Spring Fever!

The problem with living in Sacramento is that the second it gets even a little bit warm, I want to be by the water, soaking up the sun with a great book in hand, and well — the Sacramento River just doesn’t really do it for me.  I mean, sure it’s fun to raft down in a moment of excrutiating heat and desperation, but I prefer the ocean! the beach! the sand! icy cold beverages!  Why does coastal living in California have to cost an arm and a leg (and then your firstborn! yikes!) 

I’m already dreaming about the weekend — customary for a Wednesday, I’ll have you know — and although I don’t think we’ll be headed to the beach, we may head up to Oroville and do our favorite hike up to Feather Falls because at least if we aren’t going to get to see the ocean, this is a nice substitute:

I am also woefully behind on my bookclub reading, so I best make some time to do that this weekend as well. 

What are you fantasizing about doing this weekend.  Do tell — it makes the week go by faster, I promise!

A Reason to Eat Cake

He was the first man to hold my hand.
He was the first man to kiss my forehead.
He was the first man to protect me from harm.
He was the first man to call me Princess. 
He was the first man to tell me he loved me. 

He taught me to be humble while still having confidence in myself.
He taught me to be coachable instead of defensive.
He taught me to be silly and to laugh, most often, at myself. 
He taught me how to catch.
He taught me to include everyone because it doesn’t feel good to be left out.
He taught me that integrity is worth more than money.
He taught me that education can never be taken away from you.
He taught me to parallel park in a Suburban.
He taught me to live for adventure.
He taught me to be relentless. 

He told me that one day I would appreciate a cold beer on a hot day.
He told me I was smart, and I shouldn’t let guys take advantage of me.
He told me to follow my dreams whether people said I was crazy or not.
He told me I should respect my elders. 
He told me that one day I would be as beautiful as my mother. 
He told me that everyday was my masterpiece. 
He told me to always remember that family was the most important thing in life. 

He gave me the gift of gab.
He gave me a laugh that’s contagious.
He gave me unconditional love even when I was bratty.
He gave me lectures when I wanted to pierce my tongue and get a tattoo.
He gave me shit for loving New Kids on the Block. 
He gave me everything I ever asked for and never asked for anything in return.

He would love that I grew up to be a ball-breaker.
He would love that I graduated college like I promised when I told him I was dropping out. 
He would love that his nieces and nephews grew up to act like siblings. 
He would love that I FINALLY learned how to grill.
He would love busting Garrett’s chops. 

He would have walked me down the aisle with pride.
He would have hugged me tightly during the father/daughter dance at my wedding.
He would have been the world’s best grandpa.
He would have been proud of what I’ve accomplished.
He would have high fived my mom over a job well done.
He would have been my biggest cheerleader. 

He would have been 56 today.

Happy Birthday Dad. 

Prioritizing Nothing

This week has felt incredibly busy!
Shower.
Work.
Gym/Meeting/Social Activity.
Cook Dinner.
Eat Dinner.
Shower.
Dishes.
Straighten Up The House/Laundry.
Check Email.
Write.
Read Until I Fall Asleep.
Lather, Rinse, Repeat.
(And no, I don’t shower twice everyday, just the days I go to the gym.)


Catching up with some friends in these last couple of weeks has prompted me to answer the “What’s new?” question, and I always seem to end up responding with a broken record version of “I’ve been soooo busy lately.” After reading this bit of perspective the other day I’m actually kind of horrified when I think of how often I say this without event thinking about it.

“Busy” is totally a cult.


Now granted, this week HAS been busy or at least full and I have definitely felt pulled in many directions. But when I look at that list up there, I’m comforted at least in how it reflects my priorities. But I definitely have been feeling a little “time poor” for the last few weeks and I want to get that under control. I have many times reiterated Berkun’s stand on the concept of “I don’t have time for…” because we all totally make time for the things that are important to us.  It’s not about how much time I have versus the time you have, because we all have the same finite amount.  It’s about where that task ranks given the context of that time.  I love to have lots of fulfilling things going on in my life, and I love to make goals and take the time to make progress towards achieving them, but I’m starting to think that I am flawed in not ranking General Decompression up a little higher.  Berkun brings up a great point when he says



It’s the ability to pause, reflect, and relax, to let the mind wander, that’s perhaps the true sign of mastery, for when the mind returns it’s often sharper and more efficient, but most important happier than it was before.


Um, can I get an Amen on that!


Someone remind me who recently wrote that we are human beings and not human doings? Because I have totally forgetten, but whoever they are, they are brilliant!

Do Vegetarians Eat Animal Crackers?

I posted a link to this article on Twitter and Facebook yesterday (via) because it is one of the simplest, bullet-pointed posts that I have ever read about fitness and health — and three of his points really rang so true in my mind that I’m still thinking about them. I know this is a deviation from our standard programming around here, and my official disclaimer is that I am not an expert and these are just my opinions on the topic, so if this bores you, I totally understand.  No hard feelings.  Come back again tomorrow and we can talk about shoes or books or celebrities! Or how Kate Winslet is getting divorced…OMG, so sad!


Anyway, my favorite items stolen from that article were as follows:


• If you eat whole foods that have been around for 1000s of years, you probably don’t have to worry about counting calories
• High Fructose Corn Syrup is making people fat and sick
• The only real cure is prevention…don’t get sick in the first place otherwise you may be in for a long road back to health


There is so much to say on these topics, I don’t even know where to start. I am a card carrying member of the cult that thinks that the American Diet is the biggest factor in making people sick.  And even though it is one of the things we have the most control over, most of us don’t prioritize it all the time (myself included) and that is sort of baffling. I baffle myself on a regular basis, actually. I have watched some incredible and  enlightening documentaries on the subject of the American Diet (um…hi, corn products are in EVERYTHING because that is a crop the government subsidizes. Dear Government, please consider subsidizing other vegetables too, yes? ) And I am a total Michael Pollan zealot, yet I TOO am still guilty of not prioritizing my diet when crafting my own plan for health. It is such a battle!

For example, there is so much evidence out there supporting that idea that a (thoughtful) vegan diet really helps reduce inflammation and disease later on in life, and I know this, yet I can’t seem to let go of my love affair with cheese. Just the thought of it makes me panic a little.  Also, like many of us, I have certainly tried my share of fad diets out there in search of quicker/better/longer/easier weight loss in an effort to be healthier, but in the end I really think sometimes the big picture gets lost in all of that. It is not about being a certain weight or at this magic number, general health is what should be important, and there are so many factors contributing to that.

I went to a conference once where Dr. Pam Popper was speaking, and she said quite a few things that really affected my opinions on this stuff. A woman in the audience stood up and asked her how she felt about the Atkins diet, and boy did she unleash the beast. Well, if the beast includes a lot of scientific evidence about what it does to the body and why it was not good for your health. “But it works, I’ve done it and had success,” replied the woman in the audience, and of course don’t we all know someone who has great success with Atkins, right?  But Dr. Popper’s response slayed me, “You are correct, the Atkins diet does work. But so does cocaine, and I don’t recommend that for health either.”

(Damnit!  I never tried cocaine for weight loss.  That is brilliant!) 

Ok, ok all jokes aside, that was kind of a turning point for me when it comes to my philosophy on weight loss and health. I’m not in this life just to weigh less (although yes, I need to get there and it is very important.) But really? What I want is to live more. And for longer. And I want to be healthy the entire time, not decrepit or disease ridden, or managing a slough of symptoms all the time. And I do think it is possible.  But if you could just remind me of that the next time I’m walking around the cheese department at Whole Foods (you know how I get when I’m there) I think that would be a great start! 

Do we have a deal?

Monday Musings

So last week? Pile of Suck. With a CAPITAL P.  Let’s just erase it, shall we?

It was so bad, I’m not even going to blog about it, but I’m just going to bury it until my next kickboxing class and then release the rage via round house kicks. You just wait – you will wish you were privy to my ninja skills inside the four walls of 24 hour fitness.


But this weekend? Ultimate Antidote.  And yeah, with a Capital U and an A and all that.  

There were so many things brought a smile to my face, I don’t even know where to start. Here, let me and my mediocre photography skills show you:


Neon Tomato Cages


So let me tell you all the fun things I know about gardening. Um…huh…yeah…so…well, the list isn’t too long now that I think about it. But I successfully grew some stuff last year, so I’m moving forward with the same philosophy — which includes: plant some stuff, water it, and tell the plants they are pretty. The power of positive thinking people – don’t laugh, it worked last year when I grew an 18 inch yellow squash. I’m pretty sure we are done with the frost, so I have planted the bulk of my veggies and herbs and cute little baby seedlings, so we’ll see how it goes this year. But even if it all goes to hell – how cute are those tomato cages? Hot Pink! Bright Green! It’s so reminiscent of my favorite outfit in the first grade – the one when I looked EXACTLY like Cyndi Lauper, I was just sure of it! You know, except it’s for the garden. C’mon tell her she’s pretty.

Garrett’s Idea of Picking Up Some Fruit

If you send a boy to the grocery store, you have to know it’s kind of a crap shoot.  At least that’s the way it is in my house.  He always ends up coming home with like 10 bags of chips, 3 flavors of ice cream, bunches of steaks (but they were on sale! he says).  So this weekend, he came home with fruit!  Um, of the beer variety?  I don’t know.  I enjoyed it though.  


Coconut Cupcakes

I went on a little baking bonanza this weekend which is fine, except only two people live at our house. Coconut cupcakes were the final product and OH MAH GAH, you all. They are where it’s at! Although 18 cupcakes is a lot for 2 people. Well at least when you use as much butter as I was forced to do on Sunday. (Don’t ask, you don’t want to know). But they are damn good, and as such, my coworkers reaped the benefit this morning. It’s so nice to take one for the team.

New Appliances

Meet our new Garage Fridge.  We’ve had a mini “Man Fridge” in our garage for a while but had still been lusting for an extra freezer, so when a friend was off-loading her full size fridge/freezer for a steal, we jumped at the chance and set it up this weekend.  Why does this make me feel like such an adult?  Or like I could host a Barefoot Contessa style party with all of my food pre-made sitting on fabulous white trays in my fridge just waiting for my filthy rich guests to show up with white wine!  Seriously, something about an entire extra appliance just for luxury feels a little bit sickening, but also, it’s really is going to help me out immensely.  Our house fridge is so old (and also a side by side, which: um, HATE. HATE. HATE) and frankly it is mostly just a testament to inefficient space usage.  A mixing bowl takes up an ENTIRE SHELF.  If we ever entertain, I basically have to do it on nights when we have no groceries in the fridge because they take up all the usable space.  And our freezer?  Don’t even get me started.  Finding things in there is like spelunking in a cave on Mount Everest.  And um, no thank you!  This shiny little gem out in the garage is like a dream come true!  (Can somebody tell me when I turned into an old person?)


My Bathtub

This weekend was sunny – but still a bit chilly. This means I spent a serious amount of time in my bubble filled bathtub this weekend and it was much needed. The best part of my bathtub is that even though it isn’t a circle tub with jets – it’s extra long and extra deep (if there is a way to explain that without it attracting the porno crowd to my site, I would love to know) – but anyway, this means that even though I am 5’10 I can still chill out and relax and soak all my troubles away. And frankly, that’s just what I did until my toes got pruney, with the help of some brain candy.


Brain Candy

Yes, I did mountains of Sudoku and poured through this book like it was going out of style in the bath. I was starting to wonder how I could configure that bathtub as an office space when Sunday night rolled around. I mean, I could totally juggle my laptop in there, I promise! But alas, my job said No Dice to my bathtub office idea. 

I guess today (Monday, ARGH)  I’m just trying to take my happiness where I can get it.  In the bits of sunshine that are outside, in the fact that Spring has almost sprung and that means more beautiful days and big adventures.  More time at the grill (yes!) and more time outside.  Patio dates with good friends.  Bring it on, I say!

What are you looking forward to this Spring? 

A Handwritten Hello

Ah, Sweet Weekend!

So when Friday evening comes around, I usually get a little giddy with excitement.  This should not come as a surprise if you are, you know, human.  Sometimes my excitement has to do with all the unadulterated weekend time I’m going to spend with my DVR (Bravo, FTW!), a DVD I’ve rented from Netflix (this weekend I’m watching this) or the book I’m reading (which is definitely going to get some attention tomorrow afternoon.)  But 9 times out of 10 it involves excitement over something I’m going to cook.  The weekend is when I make all my time consuming recipes, stockpile things to serve as leftovers for the week ahead, or generally experiment in the kitchen — and this weekend is no different. 

It’s been a busy week though (in a good way — socializing, working out, meetings, etc) and I have hardly had a minute to think about my cooking adventures for the weekend; however, last night I busted out one of my most used cookbooks to see if there was any inspiration inside, and I was seriously struck over the head with about 25 recipes I wanted to make right this second. 

Do you own this:

I really can’t adequately express my love for this book enough.  It is full of (wouldn’t you know) great food!  That’s fast!  And there are beautiful, glossy photos to accompany each recipe, and I think the bulk of them are pretty foolproof.  It’s the kind of food that takes very little effort, but makes you feel all fancy!  I love that.  So this weekend, since I want to cook but I am definitely running on a bit of an empty tank, I think I am going to take a cue from this book and do some delicious, quick cooking. 

I know this Asparagus Gruyere Tart is definitely in my future…and seriously, how easy is that!  Fancy, Easy, yet Incredibly Delicious.  I’m  kind of hoping that’s how my weekend turns out as well!

What are you up to, friends?

Crafts and Books and Trips, Oh My!

I was looking over my calendar making some plans today and I realized that there are quite a few things coming up in the next few months that I am pretty giddy with excitement about! If you are local, you may even want to put some of these fun happenings on your calendar:


March

Indie Sacramento – This is a craft bazaar here in Sac promoting local business and local crafting. How fun, right? I have really had a crafty itch lately and I can’t think of anything more inspirational to scratch that itch that some fun local crafters.


April
Offbeat Bride reading in SF  — One of my favorite bloggers EVER will be in SF to sign copies of the second edition of her book Offbeat Bride. (I know what you are thinking — Holly, tone it down on the wedding books, you are not engaged.  But seriously, I was reading her blog long before she ever wrote a wedding book, so that just happens to be a coincidence, I promise.) I feel like kind of a dork going, but I totally think I’m going to! What the hell, right?  Blogger Nerd Alert.


May
Well, thanks to some budget friendly deals on Southwest this week, Seattle is looking like the weekend locale of choice to celebrate Garrett’s birthday. I’m sort of scared to mention it in case I jinx it (the tickets are not yet purchased) — and our last trip to Seattle did not pan out as we had hoped– but the thought of four glorious days in the Pacific Northwest — I can’t wait. Seattleites (and of course anyone with an opinion) – what is on the MUST DO list? (And of course the Must Eat list…we all know this is paramount to a succesful weekender!) Do tell!


June
Sacramento MCM Home Tour –  A tour of local MCM homes? I am so in! First of all, I’ll go on any House Tour because I love seeing how other people live — I’m curious like that. But an MCM tour? Swoon! I’m dying to see this one on the inside.


I’d say the first half of this year is looking to shaping up quite nicely.

Fat Girl

When my mother was 16, eagerly anticipating the independence that came in the form of a Volkswagen Beetle, she passed her drivers test. As she filled out the paperwork for what would be her first Drivers License she encountered the Universal DMV Dilemma of what to write for her weight. Ultimately she decided to lie as many of us do, and so she got ballsy and put down 112 lbs.  God forbid anyone find out she only weighed in at 104. 
 If I hadn’t seen the pictures from the hospital, I would question whether or not we were actually related.  I have never had the occasion to make myself appear less…skinny – not in real life, and certainly never on paper. I have always taken after my dad’s side of the family who embody their German heritage not only in their ability to empty a stein, but in their sturdy frames.

We looked a lot alike, my father and I – same hair, same eyes, same NFL lineman shoulders. If I had a brother, he would have spent his life envious.  Our legs could have been carved out of the same marble slab.  We were a formidable pair. 



“Holy Shit, Holly, he looks like Conan the Barbarian,” Garrett said the first time he saw my parents wedding photo.  The fact that he never got to meet my father was surely a relief to him in some ways.


*Obviously Garrett meant Conan the Barbarian if he ditched the loin cloth and headdress for a baby blue tux and a paisley bowtie. God I love the 70s*


I understood what he meant but the comment made me cringe a bit because I recognized my own body in that picture and I thought of the words that I hoped my one day boyfriend would use to describe me, an Arnold Schwartzenegger character never came to mind.  But I was also proud of my father’s strength, and of the physique that he earned after decades of football.  I saw the aftermath of the NFL that they don’t discuss on SportCenter — the bruises, the surgeries. 


But my career goals never involved the NFL, so I’ve definitely struggled a bit to love this body I was gifted. I’ve told you before about my childhood foray into dance, and as a dancer my body was never a perfect fit.  Despite dedication and passion, I learned at a very early age that my body would prevent any chance I would ever have at that profession no matter how many times I casually hugged the toilet, but just in case I should try to lose about 20 lbs. I think I was 9 when this sunk in.
 Though no Swan Queen, my imperfect body has done unbelievable things for me and as someone who hopes to have children one day I look to the future now and think of all the things my body is still going to do for me – what it is capable of doing for me, and I have begun to appreciate it.  When I think of the plans I have it’s hard not to feel a little proud. Sure my body isn’t perfect, and I have definitely gotten the memo that it isn’t The Ideal (Loud and Clear! Thank you, American Media!) But this body is mine, and the narcissist inside of me finds that hard not to love.  And this is mostly why I was pretty disgusted with Fat Girl, Judith Moore’s autobiographical account of her life growing up fat.

Though chock full of writing that will just absolutely knock your socks off, she spends page after page discussing herself with such disdain. She wrote an interesting commentary about why she wrote the book, and although the book is refreshing in its frankness, I am also finding it very hard to read. Writing about something that generally doesn’t have a voice deserves praise, but having that voice be so incredibly disparaging is hard for someone with my history to reconcile, and ultimately it doesn’t accomplish much.  The only place the story goes is down 30 floors to the basement of your worst shame spiral, and yet  there is nothing earned for the trip. 


I don’t need every book to have a silver lining lesson, but every few pages I find it difficult to not immediately set the book down, and whisper to that little dreamer inside of her that it doesn’t matter if the world doesn’t thinks you are perfect.  Everything will work out just as it should – even if it doesn’t end up looking quite as much like Flashdance as you once hoped it would.

Monday Musings

*image via

  • I mentioned this on Facebook this weekend, but if we are not friends I think it bares (bears?) repeating.  Is there anything worse than spending 90 minutes of your Saturday going up and down every aisle of Costco playing bumper cars (on the last day of the coupon, by the way and damn if people don’t come out in droves to get $1.50 off of all 800 of those rolls of toilet paper)  only to pilgrimage all the way out to your car parked in Siberia for a fierce game of Trunk Tetris?  Man I hate that.  As someone who always tried to force the square peg in the round hole, that shit makes me tired!  If there is something worse than this can you please tell me, so that I can think of it the next time I’m swearing at my car like a lunatic while people pass by asking me how long I’m going to be so they can decide if they want to play parking lot shark on my spot or roll the dice on a better spot.  Thanks.
  • Have you looked at the March Issue of Cooking Light?  There are like 900 recipes that I want to make, immediately.  Actually I made one last night (with a few switch-a-rooskies) and I may have to post about it this week…it was THAT GOOD. There was also a fabulous article in it (oooh and look, it’s online too!) about The 25 Most Common Cooking Mistakes that I thought it was super informative.  Nothing extreme, just a really good reminder of basics, but I definitely picked up a few tips.  Anyway, while I’m playing link-master, check out their Recipe Index for March.  It’s a total Jackpot!
  • I finally finished 500 Days of Summer and it ended up being ok.  I didn’t love it, but there were definitely some cute parts.  I’m convinced that anyone who didn’t crack a smile during the entire Hall & Oats musical section has a cold black heart.  I fracking LOVE Hall & Oats!  Don’t judge me.  I was also pleasantly surprised to find that Joseph Gordon Levitt, who I had previously put in my Famous-People-With Irritating-Squinty-Faces category (see also:  Renee Zellweger and Josh Hartnett), has seemed to grow out of that.  He was a pretty adorable regular-guy leading man.  Granted the last time he even registered on my radar was in like 2001 when I was living in LA and got free tickets to see an episode of Third Rock From the Sun be filmed, so he probably deserved a break — I’m pretty sure that was probably his most awkward adolescent phase, and come on, that is a phase by which no one should be judged.
  • Speaking of awkward adolescent phases, I’ve been scanning a bunch of old pics lately and getting a real good laugh.  I may have to post a few here if you promise not to be too brutal. 

Did you have a nice weekend?

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