIENTS:

1 box elbow macaroni
6T unsalted butter
6T flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups cream
(*Chris says you can use 3 cups half-n-half instead…which made me feel REALLY STUPID that I’ve always bought both milk and cream for recipes that call for both when I could have just been buying half-n-half)
3/4 tsp salt
ground pepper
3 cups shredded cheddar
3/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Cook and drain the macaroni according to the package directions

Melt the butter in a large pot, large enough to fit all of the macaroni

Add the flour, salt and pepper and whisk until it is well blended.

Gradually pour in the milk and cream. Stirring constantly. CONSTANTLY. As in do not stop stirring. Bring to boil and allow it to boil for 2 minutes.

Reduce heat and stir for another 5 minutes or so. Then slowly add the cheese. SLOWLY. And keep on stirring. You could consider this your upper arm workout for the day.

Once all the cheese has melted in the pot, allow it to simmer for 5 minutes.

Turn off the stove and pour the macaroni into the pot.

Toss well so all the macaroni is coated.

Pour into a well buttered baking dish. (At this point you can set the baking dish aside until it is 30 minutes before dinner time. I love meals like this because I can pop it into the oven when we get home from practice and kids are showering.)

Sprinkle the breadcrumbs on the surface.

Bake for 20 minutes.

If you need me, I’ll be working out on my Wii for the next 10 years working off the butter and cheese.

Not that I’m complaining. It was SO WORTH IT.

At year end American Express sends me a chart graphing my spending for the year. Here is how it broke down.

42% of my expenses were travel related

30% was spent at bookstores

17% were spent on my business

6% was spent on entertainment

3% was on restaurants/grocery

and 2% on other/misc.

Yep…that sounds about right.

Like most people, I am visually drawn to action. I see the repeated images on CNN of post-earthquake/hurricane/tsunami hell that for my comfy urban existence seems unimaginable and my feelings of helplessness and privilege are stirred. Suddenly it seems the entire world starts moving and giving and you wonder if that money went to buying milk for the little boy you saw crying on CNN or if it paid for lunch at Masa for the CEO of whatever relief organization’s marketing tugged your heartstrings enough to cause you to break out your wallet.

I have long used Charity Navigator (http://www.charitynavigator.org/) as a starting tool for researching reputable places to donate money. This site tells you what percentage of donations go towards relief, administrative costs, fundraising, as well as the salaries of the organization’s executives.
There are many things to note when donating in the wake of a major disaster. This post at Good Intentions are Not Enough lists them much better than I ever could.

I will single out one very important of the article. When donating in the wake of a particular disaster, it is ideal if you do NOT specifically earmark the funds for that region. Often those funds get tied up in red tape, or the mass of donations received outweighs the immediate need and your money that could be used for assistance in another area is stuck. The Red Cross, 5 years later, has half a BILLION dollars in their Tsunami fund that has yet to be spent.

I am in the midst of organizing a donation program at work, with half the funds going to unearmarked organizations that are providing relief in Haiti and half going towards relief in other areas of the world that unrelated to any specific natural disaster need other types of assistance.  For some places and people in the world, daily life is a disaster in and of itself.


Anyone who knows me knows that I have been plagued with sleep issues for over half of my life. I have issues falling asleep, staying asleep, sleep extremely lightly, toss and turn frequently, tend to sleep only in 2 hour increments, have wacky dreams and tend to hold my breath when I sleep. For awhile my sleeping pattern was that I only slept every OTHER day, then it was I slept 2 hours after work from 7-9pm, then again from 3-8am, and these days pretty much anything goes. I sleep, but not restfully or deeply.

Lately on the rare occasions I do sleep, I have been experiencing extremely vivid and strange dreams. I’ll dream about people I haven’t seen or heard from in years, have dreams where my coworkers are “extras” and flow in and out of the background and have “panic” dreams where I am in upsetting situations. My REM state is much like flipping through the TV channels with a remote whose batteries are nearly drained.

But hey, at least I don’t snore.

My legs ache, I have a twinge in each of my arms and I’ll spare you the details of where and how much discomfort my gluteus maximus is causing me.

No, I haven’t run a marathon, been to the gym or started lifting weights. I have simply been playing the Wii.

I bought myself a Wii and Wii Active as a New Year’s gift. I had enjoyed playing the sports games at my parents house and had heard good things about the Wii Active, so I decided to try it out. Let me tell you, this Wii business is no joke! It is a humbling experience to sweat while playing a video game, but I’ve kept up with it for 10 days now and am having fun with it. The sports games and Wii Active workouts are great, but I have to admit I have the most fun popping in the Just Dance game and working up a sweat grooving to the tunes! J-Lo I’m not, and you certainly won’t catch me in a semi-nude catsuit in Times Square any time soon, but in the privacy of my own home, with the shades drawn, you will find me channeling my inner Tina Turner and bustin’ a move.

Let’s just hope I don’t break a hip in the process.

Resolutions

January 10, 2010

Resolutions get a bad rep, especially around the time of the new year. I, for one, like resolutions. There is something empowering about the decision to change, whether it lasts for a day, a week or a lifetime.  I like looking at a new year as a clean slate, knowing that no matter what it will be a little bit better and a little bit worse than the previous year, no matter what resolve I had after too much gin in the hours before Midnight on the 1st. Motivation to keep up the resolve, the ease of falling into old patterns and routine, that is where the toxic thinking hides, not in the resolution itself.

What do I wish for the new year? More fun, a better handle on my finances, more adventures and definitely more gin. Though I’m guessing those last two will go hand in hand.

May you all have adventures of your own in 2010. If you don’t, feel free to join me in mine. You bring the limes.

What I’m Making v8

January 6, 2010

I indulged a bit over the holidays and the scale reflects it! Now it’s back to regular life, but that doesn’t mean you have to have food that doesn’t taste good. Tonight’s dinner was turkey meatballs over greens with apples and cranberries and it was AMAZING! I just had to share the recipe!

I got the Turkey Meatball recipe from The Perfect Pantry! Definitely try this one out. It’s a keeper!

TURKEY, CRANBERRY AND BASIL MEATBALLS

1/4 cup dried cranberries
1-1/4 lb ground turkey (93% fat free)
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1/2 cup plain dry breadcrumbs
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh basil
1 large egg
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp fresh black pepper

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Place cranberries in a one-cup glass measuring cup, and fill with water to the 1-cup mark. Microwave on high for 1 minute. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine turkey, yogurt, breadcrumbs, basil, egg, salt and pepper. Drain the cranberries, and add them to the turkey. With your hands, mix just until the ingredients are combined; do not overmix.

Form the meatballs and place on a rimmed baking sheet lined with a Silpat (silicone mat) or parchment paper. You should get 17-18 large meatballs.

Bake for 18 minutes. Serve hot, at room temperature, or cold. A salad of greens dressed with balsamic vinegar makes a perfect base for the meatballs.

*Note, really do use a mat or parchment or spray the heck out of your pan. I had a bit of stickage when I made these!

The Year of the Freezer

January 3, 2010

My house is immaculate, everything is always in its place. My computer hard drive is so organized it would make you cry. I have an unhealthy obsession with my label maker. But I also have a dirty little secret.

My freezer is an absolute jam packed sea of mystery. I am a freezer junky.

As someone who lives alone and only cooks for myself, I often end up freezing 1/2 of my meals to “save for later”. Unfortunately, later rarely comes and then I end up starting the new year looking at remnants of cashews, a casserole yet to be determined, cranberries, unidentifiable cheeses and mountains of bags with foil wrapped surprises that could be anything from meatloaf to muffins. And let us not forget pasta sauce. Oh the prime freezer real estate that is being taken up by the MOUNDS of pasta sauce I made after deciding to make my own and not heeding the instructions to halve the recipe if not feeding the entire state of New York.

Anyone have any idea what you can make with 15 bags of homemade sauce, 5lbs of chicken breasts, miscellaneous frozen vegetables pieces, mystery cheese, a brick of tofu and 3 bags of frozen strawberries?

2009 and a bit of 2010

January 1, 2010

I vowed in 2009 to have more fun and I made a good start, but I am going to renew my vow for 2010 and try even harder to enjoy the moments of life.

In 2009 I snowboarded in Wisconsin, ate great food in San Francisco, lost a dear friend and mentor and attended a lovely celebration of life service for her. I wrote letters to soldiers in Iraq. I turned 30 and sat on the beaches of St. Martaan. I re-did my home office. I battled and won a mouse invasion. I wandered the streets of Barcelona. I skated at Rockefeller Center.

Day of of 2010 will be spent on a plane traveling back to NY, but the other 364 days are sure to bring more adventures. Stay tuned!

May 2010 bring you all days of happiness, your own adventures and some good blog/twitter fodder.