Sunday, December 30, 2012

End of Another Year

And so we come to the end of another year. I know it's cliche, but these years really do start flying the older you get. I still can't believe that 2012 is almost over.

Every year at this time, I start thinking of resolutions. And the past couple years, I've essentially ignored them. I get tired of people making unrealistic goals that they will break quickly and then beat themselves up over for weeks. I'm convinced that the best resolution is to just enjoy life and live it to the best of your ability.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Week Four Half Marathon Training Update

Ok, so this was actually originally posted here, but I wanted to share it on this blog as well so that you all can get an update, too.

"Ugh, this week was a letdown. So many excuses I could give for why I did not get out there and run as much or why I didn't even cross train (i.e., weather, tired, work, holidays, my phone died). But what it really came down to is that I was feeling lazy. I know! Such a horrible excuse. In fact, no excuse at all. It really showed in the few times that I actually did run/walk, too. My pace was slower, my distance shorter. I just need to get back into it and go back again. Hope to kickstart myself again tonight and tomorrow morning. Team training #5 down at the Towpath tomorrow morning.

Let me know if you ever want to come and check it out with me!"

BTW, any donations made on or before December  31st are TAX-DEDUCTIBLE!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

TNT Blog

So, I haven't figured out a way to sync the two (and I'm not sure you can), but I wanted to let anyone over here know that I am going to be posting regular (weekly?) updates on my training at my personal fundraising page.

http://pages.teamintraining.org/noh/cleve13/lglorioso

Through this page you can read the updates, cheer me on (who doesn't like comments and "shares"???) and even donate! I figured out today that if everyone on my list of contacts (which probably includes you, just sayin') donated just $14, I could raise $1000 in no time flat.  $14 to save a life is not a bad price at all.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Team In Training

If you read my blog at all (and who knows, maybe you don't!) and have looked at the actual site any time in the past month or so, you may have noticed a new widget. That's it, just to the right. You see where it says "Support the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society"? That's my fundraising widget.

See, I'm doing this crazy thing. Crazy for me, that is. I've decided I'm going to complete a half marathon. Yep, this geeky, couch potato extraordinaire is going to get off her ass and actually attempt to run (or limp) 13.1 miles. Originally I started out just doing it as a motivation to get off the couch. Then I started to hear the stories. About the fighters, survivors, their friends and family. And I thought "How can I not give this a try?".

So here's the deal. Any donations that are sent to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society through this widget before December 25th, 2012, will be personally matched by myself, up to a total of $100. I know it doesn't sound like much, but even $5 can make a huge difference. I try not to ask for money a lot (or at all), but when I hear about a cause that really stops me in my tracks, that is when I truly want to be spurred into action.

I started training for the half marathon two weeks ago and it's going pretty well so far. Starting slow and building my way up. It will be a long journey, but we'll get there. Also, I'm debating doing something like cutting off my hair or dying it as a fundraiser. But we'll have to see what happens.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Happy Holidays!

OK, I know, it's a little over enthusiastic for being just the fifth of December. But since it is December, I'm finally allowed to start listening to holiday music (and I figure since Hanukkah starts on December 8, I'm safe). Favorite holiday albums this year are:

"Christmas With The Puppini Sisters" by The Puppini Sisters
Great music, big band jive with a modern twist. Your holiday favorites (new and old) with a retro sound.

"Barenaked for the Holidays" by Barenaked Ladies (BNL)
Love me some BNL, and their holiday album truly rocks. It's spunky, it's different, and it's all-around fun.

"Christmas Portrait" by The Carpenters
Yes, I'm a sucker for the golden oldies. This album is the perfect mix of nostalgia and smooth vocals. (Gosh, that sounded cheesy! But it's true!!)

"The Polar Express" by Alan Silvestri and others
This great soundtrack features loads of your classic holiday favorites (think Bing Crosby, Perry Como, and Kate Smith) as well as some newbies (Steven Tyler, ok not-so-new, Josh Groban) and some beautiful instrumental pieces.

"A Charlie Brown Christmas" by the Vince Guaraldi Trio
Who doesn't love Charlie Brown? This soundtrack is gold. You've got your classic Charlie Brown theme song ("Linus & Lucy"), but some other fantastic piano trio jazz: Thanksgiving Theme, Great Pumpkin Waltz. It's easy listening with a good dose of sentimentality thrown in.

Happy Holidays!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Month of Thanks, Week Five Complete!

Thursday: Thankful for an awesome coworker. While in a long meeting on Thursday, I suddenly had what appeared to be an allergic reaction to nothing in particular. My head was spinning, my hearing was going in and out, I could feel my face and jaw swelling and I finally admitted that I needed to go to urgent care. By the time I actually got out of the meeting, the left side of my jaw had swollen so much that I couldn't open my mouth without the muscles seizing up and causing me considerable pain. A friend of mine in the same department promptly dropped everything and drove me to the closest urgent care. She waited with me the entire time and was just all around awesome. Despite the crappy circumstances, she really made my day.

Friday: Thankful that I'm getting better! I'm on the mend. The doctor wasn't really sure what it was, but they put me on some medication that has been helping and I've been icing like crazy. Granted, my head still aches and I am really wary of eating anything now, but I'm also very thankful that there's been an improvement.

SuperBetter

I am an avid reader, a deep thinker, and... someone who really enjoys games. Yes, I'll admit it. I am a bit of a nerd. I'm not a "gamer" per se, but I have my video games that I like and I find that life is a lot more interesting if I can put it in terms of a challenge to my self.

A few months ago, I ran across this concept that I'd never heard of before: "gamification". Jane McGonigal is a game designer who had the brilliant idea to utilize gamers and gaming to make the world a better place. Her game "World Without Oil" is an alternate reality game that brings together gamers to solve the world's energy crisis. One of her most famous applications (at least to those inside and outside of gaming) is SuperBetter. She started SuperBetter while battling a concussion gone bad (bordering on brain injury). Her sister challenged her to turn her recovery into a game because she saw Jane getting restless and making things worse for herself.

So Jane invented SuperBetter. It's current form is an online site and forum that's set up like an alternate reality game. It's a way to take real-life goals (anything from battling depression or cancer, to upping your workout schedule) and puts them into game form by identifying all the different components of your challenge that would be in a game: allies, quests, power-ups, bad guys, future boosts, and achievements. It's all aobut taking whatever you're working toward of battling and making yourself the hero of the story and identifying the tools and opportunities all around you each day.

After finding SuperBetter and looking around, I decided that it would be a great way to keep me focused on my current goal: working out more to be able to run a 10K in May for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. And I do want to actually run it. I do. That's not an easy thing for me to say. Currently, even walking 10K (6.21 miles) is a stretch for me. But this is something that I really want to do and really feel strongly about.

If you have something that you want to get "SuperBetter" from or for, join me! It's pretty cool and I'm looking forward to the adventure.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Month of Thanks, Week Five

Monday - Thankful for the ability to cook. This sounds cheesy, I know, but I really am thankful for it. I don't know how some people get on not being able to whip together even the simplest of meals, but I do know that I could not live on boxed meals alone.

Tuesday - Hand-in-hand with that first one, I'm thankful for poached pears. They sound like the plainest option ever, but they really are delicious. I had my first poached pear a few months ago and then decided to make them at home last week. So delicious.

Wednesday - Thankful for encouragement from friends and family. I recently signed up to participate in the Cleveland Marathon's 10K next May. While 10K doesn't sound like a lot compared to a full marathon (or even a half marathon), it is a huge step for me. One that a couple months ago I probably would have never even thought possible, much less probable. What has helped is the fact that whenever I tell someone I'm going to do this, they haven't laughed in my face.  Then again, when training starts this Saturday and I'm (supposedly) running outside in the cold, I'll let you know how I'm feeling then.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Month on Thanks, Week Four Final

I'm thankful for...

1) Gluten-free gravy. (No explanation is needed here).

2) Gluten-free cookies that actually taste good.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Month of Thanks, Week Four

Well, I am five days behind, so here we go!

Monday: Thankful for the gorgeous weather we had this week! Seriously, over 60F on Thanksgiving Day? That's practically unheard of. It was so gorgeous.

Tuesday: Thankful for perseverance. I have done a lot in the past three years that I never would have thought possible for myself. And it's awesome to see it come to fruition and see myself trying again and again despite it being a long, hard road.

Wednesday: Thankful for my education. I know I graduated three years ago, but I feel like it's something that will stick with my forever. University was also one of the first places where I really stood up and began to think for myself. It's a lovely thing.

Thursday: Thankful for my body. While I don't take the best care of it (eek!), I love that I can (usually) rely on my body to follow-through. My most recent example of this was yesterday (Thursday) when I completed the 2012 Cleveland Turkey Trot with my family. I am not a runner. I am not the slightest bit athletic. I have also never actually actively tried to walk or run five miles at a decent pace. But yesterday, I did it. I was not fast, I was not even in the middle of the pack. But the important thing in my mind is that I finished. I am so proud of myself for finishing and thankful that I tried it. Granted, my knees are still protesting, but...

Friday: Thankful that I'm not going to any Black Friday shopping today! I worked two Black Fridays at the biggest outlet mall in Michigan. I saw grown women trample each other, break into fistfights over undiscounted merchandise, and pound on doors and windows terrifying workers (myself included). I have not been to a Black Friday as a worker or a shopper since. It's a good part of the reason I have an aversion to "holiday events". And that is why I'm so happy to not be going out into the madness today (though I kind of wish that I could get the deal on TVs, because mine is dying and they're expensive...).

Monday, November 19, 2012

Happy Anniversary...!

.... to me!  I just realized that my five year anniversary of blogging here was yesterday. Pretty crazy to consider. I look back on how much I've written, how much I've changed, and all that those five years have included and it's kind of crazy.

Here's to another five!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Month of Thanks, Week Three Final

Alright, so I was struggling to think of things to be thankful for. And then I thought "How ridiculous is that? I have so much and am floundering for something to be thankful for?" I had to step back and re-evaluate, so here are my thankfuls for the rest of Week Three.

Saturday: The "plenty" that I have. I really do have a lot. And for the first time in my life, I'm at a point where I can pay my bills with ease and not worry (too much) about tomorrow. It's refreshing and kind of amazing.

Sunday: My family. I'm actually at my grandparents' as I type this and it just reminds how great that is (even when we fight -and we do).

Friday, November 16, 2012

Month of Thanks, Week Three, cont.

Wednesday: Coffee! Wait, I said that one already... How about... Water! I drink a lot of water. And it's kind of important to staying alive. Hence the reason I'm thankful.

Thursday: Beautiful sunrises -- so corny, but over the past week I have seen two truly beautiful sunrises from the window near my desk.

Friday: I'm thankful it's Friday. Really. Looking forward to the weekend and just relaxing.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Month of Thanks - Week Three Partial

Phew, now that Week Two is finished (that was close!), I can move on to Week Three. Here are mine for Monday and Tuesday. First on my list (especially after this cold, cold morning) is...

1) Thankful for heat --as in indoor heating systems. As in the amazing radiators in my apartment that, when they're actually on, turn my little mousehole into a sauna.

2) Thankful for Jimmy John's Unwiches. So silly. I know. But they're awesome. And the only way that a gluten-free person can ever really enjoy a sub. But they're awesome. 

Oh, and I said I was going to do a 5 mile "turkey trot" on Thanksgiving morning but then I realized that's next week. Re-thinking that now. Hoping to still do it, but holy cow that came quickly!

Month of Thanks - End Week Two

Ack! I'm already falling behind. Here are the Saturday and Sunday thankfuls for last week!

1) Thankful for underground/indoor parking - I'm spoiled and I love it.

2) Thankful for all of the communication options we have available to us - phones, email, Facebook, Skype, Twitter, blogging(!), etc. It's really pretty cool when you think about it. And as part of an Italian family I really should include "yelling" in this list as well, too... Hmm.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Month of Thanks - Week Two, continued

These should cover Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday "thankfuls".

I'm thankful for...

1) Clementines!  Seriously. These things are awesome. They're like nature's candy. So addicting.

2) My Bodum french press mug, without which I would not have coffee in the mornings or at home.

3) Growing gluten-free resources - This sounds so corny, but I can tell you that when I first went gluten-free at about 16 years old, it was so much harder. We didn't have access to all the online resources, the support groups, the mixes, etc.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Month of Thanks - Partial Week Two

Alrighty, I just have a quick minute here and wanted to put these two out here for Monday and Tuesday.

1) Thankful for my car - It's a bit of a beater, but it's been very good to me recently. Thanks for sticking with me, Betsy!

2) Thankful that the election is going to be over tomorrow. HALLELUJAH! I'm so looking forward to not having to listen to (or avoid) all the negative campaign ads and the back-stabbing and the juvenile cat-fights. I've been meaning to set up my wifi and cable since moving into my new apartment and I just haven't been able to bring myself to do it because then I'll have to put up with all that crap. So now that it's finally going to be over, I can finally get back to regular life where I don't have to sneak around trying to avoid political rants at every turn. Granted, I'm still going to probably get that to some degree (thank you, highly polarized and politicized friend- and family- base...), but hopefully by this time tomorrow --or at least by next week, pretty please?-- it will all be over and done with!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Month of Thanks - Week 1

Usually I try to avoid the cliched, hackneyed holiday traditions. But (but!) in this age of egocentricity and materialism, I thought I'd follow in the footsteps of some of my friends and make an effort to be more thankful this holiday season, particularly in November. So, if I try to state one thing I'm thankful for each day in November, I believe I'm already four days behind.  Not sure if this will be a daily post, or if I'll just compile a weekly list, but here we are!

So, my first four! These are actually pretty easy (granted, the beginning usually is).

1) New Job -- I lucked out. I have a great new job, doing what I love, with people I truly respect and who respect me. It's pretty awesome.

2) New Apartment -- About two months ago, I moved into a new apartment. I'm still in the process of unpacking, but it really is fantastic.

3) Safety through SuperStorm Sandy -- Even thought we're not on the East Coast, Cleveland was hit pretty hard. There are people in the area that are still without power almost a week later.  I made it through the storm without my power going off and only minimal leaking (thanks to being on the top floor of a flat-roofed building).

4) Natalie's visit to Cleveland - When you're a kid, you never know who will still be near you for years to come (or who will drop you either, for that matter!). Natalie and I met when I was in Junior High when my family was in Florida. Two years after that, our family was moved to the other end of  the country. Fifteen years after we first met, we're still in touch. And we still manage to pick up exactly where we left off, even if we only see each other once a year. That is true friendship.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Nat's Visit of Awesomeness in Cleveland

Nat visited this past week and it was an a-w-e-s-o-m-e time! There's never a doubt in my mind that I love Cleveland, but it is so cool sometimes just to see it through someone else's eyes.

As soon as I picked her up at the airport, we stopped by one of my favorite Cleveland restaurants: BSpot. Seriously, this place is great. (Apparently Nat thought so, too, since we went back three times while she was here!)

While Nat was here, we explored the city, visiting museums, tourist attractions, and some great local restaurants. We also took the time to fill up on a fall/autumn activities: pumpkin-hunting (both in the pumpkin patch and at stores), pumpkin-carving, hot cider (and rum!), toasting pumpkin seeds, and going for a walk in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.  Oh AND we went to a pretty cool vineyard for a wine tasting, dinner, and some great scenery.

It really is great to have friends where you can just pick up where you left off and have a great time.

Sunday morning coffee at Dewey's

Nat at the Rock Hall

Pan-seared scallops at Sergio's Sarava

Chocolate Mousse from Presti's in Little Italy

BSpot, New Jack City Burger (sans bun for the gluten-free)

Me demonstrating my mad pumpkin-carving skills
Nat's first ever pumpkin patch experience!

And then we got more pumpkins at Trader Joe's

Sarah, Nat, and I enjoying the Fall Fest

Nat enjoying the scenery at Gervasi's Vineyard

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Life in Five Minutes or Less

Quick update because I've been to busy to write much of late:

1) New job (YAY!)

2) New apartment (YAY!)

3) 5K this coming Saturday. Will be awesome.

4) Signed up to walk (and attempt to jog/run) my first 10K in May (ACK!)

5) Can't wait for Nat to visit!

6) The colors have just started to change here.

7) I am addicted to Doctor Who, but very sad because I don't have any access to BBC America and BBC America doesn't allow online streaming of Doctor Who in the US. Bad BBC America!

8) Gluten-free for almost three (?) months now and feeling great.

Lose Yourself (in Music)

I was driving down the highway this morning and I started to thinking about how I can just get lost in some songs and how music has played such a big part in my life. It sounds so cheesy, but it's true. The songs that I just seem to lose myself in aren't necessarily restricted by genre, lyrics, style, or tempo. Sometimes it is just one song by a band, artist, or a composer that I don't listen to regularly --or at all.

Attaboy - Goat Rodeo Sessions (Chris Thile, Edgar Meyer, Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan)

This song just sounds like pure joy to me. The whole album is fantastic, but this song is especially wonderful.




Houdini - Foster The People

It's addicting. I'm not even sure why.




Beethoven's Piano Sonata 15, Op. 28 Allegro

(or pretty much any Beethoven Sonata)




Somebody to Love - Queen

Such greatness all wrapped up in here.




Neat Little Rows - Elbow

Honestly, play me anything by Elbow and I'll be enthralled. I love this band. I really do. [insert plug here for new album "Dead in the Boot. Ah!]





Chopin's Nocturne Op. 9, No. 2


Skinny Genes - Eliza Doolittle

Another one of those addicting earworms. I actually really don't like the music video because it strikes me as just to hipster and kitschy, but the song is so catchy.




Chinese Translation - M. Ward

This list could go on for forever, but let's end it with this awesome song by M. Ward. Mellow, light, "philosophy pop". Loveliness wrapped up in raspy-voiced goodness. 



Friday, August 10, 2012

Race to a Million #5K

So, I have a cause that hits close to home for me. I love the Cleveland Foodbank and what they do for our community.

This year, I get the awesome opportunity to do a 5K and raise funds for the Cleveland Foodbank. I did put my fundraising widget up there (you can see it just to the right), so if you feel led to donate, I know that the Cleveland Foodbank would really appreciate. Just $10 can feed 40 in need.

All the money goes directly to the Foodbank and it all goes to a great cause.

Monday, July 2, 2012

My Inner Overachiever

So, I think my inner overachiever has escaped.

I've started another blog. I have, indeed. I didn't want to overwhelm you with stuff you probably wouldn't be interested in reading. So, I'm just going to give you the run down on stuff here and you can decide what, if any, you choose to follow.

1. The Newest Blog - Gluten-Free in CLE: The newest blog is centered around gluten-free food. I've already kind of filled you in on this, but for health reasons (mainly: being allergic), I've gone completely gluten-free. This is the blog where I'm sharing recipes, gluten-free product reviews, restaurant reviews (with an emphasis on being gluten-free) and more.

2. The Old, But Hopefully Back Blog - Living and Learning: This is a blog about some chronic health issues that I'm trying to fight. It seems like it's going to be a bit more "raw" than anything I post here or on Gluten-Free in CLE, so follow at your own risk.

3. The Middle-Aged, But Still Cool Blog - Hear It Better: This bog is all about music reviews. I am still planning on updating it and expanding. Unfortunately, I got so annoyed with Torches by Foster the People that I took an impromptu unofficial sabbatical. It will be back.

Anyway, that's all I've got for today. It's a gorgeous day here (sun's shining, breeze is blowing) and I only have about two and half hours left until I'm home. It's a great day.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Small Kitchen Trials

People who say they have small kitchens make me laugh. For most people, small kitchens equal a smallish room with a fair bit of counter-space and some nice shelving. Small for me? Tiny. Minute. Miniscule. It's been quite an adjustment, but I'm finally finding some ways to make it work.

My kitchen consists of a stove/oven, a refrigerator, and a sink (but no garbage disposal). There's no dishwasher, some cupboard space and about a whopping four square feet of counter-top. Most of the time I cannot even open up the oven all the way because I bump into the other side of the kitchen.

Here's what I've implemented that has worked for me and my life a little bit easy when it comes to teensy apartment living.

1) Downsize -- Toss anything extra. Mostly I say this to refer to plates and silverware. I had probably 12 plates, and about 20 sets of silverware. Most of this had been given to me, but I felt guilty not accepting it and it was creating clutter in the cupboards (and in the sink!). As I rarely, if ever, entertain (and even if I do, it's usually just one friend at a time due to my limited space), I got rid of all except two of my plates. Yes, two. For bowls, I kept two small cereal bowls and one medium soup bowl.  I wheedled my silverware down to just two sets of everything.

2) Consider space efficiency when buying appliances/accessories -- I don't own an actual coffee pot of a blender, no space for either! I use a french press for coffee (easily stored in a cupboard when not in use) and an immersion blender for soup and smoothies. Also, I originally started with a drying rack for my dishes that was immense, but not very sturdy and didn't hold a lot despite it's looks. One cheap purchase later, I was switched to a smaller drying rack with a silverware "strainer" and I even have a little more counterspace!

3) Cook as little as you can -- OK, this one is mostly a joke. And it's a sad joke at that. For a while there, I just completely stopped cooking because of the sad state of my kitchen. Sometimes it's just easier to ignore it than try to work around the space.

4) Use/buy smaller pots and pans -- I have the large saucepans and pots, but try to avoid them as they not only take up a lot of room, but they're also a bear to clean up afterwards...

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Zombies, Venting, and Prospecting

Lately there has been a lot of thinking and/or planning for the future. In business, it's called "development". In life it's called "stewing", or "wishful thinking", or "putting your nose to the grindstone" depending on where you are in life and who you've surrounded yourself with.

For me, it seems to be all three of those things combined. It's a lot of work, and a lot planning, plus a pinch of allowing yourself to hope and then hoping you haven't let your hopes get too high.

I'm not where I thought I would be, but I'm doing alright, I've got plans in the works, and I'm okay with that for now. For now.

____

As for Zombies: The "Zombies, Run!" app finally came out for Android. Now I just have to decide if spending $7.99 on a phone app is really worth it. I've never before purchased an app. Never wanted to, never needed to. But this one sounds awesome. And if it would keep me motivated? It might be worth the eight bucks in the long run...

____

Venting? Well... let's save that for another day.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Withdrawal

This week, I am in extreme-bitchiness-mode.

About five days ago I gave up wheat and yeast. Thanks to that, I am now experiencing what is essentially withdrawal. Wheat allergies manifest in a number of ways, but a lot of the time, it shows up almost like an addiction. Your body craves it constantly and giving it up is hell.

For me, being allergic to wheat is a constant struggle. If I eat it, I'm not going to swell up and die. I will, however, gain weight uncontrollably, battle headaches, feel lethargic and just feel shitty in general. It sounds bad, but it can be easy to ignore if you get used to it.

Eating gluten-free is a constant exercise in ingenuity and willpower. Managers brought donuts in for work? Not happening. Invited out to lunch? Better order that wrap as a salad. (And may I just say, this is coming from someone who despises most salads).  Just want one fucking cupcake at the end of a shitty week? Also not happening.

It's tough. And I hate. And I'm a grumpy bitch right now thanks to it. But I know it will be worth it in the long run.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Monday Melange

So, not much happening today. Work is... work. Just on lunch and counting down until I'm out the door at 4:15pm!!

Got a lot of fun stuff going this week. Tomorrow, I'm going to happy hour and shopping with a few friends. Wednesday, we have a surprise lunch for our coworker who's moving to Puerto Rico (lucky duck!) and I'll be taking the same coworker out to lunch the next day. On Friday I have to be at a work event, plus another (!) happy hour wishing farewell to a coworker who got an awesome new job. And then on Saturday, there is the Zombie Walk (which I unfortunately probably will not be able to go to) and a birthday picnic for a very special little three-year-old. Add to that a 40 hour work week (including big looming deadlines) and a crapload of errands to run (oh and that apartment I need to clean) and it's going to be a busy week!

I'm still sticking with my small changes that I mentioned a couple posts back. Getting out every night to walk/jog and then trying to come back and eat a decent dinner is a little trying. Especially when cupcakes are cheaper and faster... Just sayin'.  But it's actually not a bad thing as I seem to have more energy. I'm not seeing the "less stressed" benefit that some people talk about, but maybe that'll come some time down the road. As it is, I'm telling myself that I have to commit to this until June 18th. That will be about 13 weeks from my start date and I'm hoping once I can look back that I'll see improvement.

Hope you all have a great week!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Nonna Antonetta's Rice Pudding

One thing I love about spending time with my grandparents is the wealth of heritage that comes with them. Today over dinner we got to talking about family recipes that have been passed down for generations. One that got the most mention and the most praise was my great-grandmother's rice pudding. I, personally, think I make a pretty mean rice pudding, but as this one is a family recipe, I may have to give it a try.

Nonna's Rice Pudding

1 pound of rice
1 c. sugar
1 1/12 c. milk
salt to taste
1/4 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. nutmeg
1 t. vanilla
1 1/2 t. baking powder
8 eggs
2 T. oil
2 T. Crisco
2 T. grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat over to 400F degrees. Rinse rice before coking. Boil rice in 8 cups of water and boil until all water is absorbed. In bowl, combine all ingredients except for rice. Fold in rice. Pour into greased baking dish. Cook in oven for 30 minutes. Then lower the temperature to 300F degrees and cook for an additional 30 minutes.

UPDATE: Many thanks to Natalie, who gave this recipe a try! It looks like it turned out beautifully!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Time for a Change

So, I wasn't going to post anything on here as I didn't want to jinx myself, but...

I've gradually started making some lifestyle changes and so far they seem to be helping. Nothing drastic right now as I know that if I try to go whole hog into something I will never make it. My goal is to make it through 12 weeks (through two already) making small, but consistent changes at a slow pace and giving myself a chance to adjust.

What I've done so far:

1) Exercise five nights a week. This is either a two mile walk (not as far as I thought it would be!), an hour of cardio, or some combination of the two. I'm not going for exhausting, fat-melting exercise, but more focused on trying to develop a habit. So far, it's working. I'm enjoying my time set aside from the rest of my day to just disconnect and go.

2) Change my work schedule. This is something I've been meaning to do for a while. I, fortunately, have the luxury of changing my schedule to fit my life for the most part. As of this week, I've switched to 7:30am-4:30pm. It may not sound like that much, but getting out that extra half hour or hour earlier feels like I get an extra half day. It also means I have time to find a decent dinner, exercise, and still get stuff done after I get home.

3) Cutting down on the processed crap. This has been a few weeks in the making as I've been slowly weaning myself off of processed foods. This includes the bagels I always bought at the cafe in my office for breakfast, and grabbing fast food for lunch and/or dinner.  I've also cut down on dairy, wheat, and (most of all) sugar. Even when it comes to snacking, I've cut out the majority of my sugary snacks and switched to savory.

4) Try to eat dinner earlier. This one is the toughest for me. I am so used to eating dinner after 9pm that I get hung up on it. I'm trying to be more proactive about it, keeping things on hand that are easy and healthy to make or something that I can drop in the crockpot in the morning and come home to a cooked meal.

Again I don't normally advertise this type of stuff, but I guess I'm looking for accountability. So far, I've had a couple people ask if I've lost weight (which, I haven't, but here's hoping) or ask if I've changed something. I'm not really doing it for the weight loss (though that would be a nice plus), but more just trying to improve my overall wellness.

Well, Happy Monday to you all! Here's hoping the workweek goes quickly and that time stands still over the weekend.

Friday, March 30, 2012

MegaMillions Lottery

Update: I won a big, fat NOTHING. Not surprising, but oh well!

So, right now, the Mega Millions jackpot is big. Bigger than big. It's frickin' huge. The current jackpot is $640 million dollars. That is a LOT of money. A whole lot.

So, just as a joke, some friends and I put together some pocket change and bought a few tickets. Now, we know our chances of winning are something like 1 in 175 million, but it's nice to laugh about it.  It really got me thinking, what would I do with $640 million dollars? Or even $320 million dollars (I figure the government would take at least half of it for taxes).

First things first, put at least half of it away. One thing I do know is that no matter how much money you have, it never lasts forever and you've got to plan for a rainy day. Or a downpour. Or a flash flood.

So that bring me down to $160 mil. Still nothing to sneeze at. Pretty incredible really. If someone wins this and handles it wisely, they've got it made for life. Anyway, back to the $160 mil...

First things first, I would pay off any and all debt. Credit cards, school loans, car loans, etc., all of it is gone! Wouldn't that be an awesome feelings?

Next order of business: Going back to school. I've always planned to go back to school, but what keeps me from doing that is not wanting to go more into debt.

Next, I'd buy a car. This car.


Isn't it gorgeous? Fuel efficient, four seater, easy to parallel park. It's a Mini Cooper S and it's awesome. Even without the lottery, I'm hoping that I can start investing into one of these in the next ten years or so once my student loans are paid off. They hold their value really well and it's a great car all around.

Next, I would probably get a new apartment. I've been living in a one-room-studio for the past two years and it would feel so nice to have some space to actually 'live' in my apartment. I wouldn't want anything big. It's just me and I like my solitude, so maybe just a bedroom or two, a living room, and  a kitchen.

Third on the list? Join the Peace Corps. Actually, this might be second on the list as it would be easier to do before school, a new car, and a new apartment. I've wanted to join for the past five years or so, but have never been able to because not all of my loans will defer if I go overseas.

I'd really like to see a sizable donation go to some non-profit organizations that I really believe in. There have been groups that have helped me out when I'm down and out and it would be nice to be able to repay them (and then some!) for their generosity.

That is pretty much it. That's all I could come up with! So, I guess if by some crazy chance (again, 1 in 175 million) I win the MegaMillions, I'm going to have a lot to save for a rainy day!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Happy St. Pat's!

On Saturday, I experienced my first St. Patrick's Day out on the town ever. While I loved hanging out with one of my best friends, Batt, neither of us were really interested in getting wasted or partying all day. So, we just went out for a beer, grabbed some corned beef sandwiches and headed back to her place to enjoy the sandwiches and a beer.

I'm convinced that St. Patrick's Day is the drunk's holiday. It just isn't that much fun unless you're too far gone to care how much of an ass you look like. For someone like myself, who has one or two beers at the most and then calls it a night, it's just not as enjoyable as it is for some. It was a lot better thanks to Batt's company, but still not something I would do every day. Or even every year.  I've experienced it once and now I'm convinced I will be perfectly happy hanging out with a couple good friends, enjoying a stout and a corned beef sandwich and moving on.