Sunday, May 24, 2009

Happy Memorial Day!

Hello good fine people of the world wide web... how is your Memorial Day going? Mine started off crazy busy, and has slowly segued into nice and relaxing... everything a Memorial Day weekend should be! And the weather is G-O-R-G-E-O-U-S. Warm, sunny, clear skies... perfect Memorial Day weekend weather!

Well, we got our new carpet installed on Friday, and let me tell you, it was an ORDEAL. We had to essentially pack up our entire apartment and move everything either onto the balcony or our bathrooms. It was not easy, and it was not fun. I slept very little on Thursday and Friday night, because I was so busy frantically packing and unpacking my entire room and all of my stuff in the other rooms in the apartment. The carpeting guys were kind of jerks and seemed agitated that we had not moved everything out of the way before they got there, but there was just some stuff that we could not physically lift ourselves, and they copped a bit of an attitude about that. Most guys would be honored to help two fine ladies move furniture and heavy boxes, but not these guys. It took a lot longer than we expected- they didn't leave until about 2:30- and the rest of Friday and Saturday was devoted to piecing our apartment back together, unpacking everything, multiple trips to storage and trash bins, etc. On a really hot day at that. It wasn't fun!!! I was more than happy for it to be over! And I will say this- it is a very nice carpet. It's very soft and comfy! I don't know if it was quite worth all the hassle my poor roommate and I had to go through, but it is nice.

We took advantage of the fact that all of our stuff was in disarray and rearranged the apartment a little- we moved furniture around to make the apartment look more spacious, and we set up a "Reading Corner"! We took an armchair and angled it at a corner of our apartment, and it's right next to all of our bookcases, but still in view of the TV. It's not finished yet because we haven't organized our books yet- my roommate and I are both out of shelf space, and need new bookshelves- but once we have it all set up and organized, I'll post a pic! Needless to say, I am very excited for Reading Corner. :-D

I also cleaned out and reorganized my room, threw away a ton of old stuff that I'd been hanging onto for years, organized stuff like photos and cards, etc. My room looks amazing! I can't remember the last time I had such a clean and well-organized bedroom. Want to take bets on how long it lasts? ;-) Nah, kidding. I'm really going to try to keep it this way.

While I was going through a bunch of old stuff, I came across a birthday card that my dad had given me about five years ago. It's beautiful. It's black and white with a flower on it (not sure what kind- an orchid maybe? I'm florally deficient), and on the front it says, "Savor each day for the gift that it is." I read it and immediately started to cry. It made me thank God that I'm a pack rat who holds on to everything. And in light of everything that's happened this year, that sentence couldn't be more true.

I had my room all finished up by Saturday night, and I've spent the rest of the weekend thoroughly exhausted!!! I did manage to make it to the gym today- first time since Wednesday, and I'm glad I went, I was itching to get there!- but my legs were definitely sore after my workout, and the rest of the afternoon consisted of sitting on the couch and watching the Phillies beat the Yankees (in a nail-biter game.... they won by one run in extra innings!!!). It felt so glorious just to park my ass on the couch and be completely lazy. :-) Okay, not completely lazy... I did do laundry and change the cat's litter. But it took effort!!!! I had no idea how physically exhausting and mentally taxing the whole carpet ordeal would be. It was basically like moving, only I didn't go anywhere- I moved into the same damn apartment! I hadn't thought there would be so much involved, honestly. I definitely underestimated the work that would need to go into this- the apartment complex had given us a checklist of things to do before the carpeting company got there, but it was extremely vague, like "clear off bookshelves", "unplug stuff from walls", etc. Nowhere did it say, "Put everything you own into boxes and move them into bathrooms or the balcony." It did say we had to get our stuff off the floor, but where are you supposed to put an entire apartments' worth of boxes if you cannot use your floor? Should I have waved my magic wand and had all the boxes suspended in the air, a la Harry Potter? Seriously! I'm either seriously lazy or a serious baby, because I feel like at this point, I should be recovered from it all by now. What's wrong with me??? :-D

I've really gotten into The Feminine Mystique, as much as I could this weekend, anyway. Last night I climbed into bed with every full intention of reading, opened my book, and realized that I was too mentally and physically exhausted to concentrate on processing words. :-D Oh. My. God. This book is SOOOO good! I'm still a little too worn out to get into the details right now, so look for a more thorough and competent review tomorrow. Right now, I'm still feeling tuckered out from the weekend, and am just ready to park my booty in bed! ;-D

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Crazy busy week= slacker blog

Hello, friends! Just wanted to let you know that posting will be even MORE sporadic than usual, because it's a bust week at work, and I'm in the midst of organizing/clearing stuff off shelves and floors to get ready for our carpet installation on Friday. But here's a quick update on my week so far:

*I finished up A Deadly Game, which was really good. I started a new book, The Feminine Mystique. So far, it's flipping awesome. This should be required reading for all women. More details to follow. Here's the book:

 DSCI1398 I got this baby for thirty-three cents at a paperback book sale... BOO-YA!!!   :-D

*I'm working hard at maintaining a positive attitude/looking on the bright side of life, and I think it's really working- I'm feeling much better these days, about work and life in general!   :-)

*I found a piece of glass in my applesauce today!!!! NOT cool.

*I'm still eating awesome sweet potato combos. I do have pics, but it's all stuff you've seen before. Use your imagination! Like tonight's will be a Gardenburger Savory Portabella Mushroom veggie burger, organic ketchup, broccoli, and the main star, the sweet potato. Ya'll know what this looks like! This isn't even a new one. Busy week= less time to get creative. Don't worry... I'm not running out of ideas!  ;-)

*We're having BEAUTIFUL weather here in PA! Finally!!!!! I can't believe it's Memorial Day weekend already... believe me, I'm not complaining at all! Summer is my absolute most favorite time of year. What's yours?

I hope you're all having a great week! I'll try to post before Friday, but no promises!   :-)

Sunday, May 17, 2009

18 books for 18 bucks

Can't get THAT at a bookstore or amazon, now can you?   :-P

I went to an awesome book sale today at a nearby library. And, in case you missed my post title, I got 18 books for $18!!!  All books- hardcover, paperbacks, whatever- were $1 each. How sweet is that??? Everything I got is in fairly decent condition, but for a buck a book, I can only expect so much.  :-D

I KNOW you want to know what I got, and you KNOW I'm gonna tell you!!!  :-)    I ended up with eleven hardbacks and seven paperbacks (I'm including an amazon link for each book, so you can get a better plot synopsis of each book- I wouldn't be able to do the same justice, lol!):



*Brightness Falls, by Jay McInerney: A fiction novel about a very successful married couple living in Manhattan in the 1980s (I love anything and everything 1980s-related), and how the 1987 stock market crash turns their lives and their marriage upside down.

*The Chocolate Lovers Club, by Carole Matthews: A fiction novel about a group of four girlfriends who bond over life, love, and chocolate. Think Sex and the City with a lot more calories.  ;-D

*Never Too Thin: Why Women are at War With Their Bodies, by Roberta Pollack Seid: I think it's pretty self-explanatory what this one's about!

*Heat: An Amateur's Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany, by Bill Buford: An autobiography/memoir of a man's rise to the culinary top while working for Mario Batali.

*You're Wearing That? Understanding Mothers and Daughters in Conversation, by Deborah Tannen: A sociology book about how to improve communication and the relationship between mothers and daughters. Not that I expect to really do this anytime soon, but it can't hurt to be informed. Plus, I LOVE Deborah Tannen. I think she's an excellent observer of interpersonal communication and a fantastic writer. I love her books. She uses lots of real-life examples, which I always love to read about.

*Echoes in the Darkness, by Joseph Wambaugh: A true-crime book about a murder that actually took place in my area in the late 1970s of a woman and her two children, and it's recently been in the news again because the accused killer (who was convicted but later released due to a legal or trial technicality, I'm not really sure of the details, but I know he was released), recently died of old age. This happened before I was born, but I vaguely remember hearing about it in the news here and there, and it was a Lifetime movie in the '80s.

*Not Much Just Chillin: The Hidden Lives of Middle Schoolers, by Linda Perlstein: A sociological look into the behavior and psyche of middle schoolers. The author spends a year with a group of middle school students in suburban Baltimore and observes their mannerisms, attitudes, thoughts, feelings, etc. I love all things sociological, so this interested me. Although I don't think anyone will EVER be able to understand ANY middle school... God, middle school was ROUGH! :-D

*Wolves in Chic Clothing, by Carrie Karasyov and Jill Kargman: A typical NYC chick-lit book about a jewelry store assistant who is befriended by a gaggle of rich Upper East Side socialistas, and she gets all caught up in their world and their lifestyle, and then a misunderstanding causes them to drop her like a hot potato. I've been watching a lot of Real Housewives of New York City lately, and it reminded me of that!  :-)

*Asking for Love, by Roxana Robinson: A collection of short stories about the lives of East Coast WASPs. Most of them are focused on family dynamics, from marriages to divorce to blended families and adolescence. I have another book by this author, This is My Daughter, and I liked it a lot, so I figured I'd give this a go.

*Rise and Shine, by Anna Quindlen: A fiction novel about two sisters trying to mend fences after one sister inadvertently wrongs the other.

*Are You There, Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea, by Chelsea Handler: Chelsea's autobiography. I love Chelsea Handler, so I figured, for $1, why not?   ;-P



*Luncheon of the Boating Party, by Susan Vreeland: A historical fiction novel about the people who are captured in the infamous Renoir painting.

*Summer of '49, by David Halberstam: A nonfiction chronicle of the Yankees (particularly Joe DiMaggio) and the Red Sox (focusing on Ted Williams) in the summer of 1949. I'm guessing that was a big year for those two.  :-)

*Paris to the Moon, by Adam Gopnik: A memoir/autobiography about a writer from The New Yorker who moves to Paris for a year with his wife and infant son, and chronicles his experiences as life as an American in Paris.

*Among Schoolchildren, by Tracy Kidder: Similar to the middle school book by Linda Perlstein, the author spends a year observing a fourth grade classroom in Holyoke, Massachusetts.

*Thinking of You, by Jill Mansell: An Irish chick-lit author that is new to me! This is a book about how a woman's daughter going off to college (or as they say abroad, "university"), and how she copes with Empty Nest Syndrome (oh, and she happens to be single, so insert complicated love triangle here).

*Last Chance Saloon, by Marian Keyes: A novel about three friends in their twenties in Dublin. Marian Keyes is one of my faves- this is actually the first book of hers I've ever read, but I didn't have my own copy. And now I do!  :-)

*We'll Always Have Paris: Sex and Love in the City of Light, by John Baxter: Memoir/autobiography of a man who falls in love with a French woman in the early 1990s, marries her, and moves to Paris to begin a new life with her, and the story is about his acclimation to Paris, focusing on some particularly, um, interesting historical facts and themes, as the subtitle of the book suggests. Apparently the book gets a little tawdry here and there. I hope my innocent eyes can handle it.  :-D   Apparently I was on some sort of Parisian kick subconsciously yesterday! I'd love to visit Paris at one point in my life. And I wouldn't mind learning more about French culture in general. I've always thought French was such a pretty language. I've taken a little bit here and there in middle school and college, but I barely remember a word of it.


So yeah... I think I done good yesterday!!!   :-)   How are your weekends going? I had a crazy-busy day yesterday- besides the book sale, I ran a bunch of errands, hit up the gym, washed and changed my bedsheets, watched American Dreams on Netflix, etc. I was like Wonder Woman yesterday!  I have some stuff I need to get done today too- we're getting new carpeting in our apartment on Friday, so we need to have all of our books cleared off shelves, all knickknacks, DVDs, anything on a shelf, needs to be removed. The carpeting company with move the furniture for us, we just have to empty the shelves. Suffice it to say, my roommate and I have a LOT of books. To the point where we no longer have shelf room, and I have taken to stacking them along the wall (although I do want to get a new bookcase and plan on looking for one soon). While it's exciting and fun to get a new carpet (it's a totally different color and everything), it's going to be such a pain in the ass to pack all that stuff up, and then put everything back! Ugh! My roommate and I both took Friday off, and we have off Monday b/c of Memorial Day, so at least we have a four-day weekend to get everything back in order. Plus, this gives me a good excuse to get my spring cleaning on! But I want to get a good start on it today so I won't be stressing out about it all week.

But first I need to share my latest potato combo off, because I'm proud of it, and it brought me immense joy and happiness last night for dinner:

DSCI1393 There was just so much love going on on this plate: grilled chicken, reduced-fat melted Provolone cheese, chopped spinach, sweet potato, oregano, Italian seasoning, pepper, crushed red pepper, organic ketchup on the side. Yum!  :-) Can you believe that's only three chicken breast tenderloins (which is the serving size, per the nutrition facts on Trader Joe's Frozen Chicken Breast tenderloins, which is what I buy)??? I shredded it to put it on the top, but still- it was LOT of chicken!!!! I enjoyed every bite. I love that these potato concoctions always look like they should be, like, a million calories, because they look so massive, but they're really not... this whole thing comes out to 300 calories! (Okay, 315 with the ketchup, but really!)   More importantly, it was absolutely delicious and healthy and satisfying.

Speaking of food, I'm off to make myself lunch and watch the ball game... GO PHILS!!!! Have a great rest of your weekend!  :-)

Thursday, May 14, 2009


I have no excuse for not blogging other than the fact that I have been a massive ball of stress all week. All due to work. And I was already dwelling on it so much (TOO much) in real life, I didn't want to dwell on it on my blog too and feel even worse, and bring y'all down with me. While the situation itself is not improving, I've decided simply to rise above it and try to keep a positive attitude. One of my biggest flaws (one of many, LOL!!!) is that I am a very hypersensitive person (I have been since I was a child- even in elementary school, teachers would tell my parents I seemed a lot more sensitive than other kids- neither of my parents are like that, so I don't know where I got it from!), and I definitely tend to overreact and overstress and make something out of nothing. It's something that I definitely don't like about myself and desperately want to change, but WANTING to change it and ACTUALLY changing it are two very different things! I'm really trying to work on it though, in small little easy steps- yoga, writing, deep breathing, trying to think positively, etc. I'm more than open to any suggestions and advice!!!

Let's move on to more positive things about the week. I'm digging the Scott Peterson investigation book that I'm reading right now. It's extremely detailed! I followed this case pretty closely when it was big in the news, and there's lots of info in there that not even I knew about. If you like well-written true crime, this one's for you. I'm about halfway through it right now, so I'll keep you posted (no pun intended!)

Yesterday was my sister's 17th birthday. I can't believe she's 17 already!!! It seems like she was just a teeny tiny baby (and, might I add, a tad bratty- sorry, Nicole, but you were, and you know it!!! ;-P) and now here she is, about to end her junior year of high school. It seems like she grew up so fast! Or maybe it just feels that way to me- since we're eleven years apart, I left for college when she was only seven years old. So she did most of her growing up when I was entering adulthood, and since my mother and I have never been close, I stayed away as much as possible. Unfortunately, in doing that, I didn't get to be as much a part of my sister's life as I would have liked to have been. I'm glad that we're making up for that now. Once she's out of the house herself, and after college (college!!!!), hopefully we'll live near each other and I'll get to see her a lot. I've really grown to value and appreciate and treasure her over the years. Of course, her outgoing her brattiness definitely helped. :-D She had a great birthday- her friends decorated her locker (something that I never got to have, since I have a June birthday- although I'd rather have the day off!), and she had some Cake Batter ice cream at Coldstone Creamery, and she told me it was worth every calorie. :-) I can't wait to see her in a few weeks! Our favorite book sale is in just two weeks, so I'll be seeing her for that. This is seriously our Christmas morning. We LOVE this book sale!!! :-D

My roommate and I are hitting a pretty good used book sale at a local library this weekend. I'm excited- after the week I had, I feel that I deserve to treat myself to some cheap, gently worn and used books!!! I went to this sale once before, and I remember that it was pretty good, so I'm optimistic. I'll let you know what I got! ;-D

In tater news, I managed to come up with a new one for dinner tonight:

DSCI1389 I hereby dub thee Pizza Burger Potato: sweet potato, reduced-fat Provolone, chopped spinach, oregano, crushed red pepper, crumbled Boca Tomato Bruschetta veggie burger with organic ketchup (which I didn't really need b/c there was so much flava-flav going on in the potato). Crazy good.

I hope you're all having a wonderful week. Friday will be here before we know it! I've been trying to catch up on blogs like crazy, but I've fallen way behind, so I hope to catch up on your lives either tonight or tomorrow! Right now, my bed and my journal and my book look awfully tempting... I got to bed later than usual (stress + anxiety= difficulty sleeping), so I'm hoping to sleep like a baby tonight!


Monday, May 11, 2009

Race for the Cure

We couldn't have asked for better weather for the Race for the Cure yesterday.

DSCI1378 DSCI1376 DSCI1379 DSCI1380 The turnout for the race was amazingly overwhelming, as usual. I got a bit choked up and emotional a few times- like when I saw survivors, and women currently going through the disease who'd lost their hair to chemo, and all the names and pictures and faces of those who lost their lives... one girl couldn't have been more than seven or eight years old, and she had a sign on the back of her shirt that read she was walking in memory of her mother. That one hit me the hardest, I think. Seeing those names and those faces are what brings me back to the race every year and what will keep me going every year until WE FIND A CURE. It's too late for so many women, but we can keep looking and keep fighting and NEVER give up hope that one day, we will find a cure.

I hope you all had great weekends and a wonderful Mother's Day, no matter how you spent it. This is something that I have never mentioned on my blog, but I want to be honest with anyone who reads this. I don't know if people have noticed that I don't mention my mother on my blog. There is a reason for that. My mother and I have been estranged for the past three years- we have not spoken, and the only time we have seen each other is when my father passed away recently, and we had to really put all of our differences aside for the sake of tragedy. I would have to start a whole new blog to explain all the reasons we don't have a relationship, but simply put, my mother has been extremely verbally and emotionally abusive to me (as well as my sister and my father, when they were married) for most of my life. On a few but rare occasions, physically abusive, but for the most part, all verbal and emotional. She has said things to and about me and my sister that no mother should ever say to her child... she once told me that she wished she'd had an abortion instead of having me. She is the also the type of person who not only says these things, but refuses to apologize, acknowledge, or take responsibility for how her words and actions affect her children. If you try to talk to her about a certain incident, she simply changes the subject as if it never happened. And I can't have a relationship with someone who denies saying and doing things that have brought me such immense pain and partially shaped me into the person that I am today. I can't have a "real" relationship with someone like that, whether it's my mother, a significant other, a friend, etc. It's a damaging, toxic, and unhealthy relationship. It's obviously more complicated than that, but it would be impossible to get into on the blog. But I can honestly tell you that I am a happier person not having this person in my life at all than to have her in my life, maintaining an unhealthy, toxic relationship that brings me emotional pain. I feel like that's a half-assed explanation, but just wanted to be honest. I don't get upset or sad about it often, and I do wish things were different sometimes- that I was close with my mom like so many other girls are fortunate enough to be- but honestly, my mother and I were never close, our relationship has been like this for almost my whole life, and so I can't really miss something that I never had and never will, you know? It's impossible to fix a broken relationship if someone will not admit their role in it. Will she change one day? Anything's possible, but I'm not holding my breath or wishing on a star. Even if we tried to start over today, I don't think I'd ever to fully be able to trust her. When I was younger, I'd talk to her and confide in her on occasion, and every time I did, I'd have it thrown back at me or hurled as an insult during a fight or an attack. She has also read my diary, as well as my sister's. There is no trust or respect in the relationship, and as sad as it is, it also it what it is, and I think I still managed to turn out okay, and so did my sister. ;-) But to all you peeps out there with awesome mamas, I hope you were good to her yesterday. I'm sure you were. If you're blessed enough to have a great mother, I hope you take the time to show her how much you appreciate it. Not everyone gets that kind of mother. But I think it's awesome if you do. I don't hate. ;-)

Anyway, sorry for that weird tangent/sob story. That wasn't the intent. I just figured with Mother's Day being yesterday, and reading all the posts from everyone else's blogs about what they did with their moms, I figured I needed to give at least some sort of explanation. And I've wanted to. This is my blog and I want to be able to talk about anything I want. The power of freedom of speech!!!! Gotta love those First Amendments!!!! :-)

Whew, I'm tired. I ran around all weekend on about five hours of sleep each night- my biological alarm clock is getting earlier and earlier as I get older, haha. As a teenager, I'd sleep until ten or eleven no problem. Now I wake up around 8 on the weekends... sometimes even earlier! Which I actually prefer- I like getting up early in the morning, sleeping that late would make me feel like I've wasted my morning- but my problem is that I'm totally nocturnal and can stay up until 2 AM easily- even 3 AM on occasion! And I'm not even doing anything cool- it's normally just watching TV or reading! I'm working on it though. And I've noticed that sometimes on the weekends, I'll find myself getting tired earlier, like around 11 or midnight, but rather than call it a night and go to bed, I push myself to stay up a little later, not even because I want to, but simply because I feel like, well, it's the weekend, so I CAN. I realize that's stupid, I'm not sure why I do it, and it's something I'm trying to work on. We'll try it out next weekend and see how it flies. :-D

I'm glad I took today off of work. I needed a day just to be a lazy cat. :-D I did go to the gym though, but hey, I wanted to! I'm one of those weird people who like the gym. That's right... I'm a total gym bunny! :-D But I could see how people could hate it. My theory is, hey, exercise should be fun, so go do it in a way that makes you happy- the gym, yoga, running, dancing, walking with friends, tennis, whateva. If you force yourself to work out, you'll hate it and never do it. Not that these are really deep thoughts here... they're pretty obvious! But most of my thoughts aren't deep, but very bright and shiny. :-)

Plus, getting in a good workout at the gym makes me feel like I've earned the right to park my booty on the couch and read, which is what I'm off to do now. The season finales of The Big Bang Theory and How I Met Your Mother are on tonight- yay! And then it's back to the daily grind tomorrow... smaller yay (want to start off the week on a bright note- it's already pretty good since it's a shorter week for me!).

Happy Monday!!!! :-)

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Super Saturday

Hey hey party people! How is your weekend going thus far? I've had quite a productive day myself. I have to get up bright and early for the Breast Cancer Walk tomorrow (and I mean EARLY... earlier than I get up even for work!), so I wanted to get all my errands done today and out of the way, so I'm tuckered out, which is a good thing, because I need to try to go to bed early! I'm a night owl by nature- especially on weekends- so it won't be easy. I did not get much sleep last night, and so I'm hoping that will help ease me into slumber easier tonight, although I doubt it. I'm so glad I took Monday off, not because I thought I'd be worn out or anything like that (I mean, it's just a 5K WALK, for crying out loud!), but that way I can catch up on my sleep and just have a lazy day like I like to have on the weekend. I hate weekends where I'm just rushing, rushing, rushing around doing a million different things. Weekends are supposed to be relaxation time, you know?  ;-)   At least on ONE of those days!

Sorry I've been MIA for a few days... Thursday turned into an emotional evening (I was fine all day long at work, and came home and did yoga, and then at some point in the evening, I just felt sad and started crying and letting it all go), and then yesterday I was just sheer lazy.  :-)   I came home from the gym and made myself dinner and watched a Mystery Science Theater 3000  DVD. Did anyone else watch that show? It was on the Comedy Channel and Sci-Fi for a while, a very low-budget TV show from the '90s. The premise was that a guy and three "robots" that were stuck in outer space were forced to watch really, REALLY bad B-movies from the '50s and '60s (stuff like Attack of the Killer Leeches, Teenagers from Outer Space, etc.) and they'd make fun of them. It's hysterical. My dad got me into them when I was younger, and we'd watch them together. Anyway, some of my coworkers were talking about it at work yesterday, and I realized that I hadn't watched one in forever, so that's what I did last night. It reminded me of my dad, and made me feel close to him, which didn't make me feel sad, but rather, it made me happy.  :-)

And honestly, I just don't think I really need to blog every day. I'm not cool like other bloggers, haha. I live a really quiet, low-key life, and unlike a lot of the foodie bloggers, I tend to eat the same things over and over (although with a spin on them, like my awesome sweet potato combos). I just feel like on some days, nothing really happens to me that's worth mentioning on my blog- work, gym, dinner, whatever- so I'll probably just blog when I feel like it, which will probably still be often, just not EVERY day. Hope you all don't mind.   ;-)    Plus, I love so many other blogs out there, and sometimes I just want to come home and read all of yours!   :-)

But I DO have something new and exciting to share with the class... I picked a new book on Thursday night! I finished Falcon Crest before I went to bed. It was trashy good, LOL. Like a really stupid beach read from the disco era. I probably overpaid for it- I paid $2 and probably should have paid more, like, fifty cents for it- and I doubt I'll ever read it again, but I did like it. Not bad for a book based off a cheesy soap opera... although not superbly well-written either. Although you can't expect much from these kinds of books!

Anyway, my next random book pick was, I felt, extremely appropriate:

DSCI1375 A Deadly Game: The Untold Story of the Scott Peterson Investigation, by Catherine Crier. Here's what this book is such an appropriate pick:

*I picked this book on my Dad's birthday, and my Dad liked true crime books. He's the one that got me into true crime. We'd read some true crime books and follow some cases on TV. We actually discussed the Laci and Scott Peterson case a lot.

*This is book #57 on my list of unread books that I've started to read (yes, I keep track of them numerically.... I never claimed to be cool!). My dad's birthday was May 7, which is the date I picked this book.

I'm actually already like 100 pages into it, and it's really good! It's very well-written, and it's jam-packed with information about the case, the people, the investigation, etc. This was such a tragic story in the news- I remember it so vividly like it was just yesterday, so it's hard to believe it happened seven years ago. Even now, when I see a picture of Laci Peterson, my heart just breaks. She was so young and so beautiful and she looked so happy and excited to be expecting her first baby... to murder your pregnant wife on Christmas Eve... that takes some kind of evil monster. Her poor family... I cannot even imagine the heartbreak and heartache that they must continue to feel on a daily basis. It's sheer evil. But this is an excellent, excellent book. Not extraordinarily well- EDITED, though- I've definitely seen a few mistakes. Grrrr! Is it THAT hard to remember a hyphen or see an extra space between words? LOL.

I'm off to go make myself a snack of STRAWBERRIES!!!!! I picked some up at Wegmans today. I have not bought strawberries all year because they've been overpriced and out of season, but they were FINALLY 2 for $3 today, and they're beautiful. I can't wait to tear into those babies. I could seriously eat a pint in one sitting... it's going to be really hard not to!

I'll probably pop in at some point tomorrow with a recap of the Breast Cancer Walk. I can't believe it's here already!

Hope you're all having a wonderful weekend!   :-)

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Happy birthday, Dad

Today is my dad's birthday. He would have been 54 years old today.

Me and DadHe was always trying to look so badass, but he was really a softie.   :-)   I love you, Dad.

Normal blogging will resume tomorrow or possibly Saturday- tonight I want to just take the time to write in my journal and let all my thoughts and emotions flow and get everything out. There'll be tears (there already have been), but that's okay. And there will be some laughter too- new eps of Parks and Recreation, The Office, and 30 Rock tonight- all of which are guaranteed to bring me a little laughter... trust me, my dad would have wanted that. One of the best things about my dad was that he had a great sense of humor.  :-)

I hope you all had a great day and a wonderful night. And if you are reading this and if you can, do me a favor- call your dad and tell him that you love him.  It was the last thing I got to say to my dad, and I thank God I had that moment.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Health Fair fun

Yesterday was my company's annual Health Fair. I LOVE the Health Fair, and I go every year. I really like that my company does this for us- I feel that they do a really good job of promoting health, fitness, and nutrition to employees- they offer healthy choices in all of our cafeterias- low-fat and low-sodium meals, whole grains, low-fat cheeses for sandwiches, soy milk, a nice salad bar, baked chips, sushi, etc.; we get discounts at a variety of gyms and Weight Watchers, and get reimbursed $150 at the end of the year if we go to a gym/fitness center a certain amount of times per year (I take advantage of that every year!), a gym on main campus; intramural sports teams, etc. I feel that they do a really great job of health promotion where I work, even if not everyone uses it to their benefit.

This year's fair did not disappoint! There were tons of booths with great information... and more importantly, lots and lots of free goodies!  :-)   I collected a ton of great info/pamphlets about a variety of topics, including:

*Yoga (where I scored two free issues of Yoga Living)

*Ways to squeeze in exercise/toning at your desk

*How to stress less/decompress/relieve stress/deep breathing techniques (I noticed this was a very prevalent topic at many different booths... I wonder if my company thinks we're a little stressed out??? Haha)

*How to get a more and restful sleep at night

*Coping with anger/anxiety

*Tips for a better posture/healthy back

And all sorts of fun goodies... recipes, travel first-aid kits, computer mousepads, pedometers, magnets, pens, highlighters, etc. They also gave away snacks- Snackwell's Cookies and Fig Newton Fruit Crisps- which I took, and then took a closer look ingredients, and lo and behold, what did I see on each and every one of these? High fructose corn syrup, as well as a bunch of other scary-sounding ingredients. Yuck. I don't want to just throw them out, because that's wasteful, but I don't necessarily want to eat them, either, so maybe my sister might want them. Or another coworker.

What does your company do in terms of health promotion for its employees, if anything? Do you wish they would do more? Less? (Is it possible to do less, LOL?)

That's about the most exciting thing that's happened to me this week. Still reading Falcon Crest. It's so bad that it's good, you know what I mean? The plot is over-the-top, the characters and the dialogue are flat-out ridiculous.... but not in that "God-this-is-the-worst-book-I've-ever-read" way, but rather the "guilty-pleasure-twenty-five-cent-drugstore-paperback-romance-novel" way... get the difference there?  :-D   I really don't know if it was even worth $2. Fifty cents, maybe. But it's amusing me wildly. I wonder what the TV show was like!  :-D

In food news, I've tried some new food products this week that brought newfound joy into my life:

*Gardenburger Savory Portobello Mushroom Burger- I'm not sure if these are new on the market or new to me, but yeah, I totally dig them! I've already had two and decided that I like it better with salsa than I do with horseradish hummus (although both were delightful). But the salsa really complimented the cheesy mushroomy goodness of the burger. Tonight's sweet potato dinner was a happy party in my tummy indeed:


*I also tried an interesting new combo for dessert last night, busting open my new Kozy Shack No-Sugar Added Rice Pudding that I bought last week:

DSCI1370 Please excuse the not-so-pretty picture... I never claimed to have photography skills. Anyhow, this was a container of rice pudding, mixed with some Kashi Honey Sunshine, cinnamon, and a teeny tiny sprinkle of vanilla whey protein powder for satiety love. This was a winner!!!! I'm so glad I have three more containers of this! Although I'm not feeling it tonight... no, I'm feeling chocolate tonight... might be time to break into that Chocolate Vitatop stash in the freezer.... mmmm... chocolate....

*Last but not least- nor is this a new product, but it's new to my life- I have been introduced to the pleasure that is no-sugar-added natural chunky applesauce. Laugh all you want at how simple this discovery is. I don't care.  :-D  I've been buying the smooth/non-chunky kind my whole adult life, because that's what I grew up on, but then I saw this at Wegmans and figured, what the hell. Live a little. And I LOVE it! It's soooo much better than the smooth kind. Chunks of apple right there to chew and enjoy? Yes, please! This reminds me of when I tried chunky natural peanut butter for the first time  (I grew up on smooth), and after one bite, I knew I could never, ever go back to the smooth operator side, nor did I want to. See a pattern here? Although in my defense, I didn't even know they made chunky no-sugar natural applesauce. How about you? Have you ever tried a really simple/well-known product that you had never tried before and realized, where has this been all my life???

Hope you all had a nice Hump Day! We're halfway there.... (cue "Livin' on a Prayer Here")

Time to go catch up on blogs... later, gators!  :-D

Sunday, May 3, 2009

I <3 lazy Sundays

Hello fabulous people! I hope you're enjoying the last few hours of the weekend before it's back to the daily grind.  It was a cold, rainy day here- still is! I got my workout in right after breakfast so I could be a lazy bum all afternoon.  :-D   The Phillies got rained out, but luckily there's been a marathon of The Golden Girls on all day long to amuse me.  :-D

I wasn't totally lazy. I took out the trash (in the rain= bonus points for me), and did a load of laundry. I lost a sock! One of my really cute Happy Bunny ankle socks... normally I can track down a missing sock, but I checked the washer and dryer and the floor and everywhere I could think it would have traveled, and I can't find the little bastard anywhere.  :-D   Ah well!

So I'm about sixty pages into Falcon Crest, and it's exactly what I expected it to be and hoped it would be- cheesy, over-the-top fluff. Like Danielle Steel. And not very well-written, although I'm not expecting Hemingway here- it IS a book based off a campy soap opera! But it'll entertain me and help me remember the 1980's fondly for a few days, and that's the important thing.  :-D

Speaking of the 80's, guess what? I was driving to the gym this morning, and you will never guess the song I heard on the radio- "I Think We're Alone Now," by Tiffany!!!! OMG!!! Do you remember Tiffany????  Not somewhere you hear on the radio too much these days!!!! :-D   The sad thing is, I still remembered most of the words... and sang along.   :-D   There's no room for pride on this blog!

Enjoy the rest of the evening and the weekend! I'm off to recreate the fabulous dinner from last night. In fact, all of my meals so far today have been exact replications of the ones from yesterday. Wait, that's not true. I had some chipotle salsa with my tuna melt. Delicioso!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

New goodies!!!

I hope everyone's having a great weekend so far! I had a pretty great Saturday myself! I got some new and exciting fun stuff I simply have to share with you!

Right after breakfast I was out and about. First I went to Trader Joe's to get some staples: bread, flaxseed, BBQ sauce. But I picked up a new hummus to try- Horseradish Hummus! Not new to them, new to me. Needless to say, I bust that baby open with my lunch, and I thought it was great! The horseradish flavor was very subtle- I was worried it would be really strong or overpowering. But it was delish! Definitely a repeat purchase! And it's nice to have a different flavor to mix it up a little... I've been eating the red roasted pepper flavor for a while now, it was time to try something else. Success!

From there, it was on to Kohl's! I didn't have as much money on my gift card as I thought I did, but only went about $10 over. I got three supercute new shirts (please forgive the messy room/less than stellar background and crappy picture- I need to upgrade to a better camera!):

DSCI1360 I figured I could wear this to work, as a light sweater in the summer.

DSCI1359 This was only $4!!!! I LOVE buying clothes off-season because they are so ridiculously cheap.

DSCI1361 I totally didn't need this- I already have a Penn State sweatshirt, and technically, I didn't go here (although I wanted to! Long story...), but whatev, it's supersoft and cozy and I looked adorable in it .  :-D

Not bad for $10!

Then it was on to my holy grail Wegmans. I mostly got the usual stuff- sweet potatoes, bananas, peanut buttah, toothpaste, veggie burgers, frozen veggies, all that fun stuff- but I also treated myself to some Kozy Shack No-Sugar Added Rice Pudding. I had found a coupon in Health magazine, and I had tried rice pudding for the first time a while back, and I really liked it, but it's never something I think to pick up, you know? Anyone ever had it? I'm not sure I've ever had any of Kozy Shack's products, although I see them around town on some of your blogs. I can't wait to try 'em out! I'll let you know what I think.

Speaking of food, I chowed down on some yummy eats today. Behold:

DSCI1354 Lunch was a tuna melt- low-sodium tuna mixed with spicy mustard and other random spices, reduced-fat Provolone, whole-wheat bread, all grilled up. Steamed veggies and new hummus on the side for dipping delight. Check out that cheese dripping down the sandwich. This was uber-yum.

Dinner was a sweet potato experiment that had been building up in the back of my head for a while now, and I figured tonight was no better night to try it out:

DSCI1357 This was just as much a success as I had imagined it to be... a SLOPPY JOE SWEET POTATO! What's that, you ask? Why, it's a serving of Boca ground crumbles warmed up in a skillet with 2 tbsp Trader Joe's All-Natural BBQ sauce and 1/2 tsp chopped onion, warmed up and slapped on top of a tater. More carrots and broccoli, and more hummus (which I actually didn't end up eating, there was so much flavor going on in the potato, I didn't need it!)

Don't worry, I ate other things throughout the day... just no pics. These are by far the most picworthy, don't worry!

Ooooh, Dirty Dancing is on TV!!! I <3 this movie!!!! I'm off to make sure nobody puts Baby in a corner- hope you all had a kickass Saturday!   :-)

Friday, May 1, 2009

Major letdown

Happy Friday, everyone! We made it through another work week, and are now rewarded with two days of blissful freedom!!!! :-)

So, I finished Sickened. And by finished, I mean, skimmed. This book started off really good and completely tapered off and got weird.

The book started off interesting enough- the first third of the book was really focused on the subject at hand, Munchausen by Proxy syndrome. The author endures numerous trips to the hospital, doctors, and specialists, while her mother fabricates and embellishes medical symptoms that her daughter supposedly has. Whether she gave her medicine or made her sick on purpose, I'm not sure. The author did mention that she was malnourished and either fed sugary junk food or just not fed at all. She was not given a lunch or money from lunch, and would barely get any dinner. At one point, her mother gets angry with a doctor who refuses to do open heart surgery on Julie, just to see if there "could" be a problem with her heart. Why that didn't signal a red flag within the doctor, I don't quite understand- what kind of mother suggests open heart surgery like it's a simple CAT-scan or MRI, and then gets angry when she is told that the surgery isn't needed, and that her daughter's tests come back fine? Most parents are beyond relieved to hear that news. Yet no one picks up on it. At this point, I was really intrigued, and wanted to keep reading, to find out what would happen to Julie as she got older, and how it would all be revealed eventually.

And then the book kind of completely fell apart. The last two-thirds of it are an absolute mess. I hope I don't give too much away here, in case anyone is interested in reading this- so I'll try not to give any spoilers here. But I felt like the book completely went off the topic of MBP syndrome and instead focused on the other disturbing parts of this poor girl's horrific childhood. If her childhood portrayal is accurate, then it sounds like MBP was, quite honestly, the least of her problems. In general, she suffered immense emotional and physical abuse from both parents on a daily basis. It sounds like both of her parents were seriously mentally ill. They lived in a secluded trailer in rural Ohio, kept loaded guns all throughout the house and constantly pulled them on each other, the mother was constantly threatening suicide, would lie to her husband and make up stories about the kids misbehaving just so he would beat them, the parents burned down their trailer for the insurance money, and once they got it, they actually abandoned their two children and went their separate ways, leaving them in a log cabin that didn't even have a toilet, etc. There are dozens of more examples I could list. I felt like every page, the abuse got worse and there would be a more terrifying story worse than the page before. I had a really hard time getting through it, as it's not really a book for the faint-hearted, which I definitely am. I had to skim through a lot of the medical procedures, and then once the book got away from all that, I had to skim the descriptions of the physical abuse. It got very graphic at times. And the writing had started out strong, but then it got jumpy and rambled all over the place. And the ending is just really abrupt and weird, with no closure. I don't want to give too much away, but I will say at least that.

I was really disappointed with this book. It was beyond depressing and beyond disturbing. My heart just breaks for this poor woman, all she had to endure- I didn't exactly grow up in the Brady household, but my parents might as well been Mike and Carol B. compared to the two monsters this author had for parents. She went through things that I couldn't even bring myself to imagine- couldn't even bring myself to read. But I bought this book hoping to get some real insight into MBP syndrome- something I really know almost nothing about- and I feel that the book hardly addressed it at all. It is really more of a memoir of graphic child abuse- while a very serious topic, not exactly what I wanted to read about or why I picked up this book. I don't feel that I learned much about MBP at all.

I'll certainly never read this again. I'll just redonate it to the library. Well, at least the $2 I spent on it went to a good cause! :-) And I hope that in writing it, it helped to heal the author's wounds a little. I don't even know how someone even attempts to recover from a childhood like that. I doubt you can. But hopefully in writing this book, she got a little closure.

I needed a really, really fun book after that. A light topic and a fun read. No way I could deal with anything heavy or intense after that! And I certainly got my wish!

DSCI1347 Can you believe, this is the second book I've picked from the Media Book Sale that was just two weeks ago??? I've got books that have been sitting on my shelves for, like, five years unread, and my last two picks are some of my most recent purchases! I assure you, I give that box of titles a crazy good shakeup for a minute or two and then pick with my eyes closed- so this is just a big coincidence! Why can't I coincidentally pick the winning Powerball numbers??? :-D

Anyway, I wound up with Falcon Crest, by Patrick Mann. As most of us were 80s' babies, you probably either have maybe heard of this show, or it's possible your mom was watching it while she was giving you baby food. :-D Falcon Crest was a primetime soap opera that was on TV from 1981-1990. It focused on a wealthy family that owned a Napa Valley winery, and a rival family that also owns a winery. If your parents watched Dynasty, Dallas, or Knots Landing, then chances are they watched this too. Ask them- I'll bet they've at least heard of it. My parents didn't watch this, but my mother was a huge Knots Landing fan. As a result, I grew up watching it, and I loved it as a kid, even though I didn't know what the hell was going on. All I knew is that no one worked and everyone had beautiful houses near the beach- my dream life!!! (It still is!!!!) :-) Anyway, the usual soap opera antics ensue here, I'm sure- the backstabbing, the cheating, the dying, the evil twins, it's probably all in here! I could definitely use some mega-over-the-top cheesiness right now after my last read, and we all know that anything from the 1980s has at least a little bit of a cheese factor in there somewhere, so I'm hoping that this will be a light, stupid, and silly read (I mean, check out the cover of the book alone! Hello, 1984!!!). And I'm still working my way through the second season of Knots Landing that I just got a few weeks ago, so this is the perfect accompaniment! :-D

Has anyone ever gotten hooked on a soap opera? Which ones? I watched all my mom's as a kid- she liked Guiding Light, All My Children, and of course, Knots Landing- and I kept watching All My Children throughout college, and some of my college girlfriends were hooked on this now-defunct soap on NBC called Passions- OMG, it was SO bad, but we LOVED it- we used to not schedule any classes at 1 PM so we could make sure we could watch it! We did that all four years! (Why we didn't think to tape it is beyond me, LOL!). Anyway, it was awful- ridiculous supernatural plots, and really terrible acting- worse than regular soap operas!-, and it's not even on the air anymore. Here's some info about it here. Come on, 'fess up! I did, so it's your turn!

All right, I'm off to go make my grocery lists- I'm getting up bright and early tomorrow morning to get my grocery shopping done- I like to get all my errands all out of the way on Saturday morning, so I have the rest of the weekend to relax and not worry about it- tomorrow we're taking a trip to Trader Joe's (yay!) and Wegmans (YAY!!!!). Also I'm hoping to get in a trip to Kohls to pick up some new clothes. I have some gift cards, and I'm in desperate need of some new work clothes! I'm totally worn out from this crazy busy week, so the rest of my night involves making my lists and checkin' them twice (like Santa!), and curling up in bed with my remote (Food Network! Say Yes to the Dress! Golden Girls! Friday night TV isn't all that bad!!!), and maybe my newest read (we'll see; I'm pretty beat, so my mental span might not stretch much further than a magazine). And I might or might not cap off my evening with some microwave popcorn. What can I say... I really know how to live it up on Friday nights, don't I? ;-D Hey, leave me alone. I'm getting old and I had a rough work week. The Golden Girls understand! :-D

Happy Friday!