31 July 2011

The Work-Out Challenge

I'm basically at the half-way point.  (I may have cheated a little this week, but I'm counting myself as being at the halfway point anyway.)

Yesterday, my downstairs neighbour moved out, and I helped her.  I helped her pack and move 15 boxes of books, most of which were textbooks.  So I made the executive decision that I could skip my day of push-ups and sit-ups.  While I was doing all the lifting, I made sure to lift properly, and I used all of my Pilates principles (using the core, thinking about the powerhouse, etc.) throughout.  So all day today, my legs, core, and arms have been feeling the effects.

I think it was a fair trade.

Three weeks to go!

30 July 2011

Felix's New Toy

I went to the pet store the other day because Felix needed new cat litter. While I was there, I decided to buy a new water bowl. Now, those of you who have met Felix know that he has some issues with skittishness. Others of you have heard about his legendary skittishness. So now you can imagine the trauma I put my cat through when I made him get used to a new water bowl.

It took him two days before he'd approach it without any sense of trepidation whatsoever. The first day, he wouldn't even go near it. The water bowl was clearly Not To Be Trusted.

Gratuitous picture of Felix being cute.

I had a feeling that things would not go well with the water bowl (I know my boy), so I bought him a bag of treats. Staring at the wall o' treats at the store, I immediately eliminated a few. I know Fe tends to like fish-flavoured things. I finally settled on a treat advertised for older cats; it purported to be for "hip health" and it's salmon flavoured.

I came home and gave him one. When he nearly bit my finger off, I gave him another. Cat went nuts. I mean NUTS. When I put the bag on the coffee table, the cat who usually doesn't get on the coffee table (even though he's allowed on it) knocked everything off of it trying to open the bag. He finally flung the bag off the table and chased it around the room, until he knocked it under the couch. Then he cried. And cried. And cried.

I showed him where the package reads, "12-17 pounds - 2 treats daily." And I explained to Felix that since he weighs 13 pounds, he shouldn't have more. But he didn't care. So I gave him two more. And I told him he had had that day's and the next day's allotment -- no more until Thursday.

A couple of hours later, I crinkled a plastic bag, and he nearly gave himself whiplash looking for his new treats. A little bit after that, he decided to try to get into the bag again. Soon, the bag was on the floor again.

Felix recommends Zukes!

I'm telling you, the cat has gone nuts.

In the meantime, though, my four dollars were well spent.

29 July 2011

List #20: Things I Want in a Dream House

Disclaimer: These are not the ONLY things I want, just the things that might be unique to me. I'm not putting things like "plenty of closet space" or "huge master bedroom." I'm also not getting into energy aspects -- just physical desires of the space.

1. A bay window with a seat
I almost have this now since my current flat has a bay window and I have my couch in the bay window, but that isn't what I envision. I want a bay window with a wooden bench. And in the bench I will store afghans and throws that I can use to keep myself nice and warm when I curl up on said bench and read or knit as I enjoy the natural light and watch passers-by outside. Did I mention this window is on either the second or third floor?

2. A kitchen with an island
I have yet to work out if the island is one of those counterspace-only jobs (of course with storage underneath), or what. But I know I must have an island.

3. A craft room
I can display my yarn, have a table for my sewing machine, a table for laying out/cutting material, hooks for my cross-stitch hoops, shelves for my embroidery floss... just for starters. Mind, the crafting won't be limited to this room -- that's just nonsense! But at least I could organise all of the supplies in this room.

4. A utility/laundry room NOT in the basement
I've lived in houses both ways and the not-in-the-basement way was much better. I get that if the washer springs a bad leak, it's awesome if the leak is already in the basement and you don't have to worry about the water flooding the floor below, but otherwise, it's just much more convenient for daily life to not trudge to the basement for tools, laundry, etc.

What would you like in a dream house?

28 July 2011

Recipe: BBQ Shrimp Quesadillas

2 T lime juice
2 t olive oil
1-1/2 t grated lime peel
1/4 t salt
1/4 t pepper
3/4 lb. uncooked medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 medium ears sweet corn, husks removed
2 medium zucchini, chopped
4 green onions, thinly sliced
2 T barbecue sauce
8 oz shredded Monterey Jack cheese
8 8-inch flour tortillas
salsa and additional barbecue sauce

1. In a large resealable plastic bag, combine the lime juice, oil, lime peel, salt, and pepper. Add the shrimp; seal bag, and turn to coat. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, remove corn from cobs. Drain and discard marinade from shrimp. Chop shrimp and set aside. In a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray, sauté the zucchini, corn and onions until crisp-tender. Add shrimp; sauté 2-3 minutes longer or until shrimp turn pink. Remove from the heat. Stir in barbecue sauce.

2. Sprinkle cheese over half of the tortillas. Spoon shrimp mixture over cheese. Top with remaining tortillas. Cook on a griddles coated with cooking spray over low heat for 1-2 minutes on each side or until cheese is melted. Serve with salsa and additional barbecue sauce.

NOTES: Next time, I would chop up the shrimp before marinating them. The second time Rachel and I made the quesadillas, we layered these so that it was a little cheese, shrimp mixture, then a little more cheese -- same amount of cheese per quesadilla, but there was melty cheese on each side, and the result was much better.

Also, even though we bought 8 tortillas, we probably only used about half of the filling. So definitely buy more tortillas! I used the leftover as nacho topping the next day, but we decided we'll just eat more quesadillas next time since this was so friggin' good!

27 July 2011

Wednesday Weirdness

I normally don't watch the news.  I get my news from either the paper or online sources.  I like to able to control what I'm exposed to, so I don't get overly depressed or angry by sensationalised stories or "stories."

But last night, I was doing something when the show I was watching went off and the news came on, and I wasn't able to change the channel on time.  And before I knew it, the most amazing thing unfolded before my ears.  So I had to rewind to see if what I THOUGHT had happened had actually happened.

In a nutshell, here's what went down: A reporter was reporting live on an animal hoarding story in front of the house from which the animals were confiscated.  Suddenly, a man attacked the reporter and his cameraman - on live television!  The anchor (safely back in the studio) quickly cut to another story.

Later in the newscast, they came back to the live reporter who explained that the attacker was the son of the man arrested (who owned the house they were standing in front in), but the police now had him in handcuffs.  He reported on the story, wrapping up by letting us know he had to go give his statement to the police.

The fantastic thing about this is the stupidity of the attacker.  Who thinks, "Oh hey!  There's a live telecast; I'll go attack the guy reporting on live television in front of the camera recording everything!"

Here are the videos so you, too, can revel in the sheer awesome of this.  (Warning: I laughed myself silly for a good ten minutes.)

The first video with the attack:

26 July 2011

Life Update

I have ten weeks of unemployment left, so I'm not QUITE at the point where I need to start panicking and packing yet, but it's getting uncomfortable.

On the other hand, there are some things going that generally lead me to believe that maybe things are turning around and things MIGHT (just maybe possibly might) be okay.  Or at least okay enough to keep me in Philly long enough for me to figure out a better situation.

Some of you may have read on Twitter that my mom hit the ER this past weekend.  She's doing well now.  Her rheumatologist had decreased her steroids (as a normal course of treatment from her whole thing a couple of months ago), but the decrease was apparently too much and she woke up Saturday with a headache as bad as the one that initially sent her to hospital back then.  Then managed her pain, gave her some stuff to manage her pain at home, increased her meds to where they were, and sent her back home.

My grandma had ALSO just been discharged from hospital (yes, the same one - my family, keeping Centerpointe in business!) earlier in the week, but she's doing fine, as well.  I'm less clear what that was about, because getting clear details from that house is like...  well, let's just say it's difficult.

And that random medical bizarreness I'm having?  It's still happening and it's still difficult. 

That's it!  You're updated now.

25 July 2011

Book Review: Still Missing

Those of you who have ever slept with me in a motel or over-nighted at my house know that part of my nightly ritual is to read in bed.  In fact, I will often literally read until I fall asleep, which is why I sometimes wake up with a book hovering mere centimetres over my eyes.  Yes, my arms will still be holding the book up.  Well, except for the times that I'm awoken by the book hitting me in the face when it has slipped from my fingers.

But this was the rare book that was so stunningly good that it kept me awake until I had literally (yes, I know I'm using that word again) read it all in one sitting.  I had intended to just start it that night.  But it gripped me and never let go.

Annie O'Sullivan is real estate agent holding an open house.  Her last prospect for the day turns out to be her kidnapper.  So far, not the most unique plot, right?  However, it's not the plot that's unique here but the storytelling.  This book is told from Annie's perspective as she tells her therapist her story.  Each chapter is one session with her therapist.  At first, she is reluctant to open up and tells only the barebones of the story.

My full review of this hauntingly beautiful story is here.

24 July 2011

The Work-Out Challenge

I have now successfully completed two weeks of my work-out challenge - kind of.

Last night, I actually checked off the 200 squats challenge completely.  That's right - 200 squats done!  I even managed to pump 'em out with only two breaks, and those breaks were really only because I was IMing on my BlackBerry at the time, and I was too hard to count and type at the same time.

As for the push-ups and the crunches, I'm cruising along on target!  Two weeks down, four to go!

23 July 2011

Supper by Committee

Last night, I decided it was too hot to cook in my apartment.  Of course, this was partly due to my own stupidity.  I have window units in my living room and in my bedroom, and when I took a nap in my bedroom, I turned off the unit in my living room in an effort to save energy and money.  So when I woke up and returned to the rest of the house, it was stifling hot.  (Lesson learnt: Next time, leave it on a wee bit or at least leave it on fan.)

Although I had thawed out two hamburger patties for supper, there was no way I was turning on the stove when the living room was still warm.  Now, when I'm on my couch, I sit directly in front of my window unit, so sitting there was fine.  But, literally, if I crossed the room, I could feel a difference in the temperature.  So the thought of turning on cooking heat was a bummer.

Chinese delivery to the rescue!  But what to order?  I called Mom for ideas.  So told me I was definitely in the mood for cold noodles with sesame sauce and fried rice.  Okay, sure.  I've not had them before, but anything cold sounded like a winner.  But I decided I needed more.  So I IMed Ria and asked her what else what I wanted.  After some negotiating, we decided I wanted: crab rangoon, veggie fried rice, crab rangoons, and steamed veggie dumplings.

(Note: I had suggested to Mom that fried rice would be unhealthy, but she told me it isn't unhealthy when it's what you're in the mood to eat.  I was astonished that she had let me live THIS LONG without telling me this little rule of eating.  I think it's sinful, really.  But she taught home ec, so she MUST know what she's talking about!)

I ordered from China Inn, and I have to say they have great customer service.  I discovered this morning that they had accidentally sent me pork dumplings, and I called them immediately.  They checked the receipt and confirmed that I had, indeed, ordered veggie.  They offered me my choice of a credit on my account, I could come pick up the correct order, or they would re-deliver.  I asked them to re-deliver, and within 30 minutes, I had fresh, hot veggie dumplings with absolutely no hassle.  Yay!

Next time I get Chinese, any suggestions?

22 July 2011

List #19: Jobs I Would Never Want

1. Garbage man
God bless the good people who do this.  On most days I could handle the weather (especially depending on the city), but I really couldn't handle the stench.  I used to know someone who did this (the husband of my Girl Scout troop leader), and he claimed that you just got used to it.  I supposed you'd have to.

2.  Full-time retail
I've done retail on a part-time/seasonal basis, but I couldn't do it as my full-time career.  I just don't have the patience to deal with rude, stupid people on a regular basis.

3.  Marketing
I consider myself a creative person.  I make my own greeting cards, I used to do a lot of writing (including stand-up material), and I have a few other creative outlets.  But I don't think I could be creative on demand.  Especially for particular clients whose products I just didn't "get" or found ridiculous but was paid to push anyway.

4.  Podiatrist
There's no way I want to look at people's feet all day.  Ew.

5.  Dentist
Really?  Stare inside people's mouths all day?  Sorry, but no.

6.  Gynaecologist
No.  Just... no.

7.  Postal worker
I never really gave this one much thought until the past year when I've become friendly with my mail carrier and we've had a lot of conversations about her job.  She's taken to wearing rubber gloves when she empties blue drop boxes because of all of the hazardous items dropped in there.  She finds needles, guns, and other random items.  (Random fact: She recommends not dropping anything important in there because people set them on fire as pranks.)  I've also learnt a LOT about the politics of the job - wowza.  The USPS is no longer a government job, but it's still pretty political since it's union, and some of the stories she's told just amaze me.  Also, this combines the weather issue with working with crazy people (she's told me about some of the people on her route), so it just seems like too many issues in one job.

21 July 2011

Recipe: Raspberry and Cream Frozen Yoghurt Pie

From Diabetic Cooking, July/August 2011 issue

7 chocolate graham crackers
1/4 c sugar substitute
3-4 T unsalted butter, melted

8-oz fat-free cream cheese
6-oz light raspberry yoghurt
1/3 c sugar substitute
1 t vanilla
12 oz non-fat whipped topping, thawed
1 c fresh raspberries, optional

1. Coat 9-inch pie plate with nonstick cooking spray; set aside.

2.  Place graham crackers in plastic bag; crush into fine crumbs with rolling pin.  Mix crumbs and 1/4 c sugar substitute in small bowl.  Stir in butter until crumbs are moistened.  Press crumb crust into bottom and slightly up side of prepared pie plate.  Refrigerate while making filling.

3.  Beat cream cheese, yoghurt, 1/3 c sugar substitute, and vanilla in bowl of electric mixer until combined.  Add whipped topping; mix until just combined.

4.  Spoon filling into crust and spread to edges.  Freeze at least 4 hours or until frozen.  Remove from freezer about 20 or 30 minutes before cutting into slices.  Garnish with raspberries, if desired.

Yield: 10 servings

Dietary Exchanges: 1 fat, 1/2 fruit, 1 starch

Nutritional information:
Calories: 160
Total fat: 5 g
Saturated fat: 3 g
Protein: 5 g
Carbohydrate: 24 g
Cholesterol: 12 mg
Dietary Fibre: <1 g
Sodium: 249 mg

Notes: Instead of making the crust, we used a ready-made chocolate graham cracker crust.  The sugar substitute I used was Splenda.  I don't have an electric mixer, so we just whisked, and it was just fine -- no lumps at all, completely smooth and creamy.  We didn't use the raspberries on top.

20 July 2011

What to do with Wednesdays?

As I said yesterday, now that I'm Wednesday Weigh-In is on hiatus, I'm taking ideas.

Julie suggested having Felix Wednesdays, and when I asked her if she meant spotlighting Fe or letting him take over for one day a week, she said she had in mind the former (which I think probably relieves Ria, judging from her comment).

I'm still taking comments, ideas, and suggestions until next week rolls around!

19 July 2011

And the Medical Weirdness Continues

I've been having some symptoms for awhile that I was curious about, and my PCP knew as my last visit with her that I was most likely going to be without health insurance for awhile.  She made it very clear that if I had any questions at any time, I should feel free to call her.  So yesterday, I put in a call to her.

She has a theory that makes sense with the symptoms I gave her, but it's one I'm REALLY unhappy about.  It's not life-threatening, but it would definitely be life-altering, in a rather huge way.  Her back-up theory also makes sense, and would be much less of a shake-up in my life.

For now, though, since I have no health insurance and we can't test her theory reliably, we're staying the course to see if things right themselves, which she said there IS a chance of happening, albeit slim.

I don't mean to be mysterious, but until I can get some answers that are more firm, I'm really only sharing this with my mom and perhaps a few friends with whom I am extremely close.  When I know more, I'll share.

Until then, Wednesday Weigh-In posts are on hiatus for awhile, although I'll continue to track privately, as she's asked me to do.  I would do WIP Wednesdays, but the project I'll be starting next is a secret (and, frankly, kind of repetitive). 

Any ideas?

18 July 2011

Book Review: No Rest for the Dead

I'm a big fan of Sandra Brown, so when I saw her name attached to this project, I jumped at the chance to review it.

This is one of those collaborative books, where each mystery author wrote one chapter.  This has its pros and cons, as I tended to want to race through the book and read the chapters where I knew I'd like and be more familiar with writing styles and cadences.

The plot is that the woman convicted of killing of her husband has already been executed by the state.  But now, on the ten-year anniversary of her execution, doubt it being cast on her guilt.

I loved this book, and because I'm huge mystery book buff, I was familiar with about half of the authors.  There were many I'd heard of but just hadn't gotten around to reading, so this was a great way to be introduced to them without committing to an entire book.  Collectively, they came up with a plot that was full of mind-bending twists, without being too "oh, puh-leeze; really????"  Read my full review here.

17 July 2011

The Work-Out Challenge

Week 1 down and five weeks to go!  Go me!

Meanwhile, my mom has conquered the American Girl extravaganza for the year.  She and her friend are making their way back home from AG headquarters.

The past week was largely uneventful other than, you know, the big, interesting thing that happened.

More later, when Felix isn't holding my arm captive.

16 July 2011

My Latest FO

For the past week, I've been knitting a lovie, which I had never heard of before.  For those of you who are in that same boat with me, it's basically a burp cloth-sized blanket.  It's called a lovie because it's meant to be something the baby can love and can be a comfort item for the wee babe.

My property manager and his wife are having a baby, and I was in search of something quick to knit up for him.  I got some really great ideas, and I was going to do a Blanket Buddy (which I may still do), but then one of the designers on my FPT group suggested doing a lovie and a stroller blanket, which would still be less work and yarn than a full-sized baby blanket.  AND then she generously gave me one of her really lovely blanket designs.  She only designs baby blankets (and REALLY gorgeous blankets, at that), so I was extremely chuffed.

She had already given me one of her designs that I had fawned over last year, but when I was discussing this problem with her, I was saying that one she had given me was too intricate and pretty (read: labour-intensive) for this guy.  For a much-beloved friend - no problem!  But a property manager who I like but have no relationship other than that?  Sorry, dude.  So Aimee gave me her Mountain Chickadee pattern, which is pretty while being easy to understand and super-easy to memorise.

My property manager had given me a few colour ideas to work with and had spotted a yarn in my stash that would be perfect, so I took it to my LYS to shop.  (Well, honestly, I didn't, because I had purchased that ball at said LYS, so I just grabbed another ball like it while I was there and walked around the store holding it up to other things.)  I finally settled on Berocco Vintage since it has great yardage for the price and got a nice red-purple colour.

Here's the result (no, the colour is really that bright; it's a much darker, less garish colour):

As you can see, it has a garter stitch border.  Between the border is a simple repeat.  Once the first row of the pattern repeat is established, the rest of the rows are extremely intuitive.

Here's a close-up of the pattern repeat.  I really love it.  I'm currently working on the stroller blanket, and while it's obviously bigger, it (amazingly) goes just as quickly!

15 July 2011

List #18: Pets I've Had

1. Beth - a dog of unknown breed
If Mom wasn't asleep because she has to wake up at 4:00 a.m. because she has to be at the American Girl doll place at 6:00 a.m. tomorrow, she could probably tell me what kind of dog Beth was.  Funny thing is, until about 20 years ago (which was LONG after Beth had died), I thought the poor girl's name was Bath.

2.  Mimi - a miniature poodle (but not a toy)
She was a great dog.  Poor girl got blamed for all these holes in every sheet we had.  She loved to lick our sheets, and we always thought Mimi licked holes in our sheets.  Then she died.  And new holes popped up.  We figured out the culprit -- the washing machine.  Sorry, Mimi.

3.  Max - a cairn terrier.
Max and Mimi were the best of friends.  Max was an awesome dog.  As long as you were petting him, he was happy.  I used to put barrettes in his hair and them pull them out because I always found barrettes difficult to pull apart.  He never once barked or yelped at me.  He found him as a stray in a Hardee's parking lot and took him home.  I wanted to name him Maxwell House.  To this day, I'm bitter I got voted down.

4.  Smokey - an awesome cat.
He'd kill you for a piece of cantaloupe.  It got to the point where we wouldn't even try to eat cantaloupe if he was in the house.  One day, he bit me, so I grabbed his tail and bit him back; he never bit me again.  He was an indoor/outdoor cat.   One day, he left and never came back.

5.  A duck whose name I can't remember
Mom bought him at a Swap 'n' Shop because she loved ducks.  Fortunately, we had a small pond with a small waterfall in our backyard where he was supposed to live.  Did you know ducklings can drown if left unattended too long in a pond?  Neither did we.

6.  Rocky - a parakeet
He mostly stayed in his cage, but when he was allowed to roam, he LOVED to chew paper.  I got in trouble a lot for handing in homework that was nibbled.  He had him when we collected Coca-Cola memorabilia, and he was able to say "Coke is it!"  When we hit the road for the summer, our pet-sitter tried to teach him how to say "But Pepsi's better!"

7.  Nicky - a Yorkshire terrier
When Mimi died, Mom was heartbroken so we got Nicky as a Christmas present.  Nicholas Sebastian was a smart dog most days.  But he burped a lot.  Mostly right in your face right when you picked him up.  Nicky and Max were awesome friends, and they ruled the backyard.  No squirrels allowed!

8.  New Dog - half Lab/half Shepherd (we think)
He was dumped in the parking lot of the school Mom worked in.  Mom brought him home while a co-worker asked his wife if he could bring the dog home.  I told Mom if he had to ask, the answer was no; I was right.  Meanwhile, we fostered the dog until we could find a home for him.  We didn't want to name him, so we referred to him as the new dog.  "Let Nicky and the new dog out."  By the time it was apparent that WE were his new home, he was answering to New Dog.

9.  Oscar - a black cat
The awesomest black cat ever.  The shower-loving cat who could open a closed door using his paws to turn a door handle. 

10.  Felix - a white/grey cat
The awesomest Felix cat ever.  Sometime during the night last night, he turned the tv to the "How to use the remote" channel.  It's not enough that the regularly changes the channel, but now he's actively trying to educate himself on the rest of the remote.  He frightens me.

14 July 2011

Recipe: Vidalia Onion Corn Muffins

1/4 c butter
1 large Vidalia or other sweet onion, chopped
1 8-oz package cornbread/muffin mix
1 egg, beaten
1/3 c whole milk
1 c sour cream
1 c grated sharp Cheddar, divided
1/4 t salt
1/4 t dried dill weed

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Spray an 8-inch square baking pan with vegetable oil cooking spray.

2.  In a medium saucepan, melt the butter and saute the onion until tender, but not browned, for about 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and add the muffin mix, egg, milk, sour cream, 1/2 cup of the cheese, the salt, and dill weed. Stir to combine. Pour into the prepared pan and top with the remaining 1/2 cup cheese. Bake for 30 minutes, until set and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cornbread comes out clean. Allow to cool slightly before cutting into squares.

Notes:  I used non-fat milk, and this did not affect the outcome at all.  I also dumped in all of the cheese at once because I made corn muffins as opposed to making cornbread, which is what the She-Devil made on her actual show, so I'm not sure why she's pretending in her recipe like she made cornbread, except that she's clearly a lying liar who lies (but I already knew that part).  And since I made corn muffins, I didn't bake it for the 30 minutes, but about 20.

13 July 2011

Wednesday Weigh-In

I gained another 0.6 pounds.  And now I'm even more confused.  Because my current jeans no longer fit, so I went through some jeans I have and found some jeans that are a size down that my mom had bought me last year and tried those on.  They seemed more comfortable, but when I wore them around today to run errands with Rachel, I kept having to hike them up.  So I'm clearly losing inches.

But in the past two weeks, I've gained more than a pound so I'm more than a little annoyed.  We'll see.

Today was spent with Rachel.  We ran some errands out by her house (in the City Line area).  I had a coupon for Chili's so we had lunch out there, and then we used a Groupon I had for an Ethiopian place for supper.  Sooooo good.

AND... I finished another knitting project!  More on that Friday!

12 July 2011

Well, THAT was unexpected

I had a whole blog post planned for today, but...

Today ended up being much more interesting than I thought it would be.

That is all.

11 July 2011

Book Review: Burning Down the Spouse

When Frankie Bennett discovers that her husband has been cheating on her, she goes a bit postal during his live cooking show.  She's been serving as his assistant, but those days are over, as are her days as his trophy wife.

She retreats to her aunts retirement village to lick her wounds, but after six months, her aunt enrolls her in Maxine's Trophy Jobs Employment Agency, an agency for former trophy wives.  This service also happens to have a support group for the women, where "suck it up, princess" is a frequent refrain.

Frankie gets a job as a prep chef at Greek Meets Eat, where she meets a wonderful Greek family, including the handsome Nikos.  But is she ready for another man in her life?

Catch my full review here.

10 July 2011

My Workout Challenge

Since I seem to have plateaued with my weight loss going largely changes in diet (with some slight working out), I decided to start doing some working out at home.  Something in the back of my mind today remembered the 100 push-up challenge.  The idea is that over the course of six weeks, you build up to being able to do 100 push-ups.

Those of you who have known me for several years may remember a time when I took the push-up challenge at a NASCAR event several years ago at the Army exhibit and actually argued with a soldier about my push-ups when he refused to count some of them (uh, dude - I'm not squashing my C-cups).  I actually have a great deal of upper-body strength for a female, so push-ups aren't as difficult for me as they are for some women.

Well, since I last did this challenge, they've added some things.  There is now a 200 squats challenge and a 200 sit-ups challenge (which is actually a 200 crunches challenge, but I guess that doesn't sound as catchy), and some other things, too, like dips and pull-ups.  The way they all work is that you do an initial test to see where your starting point is.  Then you follow a chart for three days a week doing the recommended number of reps for each set with a 60-second rest period between sets.  You'll do this for six weeks.  The idea is that at six weeks, you'll be at the goal.  If you aren't at the 100 (or 200) push-ups, sit-ups/crunches, or squats, then you repeat Week 6 until you get there.

I'm going to try it with Monday, Wednesday and Friday being my three days per week.  It won't the same as going to a gym of course, but at least it'll be something.  And I'm hoping that my blogging about it here, I'll have some accountability.

My initial test results?  I was able to do 50 squats, 23 push-ups, and 41 sit-ups.

So, anyone want to join me?  C'mon, you know you want to!

09 July 2011


This week, I've been tackling a bunch of housework.  There's no particular reason -- it all started around Tuesday and it's just been continuing.  It started with the kitchen.  And I mean a really good scrub down.  Even the trash can got scrubbed out.

I went and got $20 worth of quarters, and I'm trying to get every piece of dirty laundry in my place cleaned.  This is a process because there are a LOT of things that I don't dry, which means that I'm really doing this over a lot of days since I need to let things dry on hangers in my place, recover the hangers, then repeat.

In the meantime, I'm tackling other rooms.

And, I tried a new recipe today.  I actually saw it on Food Network from the woman I hate most on Food Network, and the ONLY reason I watched this episode was because I didn't change the channel in time, and I heard her say, "Coming up... Vidalia Corn Muffins."  Crap.

And, damn.  They're good.  I had to try REALLY REALLY hard to not eat all 15 of them tonight.  The recipe will be posted this week for Recipe Thursday.

08 July 2011

List #17: Sports I Enjoy Watching

(in no particular order)

1.  NASCAR.  My mom was an auto-racing fan before I came along.  In fact, before I came along, she and her second husband used to drive from Kansas City to Indianapolis for the Indy time trials.  So I grew up watching NASCAR (and IRL, but mostly NASCAR) and rooting for Bill Elliott and Cale Yarborough.

2.  American football.  This was another sport my mom taught me to love.  She TRIED to teach me to love the Chiefs.  It didn't take.  (Go Raiders!)  She DID, however, successfully teach me to hate the Dolphins and the Cowboys.

3.  Ice hockey.  Another sport mom brainwashed me into loving.  Before I came along, she had season tickets to the Kansas City Scouts.  I would have been going as a baby, but they relocated just as came along.  When the KC Blades rolled into town, we got season tickets again.  When I moved to Philly, it became difficult to follow my team (the SJ Sharks) since everyone out here is Flyers-crazy and the Sharks aren't even in the same conference.  When I go home for the winter holidays, we try to catch a Missouri Mavericks game (the Blades left a couple of years after I left KC).

4.  Tennis. Finally - a sport Mom did not introduce me to!  When Mom was married to her second husband, this sport didn't get watched much - he didn't allow it because "it doesn't make sense."  Uh, okay then.  I started watching it because Lindsay Davenport and Monica Seles are hot.  Then I started loving it because it's a great sport.  Then in 2000, Marat Safin defeated Pete Sampras to win the US Open and take the #1 world ranking (at the age of 20), and I watched a lot of that tournament live.  I was hooked.  Marat (who is fluent in four languages, at last count), then went on to set a record for most racquets broken in pro tournaments.  If you know much about me, you know I like my athletes to be smart, fiery competitors (and cute doesn't hurt).  Marat fit the bill nicely.

5.  Olympic sports.  I like both the Summer Games and the Winter Games.  There are few of the sports that I dislike.

6.  X-Games.  My mom and I both like to watch these.  I *think* I started watching these first (one of the years Philly was hosting them), but my Mom REALLY latched on to them.  Two years ago, she yelled at me when she mentioned Shaun White and it took me a minute to place his name.  "YOU DON'T KNOW WHO SHAUN WHITE IS?  DIDN'T I RAISE YOU RIGHT?"  The guys in line around us waiting to go drifting were dying laughing.  (We are at a NASCAR race.)

I also occasionally watch golf and WWE.  Mom sometimes watches golf, but we rarely overlap on the same events.  And even Mom was shocked to find out I watch wrestling.  Shaddup and leave me alone.  We all have our vices.

07 July 2011

Recipe: Crock Pot Unstuffed Cabbage

1 pound ground beef
1 small onion, chopped
4 c chopped cabbage
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 c uncooked instant rice
1 c water
6 oz tomato paste
15 oz diced tomatoes, undrained
1/2 c ketchup
2 T vinegar
1 T sugar
1 T Worcestershire sauce
1-1/2 t salt
1/2 t black pepper
1/4 t garlic powder

Brown beef and onion in skillet; drain well.  Combine all ingredient in Crock Pot.  Cover; cook on low 4-5 hours.

Notes: I abhor instant rice, so I used regular long grain rice, and cooked it about halfway and let it cook the rest of the way in the CP.  I cooked this on low for four hours, and the cabbage was ever so slighty undercooked.  Next time I will either parboil it first or cook it more on the five hour side.

Otherwise, this was absolutely AWESOME.  I really loved it, and I intend to make it again.  YUM!  All the goodness of stuffed cabbage without the time, mess, and effort!

06 July 2011

Wednesday Weigh-In

I gained 0.6 pounds this week.  I felt a little bummed about it as I could see the numbers creeping up slowly throughout the week, until I went to the tailor yesterday to get my interview suit pants altered.

See, the last two interviews I went on, the pants were loose, but I made do.  While I can do some alterations, they weren't loose enough for me to mess with.  Plus, they're my GOOD pants, so I didn't want to mess them up - most of my other clothes (yes, even my work clothes) are thrift store purchases, so if I mess those up, it's no big loss.  But when I tried these on this week in anticipation of an interview next week, it was awful.  So to the tailor I went... and we had to take them in an entire inch!

In other news, my friend Julie and I were discussing last night... well, it's a long story.  But it ended with us coming up with East Minville and East Julietown.  And Julie decided that East Minville would have great restaurants, awesome bookstores, and a Neutrogena store.  (Our cities had to start with "East" because that makes them sound "bad."  It's a rule.)

So, my question to you is this: If you had a town named after you, what stores would it have?  What would the population be?  Rural, urban, or suburban?

05 July 2011

Oscar Buddy, I Miss You Every Day

A year ago today, Felix and I said good-bye to our dear friend Oscar.

I still think of him every time I take a shower.  In fact, that's usually when I miss him most.

04 July 2011

Book Review: The Girl Who Disappeared Twice

Casey Woods owns a unique business called Forensic Instincts.  It consists of her (a behaviourist), a former Navy SEAL, and a tech guru.  They consult on criminal cases, and they're able to cut corners since they aren't bound by the same laws and bureaucratic red tape that standard law enforcement agencies face.

This book opens with the kidnapping of Krissy Willis, the daughter of a prominent judge and defence attorney.  Casey is reluctant to take the case for two reasons: (1) she gets the call immediately after finishing one gruelling case and (2) she senses that Judge Hope Willis is holding back a secret.  But when she discovers Hope's secret, Casey takes the case.

This book is a fast-paced thriller, and I was hooked immediately.  The full review is here.

03 July 2011

A Mundane Weekend

Someone asked me what I'm doing this weekend for the holiday.

Uh...  not much, really.  Watching the races, doing some reading, catching up on some knitting and spinning, and that's about it.  I watched the Wimbledon finals.  My mom is visiting her brother-in-law in Clinton, MO, and Felix keeps watching this big-ass fly that's dive bombing his head.

Oh yeah - big times over here.

I did try a new Crock Pot recipe today, so that was exciting.  I'll post on Thursday.  You cabbage lovers will be excited.

While this weekend isn't the height of excitement, it is relaxing - NASCAR, reading, knitting, spinning, and a cat.  Not bad, really!

I hope everyone else is having a safe holiday weekend!

02 July 2011

Michael Jackson Radio

On Ravelry, there's a Michael Jackson Tribute group, and, of course, I'm a member.  As you might imagine, it was much more active when Michael first died, and action kicks up on the anniversary of his death and his birthday, but we all still chatter every once in awhile.

I posted last week on there when some of us were talking about how we were spending the day remembering him on the second anniversary of his death.  Some of my post was similar to my blog post here, but some of it was different because the audience was different.

One of the women there PMed (private messaged) me on Rav earlier this week.  She had seen my message there, and she wanted to let me know that there's a Michael Jackson group on Ustream.  They meet every Monday and Friday and listen to MJ songs for five hours and chat.  She invited me to join in and check it out.  I wasn't sure it would be for me, but hey - what was the harm in it?

It was actually a lot of fun.  The guy who runs it is in California (thus the outrageously late hours for East Coast people!), and many of the people had been in Disneyland last week for World Michael Jackson day.  A lot of the conversation in the chat room while we all listened to MJ songs was reminiscing about their time together, so that was kind of meh, but some of the rest of the conversation was fun.  I'll definitely be back.

I also found out there's a woman in the group who lives not far from me!  Ha!  I had to go to Ravelry to meet a woman in Connecticut to tell me about a group in California where I went to meet a woman from the next county over.  She told me that a woman there is organising the Thrill the World event for the Philly area this area, so I might actually get involved this year.  We'll see.

01 July 2011

List #16: Genres of Music I Like

This list came about because Rachel and I were talking about how we hate it when people say "I listen to everything but country," mostly because that probably isn't true.

1.  Country.  I was raised on country.  Basically, to quote Barbara Mandrell, "I was country, when country wasn't cool."  I was raised on Barbara, Kenny, and Tanya.  And now I listen to Sugarland, Trisha, and Reba.  There are a few others that I adore, too, but those are go-to staples.

2.  Pop.  Well, it's pop music for a reason.  I listen to less now that I don't have a car and don't listen to the radio as often, but Pandora helps keep me current to an extent.

3.  Hip-hop/Rap.  It's no secret that I love me my Eminem.  When Tupac was still living, I thought he was a genius, too.  I've been meaning to get some of his posthumous stuff, but I have yet to do that.  I might this year, though, since this was to be his 40th birthday, and a lot of stuff is being released.  I also like some hip-hop, and some of the music that straddles the line in between.  I'm not a huge fan of the mythology or the lifestyle, but I do get it - our society has created this and fed it, for better or worse.

4.  Rock.  I know this is a broad term, as there's "soft rock, classic rock, hard rock," and probably a few others.  I'm more on the softer side of things - I'm definitely not a heavy metal type of person.

5.  Classical.  I'm not one of these people who can tell you a favourite composer or who can identify movements, but I can enjoy what I listen to. 

6.  Misc.  I also pick up little pockets of things from movie/television soundtracks that get me interested in specific artists/groups, or Broadway shows that get me interested in certain people.