Friday, December 31, 2010

It’s time to say goodbye to 2010 and Welcome 2011

As the hours are beginning to wind down and a new year is about to begin, I cannot help but sit down with a cup of coffee and think about everything that has taken place over the course of the past twelve months.

This year has been filled with good times and bad. Far too many changes have chiseled their way through the precious timeline and made some of those days unbearable. But at the same time there is so much happiness that has come from this year that cannot go unaccounted for.

Moments where you feel you have lost everything, your family, your friends, your loved ones and have no idea how to pull yourself through the mess. And then there is a light at the end of the tunnel and you realize that there is a new day ahead where you can make a change, reinforce some positive action and implement an initiative in reclaiming what was once lost.

Miles have separated us but communication keeps us bound and if it weren’t for tender moments I honestly do not know where I would be this morning.

In a move to clear my mind, it turned out that it was truly a soul that needed nourishment. It needed time to heal itself and find strength. To build the inner empowerment that can only make us a better daughter, sister, lover, etc. A better human being.

I am thankful for this year and all of the opportunities (and lack thereof) for it was not only a learning experience but a time for personal growth.

Over the months within the year, there have been times of doubt and feeling unsure about who the woman I was and where that woman was heading into.

This morning, though it’s not earth shattering it is getting clearer on who I am becoming as an individual.

As a woman.

As someone who is equally as worthy of anything out there that brings joy and happiness.

Looking at life through a glass is never what we expect.

Things we may have wished for and fought for may seem distorted once we grab hold of them. The toughest acceptance is that we can get everything we ask for in the time we ask for it with a little twist.

The year that is coming into view is the start of a new day. A new time. It’s time to let go of everything that took place over the course of 2010 and see what exciting things are in store for the next year to come.

Anyways, out with the old. In with the New.

It’s NYE, everyone enjoy yourselves for a safe and fun night filled with festivities and celebrations!

Happy New Year!!!!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

“To infinity and beyond”

One of the finer things over the past couple of years has been being able to talk to my nephew on the telephone.

Half of the time he is growling like a monster attempting to be scary or trying to tell me in the language of Kaleb about his favorite man of the minute, his “Buzz.”

Because distance puts a strain on when we get together, my family which is extremely close knit, make a strong effort in making sure we all talk umpteen times a week. Plus, with the cutie, that he grows up and can actually put faces to the voices of his family.

Hello Skype, thank you for being free! Why has it taken this long to get organized and set up on this site? Last year I flew back to see everyone several times but this season it didn’t work out and so my sister and I both decided pretty much at the same time. Let’s get on with this thing and stop dragging our feet.

The first attempt was an epic failure. Both of our accounts were set up, the cameras were definitely activated as the tazmanian cutie was jumping in front and waiving back at me. All of this without sound. What happened?

Second attempt after it was determined that the microphone on my sister’s account was muted (She is a redhead but had a blonde moment!) the call itself, was a total success and brought massive tears through both of us.

Laughing and crying at the same time, Kaleb was shrieking and claiming much deserved attention showing off all of his gifts and then…

We had a dance off. On Skype. This is outrageous. An almost 30 year old woman and I am laughing and jumping around for all of a couple of minutes with my nephew who is 2,000+ miles away who was doing the same thing at the very same time. But within view of a very VERY small screen!

I loved those couple of minutes, my sister and brother in law in the background laughing at the craziness. I cannot even say thanks enough times to have had that moment because it was precious. Skype is getting a letter. Well, maybe an email because every once and awhile geeking out is okay for the sake of being thankful.

It was like being in the same room. I miss them and am taking hold of this minute to feel nostalgic.

If by any crazy happenstance where the US Consulate in Vancouver contacted me for a job I would move in a heartbeat. However until that happens it’s all about taking advantage of the snow, the sunshine and the generosity of the people in the area. And whatever else comes into view.

Hold your loved ones and give them a tight squeeze. Life is beautiful, and if you haven’t already signed up. GET ON SKYPE!!

For the hockey antics that took a break like the holidays: I hate to even mention this but my thoughts are with the Flames. It’s been a rough first part of the season and to lose the GM was a start at a necessary restructure, which has clearly only just begun and serious uproar is about to happen. Please keep the faith and stay strong as a team! And keep a certain #7 in Calgary and not send him off to NJ!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Scrumptious Wednesday

So I’ve decided that weekly, I am going to include some of my favorites things to make, bake and entertain with. Most of the recipes are either “diet” or low-cal friendly and tasty nonetheless.

For this week, it is going to be lamb. For almost a year I gave up meat to cleanse my body and figure out which foods (types of meat) worked and which made my body react vulgarly. Thankfully, lamb worked.

Here is a no-nonsense recipe that works perfectly with a single pan and baking sheet. It takes no time (35 minutes from start to finish!)and will make your home smell like you’ve become your own personal Sous Chef. Of course you can vary the ingredients to taste, I remove the salt. No personal pictures for this, I made it on Sunday and immediately dived into it. The pictures were a complete afterthought.

Rack of Lamb with Honey Mascarpone
3 (1-1/2 lbs) racks of lamb, trimmed w/ ¼ inch of fat left on meat
1/4c EVOO
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 TBSP Herbs de Provence
1/2c Crème Fraiche
3 TBSP Honey
¾ TBSP Ground cumin
2 TBSP Chopped fresh mint leaves
½c Mascarpone cheese at room temp.

For the lamb:
Place an oven rack in center of the oven. Preheat to 425 degrees.
Drizzle olive oil on both sides of lamb. Season with salt, pepper and herbs de Provence. Over the stovetop brown for 5 minutes on each side with a skillet or large pan. Place the lamb in a shallow roasting pan or baking sheet and roast for 25 minutes for a medium rare cut. Allow the lamb to rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

For the sauce:
In a small bowl combine: crème fraiche, honey, cumin and the mint. Add the mascarpone cheese and stir until just combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Cut the lamb between the bones into individual chops and serve with the sauce on the side.

Courtesy of The Food Network


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

CHALLENGE: Week 1 Playlist

Courtesy of Google Images

In order to get the junk in the trunk packing and stay motivated, here's some of the songs that will help out this week.

Warm Up:
Waiting for the End~Linkin Park
Notion~Kings of Leon

Cardio HIIT intervals:
Imma Be~Black Eyed Peas
Sweet Dreams Remix~Beyonce
Poker Face~Lady Gaga
We R Who We R~Ke$ha
Only Girl~Rihanna
All of the Lights~Kanye West ft Rihanna
Dog Days are Over~Florence + The Machine
Telephone Remix~Lady Gaga

Cool Down:
Chasing Pavements~Adele
Just Breathe~Pearl Jam

Monday, December 27, 2010

Sometimes all that matters is taking a minute to breathe

The Monday after Christmas last year, I was starting a new job in San Francisco. Harried that it had taken a couple of months to land and seriously thanking the grace of god for having saved a little safety net that kept everything afloat until that first paycheck.

Today, a year later it’s the Monday after Christmas and I had an interview in a place far away from the golden state.

Before I went to sleep last night, my mind couldn’t shut itself off and repeatedly I kept wishing that something positive would come job-wise soon. Having time off has been extremely beneficial especially for the fact that this is an entirely new environment, but it’s time to get back to work.

Fortunately before I left the bay area, I had saved up enough money so that I could afford to take a few months off but I am not the type of person that enjoys not being productive. From the first day of being in the new place, applications have been going out every single day.

Having the economy in an uproar is frankly getting old, and I know I am one of millions that are feeling the pain of being out of work. This is the strangest concept to me that I am still not working and yet am pretty much asking the universe to send something in this direction.

It’s ridiculous and I should stop complaining because honestly what is the point and there are people that have it worse. There is shelter over my head, food in my belly and have a support system on-call. Then again I did leave a very well paying job (corporate conglomerates are not in my future) and left on a whim, seriously. Was that the smartest decision? I’d still be working by now, unhappily, but working.

I don’t really want to think about the interview and how it went, I’m still more focused on getting through the remainder of the year and praying that January will hold better cards. According to my lovely horoscope, it appears there will be lots of prospects. Here’s hoping!

In all honesty, the only reason I’m complaining about not working is mainly that I miss having daily contact with people apart from the non-personal conversations you have with the people at a coffee shop, the grocer or those you pass while out on a walk.

Enough of feeling mopey because I’ve taken a much needed breather, vented enough that my own thoughts are sounding annoying and am letting it go for now.

Everything happens for a reason, every path we take leads into another filled with experiences and learning opportunities. Live your life with no regrets, stay the course of your own happiness and everything else will fall into place.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Getting Sexified: A 12 Week Challenge

With it being the end of December, there are only so many weeks left of being in my twenties and I am beginning to freak out. Not really as I don’t really think age is a big deal, but a small piece of me feels like I need to go out with a BANG.

So what better to do than devise a structured plan to knock off a few pounds that may have crept up during the holidays with all of those crazy cookies and get better feeling skin in the process. Urgh, I really should have been more generous in donating them!

This isn’t the biggest loser where it’s a do or die challenge. It’s a “Make it Work” challenge to cleansing the body, my soul and not turning to the bottle at the thought of turning the big 3-0. Sweet jesus.

Slim in Six, this is not the Olympics. Slim in 12….now we’re on to something.

Yesterday in between the phone calls (holiday cheer, new baby and engagement notices!!!) I put together a plan that I think is going to work out pretty good in toning up.
My Mission Statement:

I Morgan X, commit to starting this twelve week program on Monday, December 27, 2010 completing the twelve week segment on Monday, March 21, 2011. I believe that I can accept and complete my challenge to the best of my ability.

I commit to keeping my daily journals documenting the process of exercise and diet.
I will practice power mind principles to help me stay the course.
I will expect and adapt to adversity and embrace tough times as learning opportunities.
I will strive to take action and not to ruminate, BITCH, moan or whine.
I commit to pursuing progress, not perfection in my eating and training.
I will find joy to neutralize my stress and take mini breaks and strive to be a master regrouper.
I will be self-assertive and fight for the right to take care of myself.
I will acknowledge and reward myself for the achievements along the way.

By completing the challenge, I signify honor and respect for myself and affirm that I deserve health, happiness and joy.

With this challenge, it’s all about getting back to feeling great. Inside and out. Not that I’m overly outdone by any means, but it would be nice not having to worry about my lovely lady jigs (I feel like such a man in naming my love handles, er curves) in serious check for the upcoming warm weather. The wing action, not the case for this girl but whatever it is for anyone else, this is what it’s all about.

The plan is as follows:
Week 1,3,5,7:
Gym 4 x per week-cardio for 1hr, Strength training M, W, F
Saturdays: On reserve for outdoor hike or walk (snow or no snow, it’s about getting outdoors)

Week 2,4,6,8:
Bootcamp/Circuit training. Gym 4x per week, strength training T, Th. Sat., Core training.
Sunday: Off Day

Week 9-12:
Gym 4 x per week 1.5 hrs, strength training M, Th
Yoga/Pilates 3 x per week

It's been a tricky year and like a milk advert. It'll do your body good.For the next twelve weeks, I’m turning to fitness and good health for solace. Of course it will be longer than that but for the logging purposes, that’s what I’m giving up!

The overall goal is to reclaim the body sleeping underneath this sweater! To knock off the “whatever” poundage that may have packed on during this and that time.

Toning is good. Toning is sexy. Toning is….hard work.

The challenge is set, the gym is on and the measurements are taken. It’s about determination and positivity in the process to great health.

It’s time to kick ass and take names…in stilletos!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

One of the more precious Christmas blessings

Merry Christmas. Today has been a day from start to, well now!

Last month, my sister and I decided that we wouldn't exchange gifts this year but it was totally okay for the tazmanian cutie to get spoiled. Which of course, how can you not spoil your nephew?

By mid-morning, after enjoying a Christmas walk in the snow I got a phone call from everyone back home. With the monster in the background shoving jelly beans into his new tool box and my brother in law trying to figure out a nerf gun, I got the news from the source.

When my sister said we weren't exchanging gifts, she lied. BIG TIME.

They're expecting! The tazmanian cutie will be a big brother come August, and skype will officially be my best friend for the next 9 months.

What an amazing way to end a year for them. After a full year of going back to school to finish up his paramedic certification all while working double shifts on the rig, my brother in law, Mr. Safety extraordinaire will again be a proud papa. My sister, who has spent the entire year trying to keep the family in check and a full head of gorgeous red hair, soon to be a lovely mama of two!

An amazing and perfect way to cap off the day and year altogether. Congratulations to a family well deserving of beautiful bliss!

On top of this batch of news, I just got word that another friend and her husband have been directed down to the delivery ward and are getting ready to introduce their daughter into the world. Talk about Christmas Blessings indeed!

Courtesy of Google Images

Friday, December 24, 2010

A tasty treat for all of you...

A treasured recipe all dolled up for the season. Merry Christmas!

Almond Cake
1 Tube Almond Paste
1 Stick butter
½ c Sugar
3 eggs
1tsp Almond Extract
1/2c Sifted Flour

Ganache Top
1 pkg Dove Chocolate (dark or milk)
Dove spreads better than Hersheys though Godiva may work just as well
1/4c Whipping Cream
1Tbsp Butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In food processor, combine almond paste, butter and sugar. Mix until puffy. Add extract. Mix. Beat in 1 egg at a time. Once mixed together, slowly add flour. Phase the flour in. Grease an 8” pan, line with parchment paper on the bottom. Pour batter into pan, bake for 30-35 minutes.

Let cool.

For the top, melt the chocolate, whipping cream and butter in the microwave in 30 second intervals. Spread on top of cake.

This picture does nothing for the cake

A slice of heaven that tastes like almond


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Peaceful state of mind

Riverwalk 12/23/2010

If I had rhythm I'd sing this in lyric like Alicia Jay-Z.

I was walking along the river today after duking it out at the grocery stores, making sure all of the supplies for the festive dinner on Christmas was done. I was just starting to cross over one of the bridges when, for a few minutes I stood overlooking the water and couldn't help but just stop.

It was strange, almost like a deja vu moment where you know you've been there before but you honestly can't place it. That's what it felt like.

There's a little hub that sort of hugs the walkway and while I stood there, looking out at the frozen patches of ice floating down the stream, it got heavy emotions flaring about being thankful and appreciating life for how simple it can be.

It's a strange analogy. I know. Standing there looking like a bumbling idiot, breathing in the freezing temperatures, feeling like one of those silly kleenex commercials, but that's just what happened.

I don't know how long I stood there thinking about the little things that get your days up and going. What motivate you to keep pushing through those hurdles or obstacles that seem so detrimental one minute and laughable the next. Because at the end of the day, everything fades away and you made it so it doesn't really matter.

I guess for my few minutes of becoming a riverfront mime, it made me appreciate that life is precious and can be anything and everything that you make it. From the small things say like paying off a bill or the larger things like actually being able to hold someone close to you that you love.

Maybe I am uber sensitive with the holidays coming up, maybe not. Either way, that moment hit me like a trainwreck and I'll take it.

Batavia, IL?? I was lost!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Guilty pleasures, secret obsessions, and a trolley ride?

We’ve heard the sayings that times are rough. When times are rough, why does it seem natural to turn to your guilty pleasures for a little release?

In this case it’s shopping (mainly because Hoarders is free and soooo addicting and a certain man is unobtainable yet still sinful to the eyes).

A month ago I stumbled into a hip and funky boutique that has an owner to die for and has offerings that would feed any secret obsession. She’s brilliant with fashion and loves nothing more than to style her customers. Thank you.

The first time I stepped foot inside I walked out with the cutest fingerless gloves and an invite to a ladies night out.

The party was fun and opened the playing field for having conversations with people I’d never even think to have had them with and also got the excitement started in finally beginning to connect with new people.

A couple of weeks ago, the same owner (now friend) text me and invited me out for a trolley ride through town with a bunch of other ladies to get the holiday spirit going….with a start at the store. Uh oh.

Enter guilty pleasures and secret obsessions. The minute I walked into the shop several ladies were getting spruced and styled prior to hopping on the trolley (a glorified and very suburban party bus). It was basically like being with a bunch of girlfriends getting ready to go out. Gossip, drinks and dressing up. A complete riot.

I love this, where you can get the advice of people around you to openly and honestly tell you if you look frumpy, need a belt or simply tell you that a sweater is flat out not gonna work.

Today. A day later. Nursing a hangover from the Prosecco I headed back to the shop to snag up some sequined leggings that I put aside and give many thanks for the trolley ride that made it through the snowstorm, I got sucked into the style mode.

Is there such a thing as will power, yes I think there is but when you are surrounded by serious temptation and a group of people either supporting or encouraging you on a new look you are bound for trouble. But a wonderful addition to your wardrobe nonetheless.

So was anything learned from this or am I just rambling? Definitely rambling but learned this: make friends with an owner of a boutique. It’s one of the finer things to know someone who owns and designs their own clothing line. It’s also another thing to listen to the back burned voice that is screaming “Remember your budget” but at the same time remember to treat yourself when you feel you may need it.

Now on a serious note. Apart from the rare side of consumerism (because honestly on most days, you’d find me in leggings and an old sweater)you really never know how and when you meet people and how they can open you up to endless possibilities. Whether it involves guilty pleasures or not.

Outfit update: Sequined leggings (now not so secret obsession)
Full length black slip
Black lace sweater
Body tank
Courtesy of Google Images

Can we say trouble!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Around Town

A few words of encouragement can go for miles in reaching people you didn’t even know were listening.

Last night was the cookie exchange and it was nothing short of exciting, fun and completely heartwarming.

I set up an event through a social network, started threads for people in the area expressing my interest and excitement in all hopes of getting others involved. Mainly because I wanted to bake, but really it was to get others who loved to bake, to actually do it and see if we could all meet up. An impromptu meetup so to speak.

For an entire month, I dusted off the pom poms and started cheering people on to see how many I could get involved. This is what blows my mind.

Timout Chicago, a citywide paper/website that promotes events happening around the city heard my voice. They published my event in their newsletter and then also on their website!! I knew that the original network I organized the event through had published it as well, but to see an outside organization pay attention to this little event really hit me, and made me feel a huge ounce of pride.

Everyone came that had signed up, people from Timeout showed up not knowing anyone and we all started conversations and laughing over anything and everything. At the helm of a cookie.

This is what I love about people, it doesn’t matter who you are, what you do or where you come from. There is always something that will eventually bring us all together into this crazy melting pot that is life.

After a hugely successful exchange, I walked away with an appreciation for those who made it out and for myself.

It sounds selfish but it’s really not. Every single person who came, came up to me and kept telling me that they were so thankful that the event actually happened and we all were able to make it out.

Do I smell a future in PR, that's probably the aroma of the cookies so I am not counting on it. You never know how you affect someone, the smallest words of encouragement or even a glint of excitement can hit someone without you even knowing it.

I will say that going through last night made me realize that I like who I am as a person, that I went into the exchange not knowing anyone and walked away with future dinner partners, conversations with a food scientist and got the plans of two girls who (luck would have it) are getting married on the same day, in the same year!

What an incredible way to wrap up a year.

From my kitchen to yours, love what you do, show excitement and the world opens up to you!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Oh holy nightmare!

What a present to open after leaving the gym! Talk about Happy Friday to you, how in the world did that even happen? Totally speechless, but laughing....

“There'll be no next time.This is going to be like Bridges of Madison Ave,a very brief affair I'll write about in sappy letters to my grandchildren"

Yesterday morning with groggy eyes, crazy hair and a rumpled bed it hit me. Who is this woman and where did I go? The other night marked another round of dating, only this time it was date number 3 with the same guy. Nice guy, sexy guy. Very very dedicated to his job kind of guy. But still sexy.

Date 1:Good conversation, lots of laughs and positive feeling. We left with a swift kiss and a plan for the next few days to meet up.

Date 2:In between the dates, he text me. Not a phone call, text. Very brief and nothing illicit, just simple banter and I went with it. The date was nice and low-key, the guard was starting to drop down with him. Kisses and a bit more after leaving.

Date 3:There was a good lapse in between dates, he was crazy busy with work. We managed to talk a few times and the phone calls were brief. We met up at another bar and after a couple of drinks he drove me home (I’d taken the train in). Groggy eyes, crazy hair and a rumpled bed later… note, no guy no nothing.

And so we’re back to the beginning. Who is this woman? Just because this is a new place doesn’t mean we change who we are right? I honestly didn’t expect this from myself. It’s completely out of character. Nor did I expect it from the guy.

I double checked my house for a note or anything and then took to the cell phone which was equally as empty, and dialed. Straight to voicemail. Okay. I got ready, went out for the day and after hearing nothing decided what is there to lose and text him because it felt odd.

That awful saying: “he’s just not that into you” was definitely in the front of my mind. He responded almost immediately with a phone call and said that he left because he had an early meeting and that he was going to be busy for “a while.” He would text me whenever he was free. I was hesitant but the call left me thinking about shameless nights.

Natural instincts say don't judge because maybe he really is busy, but do I and call him a jerk this early in the game? Why does it have to be a game?

Am I allowed to doubt? Busy, rejection or being a complete girl,this was a total fling and I hate that. The ups and downs, and are the woes of dating.

If only there was an easy button that magically made a deep voiced, broad shouldered funny guy appear out of thin air! I’m here, where are you?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

C is for cookie, it's good enough for me; oh cookie cookie cookie starts with C~ Cookie Monster

Who doesn’t like to munch on a little sugary biddy that fills your stomach with glee and turns your kitchen into a workshop? So to pay tribute to the baked goodness and the holiday season, this weekend I am hosting a cookie exchange and absolutely cannot wait!

Typically, I’d be excited on a completely different level. The event was pieced together through a social network so I don’t know a soul that is going. But we’ve all been messaging back and forth and everyone is dead set on coming.

Apart from not knowing anyone, there could be quite a bunch of people that turn up (up to 40 + which is still not fully confirmed and I’m trying my hardest not be edgy about it) and of course the entertaining aspect is great. This week the exchange was even featured in a weekly newsletter! I was like a proud mama hen, watching over this little exchange that could.

There is a bar in the city that during the holidays is a hot spot for serving Glogg (mulled wine)which have been nice enough to let us takee reign. Utter geekness, getting excited about turning into domestic goddesses and lordships (no way am I calling the guys a God unless they bake an almond cake with a chocolate ganache glaze just for me!) to have gotten this thing off of the ground.

Hosting a party….yes please! There is a little sadness with it since this type of exchange is taking place at a bar. Not to say the least that I’m not super excited for the mulled wine and tons of people who will show up because I totally am….but….there are several people that have children and it would have been nice to have been able to include their munchkins and do something like a cookie decorating section just for them. Maybe next year.

So X marks the spot, and my kitchenaid is going to get used to its utmost powers starting tomorrow. For the cookies, because several people are seriously bringing their baking side out hardcore, I am going to be making three different types.

-Gingerbread Snowflake Sammies with Lemon Meringue filling (the ever faithful recipe!)
-Guy Fieri’s Crazy Oatmeal Cookies
-Rugelach or Baklava (I’m still torn)

I love the holidays for these reasons, memories, sharing and good company! And TONS of cookies!

Of course the cheering antics are back: Game Night at the Saddledome. Please keep this streak alive! Hardwork and determination pays off but keep it going! Go Flames Go!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Getting Beautified 101

Back in October I started taking part of a local volunteering project that makes and delivers meals to seniors. Part of the reasons that I chose living in the town that I am in is because of all of the amazing ways to give back to the community and those in need. There is a real “Lend a Helping Hand” feel to the area that is all encompassing and I was more than willing to get on the acts of kindness boat.

I ended up picking two people to cook meals for that month and had the best time. Entertaining is wonderful, but at the same time being able to cook and spread some joy into someone else’s life through a warm and home cooked meal is equally as rewarding.

Last night, I received a phone call from one of the people I had cooked for. We had talked a little bit after I delivered the meal and I checked in on her for Thanksgiving to see how she was doing. Yesterday, she was feeling down.

For the holidays she had wanted to get her hair treated with a permanent perm. She called me and asked if there was any way I would be able to find a place for her and drive her to get “beautified.” Tis the season to be there for those in need. And whatever that need may be, you can count on me!

We chatted for several minutes and I immediately started thinking about where I could take her. Lucking out on a stylist is not going to fly for this lady. She’s an elderly woman, has particular wants and desires for her hair. All that matters is that she gets her hair permed out with a cost that is relatively affordable.

Challenges are the best! The need to find a salon close by that does affordable perms by the end of the weekend is on. This penny saver is going to get the job done, bring back a smile and mark off another good deed for the day.

Here's the real question, what are your favorite ways of helping people out? Or in what ways do you like to be helped out in? Physically, emotionally, do you like it?

Click here to find volunteering opportunities through out the United States

Click here to find volunteering opportunities through out Canada

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

C is for "Superior"

Enough of the negative nancy’s for today! For the first time in over a month, the facebook account actually got logged into (blackberry app, you are the devil) and updates on my nephew, a 2 year old tazmanian cutie finally got checked! Last weekend, my sister and her family had traveled out to see a tree lighting ceremony in a small German-inspired town back home with some of their friends and their little ones. In the wake of the trip, her husband and their good friend decided to body sled down a snow covered hillside.

Only they would do this and actually get a rise out of the people surrounding the hillside sledding. Not body sledding, just sledding. My brother in law. The firefighter and Mr. Safety, who working the C shift, clearly takes “Superior” to an ultimate level as he made it down the hill first!

Do you ever remember doing stupid things when you were younger (or yesterday) that you turn your head away and hold your laugh in? Or do you accept the fact that you’ve become a nerd for a minute and laugh!

I can’t even answer this question without falling into giggles. Since on the topic of sledding, growing up (we, meaning me and my sister) used laundry hampers to sled down the stairways which slammed right into the front door unbeknownst to our parents, or so we thought. Very un-ladylike, but bruise friendly shenanigans.

What a way to start a day. Body sledding. Newest addition to the next winter Olympics!

"It's not's me"

The wild card statement that is gut wrenching and makes you doubt and question everything. Last night, a friend called in absolute tears over an explosive breakup with her boyfriend.

They had been going together for a couple of years and were planning for all of their tomorrows. Until he met another person he fell hard for. In a state of distress, everything under the sun came up into our conversation.

How do you comfort a friend who is blaming herself for every "personal flaw' she believes caused the break up, the guilt of being a young single mother starting out their relationship. So I sat on my couch, both of us sipping the teas we made in between sobs and I tried to be as supportive as possible.

Trying to convince someone that they are an amazing individual capable of conquering the world and raising a beautiful baby girl is difficult when they are completely blindsided like this. She was having an incredible internal debate and by the end of part of the call, she started to feel better but underneath it all you could still hear her hesitation. That's when she dropped the bomb.

"It's because I'm fat." I could not even believe my ears, this girl, who is gorgeous is NOT fat, as if that even matters. When she had her baby, back in the time of personal training days, took to a consistent routine we worked out and we got her down to a svelte size that kept her feeling sexy and healthy as a newbie mother.

How is it, that during a time of massive emotional crisis, do we turn to our biggest or lowest self-esteem mode and rip it apart? We are given one body in this lifetime, why are we going to bash it to the ground because one person has decided the fit isn't perfect.

No, it's not because you're fat, it's because of the circumstances, the personalities, the differences and the similarities. Society has crafted us to believe that we should look a certain way, and if we don't then that's why we have failed relationships, addictions, instabilities, etc. I'm not sold on this, yes society has crafted a chain of thoughts and misguided ideas, but YOU crafted YOU.

Funny thing is, our boyfriends, husbands, partners and what not probably enjoy the thing that bothers you most. So if you're feeling that your lovely lady jigs (aka the love handles) are jabbing out too far, your man may take hold and steer you closer to his side by them. Because that's what he loves.

Who has the answers to any of this. My poor friend, she is battling something that only time will allow her to heal. Be true to you, all of you and stay positive. Every day is a blessing and if you're in need of a moment. Take it, but remember a few things to be grateful for. Maybe this is the universe opening up and telling her this relationship just wasn't meant to be? Maybe there is something bigger and better around the corner. It stinks and it hurts but all you can do is breathe and keep moving forward.

Always, here for you!

Monday, December 13, 2010


Pardon the curse. It’s that time of year to either find the motivation to get into the gym or avoid it like the plague. It’s freezing outside so rather than packing on an additional winter “jacket” the gym has become a morning tribute. But in reality, cuddling up in a warm bed sounds way better.

At the gym and getting the fitness on, I was on an elliptical, getting ready to step up the intensity, when a lady smiled at me in the mirrors. Strange, but okay?

Zoning out in the middle of a workout always happens but her smile got to me and I forgot all about the song I was on or how my breathing was. After finishing up the cardio session and was getting ready to walk away, that same lady smiled again at me and said something that brought heat to the cheeks in 0.9 seconds.

I was singing along with the iPod. I stared at her, but immediately started to laugh because she told me that I looked concentrated in the workout but she could tell I had hit a good song or I was listening to something funny because I’d start to mumble along with whatever was playing in the headphones. This is lovely, so now I can add entertaining people around me with sweat pouring off of the body to the list of things to avoid.

So this got me thinking, do you walk away from the startling realization that you sing while working out feeling completely embarrassed. I mean, the gym is not an arena filled with screaming American Idol fans or even the shower. Off an octave or not, you’re not alone.

Totally outrageous, but I’m embracing it. I don’t care. That song was good and got me through the workout, calories are burning and that’s what matters. I’ll definitely be paying attention to my actions tomorrow at the gym but for today, “I’m holding on to what I haven’t got!!”

For the Cheering antics: Its game night. I keep the faith for Calgary, but of course am mainly watching a certain defenseman work the ice (hopefully longer than 9 minutes tonight) so it doesn’t matter. Good Luck!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

R-E-D-H-O-T what do we got!

I guess a tiny explanation is due for this newfound fascination with hockey. When I moved to the greater mid-west I honestly had no clue the effect sports had on its people. It’s insane and everyone has a team they cheer for to the death. Within the city I grew up in, there is no such thing as serious antics, unless you go to specific universities. But really, it’s NOWHERE near the same.

The first week here football season kicked off and I wound up at a sandwich shop for lunch, it could have been transformed into a sports bar and nobody would have known. Flat screens everywhere, people not leaving their seats and the staff’s attention focused on the screens. Mind the timeout. Are you kidding me, at a sub shop?

After that first week, I had an interesting conversation with a guy while out getting coffee who gave me the lowdown on the hyped up behavior of the sport fiends. I was told that I had not experienced anything if I had not:

A. Been to a live hockey match
B. Watched a Bears or Hawks game at a bar
C. Watched a Bears game at Soldier Field in the freezing cold (no thanks!)

So we swapped numbers, good girl! First Date in Chicago and it’s over a pre-season hockey matchup of the Blackhawks, not quite what I was expecting but it worked. Was this guy a sports fanatic, um..YES. Was this a match made in heaven, NO..but he was really fun, the conversation was casual and he taught me a lot about the sport (in between his raging at a tv screen.) Needless to say, since that day I’ve started to follow some hockey teams and can now see why people are such die hards. It’s safe to say I probably won’t ever be one. But I understand. Sort of.

Apart from the highly sport influenced evening out; that night sparked something inside of me that I had been keeping at bay because I was constantly “on the move” so to speak. Dating. It has been a rough couple of years with coming and going from different places or flat out becoming a bona fide serial dater (not even going to mention Leo night.) However, I must say that the hiatus was much appreciated but it’s time to get back into the wardrobe, start trying on some new clothes and get swanky in a lovely dress that hugs those curves nicely (ladies you know what I mean by that.)

And so it begins again, the adventures in dating that has to start somewhere. And for this leg of the journey, it just so happened to begin at a sports bar. But who says it can’t end up at the Riviera.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Fireplace frenzy

I am bound and determined to figure this ridiculous fireplace out. I am a very simple person, but after living in cramped apartments for as long as I have, when finding the right place to live; I was going to be specific in certain wants. For example: Washer/Dryer, Fireplace and Hardwood flooring.

Two out of three, is not too shabby. For once, I don’t have to worry about getting up at 5:30am just to get a spot in the washing line. Forget drying anything in any of the old places, a shower rod became the main method and a girl’s best friend.

Fireplaces…where do I even begin. I’ve lived in one apartment that ever had one and after a massively failed attempt in starting a fire, (it was ended by the Fire Department making a home visit because apparently those “starts” that I was doing was creating an incredible smoke effect on the people living above…whoops) all other apartments have been heating board friendly.

Not the best experience, but I’m going to MacGyver my way through getting the fireplace functional. There wasn’t a key, my landlord has no clue some neighbors gave me a little hint so it was off to the hardware store. It is times like being inside of a hardware store that I feel the real effects of intimidation and having a rambling tongue. I hate this generalization but it’s there.

I have NO idea what type of a fireplace this thing is, how to even start it. It’s gas which is terrifying to me. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind not having to dump the excess of burnt logs but what if I can’t get the fireplace turned off properly and leave a switch on releasing gas. And poof, the alarm goes off and we have another date with the local Fire Department. This would be so typical, and is my exact fear.

So we have a dilemma and I’ll try to coach my way through it until it works. With the number for the Fire Department on hand!

On a side note, the cookies are a hit. A hit with my taste buds! They were easy to make and look almost exactly like the photo from the recipe. The cookie exchange is set, thank goodness. So here we are on a Saturday and I am excited to say I have a date. A date with Leonardo DiCaprio…and hopefully not the local FD. And since its date night with Leo, why not take it up a notch with a lovely French culinary delight.

The menu game plan:
Starter: Fondue au Gruyere Canapes and leafy salad
Main: Filets de Poisson Bercy aux Champignons
(Fish filets poached in white wine w/mushrooms)
Dessert: Mulled wine and a Chocolate Pistachio Cookie

Sons délectables!

Friday, December 10, 2010

....and so it snowed

This weather, the cold and snow. I am loving it while others are cursing it. Coming from a maritime area the closest you can get to snow is a drive away. And if you’re lucky every couple of years an actual snowstorm might sweep through off of the coast but it’s hardly dramatic. It has snowed twice now over the past two weeks, fresh blankets covering the parks and reserves. It’s truly beautiful and makes you appreciate how simple things look when dusted over.

Today has been rather unproductive, I am hosting a cookie exchange next weekend and am pleasantly surprised that several people are equally excited about getting into the kitchen and baking something delicious. Since today appears to be a day to be lazy, despite the fact that the gym was number one on the list of things to do, baking now takes rank. What to bake. Last year I baked so much, you would think the smell of cookies would be off-putting but it is not. Here’s the contenders:

Gingerbread Snowflake Sandwich Cookies-Lemon Merengue filling
(recipe courtesy of Martha Stewart)
Chocolate or Hazelnut Macarons
(recipe courtesy of a patisserie I went to)
Savannah Bow Ties
(recipe courtesy of Paula Deen)
Chocolate Pistachio Cookies (recipe courtesy of Martha Stewart)

The pistachio cookies just may be the ones, but I have to do a test run on how the preparation and bake time is. And so I’m off. Ready. Set. Bake.

Note to Martha Stewart and Co.: I now fully understand why some of your recipes do not state the length of time it takes to completing. Thanksgiving day: Time spent on dinner-1 hour. Time spent on Hazelnut PralineTorte-6 hours. Picturesque and amazingly delicious but draining to make.

On a completely different note. Sorry for the loss boys, last night just wasn’t your night and the defense was raided. Speed it up tonight! As always, GO FLAMES GO!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The wrath of the ugly sweater

Last week I got invited to take part of the cotton clad festivities that is an Ugly Sweater Party and was more than willing to get on that tacky boat. Because I don’t have a job yet, meeting people is a little difficult without that familiar foundation, had it not been for certain social networks I really would be a hermit in my home, but thankfully I’m not and have been lucky to get these invites. In all honesty though, I am missing my close friends at times like this. Social networking is great but core friendships are rare and these cross country phone calls are killing the phone plan. I need to get on the friend train…asap.

Now, I am nowhere near feeling like I need to cry myself into a dark corner and listen to sad songs for moving so far away from those I am close to. It was a decision and I stand by it, now is the time to support that decision. But for heaven sake, when you have to find an ugly sweater and are sifting through the racks at Goodwill looking blindly. You need a friend.

So I called my sister, who is the closest of everyone and walked through the store extremely grateful for the power of cell phone technology and good service. Desperate in trying to find the perfect sweater, rack for rack I was explaining what I was seeing and could hear her husband in the background saying NO to everything. Until I was directed to the Men’s section.

Goldmine…crisis averted. I found one that would make my grandmother proud. It is tack with a capital T, red (perfect for the holidays) with embroidered flowers, a built in polo neck and an oil stain. After getting the determining factor, Houston…we are good to go! As per our phone call, after laughing as much as we did, she and her husband have unanimously decided to create the ultimate holiday cards for next year. “Ugly Christmas with the____’s!” You’re welcome.

Jump to tonight, I set off for the party. I really did, and then the skies decided to close up with a snow cloud and dump down inches of snow. Normally I am comfortable with driving in such conditions, when I know my surroundings, have chains on the wheels or the roads have been cleared. This was not the case, and at the third time my tires spun I turned around and headed back. This turned out to be a smart decision as there was a couple of inches awaiting the arrival. Unfortunately the ugly sweater goes unused for this evening.

Home now and nestled in comfy clothes with the heat turned up too high and a dark fireplace remaining unburned which is a story in itself and another day. It’s game night and in between these sentences I get to watch a certain defenseman get to work after a serious hiatus due to injury. Good luck #7, crush the Kings but mind the shoulder. GO FLAMES GO!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Winter Wonderland....minus the wonder!

So a little about me before all of this gets started. I am 29 years old and finally on the verge of getting comfortable and finding some permanency in this crazy thing I call my life. I tend to be a magnet for strange happenings that really aren't a big deal but to a certain friend they are, so at her request I'm writing about them since I'm in a new place I can't share these things with just anyone.

I went to college out of state to study Cinema and fell in love with the city I was in, but after I graduated I got hit with a major dose of reality and decided to stay near my family rather than move to the host state as originally planned. California is a mighty expensive place to live, and San Francisco as much as I love you, I cannot afford thee. Five years later, I was still living near my family, working like the rest of corporate america and feeling like I was going to go bald or go home from the stress. I was in need of a change. Badly.

Two jobs later, stress levels off the charts and money saved in the bank I was able to save up enough money to rent a truck and make the move back to San Francisco. No job, a seedy apartment...and no job. Not the wisest of decisions but that pull to leave the city I was in, and the horrible sounds of firetrucks running along the streets every fifteen minutes gets old pretty fast.

San Francisco or bust, we'll lean towards bust but that's okay. I love that city, I love the people and the land. What I don't love and what is so sad, the Bay Area has been hit with an epidemic. Please beware if you are considering moving. Ouch, it will take you awhile to get something for work. So here comes the soul searching time. The real itch to move yet again. Can I do it? Where do I go? Am I ready to settle down someplace and make this a permanent place to live? I mean this is not rocket science, it's not like I am married and have children but it feels like a serious relationship...

My boyfriend...the moving process.

Ten months into foggy San Francisco I decided I was unhappy, needed friends and mostly needed stability. I researched like crazy this time on good places to live, lifestyles, community and settled on Illinois. Never visited the state before, knowing absolutely nobody as all of my family live thousands of miles away. Why here? Why not, the city is amazing, the people are friendly and three months in I feel like I am getting comfy and cozy somewhat. Minus the job...but we're getting close to something so I'm keeping my fingers crossed with a prospect.

Anyways, that's me. My life is just like anyone else's, spending days drinking copious amounts of coffee reading the paper or clearing my blackberry, a glorious death kill for an alarm clock and spending way too much time in my kitchen with the sounds of hockey filling the front room. Which I forgot started an hour early because of the time difference so it's time for another distraction.

PS....I am still getting emails from jobs I applied for in SF from a year ago. Smart move!